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Survivor recalls life in internment camp for Japanese-Americans

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In addition to being herded into prison camps and having to find ways to live under hideous conditions, many had their land and property stolen from them and never returned. White businessmen in collusion with corrupt local officials profited from what had been confiscated. The US and Canadian governments must always bare this shame. Hopefully all nations that committed ugly acts at any point in history will at some point understand that they too have victimized.

17 ( +20 / -4 )

A shameful mark on America.

22 ( +23 / -2 )

Americas version of Kristallnacht against Japanese?? Maybe. BTW whose the white woman in the picture?

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

In Canada too. It happened to my parents' generation, all Canadian born.

14 ( +14 / -1 )

Not like the Japanese-Americans that served in the 442 Infantry division in Europe, most Japanese and Japanese-Americans lived a full life after the war and could complain about it. Many young Americans who served in the Europe or Pacific didn't have a chance to come back and have a full life. It's hard to compare today's life with the segregated life in the 40's.

-11 ( +7 / -19 )

When I lived in Puyallup, WA I used to love going to the fair. Then I found out about the internment camp that was on the same fair grounds. I never went again. Here's a link.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_Harmony

9 ( +11 / -2 )

On Bainbridge Island in Washington State, USA, two men became partners and co-founded a grocery store called Town and Country Market. One man was of European origin, and the other of Japanese ancestry. The war came, and the Japanese family was intered. The Caucasian man kept the store going. After the war the Japanese man and his family returned home. He was immediately welcomed back into the business. The store has done well, and has opened several profitable branches. The families are close and wealthy. The Japanese family built a second swimming pool in the town of Winslow upgrading the facility, and making it more accommodating to the very young and the old. This is just one way they have helped. Oh, and I can buy sushi in the store made on the spot by a Japanese lady!

26 ( +27 / -1 )

@John Lorimer

There are some few stories about compassion and help by friends who protected their belongings during the internment camp. However, most of the Japanese and Japanese-Americans lost practically everything during the war.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I remember first learning about the internment of Japanese-Americans in junior high school in the late 1970s. When I later asked my grandmother about it and she remembered the initial days of the internment when Japanese-American families were no longer in the neighborhood, the history lesson I learned in school really hit home.

The irony is, many Japanese-Americans (particularly the older generation) are the first to speak out when the Japanese government engages in historic revisionism. Congressman Mike Honda is one shining example, as one of the only lawmakers who did not welcome Prime Minister Abe with open arms during his recent visit to Washington.

As a side note, In Japan the Japanese Overseas Migration Museum at Minato Mirai in Yokohama has a decent exhibition celebrating Japanese emigration for those interested (but tellingly I have yet to see a museum in Japan celebrating immigration of people to Japan from other countries).

8 ( +9 / -1 )

The internment will always be a black mark on FDR. Many joined our own military forces...hundreds got wounded, many are highly decorated and all loved and still love America. We made a terrible racist mistake back in the 1940’s. That’s what fear and hate can do to a nation.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

On Bainbridge Island in Washington State, USA, two men became partners and co-founded a grocery store called Town and Country Market.

@John

Thank you for that. I have been to that supermarket a few times (many years ago now), but had no idea about its history.

Also, I had sushi there quite a few years ago, and it was better than any I have had in Japan since.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Internment Camps....Fema Camps...Jade Helm......determined by the rulers and their supporters

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Sensato AUG. 10, 2015 - 08:17AM JST The irony is, many Japanese-Americans (particularly the older generation) are the first to speak out when the Japanese government engages in historic revisionism.

Actually, the older generations were very quiet for 3-4 decades on the civil rights interment camp issues. Many started talking about it after they received an apology from U.S. government. Norman Mineta was the driving force behind the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988, which won an apology and $20,000 for each internee from the U.S. government. He became the first Asian-American to hold a cabinet post, as Bill Clinton's secretary of Commerce. Another influence was from late Sen. Daniel Inouye, who served in 442.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The camps were terrible. The stark contrast to the treatment of Americans of German/Italian descent is telling. I guess the Japanese were easy to spot, were more recent, and had not had as much inter-marriage with non-Japanese.

Anyway, it's no surprise that it happened under a Democratic president. They tend to be warmongers and racists historically.

-15 ( +4 / -18 )

With much respect to those Japanese Americans who suffered in these internment camps, it was a very different situation that faced authorities in 1941 and it can be easy to judge based on 20-20 hindsight. Here in Australia we had internment camps for German, Italian and Japanese nationals and some Australian citizens were also caught up in the net. And some camps were used for both internees and prisoners of war.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

While the internment camps were wrong and a dark mark in US history, I would much rather have been in an American internment camp with the movies nights then in a camp run by the Japanese, like the ones in The Philippines.

-1 ( +9 / -9 )

While the internment camps were wrong and a dark mark in US history, I would much rather have been in an American internment camp with the movies nights then in a camp run by the Japanese, like the ones in The Philippines.

I wouldn't make this kind of comparison. However, on the other side, reparations and a sincere apology are two ways to begin atonement and something for Japan to consider.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

“They gave us $20 and a ticket to go somewhere. We had nowhere to go,” she said.

But obviously in spite of all the hardship they did find somewhere to go and a way to survive. Being already quite familiar for decades of the story of the internment, I would be interested to know more about how they made their way after the camps. I grew up in a coastal California town and had several classmates who were children of internees. Most of them had built up successful businesses after the war.

