World War II Internment of Japanese-Americans – Lessons Learned
Imagine being a child in your native country, then having to be uprooted to live in a concentration camp solely because of your race. In the 1940’s this is exactly what happened in America. Overall 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry were relocated to live in concentration camps, including 80,000 Japanese-American citizens. They were forced to leave their homes and had 14 days to sell or give away their possessions before being sent to concentration camps for roughly four years. This paper will discuss some of the historical background of Japanese expansion, laws passed for the internment of people of Japanese ancestry, legal challenges to these laws, and court rulings effecting these challenges. Finally there will be a discussion of conclusions about this matter. Background of War
“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan” (President Roosevelt’s Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation 7 Dec, 1941) This attack propelled the United States into World War II and prompted a series of orders affecting people of Japanese ancestry as well as German and Italian aliens. Before Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, it had swiftly taken over all nearby countries. The Japanese had conquered Vietnam, and parts of China, and Korea. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan then attacked Wake Island, Midway Islands, and the Philippines. With the U.S. Navy crippled at Pearl Harbor, the idea of an invasion of the West Coast was high on the minds of the U.S. military leaders. Laws made Affecting People of Japanese Ancestry
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19th 1942, that allowed the Secretary of War, along with military commanders, to select specific regions which they deemed military areas. Anyone considered an enemy of the U.S. was restricted from entering those areas. After President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, he stated the reason for issuing it was to “…protect against espionage and against sabotage to national-defense material, national-defense premises, and national-defense utilities…” (Executive Order 9066). President Roosevelt appointed military commanders who could force restrictions on any suspected spies or saboteurs. On March 2, 1942, the military commanding officer of the Western Command, General John L. Dewitt, issued Public Proclamation No. 1 designating California, Oregon, Washington, and Arizona as military areas. The proclamation excluded specific people or ethnic groups, mostly people of Japanese ancestry, but also German and Italian aliens, from living in those areas. Later that month, Utah, Montana, Nevada, and Idaho were also proclaimed military areas. On March 24, 1942, Public Proclamation No. 3 imposed a curfew of 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. on people of Japanese ancestry along with German and Italian aliens. This also coincided with the date General Dewitt started issuing Civilian Exclusion Orders directing people of Japanese ancestry to report to the War Relocation Authority, which was responsible for the relocation of people of enemy ancestry. Legal Challenges
Three Japanese Americans challenged the outcome of the laws because they thought it was unconstitutional. One was Fred Korematsu who was born on January 30th, 1919 in Oakland, California. After graduating from Castlemont High School in 1938, he entered the Master School of Welding. After Exclusion Order No. 34 was issued, on May 9, 1942, Korematsu’s family reported to the War Relocation Authority at Tanforan Race Track. Korematsu decided to ignore the order instead of joining his family. In San Leandro, California, on May 30, 1942, Fred Korematsu was arrested and charged with violating the military exclusion order. While in court Mr. Korematsu argued that his...
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