Internment Camps for the Japanese Term Paper

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He had serious concerns about the legal ability to lock up civilians who had done nothing wrong. He argued that the military could not get away with interfering in civilian lives. He believed the only time it was legally doable was in the case of Marshall law and that it was approved and sanctioned by local civilian leader such as local politicians (Early Implementation of the Mass Removal (

Although martial law was never declared on the West Coast, it was declared a "Theater of Operations" on December 11, 1941. Although this declaration was not made with Japanese-Americans in mind, it ultimately provided the Army and the courts with the legitimization necessary to place civilians under military control (Early Implementation of the Mass Removal (" third key player in the decision to have internment camps came from something called the Roberts Commission. The Commission provided the federal administration with a formal and in depth investigation of the events of Pearl Harbor. While the Commission did not blame Japanese-Americans for the attack on Pearl Harbor, it did little to exonerate them either.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Internment Camps for the Japanese Assignment

The commission did not blame the resident Japanese population in Hawaii for the success of the attack, but neither did it go out of its way to exonerate them. The publication of the report was a sensation and stimulated many false rumors regarding Japanese fifth-column activity in Hawaii (Early Implementation of the Mass Removal ( "fifth column" refers to people within national borders who engage in espionage or sabotage for an enemy country (Early Implementation of the Mass Removal ("Despite their resolve to intern aliens, DeWitt and Gullion were military men, not publicly elected officials, which meant that they could not formulate the domestic policy necessary to carry out their plan. Moreover, since the DOJ, in particular Attorney General Biddle, did not support the idea of mass removal or any interference with civilians, the War Department began a lobbying effort among local politicians to gain the support they needed (Early Implementation of the Mass Removal ("

The two spent the next few weeks getting in touch with politicians on the West Coast and trying to get them to agree that it was time to do a sort of Marshall law movement that would allow the Japanese-Americans to be placed in the camps. The two military experts were well versed in manipulation and had learned how to present their case with ease and strength (Early Implementation of the Mass Removal (

While members of the War Department argued with members of the DOJ over the perceived necessity of the removal, these local politicians continued to fan the flames of war hysteria (Early Implementation of the Mass Removal ("

Then in February the Secretary of War called the president and spoke to him about the desire to intern the Japanese-Americans. A short time later a call came in from the War Secretary's assistance to Gullion's assistance. The call was to let them know about what they called good news. The call included the following conversation:

we talked to the President and the President... says go ahead and do anything you think necessary... If it involves citizens, we will take care of them too. He says there will probably be some repercussions, but it has got to be dictated by military necessity, but as he puts it, "Be as reasonable as you can (Early Implementation of the Mass Removal ("

Once this conversation took place the ball was put into motion and several of the president's closest advisors began to pressure him to sign an executive order that would allow for Japanese-American citizens to be placed in the camps without their rights being violated. In other words the order removed the civil rights of those who were being rounded up and placed in the camps.

Despite the objections of a handful of policymakers, including Attorney General Biddle, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942. Citing the need to protect against espionage and sabotage, Executive Order 9066 granted the Army, through the Secretary of War, the authority that Gullion had so long sought. The words "Japanese" or "Japanese-Americans" did not appear in the order, but it was they, and they alone, who felt its sting.[4] In the entire course of war, ten people were convicted of spying for Japan. All of them were Caucasian (Early Implementation of the Mass Removal ("


The decision to round up hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese-Americans and place them in internment camps appears at first glance to be the idea of FDR. When one examines the situation more closely one will find that there were two military leaders who wanted it and they began a campaign to gain support. They got it and that is when FDR signed the order. The camps will forever remain in the history books as one of the biggest mistakes on the nation. FDR was well loved for many of his programs and ideas. The camps did not turn out to be one of them.

Click on Executive Order 9066 to see a larger version of the document.

Japanese-American Responses

The response of the Japanese-American community to the mass removal and incarceration was mixed. While some viewed them as opportunities to contribute to the war effort and demonstrate loyalty to the United States, others objected to the process as a violation of civil rights. Many Japanese-Americans fell into the first category, led by the Japanese-American Citizens League (JACL), an influential Japanese-American political organization. As an organization, the JACL believed in the integrity of the U.S. government, and thus encouraged the Japanese-American community to fully cooperate with the mass removal and incarceration. Some of the JACL leaders acted as informants for federal intelligence agencies and turned over the names of Japanese (both alien and U.S. citizens) who they felt were potentially subversive.

In this video clip, Toru S. recalls the Japanese-American Citizens League decision to encourage people of Japanese ancestry to comply with Executive Order 9066.

The Japanese-Americans who objected were relatively weaker in voice. One notable individual who argued against acceptance and cooperation was James Omura, a journalist based in San Francisco. He testified before Congress that, "I am strongly opposed to mass evacuation of American-born Japanese. It is my honest belief that such an action would not solve the question of Nisei loyalty."[5] Omura's opposition sprang from his sense of its injustice and of the ignoble motives behind Executive Order 9066. Omura and other Japanese-Americans who objected to the mass removal and incarceration also disagreed with the Japanese-Americans who accepted the order, creating a divide in the Japanese-American community itself.

Other Japanese-Americans expressed their objections to Executive Order 9066 by deliberately violating one or more of the orders. These violations were attempts to test the legality of the orders in the courts. Four notable Japanese-Americans had their cases taken to the Supreme Court. Minoru Yasui, an attorney from Portland, Oregon, violated a military curfew order which required that all persons of Japanese ancestry be indoors between 8 p.m. And 6 a.m. Gordon Hirabayashi, a student at the University of Washington, challenged the orders by refusing to register himself with federal authorities. Fred Korematsu, a nisei welder from the Oakland, California area, was arrested for failing to report to Tanforan Assembly Center -- one of 16 temporary camps that detained Japanese-Americans before they were transferred to the incarceration camps. All three men were convicted for their violations and in each case, the Supreme Court upheld their convictions. The fourth legal case that tested the constitutionality of the mass removal and incarceration of Japanese-Americans was brought under the name of Mitsuye Endo, an employee at the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Endo's attorneys argued that it was illegal for the government to detain her without trial while martial law was not declared. Although the Supreme Court, on December 18, 1944, ruled unanimously that Mitsuye Endo should be given her liberty, it failed to address the larger constitutional issues underlying the case. Thus, although the Endo case resulted in a technical "victory" for Japanese-Americans, the legality of the incarceration remained unresolved.

Click on this photo to listen to Gordon Hirabayashi talk about his decision to refuse the curfew and exclusion orders.

Despite the anti-Japanese hysteria that existed on the West Coast, not all policymakers were persuaded of the need to incarcerate Japanese-Americans. Most of the debate regarding this issue existed between the military and the DOJ, the military being for incarceration and the DOJ being against it. Similarly, a debate existed within the Japanese-American community itself between those who accepted the orders and those who did not. In the end, however, the objections were overruled, and the mass removal and incarceration began.

1. Quoted in Brian Niiya, Japanese-American History (New York: Facts on File, 1993) p. 54.

2. Roger Daniels, Concentration Camps USA (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1972) p. 29.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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