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December 7, 1941, the Japanese Empire attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The following day, the United States officially declared war upon Japan. Following the months after the attack on Pearl Harbor the U.S government considered the Japanese American population on the West Coast to be dangerous and therefore, the United States Government took in more than 5,000 Issei and Nisei. Those picked up in this roundup were largely Issei who held special positions in the Japanese American community. Many were sent directly to Department of Justice internment camps where they were held anywhere from a few months to the duration of the war. In the wake of Pearl Harbor, the government also froze Japanese branch bank assets, seized "contraband" items (including radio transmitters, cameras, and weapons) and imposed a curfew and travel restrictions on the Japanese American population on the West Coast. On February 19, 1942 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. This order allowed the Secretary of War to designate military areas in which unauthorized people could not enter or remain. Although the order did not specify Japanese Americans to be incarcerated however, they were the only group to be imprisoned as a result of it. All Americans on the West Coast with as little as 1/16th Japanese ancestry were to be relocated to internment camps spread throughout America. Those incarcerated were allowed only what they could carry into the camp. Many Japanese had to sell all their houses and belongings. Those who purchased the items often bought their belongings for an unfair price. May of 1942 the Japanese began their transfer into permanent camps. The camps were surrounded by barbed wire fences and guard towers with soldiers carrying guns pointing into the camp. While in the camp there was little privacy. Barracks often held two families, and there was a communal bathroom with also little privacy. Everyone ate together and food was of poor quality. The cost to feed camp residents averaged a mere 45 cents per day. Their diets began to improve only after the Japanese Americans in the camp later began growing some of their own food. While the Japanese Americans were in the camp they attempted to make their lives as normal as possible. Families saved for supplies to build or buy "extras," such as chairs, tables, curtains, and sheets. Many often started to garden, and victory gardens sprung up in harsh desert climates. Organizations such as sports teams, boy scouts and girl scouts were formed to help pass time. Schools were formed for the children, but supplies were limited. The camps were open for about four years and closed in 1945. Inside the camp was hard, but going back into the real world was also. The Japanese had to start their lives over again, and still faced racism and discrimination.

 

Timeline:

 
  December 7, 1941 – Japanese Empire bombs U.S. ships and planes at the Pearl Harbor military base in Oahu Hawaii. Over 3,500 servicemen are wounded or killed.  
 

December 7, 1941 - The FBI begins arresting Japanese Issei men who held important positions in the Japanese American community. 1,291 are arrested within 48 hours. Most of these men were separated from their families over the duration of the war.

 
  December 8, 1941 – U.S Government declares war against the Japanese.  
 

December - January 1941 - The FBI searches thousands of Japanese American homes on the West Coast for contraband. Short wave radios, cameras, heirloom swords and other Japanese items.

 
  February 19, 1942 - President Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066 authorizing military authorities to exclude civilians from any area without trial or hearing. The order did not specify Japanese Americans--but they were the only group to be imprisoned as a result of it.  
  May 1942 – Japanese Americans begin transfer to permanent incarceration facilities. A total of ten camps are built: Tule Lake, Poston, Gila River, Jerome, Manzanar, Topaz, Minidoka, Granada, Heart Mountain, and Rohwer  
 

July 27, 1942 - Two men who are incarcerated are shot to death by camp guards. They were allegedly trying to escape from the Lordsburg, New Mexico internment camp.

 
  January 1943 - The War Department announces the formation of a segregated unit of Japanese American soldiers, and calls for volunteers in Hawaii (where JapaneseAmericans were not incarcerated) and from among the men incarcerated in the camps.  
  March 1943 - 10,000 Japanese American men volunteer for the armed services from Hawaii. 1,200 volunteer out of the camps.  
  September 1943 - From the results of the "loyalty questionnaire," "loyal" incarcerees from Tule Lake begin to depart to other camps and "disloyal" incarcerees from other camps begin to arrive at Tule Lake. (example of loyalty questions on video/pictures page)  
  May 7, 1945 - Germany surrenders, ending the war in Europe.  
  August 6, 1945 - The U.S. drops the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Three days later, a second bomb is dropped on Nagasaki. Japan surrenders on August 14th.  
  August 1945 - Some 44,000 people still remain in the camps. Many have nowhere to go having lost their homes and jobs. Many are afraid of anti-Japanese hostility and refuse to leave.  
  August 10, 1988 - President Ronald Reagan signs HR 442 into law. It acknowledges that the incarceration of more than 110,000 individuals of Japanese descent was unjust, and offers an apology and reparation payments of $20,000 to each person incarcerated.(Example of Redress letter located in Pictures and Videos page).  
  October 9, 1990 - In a Washington D.C. ceremony, the first nine redress payments are made