The internment of Japanese Americans during WWII was a clear example of mass hysteria that permeated the United States during the dark days of WWII. After the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor many Americans believed that the Japanese were disloyal and were associated with the enemy. There were rumors that the Japanese Americans were exchanging military information and had hidden connections. The U.S became increasingly paranoid causing a question to arise, is this really because the Japanese were truly spies or is it mass hysteria? In the process of war the public skipped to the conclusion that all Japanese Americans were out to get them.
In this way, Pearl Harbor raises other disturbing memories, those of the internment. Like the recent explosions on the East Coast, the bombing of Pearl Harbor on 12-7, shattered our feeling of national security. How could this have happened? Ordinary individuals, prominent journalists, and government officials soon started pointing the finger at the Japanese in America. Viewing these "Orientals" as incurably foreign, speaking foreign languages, perpetuating foreign cultures, practicing foreign religions (Shinto, Buddhism), American society could not distinguish between the Empire of Japan and Americans of Japanese descent.
Since there was a huge influx of Japanese Americans in the West Coast, there was anger and fear that they might take over the U.S [Yellow Peril]. The imminence of the World War II solidified the motive to be afraid of the Japanese Americans and created cause for the U.S government to lead them to internment. Surprisingly even though Americans boasted about democracy, most of the Nikkei placed in internment were American citizens by law and had no right to be incarcerated. After 30 years, President Ford, the current chief of staff reversed Executive Order 9066. He stated that it was wrong to detain Nikkei as they were loyal to America.
In the internment camps that the American government the Japanese Americans were not treated equally like they originally hoped they would by coming to America. Lastly, the way the internment camps was not the best place to be living in, and abuse despite being rare it still happened. The Japanese Americans were being treated savagely in the internment camps during World War II. One example of the way the Japanese Americans were treated inhumanely was throughout the war the Japanese Americans were trying their hardest to protest against the way they were being treated in the internment camps. The Japanese Americans wanted and insisted to be recognize as loyal American citizens (Library of Congress).
The abuses did not stop there. After the Pearl Harbor bombing in 1941, the Americans treated the Japanese even more poorly than before. Americans viewed anyone of Japanese descent as dangerous and disloyal (Ikeda). This led to the signing of the Executive Order 9066 by President Roosevelt in February 1942 which allowed the military to remove Japanese Americans from their homes and put them into internment camps (Ikeda). Because of these discriminating views made by the Americans, Japanese Americans suffered from a variety of effects in their relocation camps.
Franklin Roosevelt's speech to Congress, asking for permission to declare war on Japan, shows the resentment and despair of the American people. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, many Americans felt a lot of resentment against Japan, and the Japanese. Much of this resentment arose because Japan gave the United States a false hope of peace between the two countries. Also, from the evidence, it appeared that the attack was premeditated. Because of the distance between Japan and Hawaii, it was found that the attack had been planned days, possibly weeks beforehand (Roosevelt, 170).
The internees were labeled as “enemy aliens” and the reasons why varied. For some I was a fear that the Japanese were loyal to their country and were in the States as spies, or that they can be turned into spies. Others were competing businesses losing money and/or jobs to the Japanese manufacturing, and the rest were just racially ignorant. The internment was focused of the west coast of the States, simply because that is where most Japanese Americans lived a “census of 1940 showed that, out of a total of 126,947 in the continental United States, 112,353 were living in the three Pacific states.” In order to coordinate and run this interment the Government set up an agency known as the WRA or “War Relocation Authority” they were responsible for setting up the internment camps, organizing them and relocating detainees. The forced relocation of nearly the entire Japanese population on the West Coast is a large job and takes coordination.
FYI (This is a biased written paper written if one were to defend Japanese Internment) The Necessity of Japanese Internment Much controversy has been sparked due to the internment of the Japanese people. Many ask whether it was justified to internment them. It is a very delicate issue that has two sides, those who are against the internment of the Japanese-Americans and those who are for it. With World War II raging in the East, America was still, for the most part, very inactive in the war. When America took a stand against Japan by not shipping them supplies, Japan became very upset.
After the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor, life in the U.S. had changed. It was the first time in a long time that America was attacked on its homeland. This national security threat was a big shock to the people. The Japanese had to suffer the consequences of their attack. Just as the Germans developed concentration camps for the Jewish during World War II, the Americans set up "relocation" programs better known as internment camps to keep all the Japanese.
The general United States population became prejudice towards all Japanese after the Pearl Harbor bombing on December 7, 1941. It is no wonder that Americans felt strong prejudice towards the Japanese people during this time. They felt that their country had been invaded in the workplace by taking the white peoples’ jobs and now has been attacked militarily. The media did not help calm this prejudice. The “press and radio slanted the news with a Hearst columnist urging that ‘the Japanese Americans in California should be under armed guard to the last man and woman…and to hell with habeas corpus until the danger is over” (Brown).