@Sensato "my grandmother .... remembered the initial days of the internment when Japanese-American families were no longer in the neighborhood..."

My mother graduated high school in 1939 and had a large number of Japanese-American classmates, some of whom were good friends of hers. Most of them were sent to the camps or joined the military. Her own life was disrupted by the war in major ways and she ended up living elsewhere so wasn't sure who, if any, of them returned to the same area. (So many of her other friends died in the war that she never went back to visit or anything). I think she was always sad about having lost contact with those friends and had a special affection for some Japanese-American friends that she made in later life.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Their property should've been returned. People had no more right to buy their homes, than the germans did with newly vacant former jewish homes. Reagan could've gave 80's market value of their home in cash and assisted returnees as real estate agent to get home back to forced detainees family.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Educator60 AUG. 10, 2015 - 09:19AM JST I would be interested to know more about how they made their way after the camps.

The U.S. gave them a choice of staying in the states or return to Japan. Over 20,000 Japanese chose to renounce their U.S. citizenship and left the country for Japan at the end of the war. Many of them were elderly who chose to return to Japan. In December, 1945, the first trainload of 1,800 Japanese rolled into Portland from an internment camp at Tule Lake, in Northern California to get on the ship. A report by the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians suggests that it was the prolonged detention that created high number of repatriates.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

it was a very different situation that faced authorities in 1941 and it can be easy to judge based on 20-20 hindsight

But there were polititians and many ordinary people who opposed the internment camps and pointed out that they were completely illegal and unconstitutional. The 'we shouldn't judge' excuse seems to ignore this reality and assumes that everyone succumbed to the madness.

In early 1942, when he first read Executive Order 9066, which allowed the federal government to round up the Japanese living on the West Coast and force them into inland camps, Colorado Gov. Ralph Carr thundered, "Now, that's wrong! Some of these Japanese are citizens of the United States."

http://www.denverpost.com/ci_8267131

6 ( +6 / -0 )

How about the internment camps Japan set up throughout Asia for people of European descent? How many Bristish, Australian, and American men, women, and children were put into these camps? How many died of disease and starvation? No medicine, one pint of rice per person (often moldy, and always full of rice weevils).

And the Europeans were the luckier ones, the camps set up for Chinese political prisoners left few survivors to tell their tales.

Funny that every year in August we get to hear stories about how Japan was the victim in the second war, and that America was thr aggressor. Stories of how Japanese internees and atomic bombing victims suffered at the evil actions of the American Army and the US government.

Is Japan really that pathetic? You never hear any stories in the German media about wrongs committed against Germans during and after the war.

The fact is thar almost all of the Axis prisoners of war, and Japanese internees survived their captivity in America. Many German and Italian POWs never returned to their home countries, they petitioned to stay in America. On the other hand, countless POWs and civilian internees died in Japanese captivity.

1.1% of Japanese and German prisoners died in US camps, 4% of allied prisoners died in German camps, between 27% and 38% of allied prisoners died in Japanese camps.

I don't want to hear any more stories about Japanese suffering from the second war.

-4 ( +10 / -14 )

The US is held to an incredibly high standard. At the time it treated potential insurgents infinitely better than Japan (who even knows what happened to non-Japanese in Japan during the war) and in Germany where they were basically gassed to death. Some perspective is helpful.

5 ( +5 / -1 )

sangetsu03 I don't want to hear any more stories about Japanese suffering from the second war.

The article you are responding to was about US Americans.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

America did in fact in the 1980's issue a government apology for that and compensated people for all the lost land and monies etc..... America today is not the same America yesterday....

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@ sfjp330

I meant the ones who elected to remain in the U.S. How they managed to rebuild their lives and business (or new ones) having lost all their property, etc.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There is a moving documentary about one of the former camp inmates: The Cats of Mirikitani

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"While the internment camps were wrong and a dark mark in US history, I would much rather have been in an American internment camp with the movies nights then in a camp run by the Japanese, like the ones in The Philippines"

Or Borneo

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batu_Lintang_camp

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Sangetsy03

1.1% of Japanese and German prisoners died in US camps, 4% of allied prisoners died in German camps, between 27% and 38% of allied prisoners died in Japanese camps.

I don't want to hear any more stories about Japanese suffering from the second war.

You are confusing prisoner camps with internment camps! Not the same thing at all.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Educator60AUG. 10, 2015 - 10:09AM JST@ sfjp330 I meant the ones who elected to remain in the U.S. How they managed to rebuild their lives and business (or new ones) having lost all their property, etc.

For Japanese and Japanese-Americans, the immediate postwar period was a struggle to readjust. Like other West Coast returnees, they faced major hurdles, such as employment, housing, and continued anti-Japanese prejudice. Some move out of the area, but majority of these people returned to their old neighborhoods, sought-out familiar employment, and revived ethnic social and religious organizations. At the same time, evacuation and incarceration had stimulated changes within the Japanese community. The organizations like the Japanese Association no longer dominated community social life. Instead, Nisei took the initiative in restarting prewar organizations. Starting over was no easy task. The majority of returnees were renters and they scrambled to find long-term housing by reconnecting with former business and friends. The returnees were still uncertain about public reception and sought to avoid confrontations. Therefore, they found housing where they had the greatest chance of integrating back into society. Most families resettled in the ethnically mixed neighborhoods.

