Japanese Prejudice in Fact and Fiction Essay

Japanese Prejudice in Fact and Fiction Essay

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Japanese Prejudice in Fact and Fiction


The novel Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson is about the way Japanese Americans were treated in the United States during the time of Pearl Harbor and afterwards. Guterson got his inspiration for a novel about a court trial full of prejudice from Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird. His father was a lawyer, so Guterson was able to reenact a realistic trial that could have occurred during the late 1940s in the book (Sherwin 1). Kabuo Miyamoto, the man accused of murder in the book, is presumed guilty because he looks different. When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, most Americans became fearful of the Japanese. The Japanese-Americans didn’t have as many rights as other Americans, and like Kabuo would have been presumed guilty. Japanese were not allowed to own or lease land, they were sent to internment camps, and when they returned from the camps their personal possessions were not returned.

The Japanese living on the West Coast became a supposed threat to people. Americans were afraid that Japan would invade the West Coast. The Japanese were better farmers than most Caucasians, because they were very hard workers. In 1907, the first of the Alien Land Laws was enacted. The laws prohibited the sale or lease of land to Japanese people. This law was in effect through 1966. Nine more bills were introduced in 1943 that “were designed to prohibit the ownership of property by alien Japanese and United States citizens of Japanese ancestry, to prohibit Japanese aliens from being guardians of property owned by the minor United States citizen children, and to provide for the sale at public auction or private sale of escheated property” (Chuman 200). T...


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...inst, Kabuo Miyamoto was the first one investigated in the murder of Carl Heine. After some circumstantial evidence was found, the investigation was stopped, because everyone presumed Kabuo was guilty. By the end of the book, a news reporter finds the evidence that the sheriff didn’t look for. The judge dismisses the trial after hearing evidence about weather conditions and hair found on the boat. Kabuo was released from jail after seven months.

Work Cited

Chuman, Frank. The Bamboo People: The Law and Japanese-Americans. Del Mar,
California: Publisher's Inc., 1976.

Girdner, Audrie and Loftis, Anne. The Great Betrayal. London: The MacMillan
Company, 1969.

Hersey, John. Manazar. New York: Times Books, 1988.

Sherwin, Elizabeth. Printed Matter -- David Guterson-- Page. 6/4/97. 4/11/01
<http://www.dcn.davis.ca.us/go/gizmo/cedars.html>.

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