The of these Japanese Americans was due to


primary reading of the Executive Order 9066 was a significant event and a dark
chapter in American history. Order 9066 is listed as “Authorizing the Secretary
of War to Prescribe Military Areas,” ¹
when really it was much more. This huge mistake made by Franklin D. Roosevelt
and the violation of the civil rights of these Japanese Americans was due to
illogical fears white Americans had after the war. The textbook states that after
World War II “many U.S. citizens of German and Italian descent never faced any
kind of mass arrests and interment,” ¹
proving that this discrimination was based on race. The Executive Order, signed
when World War II ended, had psychological, economical, and social consequences
on American-Japanese citizens of the United States, for generations to follow.

the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Americans were convinced that a larger Japanese
invasion was bound to occur. Most didn’t understand the Japanese forces weren’t
big enough, or supplied well enough to pull it off. Many were also suspicious
of Japanese Americans being spies in U.S. Nonetheless, to stifle the fear of a
majority of white Americans, President Franklin D. Roosevelt constructed Order
9066 two months after Pearl Harbor on February 19, 1942. Essentially, this
order was put in place to round up all Japanese-Americans and have them put into
camps, where they wouldn’t be a “threat”. This order gave military commanders
permission to appoint “military areas” at their own discretion “from which any
or all persons may be included.” ¹ This
specified that the military commanders in charge were able to designate
internment camps where they saw fit, along with choosing the people they put in
them. This resulted in 120,000 people being relocated to ten different
internment camps within the West. Over 70% of the Japanese Americans who were
put into these camps were American citizens, losing their homes, businesses,
and denied their basic freedoms.5 This act was one of the most
extreme violations of civil liberties in American history.

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experience of internment camps took a large psychological toll on
Japanese-Americans before, during, and many years after the camps were put into
place. One professor states, “Shock, fear, and worry were common initial
psychological reactions as Japanese Americans were forced to deal with the
stress enforced dislocation and the abandonment of their homes, possessions,
and businesses.”5 Citizens who had owned businesses for year, or
possessed their own acres of land were stripped from their belongings and
forced out of the comfort of their homes, due to their ethnic background. They
were taken and given no insight into where they would be taken to, or how long
they would be there for. Controlled by the government, there was also a large
fear of how they would be treated by officials. Being robbed of their civil
rights was another psychological burden they faced and the “unjust ethnic
denigration of being suspected of disloyalty based on their Japanese Heritage.”5
Many of the citizens put in camps had served in the army to protect America in
World War II. Now that same country was taking away their rights.

with the collection of Japanese Americans, a collection of their prized
possessions came with it. Violating their right to property and privacy, family
heirlooms that were irreplaceable were taken and never returned. Anything
“dangerous” looking was considered “contraband and showed allegiance to the
enemy. Anyone caught holding on to their precious family keepsakes was
arrested.”5 Not only were these citizens captured and put into
demeaning camps, but anything they treasured from their culture was confiscated
and gone forever. Their belongings and property were sold, if they could even
be sold at all, for a fraction of what they were worth.5 This
executive order took away the treasured momentums of families who were once
proud of where they came from. These actions left Japanese Americans feeling as
if the culture they came from and loved was criminal.

taken to the internment camps, Japanese Americans faced dehumanizing
conditions. The beds provided were army cots. Internees were kept in animal
stables where livestock had previously been kept before them. A great deal of
the buildings lacked roofs and overall cleanliness was extremely low.2
Medical care was inadequate as was the standard of education for children
living there. Only white Americans held power in these camps, leaving the
individuals feeling powerless and more like inmates. They were even pressured
into filling out “loyalty questionnaires”; forms used to decipher threats and
interests in the draft. A large part of the questionnaire asks about things
such as family members, education level, religion, and property in Japan.2
For example, “speaking Japanese well, or belonging to a kendo club would result
in negative points, but being Christian, or belonging to the Boy Scouts of
American would result in points being added.”2 The questions
regarding their loyalty to America and willingness to volunteer for the draft
was also harshly criticized. If the internees stated in any way that they had
loyalty to Japan, they were considered spies. This questionnaire not only
violated privacy rights, but psychologically took a toll on the people
completing these. It convinced Japanese Americans their culture was wrong and
widely unaccepted. It also pressured them into future enlistment into the draft
for a country that was imprisoning them, for which they were citizens of. After
being persecuted, many Japanese Americans were quiet about their heritage, and
this continued for generations after.

absence of a home base was also a huge factor taken from Japanese American
families in the internment camps. By having white men surveying their every
move, men lost their traditional role in the home, and the self-confidence that
comes with it. Children ate with their age group instead of their family, and
women became consumed with low-income jobs offered in the camps to help support
their family.4 These new roles presented a lack of family values.