In addition to housing, employment was a major area of concern to returnees. Many had limited English skills and most had sustained huge economic losses during evacuation. The jobs available were limited to low-paying service and laborer positions. Many of the first offers received were for cooks, domestic help and agricultural laborers on suburban ranches. The jobs were plentiful, but they were not the most desirable or well-paying positions. The return meant starting at the bottom of the economic ladder, all over again. In the West Coast, a significant number of men found work as contract gardeners.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"You are confusing prisoner camps with internment camps! Not the same thing at all."

In many cases, foreign nationals (Brits, Aussies, Americans) were interned in the same camps as POWs, so yes, it is fair to compare them.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

How about the internment camps Japan set up throughout Asia for people of European descent? How many Bristish, Australian, and American men, women, and children were put into these camps? How many died of disease and starvation? No medicine, one pint of rice per person (often moldy, and always full of rice weevils). And the Europeans were the luckier ones, the camps set up for Chinese political prisoners left few survivors to tell their tales.Funny that every year in August we get to hear stories about how Japan was the victim in the second war, and that America was thr aggressor. Stories of how Japanese internees and atomic bombing victims suffered at the evil actions of the American Army and the US government. Is Japan really that pathetic? You never hear any stories in the German media about wrongs committed against Germans during and after the war. The fact is thar almost all of the Axis prisoners of war, and Japanese internees survived their captivity in America. Many German and Italian POWs never returned to their home countries, they petitioned to stay in America. On the other hand, countless POWs and civilian internees died in Japanese captivity. 1.1% of Japanese and German prisoners died in US camps, 4% of allied prisoners died in German camps, between 27% and 38% of allied prisoners died in Japanese camps. I don't want to hear any more stories about Japanese suffering from the second war.

Preach! Brother! Preach!

4 ( +7 / -3 )

A terrible chapter in US history – something that must be remembered so as not to be repeated.

I don’t think we can compare these internment camps to those run by the Axis powers or even those housing POWs – the US had a constitution that prohibited unlawful detention and ensured basic human rights for all citizens – that constitutional guarantee was broken in this instance.

I am still amazed at the dignity with which these Americans met this plight – and the legendary heroics of the 442nd “Go for Broke” Regimental Combat Team are and will long be part of US Army folklore.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Its a bitter reality but thing like this not only on WW2 era but continues till modern days. Some countries do not have equality for all citizens while some countries certain women got raped due to economic downfall in modern days.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I often wonder about the mentality of people who can't simply say that these American internment camps were wrong. These people who feel the need to equivocate, or say "Japan did worse!" even though we aren't actually talking about Japan.

It seems to me the mark of a mature morality is the ability to deal with complexity. A person with mature morality can look back on their country's history and say, "Yes, in this war I think we were in the end on the right side of history. However, we did x, y, and z wrong. We must remember those mistakes so we can learn from them and never repeat them. We should hope to never have to fight a war as terrible as WWII again, but if we do, we should fight it better than our ancestors did."

It seems to me the mark of an immature morality is to be unable to deal with any moral grey in your country's past. This constant need by some Americans to reply to every moral failing with "Well at least we were (/are) better than the enemy!!" makes us sound like a country were very many people are content to set the moral bar so low that whenever we fight monsters, it's okay if we only behave slightly better than the monsters.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

those are the things that are expected during the war. how about telling the stories of how japan operate in the pacific, or in china or korea. but, i think that is impossible given the current round of denials from the helm.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@katsu78 Another mark of moral maturity is not to fall into the trap of 'moral equivalence'...to compare Japanese internment camps in America to internment camps run by us Japanese in Asia and say 'they are morally the same' is the epitomy of moral immaturity.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I lived in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles before it was mostly torn down and rebuilt basically as a Japanese corporate entity. This would be the second time Japanese Americans would lose homes and businesses because of the Japanese. I a fortunate i that I ca go back ad see the old hotel I lived i for five years ad the north side of first was not torn down. Even as late as the early seventies most of the Nishei idea were not talking about their experiences in the Interment camps. While some recovered, a great many never did.

Many of them Nishei were high school or just out of high school. Often most of them did to speak Japanese because their parents felt it better for them to fit in and become Americas. Like most second generation Americans they were often more American that most Americans. So they had just been taught all the wonderful things about America and the rights protected by the Constitution when the camps happened. The camp experience shamed the in a way we can’t imagine that is why it took so long to talk about it. Many of the suffered from PTSD from their experiences in the caps.. Their families lost their jobs, their businesses, their farms and had to start at the very bottom. We were not likely to treat most German Americans like that if they had no Nazi ties, and we did to treat most Italian Americans like that. This was racial thing and hatred of Asians was a long time social and political tradition in the Wester States.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

There is absolutely no question that the internment camps for Japanese-Americans were a horrific thing and that U.S. citizens were deprived of their rights and property simply because of their ethnicity and fears about their loyalty. I have Japanese-American friends whose families had their property and successful businesses stolen from their by their neighbors and competing businessmen.

As an American, it is not something I am proud of. Perhaps I can understand some of the impulses that led to it, but it does not make it right, something that many at the time knew to be the case.

However, while the damage could not be undone, at least the injustice could be acknowledged and addressed in some small manner. Which the U.S. government finally did. It took far longer than it should have and required the tireless work of a number of brave activists but it happened. And that it is not whitewashed or swept under the carpet or papered over in textbooks is a testament to how the U.S. does try to deal with its history, even that which is not favourable and even if it is less-than-perfect.

