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During W.W.II over 110,000 Japanese Americans living both in
the United States and abroad were uprooted, without due process, and placed in detention
camps, or internment camps. These Japanese Americans lost their homes and their
business. They were only allowed to take what they could carry and forced into the most
inhospitable areas our country had to offer.
Our most hallowed judicial court, the US. Supreme Court, stated,
in three different cases, that this suspension of due process was perfectly fine with them
because of a “military necessity”1 This “military necessity allowed innocent American
civilians to be arrested, jailed, and convicted of nothing more than being Japanese
Why Pick On The Japanese
Why did the American government go after only Japanese
Americans? Were we not at war with Germany and Italy? Did German Americans or
Italian Americans go to internment camps? The answer was no. The U.S. government did
not do anything against the German and Italian Americans who were citizens except
those charged with specific acts of disloyalty, however, only enemy aliens had to register,
and those considered to be dangerous were interned.3 This was only a few in number as
compared to the many Japanese Americans.
Early U.S. History In Dealing With
In 1785 the first American ship, Empress of China, made the long
voyage to China. This vessel carried all sorts of beautiful Asian treasures. These treasures
brought enormous profits when sold in America. The American consumer could not get
enough of these treasures. However, there was only one problem the Chinese
Government did not trust outsiders. They only allowed one trading ship to pick up these
treasures in a years time. This once a year trip would not be enough for the American
consumer. Another problem with dealing with Asia was that of shipwrecked sailors. Any
sailor that was unlucky enough to wash up on an Asian shore was severely mistreated.
This need for Chinese goods, and the fact that U.S. sailors were being
mistreated allowed the U.S. to get its foot in the door and force the Asians to allow more
trade. Commodore Matthew Perry, in 1853, forced the Japanese to trade, and to treat
American sailors better. These actions opened Asia to the rest of the world. Soon
thousands of Japanese began to come to America. These newly arriving immigrants took
the jobs of unskilled American workers. These workers began to demand job protection
U.S. Takes Action To Protect
The U.S. began to pass laws to restrict Japanese from coming to America.
Starting with the Gentleman’s Agreement Act of 1908. This act forbade any more
Japanese laborers from entering the country. In 1913 the Alien Land Law in California
forbade Japanese Alien Residents from purchasing land. Also during this time, the
Antimiscegention Law prohibited ethnic Japanese from intermarrying with whites.
Finally, with the Immigration Act of 1924 all Japanese immigration would cease until the
year 1965. Also this law stated that not until 1952 could Japanese be eligible to apply for
U.S. citizenship. These people could only become permanent residents.
As you can plainly see, the American public already had a long history of
mistreating the Japanese. As time went on, sadly, this mistreatment would only get
The Munson Report
With America’s track record, in dealing with the Japanese, it is not too
difficult to predict our behavior when Japan went to war.
As early as November of 1941 President Roosevelt had a fear of Japanese
Americans. Roosevelt had Special Representative of the State Department Curtis B.
Munson to gather intelligence on the loyalty of Japanese Americans. Briefly, this report
broke Japanese Americans into four distinctive groups. The first group were the ISSEI.
This group were first generation Japanese. Their age group was between 55-65. These
people were born in Japan, but chose the United States to call home. The report did not
consider this group a threat, probably because of their age. The NISEI were second
generation Japanese. This group received their education in the United States. This group
was “Pathetically eager to show loyalty [ to the U.S. ] “4 This group was considered 90 to
98% loyal to the United States. The KIBEI was an important division of the NISEI. These
were Japanese Americans who received their education in Japan. These, the report stated
would be where the greatest threat might come from. However, the report also stated that
when these Japanese Americans came back from their schooling in Japan, they were even
more loyal to America. There was a saying that all a NISEI needed was a trip to Japan to
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Japanese American internment, Nisei, Munson Report, Issei, Internment of Japanese Americans, Japanese-American life before World War II
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