Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, was just
part of a larger war plan. Within weeks, the Empire of Japan
had conquered the Philippines, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaya,
and Singapore. The British Dominions of Australia and New Zealand
were threatened, as was the entire Indian subcontinent. The
Battle of the Coral Sea was a draw, and while the U.S. won the
Battle of Midway in June of 1942, Japan invaded the Aleutian
Islands of Alaska.
aftermath of Pearl Harbor - rage - began to be replaced by
fear as Japan continued to expand. Many Americans feared Japanese-Americans
were not loyal to the U.S. and would help Japan. While there
might have been similar fears about German-Americans and Italian-Americans,
it is not easy to tell one of German or Italian heritage from
one of English or French descent. This is not the case with
Japanese-Americans, although I wonder how many people of Chinese
or Korean heritage mistakenly were seized by European-Americans
as a possible enemy.
unfounded fears, coupled with racism, led to the exclusion
of Japanese-Americans from vast areas of the West Coast of
the United States. Over 100,000 Japanese-Americans, more than
half of them native born U.S. citizens were rounded up and
put in internment camps. They had to sell their homes, businesses
and property to whoever would buy it at whatever price was
offered. Men, women and children spent the entire second world
war in prison because they or their parents had been born
in Japan. According to the 1940 census there were 126,000
Japanese-Americans in the mainland U.S., 67% of whom were
U.S. citizens by birth. In contrast, 157,000 Japanese-Americans
were living in the Hawaiian Islands.
there was no mass internment of Japanese-Americans, even though
they made up about 1/3 of the population. The Japanese-Americans
workers were crucial to the sugar and pineapple plantations.
However, about 1800 Japanese-Americans in Hawaii were sent
to internment camps in the mainland U.S. These interned Hawaiian
Japanese-Americans were prominent in the community or otherwise
thought to be some sort of risk. Unfortunately, the entire
family was interned, not just those who were considered to
be disloyal or a risk to national security. Initially, internees
were kept at Sand Island and Honouliuli on Oahu, and the Kilauea
Military Camp on the Island of Hawaii. Many were subsequently
transferred to mainland camps.
1800 is a small number of people, what do you say to someone
who as a second grade student in Hilo was sent to a prison
camp in Arizona because her father was a prominent Japanese
Supreme Court upheld the detentions at the time.
was not excluded from the Military Area because of hostility
to him or his race. He was excluded because we are at war
with the Japanese Empire, because the properly constituted
military authorities feared an invasion of our West Coast
and felt constrained to take proper security measures, because
they decided that the military urgency of the situation demanded
that all citizens of Japanese ancestry be segregated from
the West Coast temporarily, and finally, because Congress,
reposing its confidence in this time of war in our military
leaders - as inevitably it must - determined that they should
have the power to do just this. There was evidence of disloyalty
on the part of some, the military authorities considered that
the need for action was great, and time was short. We cannot
- by availing ourselves of the calm perspective of hindsight
- now say that at that time these actions were unjustified.
v. United States, 323 U.S. 214, 223 (1944). Alternate
3 years of internment, several Japanese-Americans were shot
by guards. There were riots in the camps, and a number of people
were convicted of resisting the draft. When the internees were
finally released, they had lost almost everything. In 1948,
President Truman signed a law that was to compensate the internees
for their economic losses. Few received any compensation.
Murphy vigorously dissenting saying:
reason is given for the failure to treat these Japanese
Americans on an individual basis by holding investigations
and hearings to separate the loyal from the disloyal, as
was done in the case of persons of German and Italian ancestry....
It is asserted merely that the loyalties of this group "were
unknown and time was of the essence." Yet nearly four
months elapsed after Pearl Harbor before the first exclusion
order was issued; nearly eight months went by until the
last order was issued; and the last of these "subversive"
persons was not actually removed until almost eleven months
had elapsed. Leisure and deliberation seem to have been
more of the essence than speed.... It seems incredible that
under these circumstances it would have been impossible
to hold loyalty hearings for the mere 112,000 persons involved--or
at least for the 70,000 American citizens--especially when
a large part of this number represented children and elderly
men and women. Any inconvenience that may have accompanied
an attempt to conform to procedural due process cannot be
said to justify violations of constitutional rights of individuals.
President Reagan signed the Civil
Liberties Act which provided $20,000 in reparations to
each internee, and an apology.
Trek fans, actor George
Takei, Lieutenant and then Captain Sulu, was interned
during World War II.
of the Camps, a PBS documentary.
Internment, by the Utah Education Network.
Internment Camps - with maps of where Japanese-Americans
Japanese Americans Tell Their Pearl Harbor Story - from
Asian Week, June 15 - 21, 2001.
great site with extensive quotes and research.
Life and Times of Wild Bill Noda, from the Campbell Reporter.
AMERICAN'S WITNESS AIR RAID ON DEC 7TH, 1941, from alterasian.com.
link, at NBCI.