Essay on Japanese Internment

2174 Words 9 Pages
Japanese Internment

The decision to imprison Japanese Americans was a popular one in 1942. It was supported not only by the government, but it was also called for by the press and the people. In the wake of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, Japan was the enemy. Many Americans believed that people of Japanese Ancestry were potential spies and saboteurs, intent on helping their mother country to win World War II. “The Japanese race is an enemy race,” General John DeWitt, head of the Western Defense Command wrote in February 1942. “And while many second and third generation Japanese born in the United States soil, possessed of United States citizenship, have become ‘Americanized,’ the racial strains are
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Military Area 1 covered the western portion of Washington, Oregon, California, and the southern half of Arizona. Military Area 2 consisted of portions of all those states that were not in Area 1. In these areas, all enemy aliens included Japanese, German, and Italian aliens as well as American citizens of Japanese decent. The government moved to take full control of an evacuation and relocation program. The Wartime Civil Control Authority (WCCA) was created as a part of the Western Defense Command to oversee the evacuation and relocation program. From the very beginning, the evacuation and relation program was orchestrated by the military to justify their need for national security. Although all enemy aliens were said to be suspect, it was the Japanese, both alien and citizen, who were singled out for removal (Ng, 2002: 21-22).

Among the Japanese American community, DeWitt’s announcement was met with disbelief. The orders were seen as a betrayal and a violation of rights, particularly by the Nisei, second generation Japanese Americans. They had been model citizens and had given the government no reason to believe that they would take part in sabotage or undercover activities, the injustice of the situation infuriating. Saburo Kido, the president of the JACL, stated, “Never in the thousands of years of human history has a group of citizens been branded on so wholesale a scale as being treacherous to the land in which they live. We question the
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