How do different authors portray the
Japanese Internment Camp Experience to readers?  
Japan invades Pearl Harbor and the U.S. joins WW2

Audio of FDR's Speech
Dec. 7, 1941
II. #1. Executive Order 9066: The President Authorizes Japanese Relocation
February 19, 1942
III. #2. Civilian Exclusion Order No. 34: To All Persons of Japanese Ancestry May 3, 1942
IV. #3. The Civil Liberties Act of 1988: Redress for Japanese Americans
August 10, 1988
V. SOURCE 3: Thinkquest: Japanese Internment Camps & Their Effects (2008)
  DOCUMENT TITLE: Japanese Internment Camps and Their Effects


SOURCE: It is not possible to determine who the student authors of this website were.  Many of their points are supported with primary source documents that are linked within the website.

PURPOSE: To tell the story of the Japanese American citizens during World War 2 by briefly describing their treatment by the American government before, during, and after they were relocated to internment camps.

MOTIVATION: This website was created by students who participated in a Thinkquest competition in the 19 and under category. It is part of the Thinkquest library collection.

QUOTE: “Some Japanese Americans died in the camps due to inadequate medical care and the emotional stresses they encountered. Several were killed by military guards for allegedly resisting orders….This tragic event left different people, with different emotions. Many were killed and other wounded forever. Today many are suing to be paid back what their family lost. This is the price we pay for racism. This teaches us all that we are all people, no matter what color or race.”

OUR SHORT INTERPRETATION: Racism can damage people for life.
VI. SOURCE 2: Children of the Camps Documentary
  TITLE: Children of the Camps: The Documentary


MOTIVATION: This website is a companion to the PBS Documentary that portrays the personal journeys of six Americans of Japanese ancestry as they experienced life in the camps as children and then began to heal after the war ended.  

SOURCE: The website is sponsored by PBS. Satsuki Ina, PhD of Counselor Education, who specializes in cross-cultural counseling and diversity training, directed the project and was in charge of content development.

PURPOSE: To facilitate a healing experience, to document six children's personal journeys from the camps to healing from the wounds of racism, and to educate the general public about the long term effects of World War II internment trauma on Japanese Americans.

QUOTE: "This travesty of justice could easily happen to any other group... Educating people about the incarceration of one group will help prevent its happening to other minorities in our American democracy." – (from history link at website) At the time, Executive Order 9066 was justified as a "military necessity" to protect against domestic espionage and sabotage. However, it was later documented that "our government had in its possession proof that not one Japanese American, citizen or not, had engaged in espionage, not one had committed any act of sabotage."

OUR SHORT INTERPRETATION: Don't let history repeat itself.
VII. SOURCE 4: Military Justification: Internment of Ethnic Japanese in WW2 (1998)
  TITLE: Military Justification: Internment of Ethnic Japanese in WW2


SOURCE: It is not clear who the original author of this essay is, and the person who posted the essay to this website has remained anonymous. Much of the essay revolves around the writer’s own opinions, though many of the facts closely match with information I’ve read on other websites.

MOTIVATION: The writer claims much of this essay is a “one-sided debate” but he or she seeks to justify the events that occurred as ‘considerable military justifications’ fitting with Article 1, Section 9 of the constitution that claims people’s constitutional rights may be suspended “in cases of rebellion or invasion the public Safety [that] may require it”.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this essay is to reflect on the ‘considerable military justifications’ for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, though it does not go so far as to conclude that these justifications were sufficient. This site is not hostile to Japanese Americans, but rather seeks to help readers better understand the issues so we can avoid having this disaster happen again to anyone.

QUOTE:  “You can only contribute intelligently to this whole issue if you learn about how the decision to intern was made, and the perspective from which it was made, and the apparent motivations.”

OUR SHORT INTERPRETATION: Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes can help better understand the issues and make sure they don’t happen again.  
VIII. A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans  & The U.S. Constitution (2001)
  TITLE: A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans & The U.S. Constitution


SOURCE: A series of people from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History were involved in creating this website, led by online exhibit curator, Jennifer Locke Jones.

PURPOSE: This site focuses on the experiences of Japanese Americans who were placed in detention camps during WW2 and is intended to explore ideas related to decision-making and citizen action under the U.S. Constitution.

MOTIVATION: This website was created to help understand the balance between the rights of a citizen versus the power of the state.  It contains first-person accounts (and their opinions), images, music, artifacts from the Smithsonian collection, and opportunities for website viewers to share and respond with their own opinions.  

QUOTE: “The country made a big and tragic error in 1942, but we learned from our mistakes, so we won't make them in the future…The aim of the Constitution was not to create a 'perfect union' — none of the framers believed mortal beings were capable of a 'perfect union.' They wanted instead to form a 'more perfect union.'…The important thing is, we're still trying to accomplish that.” (from Introduction by John Chancellor)

OUR SHORT INTERPRETATION: Know your rights and know when to speak up if they are being ignored.  
Lt. G. J. DeWitt -
Final Report
  DOCUMENT TITLE: A Portion of Lt. General J. L. DeWitt’s Final Report on the Evacuation of the Japanese


SOURCE: Author: Lieutenant General John Lesesne DeWitt, United States Army; Gen. DeWitt was responsible for defending the West Coast from an anticipated invasion. The set of documents was compiled by the Virtual Museum of San Francisco as part of a website about the Internment of San Francisco Japanese.

PURPOSE: To communicate to the Chief of Staff, U.S. Army if and how the charges outlined in the Executive Order No. 966 were carried out.

MOTIVATION: This was the final military report to the Army’s Chief of Staff, June 5, 1943 (World War II had not ended yet). DeWitt issued these reports in San Francisco, and The San Francisco News reported almost daily on the developments in the first six months of 1942.  

QUOTE: “The evacuation was impelled by military necessity…. thousands of American-born Japanese had gone to Japan to receive their education and indoctrination there and had become rabidly pro-Japanese and then had returned to the United States…. The continued presence of a large, unassimilated, tightly knit and racial group, bound to an enemy nation by strong ties of race, culture, custom and religion along a frontier vulnerable to attack constituted a menace which had to be dealt with. Their loyalties were unknown and time was of the essence…. It is better to have had this protection and not to have needed it than to have needed it and not to have had it.”

OUR SHORT INTERPRETATION: It's better to be safe than sorry.
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