Essay On Japanese Internment Camps

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Japanese-American internment camps were a dark time in America’s history, often compared to the concentration camps in Germany (Hane, 572). The internment camps were essentially prisons in which all Japanese-Americans living on the west coast were forced to live during World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor Naval base in Hawaii. They were located in inland western states due to the mass hysteria that Japanese-Americans were conspiring with Japan to invade and/or attack the United States. At the time the general consensus was that these camps were a good way to protect the country, but after the war many realized that the camps were not the best option. Textbooks did not usually mention the internment camps at all, as it is not a subject most Americans want to talk about, much less remember. Recently more textbooks and historians talk about the camps, even life inside them. Some Japanese-Americans say that their experiences after being released from the internment camps were not as negative as most people may think. Although the Japanese-American internment camps were brutal to go through, in the long run it led to Japanese-Americans’ movement from the west coast and their upward movement in society through opportunities found in a new urban environment such as Chicago and St. Louis.
Even before the attack on Pearl Harbor, there was still tension between Japanese-Americans and other United States citizens. Laws like the “Gentlemen’s Agreement,” a way of restricting Japanese immigration, was put into place in 1908 in fear of a “future Japanese ‘takeover’” (Hata and Hata, 7). After the attack on Pearl Harbor, growing hysteria filled the country and Japanese-Americans feared for their future. About a year later, Franklin D. R...

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...erences she says that one of them said, “During the civil rights movement in the sixties, JACL [Japanese American Citizens League] did not ally with blacks. We benefited from the civil rights movement, we did not join blacks. If we had joined blacks, whites would have associated us with blacks” (Inoue, 151). Most employers at the time were white so if they associated with whites more, they were more likely to get better jobs than if they had associated themselves with African Americans.
Although internment camps were shameful, if they had not occurred, Japanese Americans would not have moved upward in society as soon as they did or even not at all. The internment camps moved them away from the west coast facilitating more opportunities. The opportunities found in cities such as Chicago and St. Louis caused the Japanese American community to move upward in society.
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