The Second World War affected every country and nation in the world. Millions of victims of the war suffered from injustice and the aggressive actions of different parties. The fight against political regimes and leaders was not the only aspect that was typical for the Second World War. It should be highlighted that it was the war of nations, the war of races. In a fight for survival and well-being, the anti-national movements emerged and developed.
A lot of people were victims of this conflict, and they suffered because of skin color, language, or religion. Japan allied with Germany and supported the country in all the actions that were directed to influence and change world powers. On the 7th of December in 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor proved the involvement of Japan in the military confrontation (Wilkinson 94). The attack was considered to be a tragedy for two reasons. First and foremost, a number of people died, and in addition, the military technique was destroyed. The primary purpose of the paper is to examine the lives of Japanese Americans during and after the Second World War.
As a matter of fact, the attack on Pearl Harbor proved that Japan had determined their position. A number of kamikazes took part in the military operation, and it reflected the seriousness of the governmental position of Japan. After the tragedy, the government of the United States investigated the attack and came to the conclusion that the attack was possible because of the Japanese spies that were members of the Japanese diaspora. It gave the people who worked on the operation of Pearl Harbor an opportunity to perform the attack as they were able to observe the situation and provide essential information for the Japanese government.
One of the fundamental problems for the American government was a moral dilemma that was centered on the decision of whether or not to isolate the Japanese Americans. On the one hand, the government of the United States could not blame all the Japanese Americans that lived in the West. According to recent researches, almost 200,000 Japanese Americans lived in the West at that time. It would not be just to blame innocent people for the tragedy of Pearl Harbor and, furthermore, would violate democratic principles.
However, on the other hand, the losses at Pearl Harbor were only the beginning of the world conflict, and the government realized that the situation could get worse. Thus, it was not reasonable to risk the lives and freedom of citizens of the United States as the primary concern of every state is to provide the citizens with a safe and secure environment.
In addition, in the legislation of the United States, there was a law that regulated the appropriate decision-making model and helped President Roosevelt to choose a direction and take action. The law regarding the foreigners that threatened the lives of the American citizens was adopted in 1798. This law is enactable even now. The state can isolate any person if he is suspected to be in relation to the hostile state. Thus, the decision was made regarding the Japanese internment (Allan 59).
According to the law, over 120,000 people were forced to leave their place of residence; among them, almost 70% of these people were citizens of the United States. These individuals commonly lived in the territory of three American states, namely, California, Oregon, and Washington (Wilkinson 98). Almost 50% of them were adolescents. Ten thousand people managed to prove in court their ability to be helpful to the American government; among them were military personnel, engineers, and construction workers. These people were not forced to relocate to the camps; however, the government realized that they could not be trusted. For the rest of the Japanese Americans, 10 camps across the country were built, and people had only a couple of days to prepare for the internment.
The majority of families abandoned their properties as they had no time to sell it and no chance to stay. It is worth highlighting that America supported this action from the government as it was a radical decision that secured the citizens. People in California, Oregon, and Washington supported the internment as well as the Japanese Americans were good merchants, and after the government’s decision, Americans could then fill the niche. On March 22, 1942, the first people were relocated (Wilkinson 107). These camps were focused on providing work for the Japanese Americans, who were supposed to work 40 hours a week. They were provided with meals and a place to live.
Every camp had hospitals, cinemas, schools, and kindergartens. It is of paramount importance to note that the majority of Japanese Americans were treated respectfully, although 12 people were killed because of attempts to escape the camp. For the most part, people aimed to show a respectful attitude towards the American government and performed their jobs professionally. In 1944 over 20,000 Japanese Americans were allowed to leave the camps (Wilkinson 132). It should be stated that before the end of the war, Japanese Americans could not live close to the ocean. The administration of the camp provided 25 dollars to every person that was freed and chose a new place to reside.
When the war was ended in September 1945, the Japanese Americans were allowed to leave the camps. In 1948 all the Japanese people received financial compensation for the property that they had lost during the war because of internment. After the war, the actions of Roosevelt’s government were debated. In 1980s, the experts claimed that the decision to relocate the Japanese Americans was not based on military need; it can be explained by racial prejudices, military hysteria, and failure of the government in terms of state politics. In 1988 President Regan signed a document where the government of the United States apologized for the internment of Japanese Americans. Every person that experienced relocation was provided with $20,000 to compensate their losses. In 1992 the administration of President Bush provided people with an additional $7,000.
In conclusion, it should be pointed out that the Second World War influenced every country across the globe. In America, Japanese Americans suffered from the involvement of Japan. When the Emperor Was Divine helps the reader to understand the life of Japanese Americans in the camps. The author is focused on providing four perspectives of different people who experienced internment. Such literary works help us not to forget historical events and aim to prevent people from making the same mistakes. The book depicts the challenges and difficulties that the Japanese family faced (Otsuka 43). It was difficult for the families to leave their homes; in the book, it is reflected from the mother’s point of view. However, relocation was challenging for children as well. The Japanese boy and girl lost their childish innocence, and it impacted their lives in a significant way.
Allan, Austin. “Eastward Pioneers: Japanese American Resettlement during World War II and the Contested Meaning of Exile and Incarceration.” Journal of American Ethnic History 26.2 (2007): 58-84. Web.
Otsuka, Julie. When the Emperor Was Divine: A Novel. New York: Knopf, 2012. Print.
Wilkinson, Rupert. Surviving a Japanese Internment Camp: Life and Liberation at Santo Tomas, Manila, in World War II. New York: McFarland, 2013. Print.