What really happened

Unseen by many Americans

During World War II, 120,000 Japanese Americans were in-prisoned.

They were seen as unloyal and a threat to American society when, in reality, their crime was their heritage. The US Government used internment camps as a way to send Japanese-Americans away and isolate them. The pictures of the interment camps taken by the US government do not portray what really happened behind the scenes.

Looks like fun, right?

Who wouldn't love to take a nice family vacation and go play some volleyball? That's what the government wants you to believe. While this "happy" girl is playing volleyball, in reality most families were idly sitting in their barracks as the dust trapped them inside.


With barracks in row after row after row there is not much room for fun outdoor games and activities. How can families operate normally when they are being punished because of their heritage? Heritage is something uncontrollable to them and almost two thirds of the Japanese-Americans were born in the United States and had never been to Japan. Even if they were loyal to America, they were still punished without explanation. The internees were not playing volleyball but instead waiting until they could return home.

How the Japanese are portrayed through the eyes of Americans

all smiles

Look at this happy family! The Japanese-Americans were the opposite of smiling in the internment camps. The Americans believed that the Japanese were major threats after what happened at Pearl Harbor in 1941. They started to place the blame on the Japanese-Americans for things they didn't do. Looking at the American propaganda above, the Japanese in general are depicted as these scary monsters when its just America's way of dealing with their fear.

what really happened

Families were broken through the process of these interment camps. As we saw in the novel When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otuska, many families come back a shell of their original personality. The only time smiles were stretched across their faces was when they could finally return home, if they had a home to return to. The hardships internment camps had on the families are expressed on the faces of many families in these camps. It was tough to keep hope alive in a place as destructive as the camps were.