Japanese American internment was the relocation and internment by the United States government in 1942 of about 110,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese who lived along the Pacific coast of the United States to camps called "War Relocation Camps," in the wake of Imperial Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. The internment of Japanese Americans was applied unequally throughout the United States. All who lived on the West Coast of the United States were interned, while in Hawaii, where the 150,000-plus Japanese Americans composed over one-third of the population, an estimated 1,200 to 1,800 were interned. Of those interned, 62% were American citizens.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the internment with Executive Order 9066, issued February 19, 1942, which allowed local military commanders to designate "military areas" as "exclusion zones," from which "any or all persons may be excluded." This power was used to declare that all people of Japanese ancestry were excluded from the entire Pacific coast, including all of California and much of Oregon, Washington and Arizona, except for those in internment camps. In 1944, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the exclusion orders, while noting that the provisions that singled out people of Japanese ancestry were a separate issue outside the scope of the proceedings. The United States Census Bureau assisted the internment efforts by providing confidential neighborhood information on Japanese Americans. The Bureau's role was denied for decades, but was finally proven in 2007.
In 1980, President Jimmy Carter conducted an investigation to determine whether putting Japanese Americans into internment camps was justified well enough by the government. He appointed the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians to investigate the camps. The commission's report, named “Personal Justice Denied,” found little evidence of Japanese disloyalty at the time and recommended the government pay reparations to the survivors. They formed a payment of $20,000 to each individual internment camp survivor. These were the reparations passed by President Ronald Reagan.
In 1988, Congress passed and President Ronald Reagan signed legislation which apologized for the internment on behalf of the U.S. government. The legislation said that government actions were based on "race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership". The U.S. government eventually disbursed more than $1.6 billion in reparations to Japanese Americans who had been interned and their heirs.
Read more about Japanese-American Internment: Historical Context, After Pearl Harbor, Facilities, Exclusion, Removal, and Detention, Hardship and Material Loss, Reparations and Redress, Legal Legacy, Terminology Debate, Notable Internees, Expulsions and Population Transfers of World War II, Exhibitions and Collections, References in Music
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