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Japanese internment / Manzanar file photo [8536]

Internment of Japanese-Americans and Japanese-Canadians

1 Jan 1942 - 1 Apr 1949


ww2dbaseJapanese-American Internment

ww2dbaseBy 1939, the United States and Japan were already on bad terms largely due to political tensions of Japan's aggression against China. Starting in 1939, United States Department of Justice's domestic intelligence arm, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), began to compile statistics (Custodial Detention Index, "CDI") on those who were in the United States with ethnic connections with Japan, Germany, and Italy. On 28 Jun 1940, the Alien Registration Act was passed, requiring all aliens above the age of 14 to be fingerprinted and requiring the report of new residency within five days of a move.

ww2dbaseOn the domestic front, the 127,000 Japanese-Americans living on the west coast of the United States in 1941, 80,000 of whom were American citizens, had been subjected to prejudice since the early 20th century. People of East Asian ancestry were not allowed to marry Caucasians, while Japanese students were segregated from Caucasian students. In 1924, an act was even passed to block Japanese who were born in Japan from being naturalized as citizens. Those were but few of the many examples of bias Japanese-Americans faced during the years leading up to the United States participation in WW2.

ww2dbaseWhen the United States was drawn into the Pacific War began in Dec 1941 with the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor, the Philippine Islands, Guam, and other American bases and territory in the Pacific, some Americans were quick to suspect ill-intent from Japanese-Americans. US Army Lieutenant General John DeWitt, commanding officer of the Western Command, suggested an operation against suspected Japanese-Americans to seize any communications equipment which might be used to relay information to Japanese naval units. The Department of Justice struck down the notion, noting that seeking a warrant without well-founded cause was illegal. DeWitt's notion, however, was supported by many who lived in the state of California; California Attorney General Earl Warren, for example, actively lobbied the federal government to forcibly migrate Japanese-Americans from the west coast to the central regions of the nation to prevent potential acts of espionage. Nevertheless, by this time, Presidential Proclamations had already declared those of Japanese, German, and Italian descent "enemy aliens", and various restrictions were placed upon them.

ww2dbaseOn 19 Feb 1942, US President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which allowed military commanders to designate "military areas" in the United States at their discretion; DeWitt established Military Area No. 1, covering nearly the entire west coast of the United States, and on 2 Mar 1942 announced that all Japanese-Americans might be subjected to exclusion orders allowed by Executive Order 9066. On 11 Mar, Executive Order 9095 was issued to create the Office of the Alien Property Custodian, which had authority over all property of enemy aliens, including the power to freeze financial assets. On 24 Mar, DeWitt declared that every night between 2000 hours and 0600 hours in the following morning, a curfew would be in effect for "all enemy aliens and all persons of Japanese ancestry" in certain areas of Military Area No. 1. Three days later, he prohibited Japanese-Americans from moving outside of Military Area No. 1. On 3 May, DeWitt ordered all persons of Japanese ancestry to report to designated assembly areas, where they would wait until being transferred to permanent relocation centers. DeWitt's definition of Japanese ancestry was fairly wide, thus those with more than one-eighth Japanese ancestry and Korean-Americans (since Korea was Japanese territory at the time) were ordered to assemble as well. This order was popular among Caucasian land owners in California, for it was a quick way to eliminate competition in the agricultural field. Austin Anson, managing secretary of the Salinas Vegetable Grower-Shipper Association, told the Saturday Evening Post in 1942 that

We're charged with wanting to get rid of the Japs for selfish reasons. We do. It's a question of whether the white man lives on the Pacific Coast or the brown men.... If all the Japs were removed tomorrow, we had never miss them in two weeks, because the white farmers can take over and produce everything the Jap grows. And we do not want them back when the war ends, either.

ww2dbaseColumnist Henry McLemore wrote around this time in support of the forced relocation of Japanese-Americans, at the same time reflecting his prejudice:

I am for the immediate removal of every Japanese on the West Coast to a point deep in the interior. I don't mean a nice part of the interior either. Herd 'em up, pack 'em off and give 'em the inside room in the badlands. Personally, I hate the Japanese. And that goes for all of them.

