Japanese Internment Essay

3602 words - 14 pages

Japanese Internment

The 1940’s was a turning point for American citizens because World War II was taking place during this time. Not only was America at odds with other countries, but also within its self. America is a huge melting pot full of diverse cultures and people from all nations. People travel from all over the world to the United States of America. These people had one goal in mind, a life of freedom and equal opportunity; or so they thought.
The Japanese first began to immigrate to America in the 1860's in Hawaii. “Until the 1880’s only a handful settled in the United States. From then until 1924 when the United States excluded Japanese immigrants, less than 300,000 had settled in American territory.” (Davis, 1982) These people saw America as land of "freedom". So when they came to America they did everything they could as to not be associated with the likes of the Chinese culture, which were also migrating to America at this time. “Anti-Asian activists, who had first mobilized against Chinese immigrants when they began arriving in California in the 1840’s, employed the same “yellow peril” imagery to attack Japanese immigrants in the late nineteenth century.” (Murray, 2000) To the naked eye of Americans, the Japanese and Chinese people seem to be physically the same. Actually these were two totally different cultures.
One of the first groups of Japanese who came to America was known as Gannenmono; who mostly resided on the west coast and Hawaii. They earned a rough living while working on sugar plantations. Because of the horrible working conditions, many of the immigrants often went on strike. The workers complained to the Japanese government, which in response sent an ambassador to settle the problems.
The American born children of these immigrants are known as Issei; in other words, the first generation. This generation of people did everything they could to Americanize themselves. The second generation of children is known as Nisei. Even though these children were American, their families still wanted them to remember their culture. Therefore, many children of this generation had dual citizenship between Japan and America. Children were often sent back and forth over seas to stay with grandparents. Third generation Japanese-Americans are known as Sansei. There was also a generation called Kibei. These were American born citizens that moved to Japan. Many men from this generation worked for the United States military intelligence, gathering and translating activities during World War II.
Racism towards the Japanese started before the WWII era. In the 1890's, the first anti-Japanese movement began. On June 10, 1983 the San Francisco Board of Education decided that the Japanese students would be sent to segregated schools with the Chinese. “That fall, the city’s school board ordered that all Japanese children to attend a segregated school.” (Davis, 1982) The Japanese Consul fought this, and it was soon dropped. On May 26,...

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