Imprisonment of Japanese Americans: How Did It Happen?

Original caption: Gila River Relocation Center, Rivers, Arizona. Aboard the Greyhound bus, which will take them to their former homes in California, these evacuees are anxious to be off. September 15, 1945.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 just a few months after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. Some 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry were forced from their homes on the West Coast and sent to one of 10 “relocation” camps, where they were imprisoned behind barbed wire for the length of World War II. Two-thirds of them were American citizens.
WGCU-FM will air first-person accounts of the WWII Japanese American Incarceration in a three-part series titled “Order 9066” on July 15, 22 and 29 at 8 p.m.
The relocation sites were in remote areas in six western states and Arkansas: Heart Mountain in Wyoming, Tule Lake and Manzanar in California, Topaz in Utah, Poston and Gila River in Arizona, Granada in Colorado, Minidoka in Idaho, and Jerome and Rowher in Arkansas.

Annual pilgrimage to Manzanar. April 28, 2018. Participants hold banners representing the ten incarceration camps and the Japanese American military units of WWII.

Most of the “evacuees,” as they often were called, lost their homes and possessions.
Sab Shimono and Pat Suzuki, veteran actors who were both incarcerated at the Amache camp in Colorado, narrate the episodes. The series covers the racist atmosphere of the time, the camps’ makeshift living quarters and the ways people adapted; the fierce patriotism many Japanese Americans continued to feel and the ways they were divided against each other as they were forced to answer questions of loyalty; the movement for redress that eventually led to a formal apology from the U.S. government; and much more.
“Order 9066” explores how this violation of American democracy came to pass, and its legacy in the present.

Author: Dayna Harpster