- Beginning of World War II
- 1940 - Axis gains momentum in World War II
- 1941 Axis momentum accelerates in WW2
- Pearl Harbor
- FDR and World War II
- Japanese internment
- American women and World War II
- 1942 Tide turning in World War II in Europe
- World War II in the Pacific in 1942
- 1943 Axis losing in Europe
- American progress in the Pacific in 1944
- 1944 - Allies advance further in Europe
- 1945 - End of World War II
- The Manhattan Project and the atomic bomb
- The United Nations
- The Second World War
- Shaping American national identity from 1890 to 1945
Unfounded fears that Japanese American citizens might sabotage the war effort led Franklin Delano Roosevelt to order that all Americans of Japanese descent be forced into internment camps.
- President Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 resulted in the relocation of 112,000 Japanese Americans living on the West Coast into internment camps during the Second World War.
- Japanese Americans sold their businesses and houses for a fraction of their value before being sent to the camps. In the process, they lost their livelihoods and much of their lifesavings.
- In Korematsu v. United States (1944) the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of internment. In 1988, the United States issued an official apology for internment and compensated survivors.
Executive Order 9066
In February 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which authorized the Secretary of War to declare certain areas within the United States as military zones, and to restrict access to those areas on the grounds of wartime military necessity. The president’s order came less than three months after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, amid concerns that Japanese American citizens might pose a threat to national security. These concerns were driven by public hysteria grounded in racism and false reports of sabotage and collaboration with the enemy.
Under the Executive Order, some 112,000 Japanese Americans—79,000 of whom were American citizens—were removed from the West Coast and placed into ten internment camps located in remote areas. Japanese Americans were given only a few days' notice to report for internment, and many had to sell their homes and businesses for much less than they were worth. In so doing, they lost much of what they had accrued in the course of their lives.
The camps—like the one at Manzanar, California, located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains—were surrounded by fences, barbed wire, guard towers, searchlights and machine guns. Families incarcerated in the camps lived in uninsulated cabins or converted stables. They occupied their enforced idleness by organizing schools and camp newspapers, by running barber or beauty shops, and more. A small number were cleared for work outside the camps.
Korematsu v. United States (1944)
Fred Korematsu was an American-born twenty-three-year-old welder of Japanese descent living in the San Francisco Bay area. In May 1942, he was arrested for failing to comply with the order for Japanese Americans to report to internment camps.
With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, Korematsu sued on the grounds that as an American citizen he had a right to live where he pleased. But in a 6-3 decision in Korematsu v. United States the Supreme Court ruled that interning Japanese Americans during the war for purposes of "military necessity" was constitutional.
In his dissenting opinion in Korematsu, Justice Frank Murphy asserted that the internment program “goes over ‘the very brink of constitutional power’ and falls into the ugly abyss of racism.” He added: “I dissent, therefore, from this legalization of racism. Racial discrimination in any form and in any degree has no justifiable part whatever in our democratic way of life. It is unattractive in any setting, but it is utterly revolting among a free people who have embraced the principles set forth in the Constitution of the United States.”
In 1984, a federal court voided Korematsu’s conviction, and in 1998 President Bill Clinton bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, on Fred Korematsu.
Aftermath and redress
In the aftermath of the wartime internment, young Japanese Americans who had been interned went on to become among the best educated Americans, earning salaries more than a third above the national average.
The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 provided financial redress of $20,000 for each surviving detainee from the camps. In 2001, Congress made the ten internment sites historical landmarks, asserting that they “will forever stand as reminders that this nation failed in its most sacred duty to protect its citizens against prejudice, greed, and political expediency."
What do you think?
What were the consequences of President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 for Japanese Americans?
What would you do if you and your family were suddenly told that you had to leave your home and jobs to live in an internment camp?
What lessons can we learn from the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War that we can apply to today’s world? How can we assure that such actions against an entire class of people never happen again?
Want to join the conversation?
- How come the internment situation seems to be placed in history as more of a blotch on the American people of the time, and doesn't seem to stain FDR's strong reputation in our history books quite as badly as I think that it should?(17 votes)
- I think there was genuine fear that they might be spies or that they would aid the enemy if Japan ever invaded us. It may not have been rational, but it existed. Look at what Trump has done with a fear of Muslims. During WW 1, there was fear of German spies, so my grandfather changed the spelling of our last name so that it didn't look German.(15 votes)
- What does CSE mean? For the Japanese Interment Camp.(7 votes)
- May have been under suspicion of spies and fear of another attack so they rounded up most Japanese people to assure the rest of the US might feel safer, obviously there was no point to rounding them up as the US even needed people to fight and most of the Japanese people did even though they were being held in these internment camps.(2 votes)
- I have a question, did the Japanese Empire do Internment on the Japanese-American Citizens of Japan? And if they did.. What Prefectures would that have happened in? I’m sorry if this makes no sense, I’m just curious. I have been reading this type of things to share with my younger nephew, please tell me. Thank you.(4 votes)
- Despite the internment, were there any Japanese Americans who fought for the US in WW2?(4 votes)
- Yes, I'm pretty sure at some point during the war, when the US required more troops, some Japanese Americans were allowed to sign up(4 votes)
- Do you think there's going to be a another war(1 vote)
- There will always be wars. The US is involved in at least 3 as we speak: Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. In my lifetime the US has been involved in wars in Korea, Vietnam (I served in the army in that one) Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afthanistan and a few invasions that were just barely short of war. Other nations have had their wars, too.(10 votes)
- Were there many internment camps in the East Coast?(3 votes)
- "Relocation centers" were situated many miles inland, often in remote and desolate locales. Sites included Tule Lake, California; Minidoka, Idaho; Manzanar, California; Topaz, Utah; Jerome, Arkansas; Heart Mountain, Wyoming; Poston, Arizona; Granada, Colorado; and Rohwer, Arkansas.(4 votes)
- Was there an evidence of Japanese Americans supporting emperial Japan?(2 votes)
- Plenty of people/ Japanese supported imperial Japan. If you want to know who then go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Japanese_spies,_1930–45
The people in here were Japanese spies form all over the world that have been caught.(3 votes)
- The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor， but the Japanese Americans living in America had nothing to do with it.(3 votes)
- Did they ever pass a law saying that it was illegal for the government to do this after the war?(3 votes)
- It was both illegal AND wrong for the government to do this before, during and after the war. But that didn't stop it happening.(3 votes)
- I feel so bad about all that happened then. I don't agree with that at all and have to ask, Why?(3 votes)
- At the time, the government was worried that Japanese citizens would attempt espionage or something. They thought it was the only way to prevent that from happening.(3 votes)