Annual U.S. internment camp pilgrimage salient to politics 50 years on

By KiMi Robinson

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There were also German-Americans and Italian-Americans interned in the US during WWII; where’s the mention of that?

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

True, German-Americans and Italian-Americans were interned, but nowhere near the scale of Japanese-Americans. Moreover, the internment of Japanese-Americans was more racially motivated.

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Per article these were 3rd and 4th generation Americans of Japanese descent. I wonder if they felt they were Americans, Japanese-Americans, or Japanese living in America.

The War Department asked if these men were willing to serve on combat duty wherever ordered and if individuals would swear unqualified allegiance to the United States and forswear any form of allegiance to the Emperor of Japan. Both questions caused a great deal of concern and unrest. Citizens resented being asked to renounce loyalty to the Emperor of Japan when they had never held a loyalty to the Emperor.

Japanese immigrants were barred from becoming U.S. citizens on the basis of racial exclusion, so renouncing their only citizenship would be problematic.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

In Britain Germans and Italians in the country at the start of the war were interned in Scotland for the period of the war.

I think most Italian-born men were interned on the Isle of Man. Many lived in Scotland already, and their families were ordered to move away from the coast, forcing many to close their businesses. I think there were a number of POW camps for Italian soldiers located in Scotland.

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Japanese were put in American camps even if they were Americans citizens born in the USA. It was a racial thing not a question of allegiance.

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those living on the continental side suffered alot worse compared to those in hawaii in terms of the scale of the internment. and it took more than 40 years for japanese-americans to receive an acknowledgement of the injustice and apology from the government.

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Don't forget only 20 years earlier at Versailles Woodrow Wilson had personally vetoed Japan's proposal of a Racial Equality Clause, meant to guarantee equal treatment of foreign nationals regardless of race.

There may have been some supposed doubts about allegiance - even though a quick Google search reveals that 33,000 Japanese-Americans served in the US Army and immediately after WW2 - but the racial prejudice demonstrated by President Wilson must have still been a strong part of the American (and Western) psyche. And it's not like it's totally disappeared today.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I served with a German who was POW during WWII. He was captured in Africa and sent to the southern part of the US. He had it made. Liked it do much, he joined the American army.

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There was opposition to the relocation of the Americans of Japanese descent from a surprising source, J. Eger Hoover of the FBI. He said the FBI had control of the problem and there was no need for the relocation. The governor of California. Earl Warren, pushed for the relocation. He would later be on the U.S, Supreme Court. Those Americans of Japanese descent who served in the Pacific found they were really treated with great kindness in Australia . Much better than in the US

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In the context of war, the sentiment expressed in the L.A Times editorial below and the subsequent influx of Mexicans was a natural consequence and entirely to be expected.

“A viper is nonetheless a viper wherever the egg is hatched... So, a Japanese American born of Japanese parents, nurtured upon Japanese traditions, living in a transplanted Japanese atmosphere...notwithstanding his nominal brand of accidental citizenship almost inevitably and with the rarest exceptions grows up to be a Japanese, and not an American... Thus, while it might cause injustice to a few to treat them all as potential enemies, I cannot escape the conclusion...that such treatment...should be accorded to each and all of them while we are at war with their race.”

Incarceration of Japanese Americans, who provided critical agricultural labor on the West Coast, precipitated a mass immigration of Mexican workers into the United States to fill these jobs, under the banner of what became known as the Bracero Program.

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Internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII was undoubtedly harsh. Racism is most often given as the reason for their internment. However, the Niihau Incident is rarely mentioned as a contributing factor in the decision to implement internment. During that incident, a Japanese aircraft crash landed on Hawaii's Niihau island after attacking Pearl Harbor. An Issei and a Nisei couple gave aid and comfort to the Japanese pilot, and the incident contributed to the thinking of some people at the time that Japanese-Americans might align themselves with Japanese forces should an invasion be launched after Japanese initial successes in the Pacific.

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