Research Paper: Nisei in WW2
“Nisei: (n) a son or daughter of Japanese immigrants who is born and educated in America and especially in the United States” (Merriam Webster Dictionary). As the United States was receiving their constant droves of immigrants from China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, there was one group of Asian-American immigrants (or not immigrants for that matter) that would stand out, the Japanese Nisei. The term Nisei comes from the literal definition in Japanese meaning “second generation” from ‘ni’ (second) and ‘sei’ (generation) which was first coined in 1929 (MW Dictionary). There are many different kind of Nisei, such as American Nisei, Canadian Nisei, Peruvian Nisei, & Brazilian Nisei, but the main grunt of Japanese American Nisei that were involved in World War Two are that of the United States. The Nisei however have had a long and hard struggle in the United States as Japanese Americans. “Although many of the Nisei were born during the Baby Boom after the end of the World War Two, most were forcibly moved into internment camps forcibly with their parents after Executive Order 9066 was passed”. (Living History).” “ Executive Order 9066 was as follows: ‘Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, dated February 19, 1942, gave the military broad powers to ban any citizen from a fifty- to sixty-mile-wide coastal area stretching from Washington state to California and extending inland into southern Arizona. The order also authorized transporting these citizens to assembly centers hastily set up and governed by the military in California, Arizona, Washington state, and Oregon.’ (Historymaters.edu)” The interment of the Nisei was one that they were largely torn apart about, caught inbetween the non rebellious nature of their older parents & relatives, and the more American approach of resistance and revolution. All this however would change when World War Two would roll around when many Nisei would sign up and join the United States Army to fight for their country, to prove to Americans that this was their country as well, and that they were willing to put life and limb down for it.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941, the “US Citizens feared another attack and war hysteria seized the country.” (Historyonthenet.com) and Executive Order 9066 was passed. About 120,000 Japanese were removed from their homes and placed in interment camps, More than 80,000 of these Japanese Americans were American citizens, and half of that 80,000 were children. This internment was due to fears that the Japanese could be spys for Japan, but we would later find out that only 10 people were ever convicted of spying for Japan, and all ten of those would be of Caucasian descent.
Thus the 442nd Regimental Combat team was created. It was composed of Japanese-American enlisted men, with mostly Caucasian officers. The motto of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was “go for broke”. “It’s a gambling term that means risking everything on one great effort to win big.” (goforbroke.org) This motto for the Nisei was very important to them since when executive order 9066 was passed, many of their family and friends were in internment camps. They wanted to prove their worth and loyalty to their adoptive country of the United States, and fight the anti Japanese and racial prejudice in America. The creation of the 442nd was not one that easily came about however. It was quite the contrary that the 442nd would be like a phoenix reborn from the ashes. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, the Japanese Americans there responded to the disaster and did everything they could from donating blood, and giving aid to the wounded. But on January 19, 1942, the US Army discharged all the Japanese Americans. There were 177 cadets at the University of Hawaii’s ROTC, which felt the rug pulled out from under them. These students however would then give up their education and petitioned the...