What does bother me is that every August, stories about the internment of Japanese-Americans and the suffering of the victims of the a-bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki are trotted out. NHK plays videos about the U.S. actions in WW2 which show the U.S. as the aggressor. Make no mistake, I have no issue with the Hiroshima and Nagasaki a-bombs being commemorated and the victims remembered. However, the underlying intent of all of this is to present Japan and Japanese as victims and to most certainly paint the U.S. in an unfavourable light.

In that sense, I take real issue with articles about the real injustices suffered by Japanese-Americans in the U.S. as some prop in this broader agenda.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

sangetsu03 of course the USA is held to a higher standard. If not they would be no better than Imperial Japan. If the USA acts like a fascist villain why should they be supported. While it is nice to hear about the Imperial Japanese war crimes which were many, why does this give the "Land of the Free" license to do the same?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Kenny Iyekawa AUG. 10, 2015 - 11:32AM JST @katsu78 Another mark of moral maturity is not to fall into the trap of 'moral equivalence'...to compare Japanese internment camps in America to internment camps run by us Japanese in Asia and say 'they are morally the same' is the epitomy of moral immaturity.

As far as I've seen not a single person in this thread has said they were the same. No sensible person could possibly do so. But we're not talking about Japanese POW camps. The subject of the conversation is America's internment camps. The two topics have very little to do with each other in and of themselves. So why are so many posters hell-bent on forcing comparisons to Japanese POW camps into the conversation? What purpose does it serve other than to try and deflect just and correct criticism of past US policy?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

zones2sur fAUG. 10, 2015 - 11:55AM JST There is absolutely no question that the internment camps for Japanese-Americans were a horrific thing and that U.S. citizens were deprived of their rights and property simply because of their ethnicity and fears about their loyalty.

Throughout the course of World War II, not a single incident of espionage or treason was found to be committed by Japanese Americans.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@sfjp330:

Sure, I have no reason or knowledge to dispute that and I certainly was not saying they did. I was just stating that the actions taken against them were because of FEARS about their loyalty. And likely RACISM.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

internment camps both by the Americans were not something to be proud of, but at least you know your chance of survival was very high, compared to the internment/POW camps of the IJA where prisoners were treated worse than dogs, fatality rates to disease and starvation was very high. Once again we see the Japanese versions of WW2 but were are the stories of the suffering of gaijin in the IJA camps ?? ive never seen one in all my years in Japan. As one poster put it, which was more humane a American internment camp or a IJA internment/POW camp!? id know which one id rather be put in

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

wtfjapanAUG. 10, 2015 - 12:42PM JST internment camps both by the Americans were not something to be proud of, but at least you know your chance of survival was very high,

For some, no. With the loyalty question, young Japanese American men who wanted to prove their loyalty joined the 442nd military to fight in Europe, but had one of the highest casualty rate. In total about 14,000 served.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

As far as I've seen not a single person in this thread has said they were the same. No sensible person could possibly do so. But we're not talking about Japanese POW camps. The subject of the conversation is America's internment camps. The two topics have very little to do with each other in and of themselves. So why are so many posters hell-bent on forcing comparisons to Japanese POW camps into the conversation? What purpose does it serve other than to try and deflect just and correct criticism of past US policy?

Great comment. I guess many on here can't seem to distinguish that those are two different issues and just lump them all together. Not surprising, though....

1 ( +1 / -0 )

These camps and the imprisonment of Japanese and their descendants in Canada and the US will always be a black mark and source of shame to these nations. It must always be remembered and acknowledged so that it cannot be repeated. At least two nations have both publicly and officially apologized and attempted to make amends and recompense, although as has been said in many cases land and possessions were stolen that were not returned.

Now if only all countries acknowledged their heinous acts in the past and officially apologized for them, others might be able to move on and the nations work in harmony.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Matt

You are confusing prisoner camps with internment camps! Not the same thing at all.

Be careful with your terminology. Millions of civilians were caught up in Japanese POW camps. Many refer to themselves as civilian POWs and not internees - they were going about their daily lives when one day put into camps. They too were prisoners of war. One case is an Australian friend of mine who was a child civilian POW in China. Suddenly separated from his family at nine years old for four years. He witnessed death of his friends due to severe brutality. I acknowledge on the whole military POW camps were much worse, but just because one was not a military POW doesn't mean that they were treated less harsh.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

smithinjapan AUG. 10, 2015 - 01:08PM JST At least two nations have both publicly and officially apologized and attempted to make amends and recompense, although as has been said in many cases land and possessions were stolen that were not returned.

What more do you want? 1988, President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act to compensate more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent who were incarcerated in internment camps during World War II. The legislation offered a formal apology and paid out $20,000 in compensation to each surviving victim. It's the end of a subject.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

my great grandfather spen much of the war in a Japanese POW camp, he made a diary about his ordeal after the war, which after his death was passed around many of our family to read. the treatment at the hand of the Japanese was horrific the long days labouring very little food, forced to eat rodents bugs lizards and even grass just to stay alive. the whippings if you slacked off, left to die if you could go on no further. he was about 200lb before the war when he was liberated his weight was less than 90lb.. For many many years after the war he would horde food canned etc in and around his home just to be sure he wouldnt go hungry. Hunger he wrote was one of the worst tortures imaginable. He knew very little of Japanese and Japan before the war, after the war and til his dieing day he hated anybody Japanese or looked Japanese. He wrote in his diary that he tried very hard to forgive those who treated him like that, but the haunting memories of the suffering and death of many of his friends made that impossible. he seemed sadened that he couldnt forgive like many did, his mental scars just ran too deep. He spent 3.5 yrs in POW camps, and he said that if it had been any longer he doubted he would survive. almost half of all in his camps died of disease, starvation, overworked. Just though id share a tiny fraction of his diary to put the internment camps of Japan and America into perspective.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

The first casualty of war is trust

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

wtfjapan AUG. 10, 2015 - 01:22PM JST Just though id share a tiny fraction of his diary to put the internment camps of Japan and America into perspective.

