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Japanese internment in the United States

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Japanese internment was the internment (relocation to confinement facilities) of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942 that allowed military commanders to designate areas "from which any or all persons may be excluded." Under this order all Japanese and Americans of Japanese ancestry were removed from Western coastal regions to guarded camps in the interior.

Almost 120,000 Japanese Americans and resident Japanese aliens would eventually be removed from their homes in California, western Oregon and Washington, and southern Arizona in the single largest forced relocation in U.S. history. Many would spend the next 3 years in one of ten "relocation centers" across the country run by the newly-formed War Relocation Authority[?] (WRA). Others would be held in facilities run by the Department of Justice and the U.S. Army. Since all Japanese Americans on the west coast were affected, including the elderly, women, and children, Federal officials attempted to conduct the massive incarceration in a humane manner. However, by the time the last internees were released in 1946, the Japanese Americans had lost homes and businesses estimated to be worth, in 1999 values, 4 to 5 billion dollars. Deleterious effects on Japanese American individuals, their families, and their communities, were immeasurable.

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During World War II the relocation was justified as a "military necessity." However, some 40 years later, the United States government conceded that the relocation was based on racial bias rather than on any true threat to national security. On February 24, 1983 a special commission of the United States Congress released a report critical of the practice of Japanese internment during World War II. President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988[?] which provided redress for Japanese Americans. The following year President George H. W. Bush issued a formal apology from the U.S. government.

One of the relocation centers, Manzanar, was designated a National Historic Site in 1992 to "provide for the protection and interpretation of historic, cultural, and natural resources associated with the relocation of Japanese Americans during World War II" (Public Law 102-248). But there are nine other relocation centers, and numerous other facilities associated with the relocation and internment. Most of the Japanese Americans were first sent to one of 17 temporary "Assembly Centers," where they awaited shipment to a more permanent relocation center. Most of those relocated were American citizens by birth. Many were long-term U.S. residents, but not citizens, because of discriminatory naturalization laws. Thousands of these "aliens" were interned in Department of Justice and U.S. Army facilities.

Former Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark, who represented the US Department of Justice in the "relocation," writes in the Epilogue to the book "Executive Order 9066: The Internment of 110,000 Japanese Americans" (written by Maisie & Richard Conrat):

The truth is -- as this deplorable experience proves -- that constitutions and laws are not sufficient of themselves...Despite the unequivocal language of the Constitution of the United States that the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, and despite the Fifth Amendment's command that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, both of these constitutional safeguards were denied by military action under Executive Order 9066...

Japanese people were not the only ones put in internment camps by the US government. Crystal City, Texas was an internment camp, where together with Japanese, Germans, Hispanics, and other people were interned as well.

Japanese-Canadians also were interned by their government during World War II. See Japanese-Canadian internment[?].

See also: Japanese-Americans, Internment, concentration camps, Nanjing Massacre, Manzanar Japanese internment camp

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