Japanese Internment during World War II


JapaneseInternment during World War II


JapaneseInternment during World War II

Theinternment exercise of the Japanese people commenced in February 19th1942 as a result of an executive order from Franklin Roosevelt, thethen President of the United States. The order gave powers to thesecretary of war, Henry Stimson to relocate Japanese civilians livingin the United States into a set relocation camps. Immediately, theUnited States military executed the order moved about 110,000Americans of Japanese descent into the internment camps that had beenset aside. The camps existed for four years (1946), until theJapanese civilians began to withdraw their support Japan during WWII. One way that the Japanese-Americans showed the government that theydo not support Japan was to join active enrolments in the war effort.Unsurprisingly, as one would expect at that time, the United StatesSupreme Court found President Roosevelt’s executive order, aconstitutional step towards securing Americans against foreignaggression. The Japanese civilians were suspected to be spying forthe Japanese government. Therefore, the Supreme Court found thatthere was no other way the Federal government could inhibit furtherespionage without targeting the people suspected to be theorchestrators of such acts.

Theinterest of the entire nation during the war superseded individualrights of Americans with Japanese roots. The nation was stillreeling from the shocks of Pearl Harbor and Americans feared thatanother attack could take place especially on the west coast. MostAmericans believed that Japanese-Americans were still loyal to Japanand could act as spies and pose a great danger during the war.

Manysince then have considered the executive order an unconstitutionalinfringement on the liberties of Japanese-Americans. Furthermore,many scholars consider the deliberating targeting one ethniccommunity an act of prejudice on the part of government, especiallyconsidering that they were Americans with Japanese descent. Thisaffected civil liberties in the United States. The Supreme Court alsocontinues to be under wrong historical judgment for rubber-stamping agovernment action that clearly violated the constitution. It wasevident that the constitution could be interpreted to punish membersof a particular community based on mere suspicion rather than thereal danger they posed to the nation. The most surprising issue aboutthe internment process is the lack of material facts that revealedany acts of spying by Japanese Americans. Many pundits both today andin the past have argued that the internment was a violation of humanrights and a reinforcement of racial prejudice in America. However,the United States was a country that already had entrenched racialprejudices as stereotypes. The stereotypes and prejudices thatexisted fanned the misleading propaganda before the WWII about theJapanese. Propagandists depicted the Japanese people as inhuman andbarbaric. Internment seemed to be a response to some most oftypecasts and propaganda.

Onthe other hand, the internment of the Japanese-Americans during WWIIbegs the question: what if the Roosevelt administration was acting onintelligence information. Some historians have also been skepticalabout critics because, governments hardly act on a arbitrarysuspicion. Furthermore, in 1942, the United States was fairlydemocratic with a thriving mass media through radio broadcast. Itwould have been suicidal for the government to take an action thatthe government was not certain about its political and socialconsequences. Thus, the debate on whether the executive order wasconstitutional or not, is a question of time because differenthistorical times require different strategies of averting nationalthreats. The position that this paper takes is conciliatory innature. Firstly, the WWII era was a period of tension and nationalanxiety. Therefore, the government could have taken any step tothwart the threat of external aggression. Secondly, those who judgethe executive order in modern standards are unrealistic since modernpeople are more informed and living in a more stable world than theRoosevle times.