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WWII: A Turning Point In Asian American History

Updated on February 24, 2012
Japanese Immigrant
Japanese Immigrant | Source

Chinese Exclusion Act

Ronald Takaki (author of "Strangers From A Different Shore") has argued that the Second World War was a turning point in Asian American history. The Second World War was a turning point for the political policy of the United State. During the Second World War, the US allied with many Asian countries including the Philippines,China, and Korea…etc, which afterward change the policy of the US.

The political policy of the United States before the Second World War was racist. Asian were not allow to become citizen, own lands, vote...etc. The Chinese Exclusion Act was especially racist since it specifically targets a group of people for their race. In Senator George Hoar Declares Chinese Exclusion Un-American, he says “Nothing is more in conflict with the genius of American institutions than legal distinctions between individuals based upon race or upon occupation”.

During the War, the policies of the US begin to change. The US had allied with the Chinese to fight against the Japanese. During this same time, The US repeals the Chinese Exclusion Act. They even gave citizenship to Chinese soldier who had been in the army. Korean and Philippines were given more rights as well. They could join the army and the Philippines were even encouraged to buy lands previously own by the Japanese. These changes on the policy continue on through the war. The US begins to let other Asian immigrants into the country but with quota. Although this was a small step, it was huge change from before where virtually no Asian was allows in the country.

Social Stand Point

But if you look at another perspective of Asian life, you can say that this War was not a turning point. From a social stand point, Asian has not changed much. Before the War, most Asian was laborers and could not find employment elsewhere. In Stranger from a different shore, Jade Snow Wong graduated from college but could not find employment suitable to her skill level because she was Chinese. Even after the war things did not change much. Wing Ng cam to the United State after the war. But there he found “educational as well as employment possibilities there extremely limited”.

Political Stand Point

From a political stand point, the war was a changing point. TheUSpolicy changes drastically. From a social stand point, it remains almost the same. Asian still had to do labor intense job. Ronald Takaki was right to a certain point when he said the Second World War was a turning point, but only for the political policy of theUS.


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