WWII: Japanese Internment by Chloe Glenn

The Japanese internment camps in WWII were very controversial. The United States government provided good reasoning behind their decision to detain Japanese-Americans, but those good reasons didn't help Japanese-Americans feel any better about their unfortunate situation.

Japanese-American's were confined by the fences of their internment camps.

Cons of the Internment Camps

Many Japanese living in America had been there for quite some time and had no connection to the attack on Pearl Harbor, but they were placed in internment camps anyway. The first video mentioned that many Japanese-American children were enrolled in public schools by 1941 and most of them spoke English as their primary language. After the attack, Japanese-Americans were no longer seen as trustworthy in the eyes of many Americans. regardless of their citizenship. The third video mentioned that in spite of everything, many Japanese-Americans proclaimed their loyalty to America to help try and ease the tension and fear that stemmed from the attack on Pearl Harbor. The quote below is from the Japanese-American Citizen's League and it was included in the second document.

“In view of this state of war the Japanese-American Citizens’ League, as the representative body, offers its fullest co-operation and its facilities to the United States government.”

Another issue with the Japanese internment camps was that it violated their rights and liberties as American citizens. The Fourteenth Amendment was included in the fourth document and a quote from the text is located below.

“Nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

Japanese-Americans didn't have the right to due process when they were rounded up to go to internment camps even though they were American citizens. The attack on Pearl Harbor did a lot of damage and created a severe mistrust of all Japanese descendants.

A glimpse of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Pros of the Internment Camps

Even though many Japanese had become Americanized, it didn’t mean that they were truly loyal to the United States. Below is a quote from the first document that gave good reasoning behind the creation of the internment camps.

“The Japanese race is an enemy race and while many second and third generation Japanese born on United States soil, possessed of United States citizenship, have become ‘Americanized’, the racial strains are undiluted. To conclude otherwise is to expect that children born of white parents on Japanese soil sever all racial affinity and become loyal Japanese subjects, ready to fight and, if necessary, to die for Japan in a war against the nation of their parents. That Japan is allied with Germany and Italy in this struggle is no ground for assuming that any Japanese, ... though born and raised in the United States, will not turn against this nation when the final test of loyalty comes."

Another good reason why the internment camps were created was for the safety of the United States. Many individuals felt that the safety of America had to come before anything else and saw the internment camps as an extra precaution. Below is a quote from the third document that gives another good reason why the internment camps were created.

“Whereas it may be true that many such Japanese nationals and persons of Japanese descent irrespective of American citizenship are not in accord with the aggression practiced by the Japanese Government, the public welfare demands that the paramount importance of the safety of this Nation subjugates such individual attitude on the part of individual Japanese nationals and persons of Japanese descent irrespective of American citizenship…”

Many individuals struggled to see how the creation of the internment camps was constitutional. After all, it did violate the Japanese-American's rights and liberties. However, the Supreme Court case of Korematsu vs. U.S. allowed rights and freedoms to be limited during war time if the individuals are suspected of crimes against the country. The attack on Pearl Harbor caused all people of Japanese descent to be considered dangerous by the American government and its people, which led to the idea to create the internment camps. Korematsu vs. U.S. was a Supreme Court case, so it proved that internment camps during war were technically constitutional.

Announcement to all individuals of Japanese Ancestry.

MY PERSONAL OPINION

My heart does go out to those who were Japanese-Americans and were placed in internment camps because of it. They were feared because of what Japan did to America, but they all saw themselves as Americans. They had detached themselves from Japan and were living as Americans when the horrible tragedy occurred on December 7th, 1941. They had rights and liberties that were ensured by the Constitution, but those rights and liberties were infringed upon by the United States government after the attack on Pearl Harbor. I think the question is really difficult to answer because while I hate what Japanese-Americans were put through after the attack on Pearl Harbor, it makes sense why the American government would do such a thing. America’s safety is a very high priority and even though forcing Japanese-Americans into internment camps wasn’t the nicest thing to do, it was a precaution to ensure America’s safety at that time. I can only imagine how difficult it was to trust Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor. Like I mentioned before, they had nothing to do with the attack. However, either they or their ancestors were loyal to Japan at one point or another, so the Americans felt that they had to doubt everyone with that racial background. Ultimately, I agree with the United States government’s decision to place Japanese in internment camps because it helped guarantee America’s safety.

Credits:

Created with images by KurtClark - "Today in 1941 - Pearl Harbor Attack"

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