Imagine being judged based on your ancestry; having to live in agony owing to matters you had no influence over can be quite unnerving. About 110,000 individuals of the Japanese origin got interned in relocation camps almost immediately after the Second World War. They were gathered from along the Pacific Coast in the United States. It is one of the periods in history where one has been judged on the basis of their race and had to suffer for something they had no control over. The period came after the Pearl Harbour was attacked by Imperial Japan. The attack greatly angered opinion makers in the USA and essentially convinced Franklin Roosevelt, the President of the day, to make that directive. Essentially, a staggering sixty two per cent of those interned were American citizens. From this paper, the fact that the internment was unjustified will be discussed in depth by comparing the reasons that necessitated it vis-à-vis its effects.
According to the directives, military areas were to be regarded to as exclusion zones. Here, no person was allowed to enter. The rule was designed to prevent individuals of the Japanese Origin from accessing the entire Pacific Coast; this included most parts of California, Washington, Arizona and the Oregon. This divisive rule brought untold distress to Japanese Americans. To cement the decision by the President, the Supreme Court of the day upheld that those exclusion areas were constitutional; their fate had been sealed. The court required that individuals of the Japanese ancestry to report to relocation and assembly centres. Future governments came forth to determine whether the internment was justified. As it is, it has been found to be a misjudged move since they (Japanese Americans) never proved to be disloyal to the government of the day. They were subjected to racial prejudice and war hysteria for being present in a country that was not theirs. As it is, most of those who were interned or their heirs have been awarded various forms of compensation. Nonetheless, the incident is just one of the many cases whereby profiling of people from particular racial or ethnic groups are wrongly profiled despite the fact that they are people who have been acculturated into the American society, and they may not have any ties to the ideologies and ways of life of the people from their places of origin.
After the attack on the Pearl Harbour, the Americans felt vulnerable as they felt the Japanese were out to sabotage their plans. According to them, the Japanese were behaving just like spies and would compromise the role played by the Americans in the war. As such, they were not going to take any chances. They, therefore, decided to alienate them from the places they had settled into with the hope to disorient them. The Americans had lost a lot in the war, and they were not willing to risk anymore. This move was, therefore, in a bid to establish their authority in the Second World War. Lessening their effects meant they had to be alienated from what was happening hence making the camps attractive. From there, they could easily monitor them and essentially reduce the chances of sabotaged plans.
Additionally, farmers in the West Coast felt threatened by the presence of the Japanese in the region. Individuals of the Japanese origin were known to be hardworking and very creative. The strategy led them to become very successful farmers. Owing to that, the Americans within that region wanted them eliminated for the competition they stirred. As a result, they pressurised their leaders to eliminate the Japanese-Americans.
The leaders also hoped to gain the support of the people by standing against a minority group. Politicians hence did all they could to ensure that the Japanese got eliminated from their places of residence. By that time, the Japanese were relatively unpopular as they had just attacked the Pearl Harbour. As such, any politician who stood to oppose them and, in extension, their existence in the USA was considered to be a hero. This led to a lot of rumour-mongering on the issues that directly affected the Japanese. As such, they no longer felt wanted in their places of residence.
Naturally, the authorities had to give in to all the pressure that was emanating from all dimensions. The Japanese were hence forced to evacuate their “homes” for camps. The move caused them to dispose of their property at undeserving prices. The move represented years of hard work yet they had to let it all go over very unfortunate circumstances.
The suffering they underwent in the camps was almost unbearable for them. The Japanese were highly traditional people. In the camps, the older Issei (immigrants) felt disrespected as they got placed in the same areas with their younger ones. According to their culture, there was supposed to be a distinction between most of the dynamics within which either of these groups operated. As it is, this did not hold in the camps. Only those who were born in America (Nisei) were given authority positions in the camps. The strategy greatly limited the effectiveness of the older individuals in the society yet they were more experienced on many issues.
Most of the Nisei renounced their American citizenship though it was later ruled that such moves were considered null and void given it was done behind the barbed wires. Their experiences in the camps made them detest America and, in extension, the Americans to the extent that they wanted to have nothing to do with them. There were also others who joined the armed forces while still in the camps. They performed so well that they received recognition from various fronts. The incidents should have proven to the Americans that the Japanese were selfless individuals who hoped and worked towards a peaceful coexistence among various individuals.
The overcrowding and poor living conditions were some of the issues the Japanese had to contend with, and these are issues they had never had to worry about. The food ration was also reduced greatly, and the average adult would barely have enough. The move was seen as a high level of betrayal from the Americans. The Japanese government initiated cases in the American courts to oppose the internment, but the Supreme Court naturally ruled in favour of the USA. As frustrating as this was for them, there was not much they could do change things.
Their patriotism was bespoken by their military. Japanese-Americans formed the famous 442d Regimental Combat Team that was widely known and respected; especially in Italy and Germany where most of the effects were felt. The relocation centres got gradually evacuated in light of the completion of the World War II. They were then required to return to their home towns and pick up from where they had left. As it is, they barely returned to the places of their origin. Instead, they chose to settle elsewhere and begin their lives afresh. The hostility from the locals was also a factor that greatly influenced their choice of location. As it is, they did not appear to be welcomed in some places. Their relentless and extremely hard working nature made them to get back on their feet (way before the American government came up with a compensation plan).
A lot of political and constitutional debate was stirred by the internment of the Japanese. The constitutionality of curfew and relocation orders was challenged by law experts from Japan namely Endo, Korematsu and Hirabayashi. For long, the Americans had tried to convince the Japanese that all that was being done to protect. The strategy, however, was greatly questioned by an internee who felt that it was quite the opposite as there were always guns pointing at them instead of outside where the real enemy was.
The internment was hoped to prevent Japanese Americans from communicating with those in their home country as they would inform them what was going on. Doing this would compromise America’s performance in the war. After the attack on the Pearl Harbour, the Japanese Americans were considered to be spying for their country. Fear of espionage hence caused them to drive the Japanese into the camps; there, they were isolated from what was happening. The phenomenon was quite rampant during the Second World War. For instance, Germans in England were also subjected to the same treatment. All this was in a bid to ensure each of them had a plan that was as sound as possible; free from any form of espionage or its equivalent.
The ability of the USA to appreciate and accommodate cultural differences was questioned after the Japanese internment. As a global superpower, America was expected to put up with as many diverse issues that would arise as possible. By lacking to respect the civil liberties of the Japanese, they had proven to the world that their system was not sustainable. Though the phenomena was not as devastating as the Nazi camps, it has frequently been used to emphasize (on the need) to avoid judging others based on the mistakes of a few or worse still, factors such as race that one has no say.
In conclusion, the Japanese internment is one of the darkest periods in the history of civil liberty. The period saw the violation of basic human rights to innocent individuals. As has been discussed above, there did not exist a sound justification for the internment. The Japanese had become used to the USA as their home, and they had not anticipated that such dark days would ever befall them. Though the USA argued they had good reasons as to why they interned them, subsequent regimes have strongly condemned the act and referred to it as a very dark period in the history of America.
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