The Japanese American internment which took place during the second world war referred to the relocation and confinement of over 100,000 people who were Japanese Americans or nationals of Japan. These people were taken to housing facilities which were commonly known as the war relocation camps. This internment was carried out selectively in the United States with most of those who were interned being individuals who were living in the west coast of the country.
This operation of forceful internment of the Japanese American people was carried out during the reign of the then president of United States Franklin Roosevelt. He authorized this operation using the executive order 9066 which gave the military leaders power to change military areas to exclusion places where all individuals living in them had to be removed. Using this order, the military declared that individuals who were Japanese or who had ancestry connection with the Japanese were to be excluded especially in the pacific coast.
This included those who were living in Oregon, Washington and in California. This order however exempted the individuals who were living in the internment camps (McClellan, pp 23). Why were Japanese Americans interned during World War II? During the Second World War, the Japanese had formed an alliance with the Nazi’s of Germany thus posing great security risk to the United States. War panic thus broke especially after the Japanese attacked and bombed the Pearl Harbor.
During this period also, there were so many Japanese and Japanese Americans who had settled in America following unsustainable population growth in Japan. Some of these Japanese and Japanese Americans had joined the American army thus pledging allegiance to the United States. However, due to the fact that Japan was an enemy, there was panic that the Japanese Americans who were serving in the American army could aid the enemies. Confining them was thus necessary to ensure that there were no cases of treason thus defeat of the United States and its alliances during the war against the Nazis (Kelly, Para 4).
One of the major reasons which led to the Japanese American intern was the Pearl Harbor attack which took place in 1941. This made the United States to believe that the Japanese had prepared to fully attack the west coast. This believes intensified after the attack of shelling in 1942 which was a submarine belonging to the oil refinery of California. Japanese military conquest in most of Asia during that time also made United States to conclude that Japanese were unstoppable and that they could attack the country.
Since most of the Japanese Americans were living in the west coast, they were considered a security risk thus there was a need to confine them to the internment camps. The fear of the attack thus led to the ultimate internment of the Japanese American people during the Second World War (Japan-101. com, Para 6). Another reason which led to the internment of the Japanese American people during the Second World War was due to what was referred to as the magic codes of the Japanese.
During this period, the united states were unable to break the Japanese naval codes which were vital in enabling Americans obtain information regarding the Japanese ciphers. Military advisors argued that in case the Japanese naval decided to change those codes, America would not be able to break them again especially due to the language barriers which existed. The United States argued that by confining and prosecuting some of the Japanese Americans, these people could reveal some of the information regarding the Japanese ciphers.
The effort of Americans to break the codes was generally referred to as “magic”. Breaking these codes was vital because battle of midway which Americans had won was attributed to the successful breaking of the Japanese codes (McClellan, pp 45). Some of the Japanese Americans were acting as spies for the Japanese naval which made the confinement of the Japanese Americans necessary. The spy ring which was a Japanese spying group increased the apprehension of the Americans concerning their security. The Nihau incident was one example of treason and espionage.
This incident occurred after the attack of the Pearl Harbor. During this attack, two Japanese Americans were reported to have freed a Japanese pilot who had been captured and they also helped him in attacking the native Hawaiians who were living in that area. Such incidences led to the internment of the Japanese Americans as they were assisting the enemies of the country thus posing greater risks to the security of United States. Some of the Japanese American population was disloyal to the government of United States and this was a major threat to the Americans especially during the war period.
To ensure that all the spies were not in any contact with the Japanese naval, internment was hence the means thus it was carried out (Japan-101. com, Para 8). The issue of interment revolved around prejudice and fear which American people had against the Japanese Americans. A report which suggested that espionage by the Japanese Americans had led to the Pearl Harbor attack only served to increase the prejudice which was already held by the American people. After this report California newspapers also endorsed this move of mass evacuation thus making the operation more successful.
The then American politicians also openly supported this move thus making it more successful. The sentiments that the Americans held against the Japanese Americans thus aided in the internment operation. Other non military reasons which led to the internment of the Japanese Americans especially from the west coast included the competition which these people had brought to that area especially in the agricultural sector. During this period, the white farmers did not like the farmers who were Japanese Americans though this was mostly triggered by self interests.
The Japanese Americans had brought high competition in this region especially in farming and as such, the white farmers thought that internment was a good avenue of ensuring that the Japanese were permanently removed from this area thus reducing competition in the farming sector. This was however not based on racial discrimination but the threat the Japanese were posing on white farmers (Japan-101. com, Para 11). It is also argued xenophobia also contributed greatly to the Japanese American interment. During the Second World War, Japan had gained considerable power while the United States had become weaker in military terms.
By the fact that Japan had formed alliances with Germany and Italy, and the subsequent recession of the United States power, this threatened the superiority of the United States. Need to remain in control led America to declare the exclusion laws for all the persons who were being viewed as enemy aliens thus reducing any possibility of the Nazis winning. By concentration the Japanese Americans and interning the soldiers and others who were being regarded as enemy aliens, this reduced the purported threat of collapse of the superpower or attack by the Japanese.
This also was meant to ensure that the Japanese never got to know the military operations of the Americans (Campbell, Para 3). Reasons which contributed to the Japanese American internment included racial prejudices which were widely held by the Americans against the Japanese and also flaws in the then constitution and the administrators. Today most people argue that the correct name for this operation could have been confinement rather than internment since this operation was not meant to punish the people but to ensure that no acts of treason were being carried out.
However, this was a violation of human rights and the United States after the Second World War closed all the internment camps and most of the survivors were compensated. Also, in 1988, the then president of the United States apologized on behalf of the country to Japanese Americans who had gone through the internment (Kelly, Para 9). Conclusion The Japanese American internment continues to raise many questions about its validity and legality especially because most of the intermitted persons were innocent and not “alien enemies”.
Although the government of the United States justifies its acts owing to the security threats which the Japanese were posing to it, these claims have been refuted saying that the threats were not real and that their magnitudes were highly magnified. Despite the flaws of the Japanese American internment of the Second World War, this period forms an important part of the American and the Japanese history. Work Cited: Campbell, Jason J. : Xenophobia and the Internment of Japanese-Americans. (2009). Retrieved on 27th March 2009 from, http://blogcritics. org/archives/2009/03/03/072730.
php. Japan-101. com: Japanese American Internment – Removal of Japanese and Japanese Americans during WW II. Retrieved on 27th March 2009 from, http://www. japan-101. com/history/japanese_american_internment. htm. Kelly, Martin: Japanese-American Internment at Manzanar during World War II. Retrieved on 27th March 2009 from, http://americanhistory. about. com/cs/worldwarii/a/internment. htm. McClellan, Jim R. : Changing Interpretations of America’s Past: Changing Interpretations of America’s Past, Volume 2. (1999). Published by McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0072285060