Japanese Interment Camps

By: Shayla Alvirez

Introduction

On February 19th, 1942, after the WW II began, Franklin Roosevelt had signed a Executive Order. The Evacuation order had commenced the round up of 120,000 Americans of Japanese heritage to one of 10 interment camps (relocation centers) in California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, and Arkansas.

Why Where The Camps Established?

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, who frenzy was heightened by the Japanese attack of Pear Harbor. More than two-thirds of the Japanese who were interned in the spring of 1942 were citizens of the United States.

Conditions in the U.S. Camps

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.

Closure of the Camps

In 1944, two and a half years after signing Executive Order 9066, fourth-term President Franklin D. Roosevelt rescinded the order. The last interment camp was closed by the end of 1945.

Government Apologies and Reparations

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 dollars.

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