Unlawful Containment of U.S Citizens: Japanese Internment Camps

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1881 Words
Date:  2022-04-16

Introduction

The internment of Japanese Americans was initiated by an Executive order that was issued by President Franklin Roosevelt of the United States of America, Order 9066, on the 19th February 1942.This would see over a hundred thousand Japanese Americans and Japanese aliens put in concentration camps. Historians and Legal officers have argued that this detention and torture of Japanese Americans was unlawful. Many blame the suspicion and mistrust due to events preceding the unprecedented move by President Roosevelt. To understand what exactly led to the internment of the Japanese Americans, it is important to analyze the order of events before and after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the issuing of the executive order to allow the implementation of the internment by the US forces. The internment of the Japanese Americans represents a historical injustice of the United States against her citizens, and its perpetrators accomplished completely unlawful mission against humanity.

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The internment of the Japanese Americans can be traced back to a surprise strike by the Japanese Navy on the 7th December 1941.This attack targeted the Pearl Harbor naval base of the United States of America. This provocation by the Empire of Japan did not go well with the United States.This played a major role in convincing the United States to abandon its non-interference policy and subsequently entered the Second World War. The devastating effects of the attack on the Pearl Harbor in Hawaii convinced the USA to declare war on Japan on the following day. This culminated in a battle with Japan and its allies as the USA sought revenge for what President Roosevelt termed as an act of disrespect, interference and against the Universal law. This played a big role in the internment of the Japanese Americans in concentration camps as the President Roosevelts executive order was implemented.

The Pearl Harbor attack degenerated the racial detestation against the Japanese and in general Asian immigrants in the United States. For long, there had been deep divisions between the different races and this attack showed the open division between the different races. The American law was discriminatory against the Japanese Americans, and they could not own land in the United States and some jobs were preserved for Native Americans only. Before the attack on Pearl, the west coast of the United States witnessed increased anti-Japanese attitudes by the Native Americans. And the attack didn't do any good towards cooling the situation. This racial, legal and social segregation against the Japanese Americans played a major role in shaping the events after the attack on the Pearl Harbor.

In 1942, just a few months after the attack on the US naval base at Pearl, Hawaii, the President of the United States, Franklin Roosevelt authorized the moving of Japanese Americans into concentration camps by issuing an executive order number 9066.The secretary of war, Mr Henry Stimson was ordered to relocate all Alien and Japanese Americans into concentration camps immediately. Since most of the Japanese Americans lived on the west coast of the United States, the relocation camps were also located in this region. Military officers in adherence to Roosevelt's directive relocated more than a hundred thousand Japanese Americans into the internment camps. These camps remained in use up to 1946 when the US got convinced that those held in the camps were loyal by the fact that they assisted in the war.

The relocation of the Japanese Americans to concentration camps was subject to public debate, and some Americans viewed it as an unconstitutional move and against the bill of rights enshrined in the American Constitution. However, in a ruling delivered in 1944, the supreme court of the United States said that the executive order was constitutional and hence the actions of the president were deemed anchored in the law. This was ironical because most of the Japanese Americans in the concentration camps were American citizens and hence it was out of order for a government to put its citizens in such deplorable conditions.This would later be justified by a select committee set up by President Jimmy Carter to investigate the issue in 1980.The findings of the committee showed that the internment of Japanese American citizens was unwarranted as they posed an insignificant threat to the security of the nation.

Following the finding that the decision to move Japanese Americans to concentration camps was purely an act of racial segregation, hysteria and an infringement of the rights of the Japanese Americans, President Jimmy Carter ordered that measures be put to compensate all survivors among those who were put in concentration camps. Subsequently, an official apology was issued to all survivors by the United States government every survivor of the concentration camps compensated 20,000 dollars. Human rights groups lauded this as a major step towards the realization of full reconciliation between Americans of all races. It again vindicated the Americans who viewed the relocation of Japanese Americans to internment camps as illegal, unlawful and a contravention of the bill of rights stipulated in the American constitution.

Today, a large number of Americans are mortified by the relocation strategy that denied the Japanese Americans their rights as cherished in the American law. However, during the period of the Second World War, this policy enjoyed large support from most of the Americans, partly due to the propaganda against the Japanese that was waged by the United States.Surprisingly. Private entities and public corporations were also taking part in this Anti-Japanese indoctrination. Newspapers, journals, magazines and government publications referred to Japanese as lesser beings compared to Native Americans. In the agricultural sector, Japanese methods were eliminated as they were forced into internment. All this racial, social and economic propaganda against Japanese Americans is something which is very penitent in the current setting. Portraying people of another race as unfit, animals and lesser beings are unacceptable, and it is against the bill of rights.

It is now clear that the decision by the President of the United States, Franklin Roosevelt was misadvised and utterly wrong. Political analysts and historians have argued that the Secretary of war, Mr Henry Stimson, and Lieutenant-general Mr John De Witt played a major role in convincing the president to order for the containment of Japanese Americans in concentration camps. These men were known to be deeply xenophobic against the people of Japanese descent. The general feeling in government was that these people were still loyal to Japan and could be used as spies. This led to speculation that Japanese Americans who resided in Hawaii could have facilitated the Pearl Harbor attack by providing necessary intelligence information. However, investigations by FBI did not find any link between the attackers and the Japanese Americans.

In the course of war during Japanese internment, videos and photos were being shown to the rest of the American Public that suggested that the only course of action was internment. The American theatres recorded video footages of the Japanese Americans being happy and working in their internment camps. They were happy that they had assisted the United States and thus waiting for victory. Also, other media made Japanese war against Chinese individuals and the mistreatment the American in the Philippines the subject of discussion. The barbarism, cruelty and vicious nature of the Japanese was greatly emphasized. The soldiers seemed flanged animals under the Japanese, and they had to watch a series of films produced by the government that was called 'why we fight.' These films were also shown in the movie theatres. They used Japanese footage to portray the Japanese as imperial barbarians who only bent on international dominations. The spread of both official and non-official propaganda towards the Japanese individuals made mass killing of civilians and civilians the norm for the Japanese people. This murder differentiated the combatants and non-combatants in the war. Therefore, this led to the fear of the Japanese by the American public that the Japanese were not human and many supported the killing of many Japanese. The Japanese were viewed as others and anti-US.

After the attack, the immediate action was to arrest the Japanese American leaders and any other person who was suspected of having any connection with the Japanese. The US Treasury froze the bank account of every individual who was born in Japan. A curfew was imposed on the Japanese Americans, and they were required to carry their identification cards whenever they go with their homes subjected to a thorough search without warrants. Most Japanese Americans were directed to carry what they could manage and sell their homes, possessions and even their businesses for very small amounts by force. They were given minimum time to pack and make sure all their possessions are disposed of. Those considered as the internees were permitted to carry their beddings, toiletries and clothing and whatever they were able to carry by themselves. For the individuals were unlucky not to sell their belongings, they were forced to leave them or give their neighbours who were in harmony with them. The Japanese people had no idea of where they were being taken or for how long were they being taken; they were just loaded into trains and busses. They were first moved to temporary centres set up by the US government and later on they were moved into internment camps. The Japanese Americans were being imprisoned, and heavy security surrounded their camps in the desert. Apart from having internment camps on the western side of the US along the coast, the US government also other several camps in Canada and in Latin American countries where the US had great influence.

The Japanese Americans lived in barrack type housing inside the camps with isolated desert patches. Armed military soldiers heavily guarded the internments with the camp itself surrounded by barbed wire. The basic structures such as schools, hospitals, and other houses were constructed within a short time, and they were not very stable, the conditions were pathetic, and even snakes and harmful insects entered the structures. The hospitals lacked sufficient drugs, workers and there was little care for patients. The US government hoped that the internment camps could be self-sustaining and did not allocate much money for they considered the situation temporary. To worsen the hardship more, the Japanese Americans were usually separated especially for those considered as traitors and capable of causing trouble were isolated from family and friends.

However, despite the fact that the Japanese Americans were viewed as troubles makers, most Americans even those from Japanese origin, suggested that the only way the Japanese Americans can prove their loyalty is by allowing them to enter the internment camps voluntarily and they could help in times of war. This belief was widely advocated for in the media, and this led to engaging the Japanese Americans living in the internment camps in the same activities as the other Americans to support the war. Many Japanese Americans were given jobs and even got paid, for instance, some were given jobs of making parachutes and uniforms, and some even were involved in the canning of food for the troops and their use. Working in factories and involvement in service jobs with the internment camps were taken by the US government as the appropriate occupations for the Japanese Americans who were loyal.

Thousands of Japanese Americans volunteered to serve the US in WWII;...

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Unlawful Containment of U.S Citizens: Japanese Internment Camps. (2022, Apr 16). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/unlawful-containment-of-us-citizens-japanese-internment-camps

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