Civil Liberties and WWll

By Keniya Burrows, Wilson


Research question: How does a country's need for National Security during wartime impact people's civil liberties?

Thesis: When a Nation is in war, the need for national security overpowers the right of civil liberties.

Hawaii: Restrictions and Army control

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, restrictions were put into place to keep Hawaii safe as possible. Hawaii anticipated that the Japanese were going to land there in force, so they set up American troops all around the perimeter of the island. Airports were taken over by the army and travel was hard. Hawaii often had blackouts, which were used to make it harder for U-boats from the enemy, to be able to see the island. In addition to Blackouts there were curfews and the mail and news were censored. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, lots of government building became military offices. The civil courts were replaced with military law. The islands became one large military base and businesses owned by Japanese civilians were closed. Anyone who was considered to be a treat, was arrested. People who lived in Hawaii were fingerprinted and required to carry around identification cards at all times. This shows that Hawaiian citizens lives were greatly effected because everything they did was somehow surrounded by the war. Their lives weren't the same and lots of their civil liberties were taken away, because the need for national security overpowered their rights.
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Censorship in America

During World War ll America used Censorship throughout the country. The government used censorship to stop Americans, who were not in favor of the war, from stating negative things about the war effort. although censorship would help the war effort, the idea of censorship disregarded the first Amendment, Freedom of Speech. This shows that although freedom of speech is a civil liberties, it didn't matter because they were overridden by the need for national security.

Propaganda in America

In addition to censorship, propaganda was also used during World War ll. Propaganda was used to sway and impact the beliefs of people's opinion on the war. As a result of censorship, certain types of propaganda was considered not loyal. Like political cartoons or news paper that criticized the war effort. This shows that Americans were constantly being used and were strongly encouraged to be one way, they weren't allowed to have their own opinion.

Propaganda in Japan- Negro propaganda operations

During World War two Japan, used propaganda to get citizens to support the war effort. Japan's propaganda strongly stressed nationalism, while attacking western culture. Film was the biggest outlet of propaganda in Japan. In addition to Film japan used Magazines, newspapers, cartoons, books, and even school textbook. All this to ensure the citizens support in the war. Japan went as far as to create something called the Negro Propaganda Operations. In an effort to create tension between African Americans and white Americans, the Japanese crated the Negro Propaganda Operations. The plan was created by Yasuichi Hikida, who was the director of Japanese propaganda for black Americans. The plan included was broken up into three areas. The first was getting information to use against America pertaining to African American struggles in America. The second was using black POWs , And the last was the use of short-wave radio broadcast. Through the broadcast, Black POWs spoke about African American lynching and race riots in America. The POWs were forced to do the broadcast, if they refused they were killed. This shows that Japan didn't care about the lives of them, they only cared about their need for national security.
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Japanese-American Internment Camps: Medical Information

During WWll the American government began to move Japanese- Americans to Internment camps. The American Government was scared that Japanese-Americans could be spies and attack America from within its own boundaries, ergo, the creation of Internment camps. Japanese- Americans, also known as Nisei, were sent letters from the Government to notify them that they have a certain number of days to get their things together and come to the train station to be transported to a internment camp. Families had to leave behind sentimental items that they might never see again. As a result of the evacuation of Japanese- Americans, many of the professionals that provided health care to the Japanese-Americans population prior to the evacuation, established infirmaries within the temporary assembly centers. One Japanese immigrant doctor was assigned to manage each family, in addition to other health care staff that worked under the supervision of the doctor. Despite the USPHS recommendation of one physician for every 1,000 inmates and one nurse to every 200 inmates was not met. Japanese- Americans in the internment camps weren't getting the proper health care they needed. The were put into dangerous conditions only to make sure they weren't betraying the US.

Japanese- American Internment camps: Conditions

Over 127,00 Japanese-Americans were imprisoned during World War 2, simply for having a Japanese background. In February of 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order calling for a relocation of all Americans of Japanese ancestry. Because the camps weren't ready, many of them were held at temporary locations. One of the common temporary locations were often horse stables at local race tracks. Finally 10 camps were finished. The government tried to help life in the camps by allowing the people to farm, even though most of the camps were in areas were the soil was no good for farming. Families dined together in mess halls, children were expected to go to school, and adults had the option of working for a salary of $5 per day. Life on the camps sounds good but there are things that overshadowed the good.The camps were too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer. The food was mass produced army-style grub. The prisoners wanted to flee but they knew there would be an armed Sargent who would shoot then dead if he had to. This shows that the government did really care about how the captives were affected and how their rights were taken away, they only cared about securing the nation.

Japanese- American Internment Camps: Education

30,000 of the 110,000 Japanese- Americans in internment camps, were children. Educational facilities were set up in the camps, allowing them to continue their education, however, did not take away the likely hood of horrible experiences throughout their time in the camp. Because the government had not properly planned for the camps, a budget hadn't been set aside for education within the internment camps. Schoolhouses were crowded and had only a few materials needed for sufficient learning. The "schoolhouses" were basically prison blocks that had little to no windows. This was a huge problem in the summer when it was hot and there was no air. To build patriotism, the Japanese language was banned in camps, resulting in the children having to learn English and teach it to their parents at home. Learning is a right and America took this right away from children when they put them into camps, they put the need for national security over the need for learning.
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Violation of the Geneva Convention- Japanese POW camps

A law was created called The Geneva Conventions. The Geneva Conventions are a set of treaties regarding the treatment of POWs. Unfortunately, The Japanese camps ignored the Geneva Convention and did what they wanted to. The Japanese camps took basic rights away from their captives. The hygiene of that camps was a major problem. Prisoners were forced to live in barracks, which were small shacks.

The Geneva Conventions of 1949

Conditions and Impact on health- Japanese POW Camps

POW camps were often thought of as slave-like camps. Lots of the Japanese people who oversaw the camps were mentally ill. This caused harsh brutality and extreme cruelty. Prisons were beat for even the simplest thing. Looking in the wrong direction or eating the wrong way, or even refusing to eat. The food the men were given was not much, which resulted in many men having heavy diarrhea. The lack of food and water left most prisons weighing no more that 100 pounds. The condition of the barracks were pathetic. The mattresses were made of straw. They POW camp was supposed to provide prisoners with blankets but many POWs report that the harsh winter had a great affect on their health. The camps didn't have proper bathrooms. The toilets were open latrines. Prisoners were forced to endure the horrific smell off the toilets and immense amount of flies. It was common for POWs to have to clean out the toilets which put them at a greater risk for illness, from exposure to human feces. The POW camps needed great improvement, but the Japanese didn't care, they hated America and its citizens. This shows that the Japanese dis guarded all rights entitled to you, as a human.

Stats on Deaths- Japanese POW Camps

There were POW camps in many different countries, however, the Japanese POW camps were considered to be the worst and most brutal. There were more than 140,000 POWs in Japanese camps, of these one in three died from starvation, work, Punishments, or from a disease that couldn't be cured.


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Japanese Propaganda during world war 2. (2016, February 24). Retrieved March 10, 2016, from Wikipedia website:

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WWll- Japanese prisoners of war. (2014, August 5). Retrieved February 29, 2016, from History on the net website: