2. Historical facts
According to the chronology prepared by Wendy Ng, a daughter of Japanese American internee, major events in Japanese American history are as follows (xvii-xxvi). In 1868, the first Japanese immigrants arrived in Hawaii. In 1869, the first immigrants to the mainland United States arrived in California. In 1898, Hawaii became the part of the territory of the U.S., which enabled about 60,000 Japanese people living in Hawaii to travel to the mainland U.S. In 1923, the Immigration Act of 1924, the National Origins Act, barred all immigration from Japan. This reflected the increasing tension between the two countries. In 1940, there were 285,115 Japanese Americans in U.S., comprising 0.2% of the total population. More than half (157,905) of Japanese Americans lived in Hawaii, and their population in the West Coast was 93,717 in California, 14,565 in Washington, and 4,071 in Oregon (Ng 4).
The tension between the two countries culminated on December 7, 1941, when Japanese army attacked American fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The war broke out between the two countries, which inevitably dragged the U.S. into World War II. In February 19, 1942, the U.S. government decided to confine the ‘enemies’, or people of Japanese ancestry, in the nation. More than 110,000 (“Densho, the Japanese American Legacy Project”; “Japanese American internment”; tenBroek, Barnhart, and Matson v), some 112,000 (Robinson 1) or more than 120,000 (Ng xi) Japanese Americans, about two thirds (62%, “Japanese American internment”) of which were American citizens, were confined in ten relocation camps during World War II. The exclusion area was along the West Coast including all of California and part of Washington, Oregon and New Mexico. On August 15, 1945, Japan surrendered soon after she got two atomic bombs, which killed 210,000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The war was over, and the internment of Japanese Americans also ended till 1946.
In 1970, an activist Edison Ueno, one of the Nisei (see below) Japanese Americans, proposed redress, which was adopted as a platform by Japanese American Citizens League. The redress was not for documented loss of properties, but for general compensation for the injustice caused by the internment. President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberty Act in 1988, which provided redress of $20,000 for each surviving internee, totaling $1.2 billion dollars. In 1990, the first redress payment was made by the U.S. government: Mamoru Eto, 107 years old, living in Los Angeles was the first recipient of a check.
posted by なまはんか at 10:06| Comment(0) | 日系アメリカ人の受難 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする


Internment of Japanese Americans during World War II


1. Introduction

Internment of Japanese Americans to relocation camps during World War II has been considered by historians and activists to reflect racial prejudice against people of color or non-white minorities, which was widespread in the United States in the pre-war period. The pioneering work by tenBroek, Barnhart, and Matson, first published as early as in 1954, established this point of view, which has been followed by recent works (Daniels; “Densho, the Japanese American Legacy Project”; Robinson; Roxworthy). However, this viewpoint is too simplistic because the minority often fights back against the prejudice to protect their human rights. So, questions arise what allowed the racial prejudice to directly drive U.S. government to decide the internment? Or, what did prevent Japanese Americans from protesting this decision? Class might play a role because Japanese Americans were in the lowest class in the society; they might luck sufficient political power to fight back against the prejudice because of their low class status. Thus, combination of racial prejudice and powerless class status of the victims might have driven the U.S. government to decide the internment of Japanese Americans. In other words, the intersectionality of race and class might have caused the oppression of the minority. If so, internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was wrong because it was rooted in racial prejudice and exploited low class status of the minority.
The word ‘internment’ means confinement as a prisoner (“intern”). One might see no problem in it, but the word ‘prisoner’ has two meanings (“prisoner”). One is a person who has been found guilty of a crime and sent to prison. In this meaning, the person is a criminal and confinement can be justified as a punishment. The other meaning is a person who has been captured by someone and kept confined. This definition includes a prisoner of war. In this meaning, the person is not a criminal and confinement is a violation of human right. To refer to the confinement of Japanese Americans, Roger Daniels disputed the use of the word internment, which should be based on what one did, and insisted that it should be called ‘incarceration’ or imprisonment (“incarcerate”).
I had a chance to visit Manzanar, California, where one of the ten relocation camps of Japanese Americans was located during World War II (Burton et al. 161-202). The place was in the middle of desert on the leeward foot of Sierra Nevada. There remained no building, but was the cemetery of people who had died in the camp. There were only several tombs, which, without tombstones, looked like just small mounds. Others must have been lost under the sands. It was a sad sight. I also saw a reconstructed guard tower, which suggested that there used to be a ‘prison’ surrounded by barbed-wire fences.
Exhibition held in 1994 to 1995 at Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles, called the relocation camp of Japanese Americans as “America’s concentration camps” (Japanese American National Museum). Robert Ito used the same words to criticize the revisionists who tried to downplay the significance of Japanese American internment. When this exhibition was to be held in 1998 at Ellis Island, New York, there occurred a controversy between Japanese Ameircans and Jewish. Some of the latter wanted to restrict the use of the term to the camps where Germany imprisoned Jewish and commited the Holocaust (New York Times). Unlike German death camps, American camps were far more human places, but it is still true that both were the places where serious violation of human rights occurred. Before looking at the details of the human right violation by the internment, or incarceration, of Japanese Americans to the relocation camps, or concentration camps, let us look at the history of Japanese Americans.
posted by なまはんか at 10:01| Comment(0) | 日系アメリカ人の受難 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする



英語教室の論文(capstone thesis)を書くのに調べたので、ちょっとだけ日系アメリカ人の受難の歴史について書いておきたい。太平洋戦争開戦後、アメリカ政府は、西海岸に住むすべての日系人を10か所の強制収容所に押し込めた。第二次世界大戦で、アメリカは日本だけでなく、ドイツ・イタリアとも戦ったのだが、このような集団収容は日系人だけが対象とされた。非白人(people of color)に対する差別がその背景にあったというのが、歴史学者の間の定説のようだ。1988年には、アメリカ政府は誤りを認めて謝罪し、生存する収容者に補償金を支払っている。
イメージ 1
10か所の強制収容所のうちのひとつがあった場所、カリフォルニア州、シエラネバダ東麓のオーウェン砂漠にあるマンザナールに立ち寄ったことがある。これが復元された監視塔(guard tower)。
イメージ 2
posted by なまはんか at 11:18| Comment(0) | 日系アメリカ人の受難 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする




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