Interning Japanese Americans Essay

1523 words - 6 pages

After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942. This executive order authorized the Secretary of War to designate parts of the country as “military areas” from which anyone might be excluded and travel restrictions might be imposed. A few weeks later, General John L. Dewitt, the person in charge of the Western Defense Command, considered the entire Pacific coast as a place susceptible to being attacked and designated it as a military area. At first, the military established curfews causing Japanese Americans to be prohibited from leaving this military area. Then the military changed the policy to moving the Japanese Americans between the Pacific Ocean and Mississippi River away from this area. About 200,000 Japanese Americans were forced to comply with these contradictory commands and evacuate to relocation centers in other parts of the country. Now these Japanese Americans were basically imprisoned there by law. The American government gave themselves four reasons to intern the Japanese Americans: the fear of sabotage from Japanese Americans or Japanese national posing as American citizens, the intent of special interests to acquire land and businesses owned by Japanese Americans, the rationalization that Japanese Americans needed to be sent to internment camps for their own protection, and the motivation of racial prejudice. However, none of these arguments were valid for interning the Japanese Americans during WWII.
There was a fear of sabotage from Japanese Americans or Japanese nationals posing as American citizens. Eugene V. Rostow from Harper’s Magazine wrote, “These people were taken into custody as a military measure on the ground that espionage and sabotage were especially to be feared from persons of Japanese blood.” The Anglos gave themselves an excuse to intern the Japanese Americans by saying that they might betray them and help Japan attack them. However, Attorney General Francis Biddle explained “A great many West Coast people distrust the Japanese…My last advice from the War Department is that there is no evidence of imminent attack and from the F.B.I. that there is no evidence of planned sabotage.” Biddle, head of the War Department, already told America that the Japanese had no intent to sabotage this country. Even if the Anglos did not trust the Japanese, they should trust their Attorney General, a prominent Anglo. Also, the United States had an organized government with laws protecting the citizens, anything done by the government need evidences. However, the F.B.I. found no evidence of Japanese Americans planning to sabotage. Thus, they should not be interned due to the fear of them sabotaging the United States. In fact, the Japanese citizens were loyal to the United States, many of them even volunteered to fight in the war for this country. As a result, the fear of sabotage from the Japanese Americans was not cogent for interning them.
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