Your not. Majority of Japanese-Americans were Americans that had nothing to do with Japan during WWII. It's a different country. You need to look at a map.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

and you need to STFU it has everthing to do with WW2 and not comparing the attrocites of both sides just make you look like a blind fool

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@wftjaapn

Show me what the Japanese-Americans that were Americans that is related to Japan POW camp?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

and what does an Japanese/American internment camp have in relation to WW2 attrocities!? thats about the sum of your logic

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@katsu78 12:02 JST - Amen !

1 ( +1 / -0 )

wtfjapan AUG. 10, 2015 - 01:46PM JST Just though id share a tiny fraction of his diary to put the internment camps of Japan and America into perspective. wtfjapanAUG. 10, 2015 - 01:46PM JST and what does an Japanese/American internment camp have in relation to WW2 atrocities!? thats about the sum of your logic

I am not comparing. Read what you said. Your the one putting internment camp of Japan and America into perspective. Which is my answer: none.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

There have been numerous marks against the American Gvot. policies in the past. Some still exist now. Guantanamo, and Indian Reservations.

Hopefully we as a people can learn from the past and present, but humans have a tendency to forget and repeat every atrocity imaginable.

Never again is just a phrase. Everything will happen again.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

No one is safe and everyone is at fault, but many attrocites also got started in US, Kinda funny how people forget how much money and weaponry the US pushed into Germany, before they did a 180 and stopped investing and instead attacking. People please go get access to the vertican archives and the Secret Service Archives and read about the actual history.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

sfjp330: "What more do you want? 1988, President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act to compensate more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent who were incarcerated in internment camps during World War II. The legislation offered a formal apology and paid out $20,000 in compensation to each surviving victim. It's the end of a subject."

You need to relax, buddy. Take a look at what you quoted me on -- as having said the government has both apologized officially and publicly, AND given recompense! I said if only OTHER nations would do the same for those they have wronged (hint hint: Japan!). In any case it does not mean 'the story is closed' as in we should forget about it, so there is nothing wrong at all with former camp internees talking about their stories any more than the victims of some other horrible acts.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The article you are responding to was about US Americans

You mean like the 70,000 US Americans whom Lincoln imprisoned during the civil war after suspending the writ of habeas corpus? They were interned for the same reason the Japanese Americans were, because they had ties to the southern states, or had relatives who were in the confederate army.

During war bad things happen. And, once again, Japan started the war, so in the end it is Japan which was responsible for any and all negative acts which resulted.

In addition, many of those people of european descent interned by the Japanese were citizens of the countries they lived in when Japan invaded. Japan interned about 130,000 people of european descent throughout Asia, more than 14,000 died in captivity, a great deal being women and children. They died of the same things most prisoners of the Japanese died of; starvation, disease, and beatings.

The local farmers where I grew up were of Japanese descent. Their ancestors were interred during the war, and then returned to their farms and homes after the war ended. They were ambivalent about their internment, people of the 30's and 40's were used to hardship, and the life they fled from in Japan when they emigrated to America was worse than the conditions endured in the camps.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

of course the USA is held to a higher standard. If not they would be no better than Imperial Japan. If the USA acts like a fascist villain why should they be supported. While it is nice to hear about the Imperial Japanese war crimes which were many, why does this give the "Land of the Free" license to do the same?

Because it's about strength and power, not morality! And that's what the weak do when they can't win physically: they fight back with victimhood and morality.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

It's funny that I got so many 'thumbs down' for the temerity to mention that the internment in the US was done by a Democratic President. Further irony, compensation was paid under a Republican administration. Canada was the same- Japanese Canadians were put in camps by a Liberal Prime Minister, and compensation paid by a Conservative one.

Seems that left leaning folks are a touch sensitive about their racist and warmongering history...

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

"It's funny that I got so many 'thumbs down' for the temerity to mention that the internment in the US was done by a Democratic President."

No, 'Vast Right-Wing Conspirator', it's only 'funny' in the very sad and pathetic sense; you are taking a subject about a horrible moment in the past and using it to further current partisan politics, and under that handle you canNOT deny it! Furthermore, you seem to think the Republicans and Democrats of 70 years ago, or the Liberals and Conservatives in Canada were the same in everything besides name, when in fact they were the same in terms of NOTHING but name. Hell, even Reagan is rolling over in his grave about the current state of the Republican party, if you want to get down to it.

So, no, it's not funny at all, but a given, that you would get so many thumbs down for such a comment.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

This has been an interesting comment thread to read, as it is clear that all of us probably look at this story through our own world views.

Some see this as another example of wrongful actions by the U.S. throughout history. Others react to what they see as Japan's whitewashing of its own wrongdoings in the war and make comparisons between the internment camps in the U.S. and the inhumane conditions in many POW camps run by Japan in Asia which also housed civilians. Etc etc.

What I know is this. The facts around the internment camps in the U.S. are not in dispute. The sufferings endured by Japanese-Americans who were Americans is without question. I have heard the stories countless times and, yet, every time I read & hear them, it strikes me just how unjust it all was. Particularly considering that my grandfather was the son of a German immigrant to the U.S. and no action was taken against him, my grandmother and my mother during the war. Even though they were of German descent.