ww2dbaseDeWitt repeatedly told newspapers that "A Jap's a Jap". He later testified to the United States Congress that

I don't want any of them here. They are a dangerous element. There is no way to determine their loyalty.... It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen, he is still a Japanese. American citizenship does not necessarily determine loyalty.... But we must worry about the Japanese all the time until he is wiped off the map.

ww2dbaseDespite these sentiments, prejudice against the Japanese were not total. Director of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover, for example, argued that DeWitt's suspicion, which fueled the forced relocation, was groundless. Many high ranking personnel in military intelligence also noted that there were no concrete evidence for espionage that warranted mass relocation. Among the politicians who voiced against the prejudice against Japanese-Americans was the governor of Colorado Ralph Lawrence Carr, who went as far as publicly apologizing for the internment during the war.

ww2dbaseThough not officially known as so, the relocation program would later come to be known as the "Japanese-American Internment". Three separate government entities housed persons of Japanese ancestry in the United States. The Department of Justice operated 27 Interment Camps which housed over 10,000 non-citizens of Japanese, German, and Italian ancestry. The Internment Camps were guarded by Border Patrol agents. Some of the Japanese in the camp were from South America; they were brought into the US by force from places such as Peru.

ww2dbaseThe Wartime Civilian Control Agency (WCCA) operated 10 Assembly Centers beginning in Mar 1942 with the original intention of temporarily housing Japanese-Americans until they were assigned to permanent Relocation Camps, which were run by the War Relocation Authority (WRA). Many of the WCCA and WRA locations were also, incorrectly, referred to as Internment Camps.

ww2dbaseThe WCCA and WRA facilities were generally spartan, built so that they were just meeting international laws, many without plumbing or cooking facilities. At first, the camps were tightly guarded, but later on rules were relaxed greatly, allowing free movement for internees outside the camp for work. Some of the centers were located on Native American reservations, and the Native Americans were compensated for the land use. Those who were interned were generally cooperative, largely due to traditional Japanese mentality which encouraged them to obey the government and act for the good of the collective. 20,000 Japanese-Americans even joined the US military to fight, many on the front lines, but there were some who resisted the government, including few who renounced their American citizenships in spite of their treatment.

ww2dbaseIn the American territory of Hawaii, 35% of the population was of Japanese descent, thus logistically it was impossible to intern them; only about 1,200 to 1,800 of the 150,000 Japanese-Americans in Hawaii were interned. With the territory operating under martial law, threat of espionage was considered low. The two Hawaiian Island Detention Camps were operated by the military.

ww2dbaseIn total, between 110,000 and 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry in the United States were forcibly relocated from their homes during WW2. 62% of them were citizens of the United States.

ww2dbaseIn Dec 1944, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the internment of American citizens unconstitutional, though the exclusion process was found to be legal. On 2 Jan 1945, the exclusion order was rescinded, and the internees began to leave the camps to rebuild their lives, although the camps remained open through 1946 for those who were not ready to move out. The formerly interned were given $25 and a train ticket to their home towns; a small number of them emigrated to Japan after the war. Many of them returned to find evidence of theft and vandalism to their homes and even their personal properties kept in government warehouses.

ww2dbaseOn 2 Jul 1948, the US Congress passed American Japanese Claims Act which allowed Japanese-Americans to apply for compensation for property losses caused by the internment or exclusion, but by that time, the Internal Revenue Service had already destroyed the tax records of 1939 to 1942, thus making the claim process difficult; only about $37 million were approved under this act. In 1976, US President Gerald Ford noted that the Japanese-American internment was "wrong". In 1978, the Japanese American Citizens League began a campaign seeking compensation and formal apology. In 1980, the Congress established the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC), which on 24 Feb 1983 reported the internment as "unjust and motivated by racism rather than real military necessity". In 1988, US President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 which provided redress of $20,000 for each surviving internee or heir. On 27 Sep 1992, the Civil Liberties Act Amendments appropriated an additional $400 million to ensure all surviving internees and their heirs would receive their $20,000 share of the compensation; this was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush, who also issued another formal apology. In all, 82,210 Japanese-Americans received the $20,000 compensation. In total, $1.6 billion were given out, with last payment made in 1999.

