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Japanese Americans Internment During the WWII Essay



During the WW II in America, the government of America forced more than 120, 000 Americans of Japanese descent from the regions of Washington, Oregon, California, and Arizona to relocation centers where they lived for the entire period of the WW II. Since the internment process involved all ages among the Japanese American population, the general process of relocation was done by the humane War Relocation Authority (WRA), which spread the Japanese Americans in the relocation centers and US Army facilities. Although all the internees were released by the windfall of 1946, they had lost their businesses, homes besides deleterious effects on their social lives. Thus, this analytical treatise attempts to explicitly review the infamous Japanese Americans internment and what it suggests on the nature of American democracy. Besides, the treatise reviews the historical dynamics that allowed for the internment of Japanese Americans and the impacts of internment in the Japanese American communities during and after the end of WW II.

Japanese American internment and the democracy of America during WW2

Basically, the Japanese American communities’ internment during WW2 was justified by the American government that classified it as a military necessity. The period was characterized by an indiscriminate roundup of Japanese and Japanese Americans who lived in the states considered a security threat since the main foes of the then America was Japan. Several instances of constitution abuse occurred in the disguise of national security. The American Japanese were forced and actually moved to relocation centers against their will despite the clear human rights clauses in the American constitution that protect the basic human rights of all American citizens irrespective of their descent (Starr, 14).

Though the fallacy of security concerns applied by the government seemed justifiable on the basis of generalization of threat, the decision lacked any concrete premise for the actions taken. Before relocation, there had never been any serious security threat reported as committed by the Japanese Americans. Despite being in the bracket of taxpayers and citizens of American, the democratic space of freedom of association and participation, the civic duties as citizens of America were denied since this group was subjected to unjustified detainment against the constitution of the United States of America through the ‘Executive Order 9066’ authorized by the then president Roosevelt (Executive Order 9066, par.13).

Interestingly, the internment policy was proven unjustified by the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians that was later appointed by President Carter to find out if the government did overstep its mandate in targeting a single ancestry. Basically, the internment policy lacked objectiveness since the process only targeted one part of the nation and left other Japanese Americans living in other parts of America. The government has never been in a position to prove substantial incidences of disloyalty by the Japanese Americans who were subjected to internment (Connell, 71).

Despite the fact that the American government adopted humane strategy for relocation, the reasons for the same were never clearly communicated to the Japanese Americans despite claims full democracy and right to timely information on the reasons for actions before actualization. Besides, those rounded were never offered any form of compensation but were denied the opportunity to continue building the nation, which is the foundation of American democracy (Dye, 19).

For instance, in the Manzanar relocation center was lacking several basic human survival facilities despite hosting Japanese Americans of different ages. It would take unnecessary longer hours to access medical facilities and other basic social services for the internees who had a unique culture. Supposedly a totalitarian democracy, the internees were denied their freedom of association and access to social services on the basis of a biased internment policy targeting a single descent. It was only the Japanese descent which was targeted though the US had other foes like the Germans (Connell, 29).

The unfair treatment of this descent was a direct defilement on democracy, and the human rights principles enshrined in the constitution of the United States of America. Reflecting on the internment policy adopted by the government of America on the Japanese American communities, it is factual that the totalitarian democracy regime was defiled by policymakers and social decision-makers. Through internment, the basic roles played by the Japanese Americans were grounded and suspended without their consent despite having been part of the taxpayers (Houston, Jeanne, and James, 32).

The relocation centers were never designed in line with the unique culture and ways of life of the Japanese American internees. For instance, unlike in their former homes, the Japanese American internees did not have an opportunity to incorporate building architecture they had previously enjoyed and used to maintain a unique identity. Thus, the status of democracy in America in the period of WW2 can be described discriminatory based on unjustified biasness on the American citizens of Japanese origin (Hanel, 14). The government was unjustified to adopt internment policy on the Japanese Americans on the basis of national security threat since communal punishment does not serve the purpose of containing a situation. Rather, it only serves to expose the ills of a government supposedly democratic.

Historical dynamics that allowed for Japanese Americans internment

Several historical dynamics played against the Japanese Americans living in the regions of Washington, Oregon, California, and Arizona before the internment policy. Following the infamous Pearl Harbor attack by the Imperial Japan in 1941, the government felt threatened by the action of the Japanese and had to develop a policy to quickly prevent possible reoccurrence of the same.

Political dynamics: Following the Pearl Harbor attack by Japan in 1941, the political and military leadership of America felt threatened and developed a fear that the then relatively powerful Imperial Japan was strategizing for a combat showdown on the strategic West Coast regions of the United States. Before this attack, the Imperial Japan had enjoyed military conquest described by historians as very rapid since they had full control of major counties in Asia besides the Pacific by 1936. The reports reaching the political class in America was unbearable and some viewed Japan as unstoppable. As a result of this fear, the military and political classes were unsure of ethic Japanese loyalty in the face of an eminent threat to survival of the US. This fear was compounded by the ‘Niihau Incident’ when a captured naval airman of the Japanese regiment was forcefully released by three American Japanese civilians on the Niihau Island (Malkin, 22).

