The Japanese Internment During World War Ii

1332 words - 5 pages

With Liberty and Justice for All?The United States Misuse of Power over Japanese Americans during World War IIThe internment of Japanese Americans during World War II has long been a topic of debate. The government of the United States has claimed this action, after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, was a "military necessity", taken as a means of national security. Hirabayashi v. United States and Korematsu v. United States were two of the major cases heard by the Supreme Court with regards to this issue, both resulting in rulings against the Japanese Americans, stating they were disloyal to the United States and a danger to society. However, a closer examination of statements made at the time by political leaders and the treatment of this population at such camps lends more weight to the theory that their imprisonment was based not on actual evidence, but more on racism and wartime paranoia.Up until the second world war era, Japanese Americans had been an integral part of the growth and development of the west coast of the United States. In agriculture, the Japanese American farmers were able to successfully turn the Auburn and Kent valley into productive farms raising fruits and vegetables which were sold at the Pike Market in Seattle. Eventually, they ended up producing almost half of the fresh fruit and vegetable crops in California. Industrially, the Japanese Americans gave the economy a much needed boost by teaming up with the Chinese Americans to build a number of railroads--most famously the Transcontinental Railroad--thus allowing both the manufacturing and tourism businesses in the area to expand and flourish. However, all of this was completely ignored after Pearl Harbor."The white man's civilization has come into conflict with Japanese barbarism and one of them must be destroyed," said John Rankin, a Mississippi Congressman. "A Jap's a Jap! It makes no difference whether or not he is an American or not," stated Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt, Commanding General of Western Defense. "The Japanese are cowardly and immoral. They are different from Americans in, every conceivable way, and no Japanese who ever lived anywhere should have a right to claim American citizenship," commented Tom Stewart, a Tennessee Senator. From these statements it can be seen that racist feelings were alive and well in the political realm. This mentality eventually led to stories about the false Japanese plot of sabotage against the United States government and the war effort, which convinced President Roosevelt that removing the Japanese Americans from the west coast of the United States was a safe measure to prevent them from their intended destruction of America. On February 19, 1942, barely two months after the bombing at Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which effectively began the process of removing all Japanese Americans from their homes and shipping them away to "relocation centers" where they would reside until it...

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