So, on a stand-alone basis, regardless of whatever world view one has and what broader ideas one holds, it is worth remembering the hardships faced by these U.S. citizen and why they faced it. It is the only way we can learn from our mistakes.

Now, with that said, I just wish I saw more articles in August that dealt with those subjects which may not reflect well upon Japan. For example, the foreign labourers that were forced to work in Japan during the war. Many of whom died in the U.S. bombings of Japan.

We should remember history but we should do so without reservation and without censorship.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

You mean like the 70,000 US Americans whom Lincoln imprisoned during the civil war after suspending the writ of habeas corpus? They were interned for the same reason the Japanese Americans were, because they had ties to the southern states, or had relatives who were in the confederate army. During war bad things happen. And, once again, Japan started the war, so in the end it is Japan which was responsible for any and all negative acts which resulted. In addition, many of those people of european descent interned by the Japanese were citizens of the countries they lived in when Japan invaded. Japan interned about 130,000 people of european descent throughout Asia, more than 14,000 died in captivity, a great deal being women and children. They died of the same things most prisoners of the Japanese died of; starvation, disease, and beatings. The local farmers where I grew up were of Japanese descent. Their ancestors were interred during the war, and then returned to their farms and homes after the war ended. They were ambivalent about their internment, people of the 30's and 40's were used to hardship, and the life they fled from in Japan when they emigrated to America was worse than the conditions endured in the camps.

Here's what you're not getting - what occurred in other nations interment or POW camps, no matter how brutal or tragic, has nothing to do with the fact that US citizens who were guaranteed protection from unlawful confinement and revocation of their basic humans rights were deprived of those constitutionally guaranteed freedoms merely because of their ethnic background. It was a failure of government to protect the constitutional rights of its citizens.

The fact that you keep referring to these US citizens as "Japanese" again shows you have a fundamental misunderstanding of this issue.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

"There is a moving documentary about one of the former camp inmates: The Cats of Mirikitani"

and also related good movies: "American Pastime 2007 film", "Come See the Paradise 1990 film" and "Go for Broke! 1951 film"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@sangetsu03 The local farmers where I grew up were of Japanese descent. Their ancestors were interred during the war, and then returned to their farms and homes after the war ended. They were ambivalent about their internment, people of the 30's and 40's were used to hardship, and the life they fled from in Japan when they emigrated to America was worse than the conditions endured in the camps.

To say they "returned to their farms and homes after the war ended" is a pretty outrageous lie. You are not entitled to change the facts. To say all or most Japanese (or maybe even many) had mixed feelings about losing their jobs, property, homes and farms is another nasty piece of fiction. I just don't know what possesses someone to spread such falsehoods. I have a hard time believing the mistake is innocent since these facts are readily available and not in dispute.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

These people who feel the need to equivocate, or say "Japan did worse!" even though we aren't actually talking about Japan.

Seems like something the Japanese themselves do when they are faced with having to accept something negative about their country, it's history, or people. The common excuse is to make comparisons with somewhere else to justify Japanese actions. It's frustrating to hear, and people who say it, typically speaking, are unable to separate one action from another.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@Yubaru,

Seems like something the Japanese themselves do when they are faced with having to accept something negative about their country, it's history, or people. The common excuse is to make comparisons with somewhere else to justify Japanese actions.

Indeed, I think this is right. I have no issue with reflecting on the injustice that was the internment of Japanese-Americans who were U.S. citizens during WW2.

However, that it is typically discussed every year around this time of year, along with the stories around bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the horrors of the Okinawa conflict, etc. seems intentionally designed to create a moral equivalence and to offset the image of Japan as the aggressor. Just my take on it, but that is what it feels like.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Yubaru AUG. 10, 2015 - 04:25PM JST Seems like something the Japanese themselves do when they are faced with having to accept something negative about their country, it's history, or people. The common excuse is to make comparisons with somewhere else to justify Japanese actions. It's frustrating to hear, and people who say it, typically speaking, are unable to separate one action from another.

You're very right. In both cases, it's a case of trying to build a narrative of the war that oversimplifies it into "my side" and "their side", concealing any ambiguity or uncomfortable truths that don't fit the narrative.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

zones2surf: "Particularly considering that my grandfather was the son of a German immigrant to the U.S. and no action was taken against him, my grandmother and my mother during the war. Even though they were of German descent."

Since there is a valid comparison to be made, I'll just touch of this briefly, but there were in fact problems with some German communities in WWII, but much moreso during WWI (in Canada, anyway). It's true they were not driven from their homes and forced into camps and not persecuted to nearly the extent people of Japanese ancestry were, but there were incidents -- particularly with the Amish and Mennonites who were of German descent. None of them were volunteering to go to war, despite them being of German descent in many communities, and surrounding people were quite bitter about it and persecuted them (meanwhile, they were simply trying to mind their own business, did not care about war regardless of whom it was between or where it was, and were natives of that country, not Germany). Just a point.

In any case, Yubaru also makes a very good point, as do you, that none of the negative stuff that Japan did is touched in during this spate of history teachings and commemorations, and in fact people even have to fight to hear certain words or make the facts known. I'm 100% for having the details of these camps, and the lessons (hopefully) learned taught in schools and to the general public, but that goes both ways and other nations, specifically Japan since we are here and dealing with Japan, need to address their wrongdoings as well; not simply talk about when they were victims.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Much of this "comparison-thinking/excuse making" comes from a lack of education. Many American's were apathetic to the internment camps, Japanese were seen as being "less" than human by many.

