ERIC Identifier: ED447066
Publication Date: 2000-12-00
Author: Mukai, Gary
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse for Social Studies/Social Science Education Bloomington IN.
Teaching about Japanese-American Internment. ERIC Digest.
When the United States entered World War II following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Japanese immigrants and their descendants, including those born in the United States and therefore citizens by birth, were placed in a very awkward situation. The immigrants were resident aliens in the United States, a country at war with their country of birth.
Amid the hysteria following the U.S. entry into World War II, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942. This order authorized the War Department to prescribe military areas from which any group of people could be excluded. This served as the legal basis for the evacuation and internment of over 110,000 Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans from the West Coast. Most were forced to sell their homes and businesses and suffered huge losses. Schooling and careers were completely disrupted.
Even more than 55 years after the closing of the camps, the Japanese-American internment experience continues to deeply affect the Japanese-American community. This period of U.S. history illustrates how the constitutional rights of individuals of a minority group may be at risk during a time of national crisis. This Digest provides six suggestions for teaching about the Japanese-American internment and guides to resources for teachers and students.
1. SET THE CONTEXT FOR JAPANESE-AMERICAN INTERNMENT THROUGH AN EXAMINATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS.
2. INTRODUCE THE JAPANESE IMMIGRATION EXPERIENCE IN THE EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY.
3. INTRODUCE PERSPECTIVES ON JAPANESE AMERICANS FROM THE MEDIA FOLLOWING THE JAPANESE ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOR.
4. INTRODUCE PERSPECTIVES ON THE QUESTION OF "LOYALTY."
In February 1943, after the internment of Japanese Americans from the West Coast had been completed, the War Department and the War Relocation Authority required all internees 17 years of age and older to answer a questionnaire. This questionnaire presumably tested their "loyalty" to the United States. Two questions proved particularly vexing. Question #27 asked, "Are you willing to serve in the armed services of the United States on combat duty, wherever ordered?" Question #28 asked, "Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any and all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance to the Japanese Emperor or any other foreign government, power, or organization?" Response to this questionnaire was mixed. Out of this confusion emerged three noteworthy groups of individuals: those who answered "yes-yes" and served in the armed forces, those who answered "yes-yes" (or provided qualified responses) but refused to serve in the military from internment camps, and those who answered "no-no." Introduce not only the experiences of the Japanese Americans who served in the military in Europe (100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team) and those who served in the Pacific War (primarily in the Military Intelligence Service as translators and interrogators of Japanese prisoners of war), but also those who answered "no-no" and those who became known as "draft resisters of conscience." The "draft resisters of conscience" refused to serve in the military until their rights as U.S. citizens were restored. Most of those who answered "no-no" were segregated at Tule Lake internment camp; many "resisters" were sent to prison from the camps.
5. INTRODUCE REDRESS AND REPARATIONS.
The redress and reparations movement refers to efforts by the Japanese-American community to obtain an apology and compensation from the U.S. government for wrongful actions toward Japanese Americans during World War II. Arguments for and against this movement should be presented as well as the final outcome. Redress payments of $20,000 along with letters of apology (signed by President George Bush in 1990) were presented to approximately 60,000 survivors of the Japanese-American internment.
6. PRESENT DIVERSE PERSPECTIVES ON THE JAPANESE-AMERICAN INTERNMENT EXPERIENCE.
* Utilizing a U.S. government newsreel from 1943, "Japanese Relocation," that presents the government's rationale for internment
* Obtaining information from the Japanese American National Museum
* Incorporating art and poetry from the internment camps
* Showing the video "Days of Waiting," which analyzes the internment experience of a Caucasian woman married to a Japanese American
* Incorporating literature, such as "No-No Boy" by John Okada or "Journey Home" by Yoshiko Uchida
* Examining Japanese-Latin American perspectives on internment (2,264 members of the Japanese community in Latin America were deported to and interned in the United States during World War II)
WORLD WIDE WEB RESOURCES FOR TEACHING ABOUT JAPANESE-AMERICAN INTERNMENT.
* American Concentration Camps. Collection of photographs and audiotapes about the experiences of Japanese Americans in the internment camps of World War II. Compiled by Masumi Hayashi of the Art Department of Cleveland State University. http://www.csuohio.edu/art_photos/
* Children of the Camps Project. Over half of the Japanese Americans in the internment camps were children. These children's experiences are depicted in a documentary video program, "The Children of the Camps," which is highlighted at this Web site. The video "Days of Waiting" is also featured. Teacher's guides to the video programs are provided along with related documents and information about the camps. http://www.naatanet.org/
* Japanese American National Museum.
Fact sheets are provided about relocation and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Information is also provided on Japanese Americans in the U.S. armed forces during World War II. http://www.janm.org/nrc/
* Zenger Media. The 1943 newsreel "Japanese Relocation" is available through this site. http://www.zengermedia.com/
REFERENCES AND ERIC RESOURCES.
Crost, Lyn. HONOR BY FIRE: JAPANESE AMERICANS AT WAR IN EUROPE AND THE PACIFIC. Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1994.
Daniels, Roger, Sandra C. Taylor, and Harry H.L. Kitano, eds. JAPANESE AMERICANS: FROM RELOCATION TO REDRESS. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991.
Instructional Unit Committee. THE JAPANESE-AMERICAN INTERNMENT, 1942-1945: A LESSON FROM RECENT HISTORY. Seattle: Asian American Studies Program of the University of Washington, 1983. ED 240 042.
Nagata, Donna K. "The Japanese-American Internment: Perceptions of Moral Community, Fairness, and Redress." JOURNAL OF SOCIAL ISSUES 46 (Spring 1990): 133-136. EJ 415 965.
Pickering, Susan M., and Lori B. Walker. "Japanese-American Internment: A Historical Narrative." SOCIAL STUDIES AND THE YOUNG LEARNER 8 (November-December 1995): 1-6. EJ 518 975.
Wojtan, Linda J. "Teaching Resources for Understanding the U.S.-Japanese Relationship." SOCIAL EDUCATION 55 (November-December 1991): 455-456. EJ 445 152.