ww2dbaseJapanese-Canadian Internment

ww2dbaseSimilar to the United States, there were suspicion of people of Japanese ancestry living in Canada at the time the Pacific War began, particularly in the western province of British Columbia. Accusations of Japanese fisherman charting Canadian coastlines for the Japanese Navy existed, though the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian military regarded that notion groundless. Like the United States, prejudice that had existed in society surfaced quickly after the war began; many employers such as the Canadian Pacific Railway fired Japanese-Canadian workers, and properties owned or operated by Japanese-Canadians such as the Steveston Buddhist Temple were vandalized. In Jan 1942, the Canadian government issued the order that all people of Japanese descent between the age of 18 and 45 who lived within 100 miles of the Pacific coast were to be moved to camps in the interior; in early Mar 1942, all of them were ordered to move outside of the protection area, and on top of that order a daytime-only curfew was enacted. 21,500 Japanese-Canadians, most of whom were Canadian citizens, were relocated.

ww2dbaseIan Mackenzie, a Canadian Minister of Parliament, was quoted in saying:

It is the government's plan to get these people out of B.C. as fast as possible. It is my personal intention, as long as I remain in public life, to see they never come back here. Let our slogan be for British Columbia: "No Japs from the Rockies to the seas."

ww2dbaseTreatment for the Japanese-Canadians were at times harsher than their counterparts in the United States, with reports of some being housed in animal stalls at Hastings Park, Vancouver for months while awaiting relocation, as well as reports of families being separated. At a small number of camps conditions were poor enough that the Red Cross delivered food to those camps to ensure the internees had enough to eat. Like Japanese-Americans, Japanese-Canadian internees were also later allowed to leave the camp with permission, though few opted to leave since they were not allowed to work or attend school outside the camps; additionally, many Japanese-Canadians' had their personal properties confiscated, thus they would have nowhere to go. In 1943, the Canadian agency that oversaw confiscated properties began to auction off the properties without permission of the owners. The money raised were paid to the operators of the camps; the justification was that the internees had to pay for food, housing, and other living expenses.

ww2dbaseAfter WW2, 4,000 internees were deported to Japan, though the deportation was stopped in 1947 due to public protest. Most of the other internees were once again relocated east of the Rocky Mountains. The Japanese-Canadian internees were finally freed on 1 Apr 1949. Many of them opted not to return to British Columbia, choosing to settle in the eastern provinces such as Ontario and Québec instead.

ww2dbaseIn 1950, the Bird Commission awarded $1.3 million to 1,434 Japanese-Canadians for property damages, but it refused to compensate for civil rights violations and other non-monetary items. On 22 Sep 1988, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney formally apologized for the internment, promising $21,000 to each of the surviving former internees as well as Canadian citizenship to those who were deported. He also provided $12 million to the National Association of Japanese Canadians to promote human rights and to support the Japanese-Canadian community, as well as $24 million to establish the Canadian Race Relations Foundation.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia.

Last Major Update: Sep 2009

Internment of Japanese-Americans and Japanese-Canadians Interactive Map


On the night following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the deserted Main Street of the Japanese fishing community at Fish Harbor, Terminal Island, Los Angeles, California, United States, 8 Dec 1941.
See all 184 photographs of Internment of Japanese-Americans and Japanese-Canadians


Diagram showing the layout of the Manzanar Relocation Center for deported Japanese-Americans, Inyo County, California, United States, 1944.Map showing the locations of all ten Relocation Centers for deported Japanese-Americans with figures showing each camp’s maximum population during the war.