Few stood up in their defense, one major exception was the Gov. of Colorado at the time, Ralph Carr, who put his career on the line and eventually left office because people opposed his views.

He eventually was seen as a hero for standing up. Interesting reading.

http://coloradovirtuallibrary.org/content/ralph-carr

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What seems to fall through the cracks is the fact that, even after the Reagan bill for compensation was passed, the delay in payment lasted for an extremely long time - possibly to allow some more survivors to step out of the way through death so that measly sum (a mere $20,000, which should have been in 1941 money, not at that time current monetary value) would not have to be paid.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Here's what you're not getting - what occurred in other nations interment or POW camps, no matter how brutal or tragic, has nothing to do with the fact that US citizens who were guaranteed protection from unlawful confinement and revocation of their basic humans rights

What you are not getting is that these "Americans" were interred during a time of war, and many rights were taken away from many people, not just them. Soldiers had all their mail read by censors, when free speech is supposed to be a guaranteed right, and any language contrary to the war effort was grounds for a charge of sedition, also a violation of the right to for speech. In a declared war, and such was the case from 1941 to 1945, the authorities had the right to "curtail certain rights for collective self defense". Food, raw materials, gasoline, and other goods were rationed, meaning that the government took most of what was produced, and doled what was left to the people. This too was a violation of American's rights, but everyone endured it nonetheless. It may not have been right, but at the time it was thought to be necessary, and those of us today are wasting time trying to second-guess the decisions made at a time and place where we were not present.

I suppose drafting countless thousands of men against their will, and sending them to fight in Europe and the Pacific was less bad than interning civilians?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I suppose drafting countless thousands of men against their will, and sending them to fight in Europe and the Pacific was less bad than interning civilians?

I suppose the next thing you are going to say is that they were imprisoned for their own physical safety right?

Two wrongs do not make a right, and the thousands of women and children were such a huge threat to the safety of the US?

Then pray tell why weren't German -Americans or Italian-Americans put through the same? Right, the US was, and in many ways still is, racist as all hell when it comes to people of color.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What you are not getting is that these "Americans" were interred during a time of war

Why is "Americans" in quotes?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What you are not getting is that these "Americans" were interred during a time of war, and many rights were taken away from many people, not just them. Soldiers had all their mail read by censors, when free speech is supposed to be a guaranteed right, and any language contrary to the war effort was grounds for a charge of sedition, also a violation of the right to for speech. In a declared war, and such was the case from 1941 to 1945, the authorities had the right to "curtail certain rights for collective self defense". Food, raw materials, gasoline, and other goods were rationed, meaning that the government took most of what was produced, and doled what was left to the people. This too was a violation of American's rights, but everyone endured it nonetheless. It may not have been right, but at the time it was thought to be necessary, and those of us today are wasting time trying to second-guess the decisions made at a time and place where we were not present. I suppose drafting countless thousands of men against their will, and sending them to fight in Europe and the Pacific was less bad than interning civilians?

Well, I'll make one last good faith effort;

Military members forfeit certain rights as part of their induction - this is clearly spelled out in US law. This forfeiture is not based on their ethnic background.

Rationing of goods and services is not a deprivation of rights - nothing in the constitution says the government has to provide you with food or gasoline. And this restriction of goods and services was not based on ethnic background.

Conscription into the armed forces, again, is not based on ethnic background.

These US citizens were unlawfully confined, and their property expropriated, merely based on their ethnic background. They did not commit any crime, no evidence was presented against them, and no court issued any conviction – they were just led away and locked up based on their race and their parents or other ancestors country of origin - a clear violation of their constitutional rights under the 14th Amendment.

https://olmsteadhistoryproject.wikispaces.com/Japanese-American+Internment

2 ( +3 / -1 )

These US citizens were unlawfully confined, and their property expropriated, merely based on their ethnic background. They did not commit any crime, no evidence was presented against them, and no court issued any conviction – they were just led away and locked up based on their race and their parents or other ancestors country of origin - a clear violation of their constitutional rights under the 14th Amendment.

It is a black mark, one of many in American history.

My mother, God rest her soul, was given a gold necklace from her father on her birthday, her birthday was February 5th, the present was given roughly 2 months after Pearl Harbor. The necklace was her initials designed in script, and she wore it proudly as a gift from her father, she only wore it once, as she was ridiculed at work as being a JAP lover.

My mother's initials were J.A.P. and she never wore that necklace again. Yeah American's were racist back then too.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The United States Congress passed the apology bill and paid thousands of dollars in compensations. Something that Japan never reports is the fact that many of these Japanese Americans are fighting for the Korean and Asian sex slaves of Japan during WWII. The Glendale California's sex slave memorial statue for instance, was co-founded by a Japanese American woman who was interned in the American camps during WWII when she was a child. And Congress Mike Honda is also another internee.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Seems like something the Japanese themselves do when they are faced with having to accept something negative about their country, it's history, or people. The common excuse is to make comparisons with somewhere else to justify Japanese actions. It's frustrating to hear, and people who say it, typically speaking, are unable to separate one action from another.

And they get criticized all the time on here calling them a xenophobe that don't know their history and whitewashing it so that they have no clue what went on in World War 2. But, clearly there are some on this site that is doing the same thing with this article which is ironic since they are always the one screaming about Japan/Japanese. They are just being completely ignorant and making false comparisons. Luckily, some are educated enough to know the difference.

