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Internment Of Japanese Americans: An Imprudent, Contentious Endeavor

1826 words - 7 pages

An unavoidable conundrum. To play it safe, or be the enemy? Following the jolting attack on Pearl Harbor, a great deal of Americans believed that the Japanese Americans, also called Nikkei, were untrustworthy and associated with the enemy. Rumors flew that the Nikkei exchanged military information and had obtained secret connections. However, these claims were never brought to light, and to this day simply remain rumors. The U.S. government became suspicious about these accusations and demanded action. On Thursday, February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt issued the Executive Order 9066, which called for an evacuation of Japanese Americans on the west coast with the excuse of a “military necessity.” The government’s impetuous enforcement of Executive Order 9066 in reaction to public hysteria, not only violated the rights of Japanese Americans, but also triggered pointless effort and attention towards the internment camps.

The United States government had no authority to intern Japanese Americans on account of their ethnic background. People argued that it was acceptable because the Japanese immigrants in the United States posed a threat, but in reality, “more than two-thirds of the Japanese who were interned in the spring of 1942 were citizens of the United States” (Ross). The Nikkei had the same rights as any American born citizen, yet they were interned. The public concluded that all people of Japanese ancestry were saboteurs, heightening racial prejudices. Furthermore, the accusation of disloyalty among Japanese Americans prompted the state department to send Agent Curtis B. Munson to investigate this matter among the Japanese Americans; leading to his conclusion that, “there is no Japanese problem on the west coast…a remarkable, even extraordinary degree of loyalty among this generally suspect ethnic group” (Chronology). Munson’s report declared that there was no imperative military reason for mass incarceration of these people, yet the government disregarded his input and kept the report inconspicuous. Munson’s report had the potential to pacify the public, but due to the government’s decision not to release it, the people remained in a state of paranoia. The public continued to assume that all Nikkei were untrustworthy, just for being Japanese. This unacceptable racial prejudice led to the relocation of thousands of innocent people. Public hysteria and callow racism ultimately controlled the government’s actions towards the Japanese Americans since, “the general public believed, erroneously, that there were Japanese saboteurs active along the Pacific Coast” (Hata). This alarming prospect of sabotage from the Nikkei fueled the urge for the government to issue Executive Order 9066 to placate the anti-Japanese public groups, although the Munson report stated otherwise. Since the government needed a legitimate excuse, other than discrimination, the order was based on a false claim of military necessity (Hata). Had the government released...

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