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Primary Sources: America in World War II

Japanese Americans Internment during World War II 

During World War II, the United States government implemented a policy of mass internment targeting Japanese Americans, a grave violation of civil liberties and human rights. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the forced relocation and incarceration of over 120,000 individuals of Japanese descent, the majority of whom were American citizens.

Under this order, Japanese Americans living on the West Coast were forcibly removed from their homes and communities and relocated to hastily constructed internment camps located in remote and desolate areas across the country. Families were forced to abandon their homes, businesses, and possessions, facing uncertainty and hardship as they were subjected to harsh living conditions behind barbed wire fences and under armed guard.

The internment of Japanese Americans was fueled by racism, xenophobia, and wartime hysteria, as well as economic and political motives. Despite the lack of evidence of widespread disloyalty or sabotage, Japanese Americans were unjustly scapegoated and subjected to mass incarceration solely based on their ethnicity.

The internment experience had profound and long-lasting impacts on Japanese American communities, causing psychological trauma, economic loss, and the erosion of trust in the government. Despite these injustices, many Japanese Americans demonstrated resilience and perseverance, rebuilding their lives and advocating for redress and reparations in the decades following the war.

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act, formally apologizing for the internment and providing reparations to surviving internees. The internment of Japanese Americans stands as a dark chapter in American history, serving as a reminder of the dangers of prejudice, fear, and the erosion of civil liberties in times of crisis.

Online Sources: Japanese Americans Internment during World War II 

Book Sources: Japanese Americans Internment during World War II 

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