Internment of Japanese-Americans and Japanese-Canadians Timeline

19 Feb 1942 US President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, allowing the US military to relocate Japanese-Americans to internment camps.
26 Feb 1942 The US Federal Bureau of Investigation began to relocate Japanese-American civilians living in East San Pedro, Los Angeles, California, United States.
1 Mar 1942 The US authorities rounded up 112,000 Americans of Japanese descent and moved them to inland camps well away from the Pacific coast.
2 Mar 1942 US Army General John L. DeWitt, responsible for the defense of the west coast of the United States, issued Public Proclamation No. 1 to create Military Areas 1 and 2 which covered the entire length of the coast.
12 Mar 1942 In the United States, The Portland Branch of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank Evacuee Property Department was established in response to President Franklin Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066. The branch was to assist Japanese-Americans in disposing property holdings and to protect against fraud, forced sales, and unscrupulous creditors.
18 Mar 1942 US President Franklin Roosevelt signed an Executive Order for the establishment of the War Relocation Authority, which led to the internment of Japanese-Americans during WW2.
7 Apr 1942 Japanese-Americans began to be relocated from the coastal defense zones in western United States. The American state of Colorado agreed to accept voluntary relocation of enemy aliens; it was the only western state to do so.
28 Apr 1942 The first Japanese-American internees arrived at the Puyallup Assembly Center in Washington, United States.
12 Aug 1942 Internees of the Puyallup Assembly Center in Washington, United States began to be transported out by train, to the Minidoka War Relocation Center in Jerome, Idaho, United States.
12 Sep 1942 The last of the internees of the Puyallup Assembly Center in Washington, United States boarded a train destined for the Minidoka War Relocation Center in Jerome, Idaho, United States.
21 Jun 1943 The US Supreme Court upheld the original 1942 verdict against Minoru Yasui.
7 Jan 1944 The US Court of Appeals upheld the original 1942 verdict against Fred Korematsu.
12 Oct 1944 The US Supreme Court argued the case of Mitsuye Endo, a Japanese-American who had been deported for internment since the start of the Pacific War.
17 Dec 1944 Having the knowledge that on the following day the US Supreme Court would rule in favor of Mitsuye Endo over her illegal detainment based on her Japanese descent, US President Franklin Roosevelt issued Public Proclamation No. 21 one day before the public announcement of the ruling, declaring that all Japanese-Americans could begin returning to the west coast of the United States in Jan 1945.
18 Dec 1944 The US Supreme Court upheld the original 1942 verdict against Fred Korematsu.
18 Dec 1944 The US Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mitsuye Endo, declaring that the government could not detain a citizen without charge when the government itself conceded Endo was loyal to her country.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
22 Mar 2010 07:35:03 PM

Wikipedia has little background info on the subject, which is important in order to understand things more fully. Check here for a good education:
2. britney ottobre says:
19 May 2010 07:36:50 AM

