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A Shameful Repetition of History: Japanese Interment Camps

Updated on September 8, 2012

The results of World War II are some of the most significant in history. One of the consequences of America's going to war with Japan, however, is often overlooked in many textbooks and unknown to numbers of people. Multiple Japanese Americans or those of Japanese descent were sent to interment camps on order of the United States government on account of the crime of their race. Being Japanese placed one under suspicion automatically. Currently, outrage still surfaces, and the government finally owns how such incarceration was an infringement of their rights as American citizens under the Constitution. Does this confession do justice to the incivility of the action? It cannot repair enough of the life lost or the anger and misery conduced.

To discuss the subject is important for many people. For one, the fact should be recognized; all of those people who underwent such suffering for such a ridiculous reason should not be overlooked. Also, this can be a lesson several people can learn from. We can all see now how immoral concentration camps were, whether for Japanese, Jews, or any race and gender, for that matter. Concentration camps may be possible, but they certainly are not a reasonable solution to suspicion. The very notion of them is irresponsible; the government should be able to conjure something fair and effective, which concentration camps are not. To the general world today, just the two words "concentration camp" represent inequity, lachrymosity, and despair. It means nothing wonderful, productive, or venerable. If we detest Hitler for the murder of millions of Jews and his concentration camps, then why not hate all the arbitrary figures behind the Japanese concentration camps? The only difference is that Hitler meant to exterminate all Jews and communists, while Japanese were imprisoned to prevent any hostility in America from Japanese-Americans.

No matter how fair the idea seemed at first, Japanese Americans certainly felt the blunt end of the deal, and survivors of the concentration camps most definitely feel the months or years they lost detained in a camp for their nationality. The thought of the prejudice, of the helpless feeling of being charged of something you didn't even do because of the way you look is absolutely unimaginable and preposterous. They have every right to feel as though they misplaced their faith in America. This is something that the government cannot replace with acknowledgement and apologies. The damage has been done...but maybe it's not over and forgotten yet. What if we want to remember this piece of history always, perhaps even for our own good?

A difficult experience such as this can be very imperative in the fact that it can be remembered and improved upon. Instead of occurring all over again, like it did previously, maybe we can see history as the first mistake. Stupidity is only making a mistake after making it a first time. Why be stupid when we can be better than before? There is no reason to induce pain when we can thwart it, when it's absolutely unnecessary.

Unfortunately, this and many other violations of rights are still being ignored. On the news, broadcasts of racially-motivated beatings by police are still seen. Criminals roam the streets while innocent men are thrown in jail because they have a worse criminal record. These alarming and humiliating instances could have been prevented with ethics and recognition of right and wrong, perhaps from history.

Arguments and reactions against any contemptible deed show that many people know right from wrong, and that many are conscious enough to learn from their mistakes the first time. If not from their conscience, perhaps people learn from what has already occurred; in which case, some horrible experiences may be of some use. So it would be a terrible shame if such anguish went to such an agonizing waste. We really might as well see history as such, since there is nothing else to do about what's already happened.

People should be able to look at these periods in time, and bear in mind either the laudable or corrupted facts and take them to heart. Just because America fought against Japan in the second World War doesn't mean that all Japanese share the same beliefs and opinions. Consider, for instance, Americans of Middle-Eastern descent in this time of war between the United States and Iraq. Some Middle-Eastern people support Bush and his campaign; even Iraqis living amongst the terror of war at the front approbate his actions. Skin color and genes mean absolutely nothing as far as principles go.

This piece of history, despite the fact that it transpired more than sixty years ago, is valuable, devastating, and rather embarrassing for the government. It reminds us once again of some harsh truths of life. For one, no matter how technologically advanced or economically stable a country may be, the government can never be perfect in everyone's eyes.

However, unfair judgment and outrageous decisions can still be avoided, no matter what authority may believe in. Also, racially-based motives can never be rational excuses. Something as trivial as the way someone is born cannot alone be rendered substantial for convicting a person of any crime, or even accusing a person. No one should fear being indicted because they are of a certain race, gender, or religion. Finally, the most treacherous, irrational, flawed threat to humankind is humankind. We alone can prevent, promote, demote, check, and execute our own behavior.

There is definitely evidence of a step taken forward after the government's realizing its transgressions and making a public statement of it. Americans can now breathe a little easier with the knowledge that the government will probably never pull a stunt such as the concentration camps again. Nearly everyone has discovered the decadence of them; if not the government, then the people can speak out against it. Although the government's admitting its erroneous exploit may seem better late than never to some people, the fact still stands that such a violation of rights should never have happened, and therefore should never happen again.


