"The United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan." (Declaration of War Against Japan) These words were said by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his declaration of war on Japan on December 8, 1941. The attack on Pearl Harbor marked the official entry of the United States involvement in World War II and sparked a barrage of anti-Japanese propaganda. From posters to leaflets, radio messages to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the public of the United States was constantly the center of attention for psychological warfare. Propaganda of the World War II period reflected the American people's anti-Japanese sentiment.
Twenty years after the conclusion of World War I, Germany, Italy, and Japan started an international aggression campaign that would eventually bring the United States into a second global conflict. "Let's Put the Axe to the Axis" was a popular wartime propaganda song pushing action toward breaking the Axis' power (The Enduring Vision 910). The Axis was the name given to the German, Japanese and Italian alliance. The Allied powers were the United States, Great Britain, France, and later, Russia. The Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis, as it is called, formed in 1936-1937, and the Allied countries came together shortly after. The United States did not want to enter the war, and as late as mid-November in 1941, the US felt "the most essential thing now, from the United States standpoint, is to gain time."
December 7, 1941, the "date which will live in infamy," the United States was attacked by Japan at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Until December, the Japanese had pursued two courses of action for the current situation. They attempted to get the oil embargo lifted without giving up the territory they wanted, and to prepare for war. On the other side, the US demanded the withdraw of Japanese troops from Indochina and China. All of this became irrelevant by mid-October. Japan's new premier, General Tojo Hideki secretly set November 29, 1941 as the last day Japan would accept a settlement with the United States without war. Since the deadline was kept secret, it meant war was almost certain. The Japanese felt very confident with their plans for war. The army and navy had proposed to make a fast sweep of Malaya, the East Indies, Burma, and the Philippines, all while setting up a defensive perimeter in the central and southwestern Pacific (Pearl Harbor, Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia). They expected the United States to declare war but have no intentions of fighting long and loosing many resources. The only hitch in their plan was a US naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. To assure their plans went as intended, the Japanese decided to make a crippling blow to the base. Around 8 a.m. on December 7, 1941, Japanese airplanes attacked Pearl Harbor. The Japanese bombers destroyed almost 200 American aircraft, sank or seriously damaged eight battleships and 13 other naval vessels and killed or wounded approximately 3000 military personnel in less than two hours (The Enduring Vision 904-905). This attack brought the Unites States into the war on December 8, determined to fight to the end.
The attack on Pearl Harbor also launched a rash of fear about national security, especially on the west coast. In February 1942, just two months after Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which relocated all persons of Japanese ancestry, both citizens and aliens, inland, outside of the Pacific military zone (www.archives.gov/digital_classroom/ lessons/Japanese_relocation.html). In Oregon and Washington, the eastern boundary of the military zone was an imaginary line that ran along the edge of the Cascade Mountains and down the "spine" of California from north to south. From that line to the Pacific coast, the military restricted zones in those three states were defined. The order was designed to protect persons of Japanese descent...