Social dynamics: The loyalty concerns by the political class in America on the Japanese American descent was fueled by the then common racial prejudice and the Nihau incident. For instance, the ‘A Jap’s a Jap’ racial slang propaganda made the Japanese Americans an easy target in the face of a possible attack by the relatively powerful Imperial Japan (Houston, Jeanne and James, 32). Due to the Nihau incident, the then internment program administrator seemed justified before the congress when he revealed his sentiment that;

I don’t want any of them [persons of Japanese ancestry] here. They are a dangerous element. There is no way to determine their loyalty… It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen, he is still Japanese. American citizenship does not necessarily determine loyalty… But we must worry about the Japanese all the time until he is wiped off the map (Mullen, Par. 5).

Economic Dynamics: The Imperial Japan had gained economically from the series of successful military campaigns in Asia and the Pacific. Due to fear of possible destruction of the economic system of the strategic West Coast region, the leadership of America developed a rationale that interment of the Japanese Americans in these regions would give them a better chance of fighting an invading Japanese Army before they mingle with the Japanese Americans. Had the Imperial Japan army attacked the West Coast region, it would have been difficult for the government to identify the attacked since Japanese poses more or less same physic.

Impact of internment on the Japanese Americans during and after the WW2

Economic impacts: As a result of the internment policy, the Japanese Americans directly lost their business valued at five billion dollars. The five years of internment grounded all their business activities and their businesses collapsed. The Japanese Americans lost their means of livelihood. Besides, this group lost their homes and investments in constructing these homes. Upon release, most their business have been destroyed, as was the case with their homes. The meager compensation of twenty thousand dollars for each of the survivors cannot be equated to five years of internment and lost property. The Japanese American community dominance of the West Coast region was completed destroyed.

Social impacts: During the interment process, the Japanese Americans lost their religious powers which could only be fully exercised in accordance with the deities and beliefs endorsed in the light of principles and ideals acceptable to their unique culture. These fundamental ideas from the Japanese American religious culture were then misinterpreted into social conception of prejudice that resulted in abuse of their basic human rights. The supposedly democratic government which was mandated with the responsibility of protecting its citizens neglected its group (Burton Farrell and Lord, 7).

The Japanese American conscientious citizenship was compromised by biasness that victimized this group during their period of internment. They lost their social identity, traditional way of life, and communal existence. Though, the government of the US had offered apology for the biased internment of the Japanese Americans, the prejudice has remained among the other Americans as evidenced in the minimal political leadership roles played by Japanese Americans at present (Daniels, 34).


The infamous Japanese American community interment during the Second World War in the West Coast regions of America defiled the totalitarian democratic regime of the US. Besides, the process was the state constitution on basic rights of American citizens to free associations, participation in public service, and right of protection by the government against human rights violation. However, the Niihau incident and attack on Pearl Harbor provided the then political and military classes the rationale for internment of the Japanese Americans. As a result of internment, the Japanese Americans lost their dignity, private property, and freedom of association.

Works Cited

Burton, John, Farrell Michael and Lord Randy. Confinement and Ethnicity: Sites of shame. Web.

Connell, Thomas. America’s Japanese Hostages: The World War II Plan for a Japanese Free Latin America. Alabama: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002. Print.

Daniels, Roger. Prisoners without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War II. New York: Hill & Wang, 1993. Print

Dye, Bob. How bigots ‘cleansed’ Legislature in 1942. Chicago: The Honolulu Advertiser, 2001. Print.

1942. Web.

Hanel, Rachael. The Japanese American Internment. New York: Hill & Wang, 2008. Print.

Houston, Michael, Jeanne Wakatsuki and James Diana Houston. Farewell to Manzanar. New York: Random House, Inc. 2007. Print.

Malkin, Michelle. In Defense of Internment. New York: Hill & Wang, 2004. Print.

Mullen, Fred. DeWitt Attitude on Japs Upsets Plans: Watsonville Register-Pajaronian. New York: Santa Cruiz Library, 1943. Print.

Starr, Kevin. California: A History. New York: The Modern Library. 2007. Print.

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1. IvyPanda. "Japanese Americans Internment During the WWII." May 22, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/japanese-americans-internment-during-the-wwii/.


IvyPanda. "Japanese Americans Internment During the WWII." May 22, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/japanese-americans-internment-during-the-wwii/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Japanese Americans Internment During the WWII." May 22, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/japanese-americans-internment-during-the-wwii/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Japanese Americans Internment During the WWII'. 22 May.

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