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    • glassvisage profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Northern California

      Well said RonElFran - I admire how Japanese Americans acted so gracefully during this difficult time. I know several Japanese Americans who are still here in America and who still love their country.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      5 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      The idea that American citizens could be rounded up and thrown in concentration camps simply because of their ethnic background is still astonishing to me. And the fact that almost all of them remained loyal Americans through the ordeal is almost as amazing. Some even fought in the European theater while their families were imprisoned back home. To my mind, the way so many Japanese Americans handled the totally indefensible discrimination against them during WWII represents the best of what it means to be an American.

    • GetitScene profile image

      Dale Anderson 

      5 years ago from The High Seas

      Interesting. My buddies dad looked after the farm of the Japanese family next door when they were shipped off to internment camps. Not exactly a proud moment in American history.

    • glassvisage profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Northern California

      Blagsmith, sorry for the delayed response, but I wouldn't mind if you included this as a link on your blog and I appreciate you asking!

    • The Blagsmith profile image

      The Blagsmith 

      7 years ago from Britain

      Thanks for this hub. I hope you don't mind me using this as a link in an article of mine. It is called Obanagamori: The Forest of The Forgotten. The link is

      Thank you

    • glassvisage profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Northern California

      Thanks Zabimaru and Truth_hammer, and thanks to TH for bringing up the reverse-discrimination against Germans! That's a great point.

    • profile image


      9 years ago


      As others commenters here, I commend you for bringing American Concentration Camps to the light of day. Many Americans and modern-day Europeans, are sheltered, or media-dogmatized away from the actual wartime realities of WWI and WWII.

      Hitler's actual position on the European camps, and purposes for them (labor and expulsion, not mass death) are clearly documented in unclassified documents and *actual* insider accounts from the war. The Jewish component was a very small part of the overarching German agenda, which involved establishment of a strong, and central German state for a variety of well-documented historical reasons. The astute follower of history will recognize this movement as common to most all peoples at one point or another in history. Is continual Zionist expansion in the Middle East, or dominant control over U.S. domestic policy somehow exempt from examination?

      I think any Hitlerian comparison to anything happening here in the States weakens your argument. Attempts to ennoble U.S. motives for the war, which were driven directly by British and Jewish financial interests in Europe, India, Africa, and the States do not change the results, or what the U.S. Citizens of Japanese descent had to face.Since we are examining such matters, we should also discuss the incredible indignities and discrimination many German-Americans experienced during the period of both U.S.-expanded major wars. Or, the brutal exterminations of whole cities such as Dresden, by allied "moralists" during WWII. 

      Meanwhile, stateside, anyone speaking German, or with a German accent in middle America during or after WWII, was continually called "Racist" "Nazi" "Murderer" "Anti-Semite", ad nauseum.  (Terms that are recited like Gregorian mantra in today’s media.) Modern Zionist interests continue to perpetuate this feeling with terms like "Holocaust" and self-interested spinning of historical events, many of which have been debunked in recent years.

      Other deplorable "moral" examples include U.S. support of the Soviets during WWII, and the millions of Central and Eastern Europeans sent to U.S.-supported (albeit indirectly supported by it's financial and military support of the Jewish Bolshevik Regime) Gulags. Japanese internment in the States was just one of the great many horrible policy flaws that the world still lives with to this day.

      All nations should learn the lessons of actual history (i.e. all the Egyptian, Greek, and Roman parallels that significantly pre-date today's events,) and carefully consider all the implications of their respective policy decisions, especially one as powerful as the United States.



    • Zabimaru profile image


      9 years ago from Sweden

      This is a great hub. There are too many things like this that go unnoticed and unquestioned because it is "our side" doing it.

      If we ever want to hope for peace in the world it's always important to treat people fairly.

    • glassvisage profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Northern California

      So true JamesRay! For some reason I feel more disgusted about Guantanamo Bay, maybe because it's happened in my lifetime, and such terrible things go on as I live and breathe :S

    • JamesRay profile image


      10 years ago from Philadelphia

      This is a great hub. Very educational. Good for you. How would you compare the roundup of roughly 5,000 Muslims in Guantanamo Bay Prison without charges being filed or access to a lawyer or a hearing to the Internment Camps?

    • Gawn Fishin' profile image

      Gawn Fishin' 

      10 years ago from Vancouver, BC

      Thank You Glassvisage, this is the first time I have seen anything about the internment camps in print!  I know about it from a dear friend, who was born in a Montana Internment Camp.  I was appalled when he told me that his young American Citizen parents were sent there from their homes in California.  I do know they were given acreage to farm, and freedom to sell their crops.  It was explained to me that it came under the guidelines of 'Protective Custody'. People of Japanese decent were being slain in the United States by vigilantly groups after Pearl Harbor.  This did not make it right, and I feel we learned from our mistakes when 9/11 happened.  Please keep this hub going!  The world can learn a lot from this American Black Eye!  If I know the smallest detail that can help you, it's yours. 

      Thank you again, Trisha


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