posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 03:28 PM
On February 19, 1942, soon after the beginning of World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. The evacuation order commenced the
round-up of 120,000 Americans of Japanese heritage to one of 10 internment camps—officially called "relocation centers"—in California, Idaho,
Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, and Arkansas.
Roosevelt's executive order was fueled by anti-Japanese sentiment among farmers who competed against Japanese labor, politicians who sided with
anti-Japanese constituencies, and the general public, whose frenzy was heightened by the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor. More than 2/3 of the
Japanese who were interned in the spring of 1942 were citizens of the United States.
The U.S. internment camps were overcrowded and provided poor living conditions. According to a 1943 report published by the War Relocation Authority
(the administering agency), Japanese Americans were housed in "tarpaper-covered barracks of simple frame construction without plumbing or cooking
facilities of any kind." Coal was hard to come by, and internees slept under as many blankets as they were alloted. Food was rationed out at an
expense of 48 cents per internee, and served by fellow internees in a mess hall of 250-300 people.
Leadership positions within the camps were only offered to the Nisei, or American-born, Japanese. The older generation, or the Issei, were forced to
watch as the government promoted their children and ignored them.
Eventually the government allowed internees to leave the concentration camps if they enlisted in the U.S. Army. This offer was not well received. Only
1,200 internees chose to do so.
Forced into confinement by the United States, 5,766 Nisei ultimately renounced their American citizenship. In 1968, nearly two dozen years after the
camps were closed, the government began reparations to Japanese Americans for property they had lost.
In 1988, the U.S. Congress passed legislation which awarded formal payments of $20,000 each to the surviving internees—60,000 in all. This same
year, formal apologies were also issued by the government of Canada to Japanese Canadian survivors, who were each repaid the sum of $21,000 Canadian
While Japanese-Americans comprised the overwhelming majority of those in the camps, thousands of Americans of German, Italian, and other European
descent were also forced to relocate there. Many more were classified as "enemy aliens" and subject to increased restrictions. As of 2004, the U.S.
Government has made no formal apology or reparations to those affected.