The Japanese Americans And The Issue Of

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The Japanese Americans And The Issue Of Redress Essay, Research Paper Introduction In December 1982, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWIRC) concluded that the evacuation and incarceration of 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II were the result of racism, war hysteria, and a failure of the nation s leadership . Six months later, the commission recommended that the U.S. government offer a national apology and payments of $20,000 to the surviving internees as a form of redress. On August 10, 1988, those recommendations became law when President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. This paper will attempt to examine how and why redress passed, the most significant factors involved as well the arguments for

and against the bills. Wartime On December 7, 1941, Japan s military dropped bombs on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor. The next day the United Stated declared war on Japan. The first month of the war was relatively calm. There were few cases of public panic or hysteria occurring, and Japanese Americans were treated no differently than they had been before war began. There have been newspaper accounts showing that there was a vast majority of American citizens that were sympathetic to the Japanese s plight of looking like the enemy but being loyal citizens. There were also some government officials that were advising the public not to blame the Japanese in America for the war. The sympathy was not persistent and it didn t last long. There was a majority of people that had

always harbored a feeling of resentment and abhorrence towards the Japanese. With the advent of the war, they plunged into an all-out hate campaign. In some areas, a few cases of violence against the Japanese, including shootings and killings, occurred. These attacks on the Japanese were used as a justification for confining and relocating them: it was for their own good, to protect them against racist violence. As the exclusion movement began to gain more force, Congressman John H. Tolan from California called for the creation of the Select Committee Investigating National Defense Migration of the House of Representatives. The purpose of the committee was to make an effort to determine the facts and the arguments for and against the proposed exclusion. On February 11, ten days

before their first meeting, President Roosevelt had given Secretary of War Stimson his approval to start formulating plans for a mass evacuation of all persons of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast. Executive Order 9066 and its Repercussions On February 12, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 that set the stage for the forced evacuation of over 120,000 aliens and citizens from California, Oregon, Arizona, and Washington. The order declared, The successful prosecution of the war requires every possible protection against espionage and against sabotage to national-defense material, national-defense premises and national-defense utilities. The bill was signed amongst strong opposition from many high named officials such as FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. He went

on record stating that the demand for the removal of all Japanese Americans on the West Coast was not justified on national security grounds. He said the plan was not based on factual evidence, but on public and political pressure. With the backing of Congress and the President, General John L. DeWitt issued a series of civilian exclusion orders and public proclamations that extended to travel restrictions, curfews, and contraband regulations to all Japanese Americans, regardless of citizenship. Eventually, his orders called for all persons of Japanese ancestry in California and parts of Arizona, Washington, and Oregon to turn themselves in at temporary detention centers near their homes. The evacuation took a total of eight months, from March 24 to November 3. Constitutionality