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Japanese Internment Camps Essay

884 words - 4 pages

World War II was a time of deliberate hate among groups of innocent people who were used as scapegoats. Japanese-Americans were persecuted due to the fact that they looked like citizens of Japan, who had attacked the United States on December 7th, 1941 at the naval base, Pearl Harbor. This hatred toward the group was due to newspapers creating a scare for the American people, as well as the government restricting the rights of Japanese-Americans. The Japanese-Americans were mistreated during World War II for no other reason than being different. These men, women, and children were loathed by the American public for looking like the people of the Japanese army that had attacked the United States. These people were only hated by association, even though many had come to the United States to create a better life for their family.

The federal government ruled most of the reasons behind Japanese internment camps. Further than two-thirds of the Japanese who were sentenced to internment camps in the spring of 1942 were in fact United States citizens. The internment camps were the centerpiece for legal confines of minorities. Most camps were exceedingly overcrowded and with deprived living conditions. The conditions included “tarpaper-covered barracks of simple frame construction without plumbing or cooking facilities of any kind.” Unfortunately, coal was very hard to come by for the internees, so most would only have the blankets that were rationed out to sleep on. As for food, the allotment was about 48 cents per internee. This food was served in a mess hall of about 250 people and by other internees. Leadership positions within the camp were only given to the American-born Japanese, or Nisei. Eventually, the government decided that internees may leave the camps, but only if they then joined the army. This did not go over well, for only 1,200 internees chose to do so.

As for legal restrictions, Korematsu vs. United States (1944) was a well known Supreme Court case. Fred Korematsu had refused to enter an internment camp, so in 1942 he was arrested and sent to a camp. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the conviction in 1944. In 1983, Korematsu appealed the conviction. Later, a federal court in San Francisco stated the government’s decision was racially biased, misleading, and false.

While, Japanese-Americans did make up the majority of people in internment camps, they were not the only people sent to them. Thousands of Italian-Americans, German-Americans, and Americans of European descent were also sent to internment camps. Though their punishments were not as harsh, many were subjected increased restrictions – such as curfews – as well as being classified as...

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