Japanese Internment during ww II



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Japanese Internment during WW II

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mr97qyKA2s
(1’30 – 2’40):

US broadcast: “Japs evacuate vital West Coast areas for the national security. At Los Angeles 36,000 Japs see the handwriting on the wall and sell out their goods before their voluntary departure.”


Evacuation wasn’t voluntary; it was the law and before it even began came mayhem, theft and loss. People were only allowed to take to the camps what they could carry on their backs. They had to make arrangements to store or get rid of everything else they owned on short notice. The lucky ones got two weeks, some only a few days.
“Most Japanese Americans had to leave their properties behind. There were lots of incidents when they were cheated or they weren’t given full value for their property. There were a lot of fire sells that happened so they had tremendous losses.”
A Congressional report, forty years later, detailed some of the loss. One proprietor had to sell her twenty-six-room hotel for only $500. Refrigerators were extorted for $5 or less. One man poured gasoline on his house, determined to burn it down than leave it behind. His wife stopped him saying “we are civilized people, not savages.”
(2’48 – 3’18)

All they had left were suitcases, sheets and blankets. 120,000 people, babies and the elderly: they were searched, some were even tagged. No one knew if they were going to be deported or how long they would be in prison because there were no trials, no hearings and there was no due process1 to inform them.


“They didn’t know what the intention of their government was toward them and they didn’t know what the future held.”

(3’30 – 4’50)

First, evacuees were taken by buses, cattle trucks and trains to nearby assembly centers where they would be checked in for a few weeks before being shipped out to the more permanent internment camps.


“Assembly centers were often times, temporary shelters in fairgrounds and sometimes in horseracing tracks. The conditions were exceedingly rough. Horse stalls – they were hastily cleaned up of the manure and the smell and so forth.”
NM: “The first thing we had to do was to make our own mattresses.”
Norman Mineta was born in San Jose, California. He grew up to be a Congressman and the first Asian American to serve in the Cabinet. He served both under President Clinton and President Bush.
NM: “The idea that their own government thought them to be disloyal, this was a yolk of shame that was born by the Japanese-American population from that time on.”
JT: “This is what we would do to show this country the extent of our loyalty.”
John Tateishi was born in South Central Los Angeles.
JT: “We’ll give up everything, sacrifice everything we own and all of our futures and go quietly into these camps. It was astounding.”
(4’58 – 5’26)

(People were confined in camps at some point from May 1942 to as late as 1946.)

But at first, many camps weren’t even ready. Sewage systems, schools, winter insulation all had to be built by the very people who were being forced to live there. Most were in the desert where sandstorms were common, others were built on swamps and overrun by mosquitos.
NM: “All of the camps they’d built were in isolated spots.”
“Ten of them scattered throughout the American West and a couple in Arkansas.”

(5’40 – 6’20)

NM: “I remember when they would say: “Well, you’re being interned for your own protection.” Well, as a ten eleven-year old kid, I knew that if I were in here for my own protection, why are the machine guns pointing in at us and not out?”


JT: “We head this young man shouting and saying, as I recall something about, they couldn’t keep him there, that he was an American and he started walking out and the guard, he was probably about 15ft from him, he just shot him in the stomach.”
(12’15 – 12’45)

Going home was the next challenge.


“They felt that they would be greeted with hostile neighbors and so forth. Word also came back that many of their farms had, in fact, been destroyed, torched by people.”
For all the fear of sabotage that led to internment, by the end of World War II, not a single person of Japanese ancestry in the United States had even been accused of sabotage.
(14’16 - end)

In 1988, Congress passed The Civil Liberties Act which not only apologised for the internment, but paid each survivor of the camps $20,000. The act was signed by President Ronald Reagan and sponsored by Congressman Norman Mineta.



(5’40 – 6’20)

NM: “I remember when they would say: “Well, you’re being interned for your own protection.” Well, as a ten eleven-year old kid, I knew that if I were in here for my own protection, why are the machine guns pointing in at us and not out?”


JT: “We head this young man shouting and saying, as I recall something about, they couldn’t keep him there, that he was an American and he started walking out and the guard, he was probably about 15ft from him, he just shot him in the stomach.”
(12’15 – 12’45)

Going home was the next challenge.


“They felt that they would be greeted with hostile neighbors and so forth. Word also came back that many of their farms had, in fact, been destroyed, torched by people.”
For all the fear of sabotage that led to internment, by the end of World War II, not a single person of Japanese ancestry in the United States had even been accused of sabotage.
(14’16 - end)

In 1988, Congress passed The Civil Liberties Act which not only apologised for the internment, but paid each survivor of the camps $20,000. The act was signed by President Ronald Reagan and sponsored by Congressman Norman Mineta.




1 Due process - The constitutional guarantee of due process of law, found in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, prohibits all levels of government from arbitrarily or unfairly depriving individuals of their basic constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property.


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