Nov 20, 2019 in Exploratory
The Internment of the Japanese Americans in 1942 in the US

The Second World War is the greatest conflict that shook the entire planet. Many parts of the world participated in one or another way, but the Allied powers and Axis powers were the most involved. The U.S.A fought in the war on Allies’ side, while Japan was on the Axis’ side. The Second World War ended after the U.S. hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki with bombs. However, it should be noted that a lot had happened during the conflict, which lasted between 1939 and 1945. Just as tension rose, Adolf Hitler started the invasion to Poland by Germany, sparking off the war. The involvement of the United States was not very pronounced until the bombing of its naval base at Pearl Harbor by Japan. This essay discusses the events and reasons that led to the internment camps of Japanese-Americans and their immigrant parents during World War II. In addition, the essay argues that the decision by the US government to confine Japanese-Americans into detention camps during of World War II was unfair, harsh and inhuman.  

The events that necessitated the internment of the Japanese-Americans

The bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan prompted the United States to take a decisive step in the Second World War. The United States lost over two thousands of her service men during the bombing. Whereas the U.S. thought it was necessary to take a step over the issue, it became a hard decision owing to the fact the U.S. had a significant number of Japanese citizens who resided in the country. While it was known that this section of the U.S. citizenry was of Japanese descent, it is evident that they had nothing to do with the bombing carried out by their country of origin. Besides, the Japanese-Americans had also proven to be law-abiding citizens in the United States and their loyalty to the United States was not questionable.

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The bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan created an atmosphere of uncertainty in the United States. Therefore, the U.S. decided to put Japanese Americans in camps, despite the fact that they were American citizens. The U.S. government was convinced that the move to put Japanese Americans in camps was a good precautionary measure. The United States suspected that, since the Japanese Americans were of Japanese descent, they could side with Japan, which was their country of origin. The United States’ government was aware that Japanese Americans could have had contacts, through which they could communicate with Japan. Therefore, putting them in camps would ensure that there was no communication between Japan and Japanese Americans. The United States finally set up internment camps for the Japanese Americans in 1942.

The creation of the internment camps to confine Japanese Americans followed the authorization by Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was the president of the United States during the incident. Consequently, Japanese Americans were moved from the West Coast and other areas to internment camps. The United States used these internment camps to prevent all forms of communication between Japanese Americans and their country of origin, Japan. The U.S. took measures to ensure that no form of communication between Japanese Americans and Japan could go through. The U.S. with the help of FBI searched homes belonging to Japanese Americans to establish whether the Japanese Americans communicated with other parties in Japan. In addition, the Japanese Americans were not allowed to take with them the big items that could not be carried using the hands during the relocation. The Japanese Americans were moved to the internment camps, which had been put up by the FBI with Roosevelt himself being in charge of the camps.

With the conflict prevailing all over the world, Japan had just put itself in the position of one of the most dreaded enemies of the United States. Therefore, the United States’ government was using the internment camps to detain the Japanese Americans; it was a precautionary measure to prevent further attacks by Japan. The global conflict had highlighted how dangerous and determined Japan was. Japan had expressed its determination even before the Second World War through its intention to take control of the Asian and Pacific regions. Japan’s war against China and the bombing of Pearl Harbor showed that Japan was ruthless and could not be stopped by anything. Therefore, the idea that Japan could make more attempts to attack the United States was not far-fetched. To avoid future attacks by Japan, the United States had to send the Japanese Americans to the internment camps, because they might have helped Japan in the future.

Arguments have been expressed that the internment of the Japanese Americans was guided by discrimination and racism. Some people, especially the members of the Japanese American Citizens League, claim that the infamous exercise carried out by the American government back then was not entirely taken as precautionary measure. The move has been accused of having been influenced by politics in some regions. Although Japanese Americans lived in various regions of the United States, some of them were not affected by the exercise. The Japanese Americans who lived within the West Coast were subjected to internment, while only a few of those who lived in Hawaii were moved to the internment camps. The West Coast is believed to have been a region where discrimination on the basis of race was high.

Reasons against the internment of the Japanese Americans by the US government

The decision by the U.S government to put Japanese Americans in internment camps in 1942 as a response to the bombing of the U.S. naval base by Japan was not a wise decision. First, from the way the government handled the issue, it is evident that the process was not fair. The objective behind the internment of the Japanese Americans was to prevent their cooperation with Japan (Perloff). Therefore, the exercise should have affected all Japanese Americans because by virtue of their descent they all posed a threat to the United States. However, this exercise was more pronounced in specific regions and thus raises questions about whether it was a fair exercise. Japanese Americans living in the regions of the West Coast were the most affected, while those in other areas like Hawaii did not suffer as much.

The decision by the U.S government to put Japanese Americans in internment camps was uncalled for because the citizens of that section had not proven to be a security threat. While the United States had a right to take precautionary measures, especially after the bombing carried out by Japan, it was unfair to punish innocent citizens in the process. Prior to the bombing, the Japanese Americans had not shown any signs of disloyalty to the United States. The Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians appointed by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter proved that the internment of the Japanese Americans was unnecessary. The commission concluded that the Japanese Americans had not acted in a manner that suggested that they could betray the U.S. 

The internment of the Japanese Americans was also not a good decision because it was largely driven by racism and politics. Although the government used security threats posed by Japan as an excuse, it is evident that it was just bowing down to pressure from the whites. This explains why the exercise was more pronounced in certain regions such as California as opposed to other regions. The exercise was also marred by politics, judging from the inequality that characterized the exercise. The Japanese Americans had been discriminated against because they were not original citizens of the United States. The Japanese Americans had also been sidelined on political issues by the whites. However, the government did not consider such factors in making its decision.

The decision that the government of the U.S settled for was definitely not the best because it constituted an infringement of the Japanese Americans’ rights. Although the authorities have to detain people that are security threats, the Japanese Americans were innocent, as far as security was concerned. The process followed by the United States government in carrying out the exercise is unacceptable because it was a breach of the law. The commission appointed by the former U.S President Jimmy Carter confirmed this. The manner in which the relocation was done is also unacceptable. The victims were not allowed to take with them most of their property because they could not carry them with their hands. Therefore, they were forced to dispose of some of their valuables against their wish.


The bombing of the Pearl Harbor, a U.S. naval base, by Japan prompted the United States to swing into action in a bid to protect itself. The bombing came at a time when tension had risen because of the Second World War. The U.S. believed that there were possibilities of attacks by Japan in the future, resorting to confine Japanese Americans in internment camps. The fear was that the American citizens of Japanese descent could possibly cooperate with Japan to harm the United States. However, the Interment of the Japanese Americans has come to haunt the U.S., as concerns have been raised that it was not done in a good faith. The Japanese Americans had not proven to be security threats to the United States in the first place. The process has so far been ruled to be unfair because it seemed to target Japanese Americans in certain areas, while it spared others. The former U.S. President Jimmy Carter also appointed a commission, which established that that discrimination based on race fueled the internment exercise, which led to the confinement of Japanese Americans in camps.


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