History of Japanese American Internment
On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt approved Executive Order 9066 that ordered for the relocation of 127,000 Japanese American to concentration camps to the interior of the United States. Even though there was a lack of evidence, World War II created anti-Japanese paranoia in the United States and particularly along the West Coast.
Japanese-American communities soon received evacuation orders, and many of the families sold their homes and businesses because they were unsure the property would still be there when they returned. Because many people with Japanese ancestry sold their homes and businesses in frenzy before the Japanese American internment, they often received a percentage of the property’s actual value.
Almost two-thirds affected by the Japanese American internment were Japanese Americans that were born in the United States. Some were veterans from World War I as well. Many of the Japanese were forced to live in temporary camps before the camps were completed as well.
A total of 10 camps were completed in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. These camps were placed in arid parts of the country that received cold winters and hot summers. The United States government provided mess halls and schooling for children, and adults could work for $5 a day. Some of the interns volunteered to fight in the War, and they were placed in army regiments only containing Japanese Americans.
Important Cases Involving Japanese American Internment
Two landmark cases resulted from Japanese American Internment: Ex parte Endo and Korematsu v. United States.
Ex parte Endo
Mitsuye Endo filed a case with the Circuit Court of Appeals for unlawful detainment, and the case went the Supreme Court. She argued that Executive Order 9066 was unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court decided they would make a decision on December 18, 1944. However, on December 17, 1944, President Roosevelt ended Executive Order 9066. The Supreme Court stilled made a ruling on the case and said Ms. Endo could not legally be held at the concentration camp because she posed no danger to the United States.
Korematsu vs. United States
This case was decided by the Supreme Court on the same day as Ex parte Endo. Korematsu argued that Executive Order 9066 was unconstitutional, but the Supreme Court ruled that the Order was constitutional because it was a wartime necessity. In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Order was constitutional because the risk of espionage was greater in importance than the rights of those in Japanese American internment.
An Unfortunate Time in American History
Many Japanese Americans suffered after they were released from the concentration camps. They faced discrimination in communities and in
employment, and many Japanese Americans left the west coast for employment opportunities in other parts of the country.
The United States awarded each intern still alive in 1998 $20,000 for the suffering they endured during World War II.