the camps were closed down, the psychological impact didn’t end. Adjusting to
life back in the real world was difficult, especially when the business you’ve
worked to build up your entire life has been taken from you. Children who
returned to school were faced with discrimination and many Japanese Americans
who were once proud of their heritage, now hid in the shadows and distanced
themselves from other Japanese Americans, activities, and events.4 Many
people who were too old to restart their careers ended up relying heavily on
their children. Some with younger children, who couldn’t find jobs to support
their family committed suicide. An article in the SGVT Tribune interviews Toshi
Ito, who faced the internment camps growing up, and afterwards witnessed her
father’s suicide. She confessed that after her parents weren’t able to find any
work, they pitched a tent to live in on the corner of a street in San Gabriel
Valley, California. Feeling previously proud to be American and Japanese, her
father lost faith in his country, having everything taken from him and his
family, and was ashamed of his Japanese culture. After being without work, and
feeling lost in a country that betrayed him, her father killed himself right
after her wedding. A 1989 survey was conducted to try to understand the impact
of a parent’s internment on their children. One interviewee claimed, “You need
to do well because people are going to scrutinize you,”4 and those
who had parents in the camps felt significantly less confident in their
constitutional rights than those whose parents weren’t in internment camps.
Children were judged harshly because of their ethnic background and felt the
constant need to prove themselves to their peers. Generations after internees
were affected by this dishonorable executive order.

only was the psychological effect of interment drastic, but the economic status
of internees failed after they were released. One study from the Harvard
Gazette stated that “Japanese Americans sent to camps in poorer areas often
failed to thrive economically after their release.”6 Before the war,
most Japanese American’s educational backgrounds and level of income were
similar. After the camps were released, families and individuals that were put
into poor, rural areas received less education, earned less money, and faced
poor living conditions. Harvard gazette found “Japanese Americans who were
placed in the poorest camp earned 17% less than those sent to wealthier,”6
and these statistics travel down to affect the children of internees. This is
an appalling percentage considering that the placement of individuals in the 10
camps across seven different states was random. This issue wouldn’t have been
so prevalent if it weren’t for the fear the internees felt in regards to going
back to their hometowns. A vast majority stayed in the surrounding areas of the
camps because of fear of racial hostility and a shortage of housing in their
previous towns.6 The same article performed a study on the wage loss
of Japanese American men following the years they spent in camps. The study
showed the “labor market withdrawal induced by the internment reduced the
annual earnings of males by 13%.”6 This proves that due to a lack of
confidence, acceptance, and opportunity available when the camp prisoners were
released, their financial success decreased substantially. This random location
component to the Japanese internment camps had an enormous impact on people,
and the generations after them. Executive order 9066 imprisoned not only
Japanese Americans, but their economic status in America as well.

act of denying Japanese Americans their basic rights was an embarrassing and
disappointing piece of American History. In the 50’s and 60’s the Japanese
American Citizens League began to press for rights they were entitled to. They
wanted for all they had lost in the years before and the damage done in the
years after. They worked closely with community activists and gained the
support of political leaders to help lobby for action taken by the legislature.
On August 10, 1988 a federal law was initiated known as the Civil Liberties Act
of 1988.4 This granted reparations to all who had been interned
during World War II by their own United States government. 40 years after the
establishing of Executive Order No. 9066, nine of the remaining eldest
internees were paid reparations and given formal, signed apologies from the
president at the time, George W. Bush. It stated its intent to “acknowledge the
fundamental injustice of the evacuation, relocation, and internment of United
States citizens and permanent resident aliens of Japanese ancestry during World
War II.”4 The written act ended with an “apology on behalf of the
United States.”4 In reality, there is nothing that can be done to
reverse the injustice and devastation felt by Japanese American families. Trying
to make amends 40 years later cannot take back the order initiated by Franklin
D. Roosevelt that stripped 120,000 people of their natural born rights.

far the worst part about the events that occurred from Executive Order 9066 is
that they took place right after the events in Nazi Germany did. Adolf Hitler’s
reign in Germany took place from 1933-1945. This was a time in which he
persecuted people of certain race, religion, and handicap, killing and
encamping over 6 million people. They were taken from their homes, stripped of
their belongings and their civil liberties. Afterwards, they were taken to
camps with harsh living conditions, watched by guards, robbed of their dignity
and the life they fought so hard to make for themselves. Somehow, after
witnessing a similar situation in other countries, Franklin D. Roosevelt
believed that capturing an entire race of people putting them in camps with
inhumane conditions against their will, wasn’t impeding on their rights as
Americans. This event has forever affected the way Japanese Americans feel
about their fellow citizens, America, and their place in this country. Fear of
racial inequality, hostility in the community, and cultural shame became the
lives of many after the internment camps. This act of random internment sealed
the economical fate of thousands of families who had made a life for themselves
in a country that they trusted before World War II. The psychological impact of
the Japanese internment camps is incomprehensible. The Executive Order 9066 put
into action by Franklin D. Roosevelt was an enormous civil rights violation
made to ease the minds of a scared and racist white America. It effected
Japanese Americans socially, psychologically, and economically for years and
generations to follow.