wow thats cool!!
3. Darkwater says:
23 Jun 2010 10:02:57 PM

Iam looking for information on the Banning California Internment Camp does anyone know of a Brig. General Henry Jost either 4th U.S. Army or was a Brig General assigned to the Western Command. The Internment Camp was under his Command. The Camp was better known as the Banning Industerial Road Camp. Now it is still a correctional facility. A lot of People don't know that during WW II Southern California from Pomona to the Arizona and Nevada State Lines was all under Military control. There was once a field hospital 51st. that located to Banning after being station at Camp Goff under the comand Of General Patton known as on of the main camps of the Desert Trainning Center. Me and some friends ran into a gruesome sight above Banning on the Old Idyllwild Road while doing some gold prospecting we were above the old Aquaduct Road about an 8th of a mile and about 100 yards east of the old road when we found a bunch of skelital remains and a bunch of spent machine gun rounds along with those little clips that hold the ammo in belt formation. we were not in the area very long when a mysterious brand new chevy pickup with gov. plates showed up he just parked down the road got out and was watching us with field glasses. Since this happened my friend that led us to this particular spot and a long time resident of Banning he was fifty at the time 20 years older than me. Was found dead alongside I-10 near Quartzite AZ. The family said the AZ M.E. said he died of dehydration after his car overheated and he crawled into a storm drain. His family had his body cremated and with that any evidence of foul play was destroyed. So all these years I have tried to keep the conspiracy theories at bay and afraid of ending up like my friend have kept silent but with the world as it is today we need to tell the tale of this goverments dirty little secrets. I beleive the concentration camps were to take the most prosperous ethnic groups and put them in these camps as to rob them of everything they worked for. And it was a world wide plan it happened on all four corners of the world by the Axis and the Allies no body was exempt. If the Germans and the Japanese would have won the war they would have had trials similar to Nuenberg. Only the Alies and there leaders would have been put on trial and not the Germans. There would have been war crime trials. I beleive the only reason the Japanese were spared these trials were of two reasons One was the Internment Camps in the U.S. and the Dropping of the two bombs the exterminated more people than Hitler and Iroshito did through the whole war. The U.S. Goverment is so embaresed of the Bombing that they still will not realese all the film footage taken after the Bombs were dropped. The peope in charge of atomic energy are afraid if the film in it's entire unedited version were to be khown everybody would be wanting all of the atomic power plants shut down and no new ones to be built. Because if the world new of the true effects of radation poisoning. You think an oil spill in the Gulf is bad at least it has the chance of being cleaned up but what do you do with radioactive waste it does not loose it's threat of harm forever not in our life times. The oil in the gulf is only temporary compared to the ramifications of nucular by-products either in weapons or peaceful use it is destructive. I have always been against nucular power plants and off shore drilling. If the oil well in the gulf was above ground it would have already been shut off. There are no real known safeguards that can be implaced to shut off under sea oil wells should things go bad. Ok we need energy sources for transportation, communication, health, prosparity. We need as a whole to find and locate a clean source of energy before we make ourselfs go the way of the T. REX. EVERTHING THAT WENT ON DURING WW II HAS EVERTHING TO DO WITH THE PRACTICES OF ALL OF TODAYS WORLD GOVERMENTS. CONCENTRATION CAMPS ARE ALL AROUND US AND WHEN THE TIME COMES WHEN THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH JOBS OR FOOD TO GO AROUND WE ARE GOING TO SEE THESE CAMPS PUT INTO SERVICE.And this is going to happen sooner than we think.
4. Anonymous says:
17 Nov 2010 11:21:20 AM

this is helpful
5. rawr im a dinosaur says:
18 Jan 2011 05:44:49 PM

very useful information, arigato.
6. Anonymous says:
18 Mar 2011 06:47:09 PM

Still the Japanese navy had intel from Japanese citizens on shore in Hawaii.
7. Anonymous says:
29 Apr 2012 02:28:42 PM

you are a whackjob!
8. Anonymous says:
21 Nov 2012 12:13:41 PM

much is mentioned about the Japanese ..but Canada also intered Ukranians -in Kitchener ont and in Saskatchewan as well as 5 other olaces
9. Peppa Pig says:
18 Apr 2019 09:37:28 AM

What is a war?
10. Anonymous says:
11 Jul 2019 08:52:22 PM

Holy f*cking *** Canada, you hold them until 1949?
11. Steve Sirak says:
6 Sep 2022 03:29:15 PM

Hay darkwater msg me I know what you are talking about and am familiar with jost.

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» Bendetsen, Karl
» Emmons, Delos
» Endo, Mitsuye
» Hirabayashi, Gordon
» Korematsu, Fred
» Roosevelt, Franklin
» Yasui, Minoru

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» Emmon's Memorandum to McCloy Regarding Japanese-Hawaiians
» Presidential Executive Order Number 9066 Authorizing the Internment of Japanese-Americans

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Internment of Japanese-Americans and Japanese-Canadians Photo Gallery
On the night following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the deserted Main Street of the Japanese fishing community at Fish Harbor, Terminal Island, Los Angeles, California, United States, 8 Dec 1941.
See all 184 photographs of Internment of Japanese-Americans and Japanese-Canadians

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"Since peace is now beyond hope, we can but fight to the end."

Chiang Kaishek, 31 Jul 1937

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