Mine Okubo's Citizen 13660 - Japanese Americans Have No Rights

Mine Okubo's Citizen 13660 - Japanese Americans Have No Rights

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Mine Okubo's Citizen 13660 - Japanese Americans Have No Rights

“We hold these truths to be self-evident…”(Weiler). As stated in the Declaration of Independence, all American citizens are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Right ”(Weiler) website. However, the United States did not hold true to this promise when removing all Nisei, Japanese Americans, from the pacific coast and transporting them to various relocation centers. In these relocation centers, the Nisei, also referred to as evacuees, were burdened to live in harsh environments, secluded from the outside world. The novel Citizen 13660 describes how the United States stripped the Nisei of their unalienable rights nor other rights entitled to United States citizens.

All American citizens are entitled to the right to vote. While in the relocation centers the Nisei had very little contact with the outside world. In an act to solidify and come together as a camp, the evacuees decided they would try to form a type of self-government which would consist of a Center Advisory Council. For some this would be a completely new experience. “The election gave the Issei their first chance to vote along with their citizen offspring” (Okubo 91). The Issei, not being American citizens having emigrated from Japan, did not have the right under the United States Constitution to vote. However, their only chance at voting was shortly taken away when army orders said that only American citizens would be able to vote. Soon however, all forms of voting for the self-government were disassembled when army orders stopped the planning of the Assembly Center government. This goes against Amendment XV of the United States Constitution which state, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude” (“The American Presidency”). Also, when taken to the relocation camps, the Nisei lost all representation in the United States government. They no longer had a representative to tell about problems with the camp or to even protest being there. By being relocated they lost their right to vote a representative.

In the United States, it is illegal to hold a person against their will without probable cause yet the Issei and Nisei were both stripped from their homes and brought to a foreign location.

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They were no longer referred to by the birth names but after a brief interview given a number which was now the family name. They left behind all of their belonging and had to make “necessary arrangements to have [their] household property stored by the government” (Okubo 19). At no one point did any of these people commit any sort of crime or act of hostility after the events of Pearl Harbor that would even give reasonable suspicion as to espionage. According to Amendment IV of the United States Constitution, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated” (“The American Presidency”). However, the United States did not oblige to this right and still kept the Nisei and Issei in the relocation camps with unfrequented visits into regular American towns and cities.

The living conditions that the United States made the Nisei and Issei live in were indecent. One of the stalls in which two people lived consisted of “a two inch layer of dust cover[ing] …the linoleum the color of redwood [that] had been placed over the rough manure-covered boards” (Okubo 35). From being taken from their homes without doing anything to being moved into these slummy locations is not constitutional. The United States is forcing cruel and unusual punishment on innocent people just because of their nationality. In the courts this type of cruel and unusual punishment is unjust just as it is for the government to be asserting it onto innocent bystanders.

The United States government punishes those who violate these rights but what happens when they do it themselves? Nothing happened to the government for its actions. They continued without giving severance to those inflicted. The government looked down upon Hitler when he put thousands of Jewish people in concentration camps. Although the severity is quite different, the United States still acted hypocritically and needs to take responsibility for its previous actions. As the Declaration of Independence states, “all men are created equal” (Weiler, Michael)

Works Cited

Okubo, Mine. Citizen 13660. University of Washington: Seattle: 1983.

“The American Presidency.” 5 Nov 2002

Weiler, Michael. “US Historical Data Archives.” 5 Nov. 2002
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