Trends Of Historical Thought Regarding Japanese Internment During World War II

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On December 7th, 1941, Japan launched one of the most devastating attacks that occurred on United States soil killing over 2000 citizens. Ironically, the death of these citizens resulted in the United States government violating the rights of over 100,000 Japanese Americans living along the Pacific Coast. The attack on Pearl harbor exacerbated the already present anti-Japanese sentiment within the United States resulting in the removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans in internment camps. This historiographical essay will examine the trends of historical thought regarding Japanese internment during World War II examining sources chronologically by publication date from 1972 to 2017. Early historiographical interpretations, referred to …show more content…

Racial perspectives towards Japanese became especially apparent on the Pacific coast. Following the attacks on Pearl Harbor the U.S. government gave the FBI permission to search Japanese households for contraband in attempts to identify potential threats. The FBI took advantage of this and searched Japanese households and businesses without cause, violating the citizenship rights of many Japanese Americans. Daniels demonstrated that the portrayal of “the evil deeds of Hitler’s Germany were the deeds of bad men,” while “the evil deeds of Tojo and Hirohito’s Japan were the deeds of a bad race.” These racial perspectives epitomize the response to the Japanese immigrants within the country compared to German or Italian immigrants. Especially given that the Japanese became incarcerated while the other two groups did …show more content…

Daniels noted that General John DeWitt suggested the incarceration of all Germans, Italians, and Japanese, regardless of nation of birth, though he prioritized the Japanese “as the most dangerous.” Attorney General Francis Biddle opposed the notion of the forced evacuation of Japanese to camps. Biddle noted that “American citizens of Japanese origin could not, in [his] opinion, be singled out of an area and evacuated with the other Japanese.” This indicates the existence of some concern regarding incarceration as a violation of the rights of the Nissei because of their citizenship. However, the Issei did not have citizenship because of the Immigration Act of 1924. DeWitt managed to push for the incarceration of Issei and Nissei through sensationalism. DeWitt played on the fears of Americans and illustrated the dangers of the potential of Japanese raids on the Pacific coast externally from the Japanese military and internally from Japanese immigrants. Ultimately, the anti-Japanese sentiment won out and Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive order 9066 allowing the army to incarcerate Japanese in internment camps. Hence, Daniels demonstrated the ease with which racial prejudice met military hysteria and resulted in the incarceration of Japanese

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