Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps

Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps

Jacob Miller - September 30, 2017

The internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was the forced relocation and incarceration of between 110,000-120,000 people of Japanese ancestry. 62 percent of the internees were United States citizens.

The Niihau Incident in December 1941, just after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor when three Japanese Americans on the Hawaiian island of Niihau assisted a Japanese pilot who had crashed there. Magic, the allied cryptanalysis project to decipher enemy codes, intercepts discussed the development of a potential spy network among Japanese Americans. These revelations were used as a factor in the rationale for the controversial executive order.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, which created ‘military areas’ from which ‘any or all persons may be excluded.’ This authority was used to declare that all people of Japanese ancestry were excluded from the West Coast, including all of California and parts of Oregon, Washington, and Arizona, except for those in government camps. Approximately 5,000 Japanese Americans voluntarily relocated outside the exclusion zone but the majority of nearly 130,000 Japanese Americans were forcibly relocated from their West Coast homes during the spring of 1942.

In June of 1942, the Japanese Imperial Army invaded and occupied the Aleutian Islands on the Alaskan panhandle. They occupied the land for over a year.

On December 18, 1944, the Supreme Court ruled that the removal of Japanese citizens from the West Coast was constitutional and that eviction of U.S. citizens in the name of military necessity is legal, but that the citizens could not be detained on suspicion alone. Nine of ten camps were closed by the end of 1945. The Tule Lake camp, which held those scheduled for deportation, was not closed until March 20, 1946.

Many internees lost irreplaceable personal property. Seven Japanese Americans were shot and killed by guards. To compensate former internees for their property losses, the US Congress passed the American Japanese Claims Act in 1948. The Japanese American families filed for $148 million in claims request; about $37 million was approved and distributed.

On February 24, 1983, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians published a report entitled Personal Justice Denied, condemning the internment as unjust and motivated by racism and xenophobia rather than factual military necessity The Commission recommended that $20,000 in reparations be paid to Japanese Americans who suffered internment, totaling in $1.6 billion.

Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
A sign posted notifying people of Japanese descent to report for incarceration. Wikipedia
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
This Feb. 18, 1944, image provided by the Tanaka family shows the World War II alien registration card for Shonosuke Tanaka, who was among scores of people of Japanese ancestry held in captivity during the war. AP
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
The first group of 82 Japanese-Americans arrive at the Manzanar internment camp carrying their belongings in suitcases and bags. March 21, 1942. Eliot Elisofon: The LIFE Picture Collection: Getty Images
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
The Mochida family wait for a bus that will eventually take them to an internment camp in Hayward, California, on May 8, 1942. Buzzfeed
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
Shigeko Kitamoto and her children are evacuated, along with others of Japanese descent, from Bainbridge Island in Washington state, on Mar. 30, 1942. Cpl. George Bushy, member of the military guard that supervised the departure of 237 Japanese-Americans for California, gives her a hand with the youngest. Buzzfeed
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
A large sign reading “I am an American” is placed in the window of a store in Oakland, California, in March 1942. The store was closed following orders to persons of Japanese descent to evacuate from certain West Coast areas. The owner, a University of California graduate, was to be housed with hundreds of evacuees in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration of the war. Buzzfeed
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
A US flag flies at a Japanese-American internment camp, surrounded by mountains in Manzanar, California, during World War II in July 1942. Getty Images
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
The outskirts of the relocation center. Wikimedia Commons
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
Internees at the relocation center. Library of Congress
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
Japanese-Americans removed from their Los Angeles homes line up at the government’s alien camp in Manzanar on March 23, 1942, for their first meal after arrival at the camp. AP
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
A girl detained in Arkansas walks to school in 1943. Wikipedia
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
An American soldier guards a crowd of Japanese-American internees at the internment camp in Manzanar. Getty Images
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
Guards at the Japanese internment camp in Tule Lake. Getty Images
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
Japanese-American photographer Toyo Miyatake, who was detained in Manzanar. Daily Mail
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
Manzanar internee Tom Kobayashi. 1943. Ansel Adams: Library of Congress
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
A camp dining hall. Wikimedia Commons
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
Pre-school children on the way to their barrack homes from morning class. Dorothea Lange: National Archives
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
A group of schoolchildren attends class at the Japanese internment camp in Tule Lake. Getty Images
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
School children inside Manzanar. 1943. Ansel Adams: Library of Congress
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
An internee of Japanese descent watches the Memorial Day Services. Internee Boy Scouts took a leading part in the ceremony held at Manzanar. 1942. Francis Stewart: National Archives
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
The sleeping quarters at the Japanese internment camp in Tule Lake is reminiscent of an army barrack for American GIs. Getty Images

Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
Bunk space at Manzanar. Ansel Adams: Library of Congress
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
Photographs, letters and personal belongings are seen inside a home in the Manzanar internment camp, one of ten that incarcerated Japanese people along America’s West Coast during the Second World War. Daily Mail
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
Camp detainee Benji Iguchi works the fields on a tractor, 1943. Daily Mail
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
Farming at Manzanar. Ansel Adams: Library of Congress
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
Mori Nakajima works at a poultry farm. Daily Mail
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
An internee holds cabbage. Buyenlarge: Getty Images
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
Ryie Yoshizawa, instructor, standing in front of a class of women students, one woman in foreground with dressmaker’s dummy. 1943. Ansel Adams: Library of Congress
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
Manzanar internee Yonehisa Yamagami. 1943. Ansel Adams: Library of Congress
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
Florence Yamaguchi (left) and Kinu Hirashima, both from Los Angeles, stand under an apple tree at the War Relocation Authority center in Manzanar in June 1942. AP Photos
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
Nurse Aiko Hamaguchi shows a newborn baby to her mother at the Manzanar Relocation Center. Library of Congress
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
Grandfather of Japanese ancestry teaching his little grandson to walk. 1942. Dorothea Lange: National Archives
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
Yaeko Nakamura and her two children, Joyce Yuki (right) and Louise Tami (left), standing on the step at the entrance of a dwelling. 1943. Ansel Adams: Library of Congress
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
Editor Roy Takeno reading a copy of the Manzanar Free Press in front of the newspaper office at Manzanar. 1943. Ansel Adams: Library of Congress
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
Internees play baseball. Library of Congress
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
Internees play volleyball. Circa 1943. Buyenlarge: Getty Images
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
Tetsuko Murajami, a Manzanar internee. Flickr: Ping News
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
A Red Cross worker administers aid at in Tule Lake. Library of Congress
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
Baton practice at Manzanar. 1943. Ansel Adams: National Archives
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
A young Japanese man looks out toward the California desert from the internment camp in Tule Lake. Getty Images
Disturbing Photographs from Inside the Japanese Internment Camps
A Japanese monument in a cemetery inside the Manzanar War Relocation Center with Mt. Williamson visible in the background. Daily Mail

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