The United States Congress passed the apology bill and paid thousands of dollars in compensations. Something that Japan never reports is the fact that many of these Japanese Americans are fighting for the Korean and Asian sex slaves of Japan during WWII. The Glendale California's sex slave memorial statue for instance, was co-founded by a Japanese American woman who was interned in the American camps during WWII when she was a child. And Congress Mike Honda is also another internee

Japan paid compensation to Korea in 1965 as a measure to end all disputes on matters of colonizing their country. The problem was that Korea never provided that money to the victims and used it all on infrastructure. So, you should be screaming at your own government if you want to bring this topic up.

What's intrensting is that the Civil Liberties Act did not pass with a landslide victory with no opposition. Most people assumed/argue that the wrong was righted since the government did compensate for its citizen, but its not common knowledge that some in the government opposed this bill.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@StrangerlandAUG. 10, 2015 - 07:26PM JST

Why is "Americans" in quotes?

I hope it's to emphasize they were Americans.

There was no evidence to suggest a threat or disloyalty, and plenty to suggest the opposite.

It sits on top of earlier unreasonable discrimination against Japanese immigrants.

I think it was more because they were seen as hardworking economic threats.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

This has to do with American actions against their own citizens and immigrants. Some of them were serving in the US military. They were discharged and placed in the camps as well. This is about racism pure and simple. This is about stealing the land and business of Americans just because they were of Japanese descent. The compensation of 20,000 dollars is nothing compared to what they lost. FYI neither myself or my spouse would get any money from revisiting this issue. Then the racism out of paying such a small amount of money.

The United States needs to set the example of doing it right. WWII shows America acting like the fascist foes. Ronald Regan talked about the shining city on the hill. There is nothing America can do about its past but to learn the lesson and move forward. America is the dream of doing great things! Do not let go of your dreams of equality and opportunity for all!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I hope it's to emphasize they were Americans.

One would hope, but it comes across as questioning if in fact they actually were.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The Americans and Canadians can talk all they want about the 'shame' of the internment and how it was a 'disappointment for their nation", and play around with any other remorseful phrases that seem to imply institutional racism is not in tune with their nation's character..kek. But they have to do better than handing out a measly US$ 20,000 (in the early 1990s) to each victim.

I understand those lands and businesses stolen from the victims cannot be returned so easily, but the US government, for instance, could've at least offered a social fast track program, similar to affirmative action they already provide for African-Americans, to the descendants of internees. Why the descendants? Well first of all, most the former internees themselves are dead, and secondly, property confiscation and internment tend to have negative impacts on multiple generations, in case you haven't noticed from reading similar acts in history.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Bossu a lot of the Americans of Japanese descent are still alive. 20,000 dollars was paid in deflated US dollars and what is worth being held like animals for up to 4 years in prison? They were under American guns and were under the threat of being shot dead.

http://www.pbs.org/childofcamp/history/timeline.html

As for the property it should of been returned to them upon release but it was stolen from them. It should be returned to the descendants now as stolen property sales are illegal.

There is no excuse for the camps then as today. A lot of the Interned Japanese-Americans refuse to fight because their families were in the camps. Well read and learn of this misdeed that can only be repaid by American learning about the lessons out of control paranoia and racism. I do believe one day America can be the shining city on the hill.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Bossu

FYI: As a rule, both those interned who had their property and dignity robbed of them, and their direct heirs valued the loss of their dignity as primary.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Anyone remember what happened to non Japanese residents of Japan and associated territories? Losing property was not the issue, torture,slave labour,experimentation and murder were the issues. Just saying, different times, different values.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

These people in Vegas vicinities I think they worked hard to attend Univ. because many of them are former professors etc. Also when they found I have 5 grown children and I graduated a State U. they did not know I went to easiest U and sympathetic. They are nice and quiet. My two daughters are active in Japanese American Society with them. Very nice Japanese people but I don;t go there. I was not used to mingle with nice people in Japan anyway.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Survivors???? Are you friggin kidding me. US didn't murder and abuse Japanese Americans, the way Japan did as it wrecked havoc across Asia and the Pacific. JAPAN WAS NOT A VICTIM. Get over it.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

@melonbar: In Japan, people emigrated to USA were not considered Japanese at the time. In USA, they were called Japs.How do you know their elder parents were not abused or killed? Have you inspected any records of these Jap camps?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Quit whining about it. Yes, whining. Hindsight is always 20-20.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Hindsight is always 20-20

At the time, there was no reason to inter.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

As stated, hindsight is always 20-20

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Note: America's WWII concentration camps also held German-Americans, Italian-Americans and other Europeans from Axis nation. Only Japanese Americans have received compensation. Thus, if you were a German-American child born next to a Japanese-American child in an American concentration camp you wouldn't get compensation but the Japanese-American child would.

The whole internment idea was stupid to begin with.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I wish they would stop calling them concentration camps. This compares them to the death camps of nazi Germany and while it may not have been pleasant, there really is no comparison at all.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I wish they would stop calling them concentration camps

That's what they were. And you are correct. People do conflate concentration camps with death camps. Maybe, because in the end, they are more related than perhaps some would wish...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

In USA concentration camps were there death camps in USA?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Only if you were black.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Young men fought and died to fight the oppression of fascism in favor of the kinder, gentler oppression of WASP democracy. Not only the Japanese, but the stories of Blacks, Native Americans and homosexuals of the time are pretty horrible too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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