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a japanese american story

Kenzie Yoshimura


apanese Americans have special names for each generation, beginning with the first wave of immigrants to arrive in the United States at the end of the 19th century. They are the only immigrant group to make this distinction. These names are formed by combining the Japanese number with the Japanese word for generation (sei). Each generational group is unique from the others in its beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. It is believed that the age at which an individual faced the traumatic events of World War II is the single, most significant factor to explain the differences in Japanese American generational identity. The collective silence surrounding these experiences has contributed to the intergenerational distance among Japanese Americans.

first generation

一 世


Eijiro and Ume My great-grandfather, Eijiro Inouye, was born in Asakura, a city located in south central Fukuoka Prefecture on Kyūshū Island in Japan. Not much is known about Eijiro’s early life, except that he had two brothers. With passport in hand, he left Japan and arrived in Hawaii, where he worked on a sugarcane plantation while he waited for a permit to enter the mainland United States. In 1905, Eijiro sailed into San Francisco, California. He found work in Oakland as a gardener for a well-to-do family. He was there when the Great Earthquake of 1906 struck San Francisco.

Ume Hara Like Eijiro, Ume Hara’s childhood in Japan remains a bit of a mystery. She came from a family of five children: three boys and two girls. Eijiro had an aunt who lived near Ume’s parents in Japan. It is assumed they were introduced by family. In 1910, Ume arrived in the United States to join Eijiro. She did not speak English, and it is thought that she found work as a housekeeper. It may have been an arranged marriage, although no one knows for sure.

Home in Chula Vista, Ca. The family, like many other Japanese immigrants at the time, moved to Southern California to try their hand at farming. Eijiro came from an upper class family and knew nothing about farming apart from his time on the sugar plantation. A friend taught him everything, from cultivating the land with a horse and plow, to planting and harvesting the crop, to marketing the produce.

Home in Bonita Through trial and error, Eijiro proved to be a very successful farmer. Every day, he delivered his vegetables by horse and wagon to the San Diego market which opened at 4 a.m. He went to bed after dinner each night so that he could get up by 12 a.m. to make the trip to the market.

second generation

äşŒ 世


Amy The family moved around Southern California every 3 years to continue farming because the land lost its fertility. It appears that every time they moved they had another child. In 1924, their youngest, Amy, was born in the city of Bonita.

Inouye family in Poston In total, Eijiro and Ume had six children. Their firstborn, Misako, was taken to Japan as an infant to be raised by Ume’s parents. The plan was to make enough money so that they could all go back to Japan and be together. The second-oldest, Hiroyuki, died of influenza. The others - Sakae, Mitsuji, Keiichi, and Amy - all grew up working on the family farm. Eijiro was so successful with his business that once he was able to send Ume and the kids to Japan to visit Misako. It was the first time Ume had seen her daughter in 14 years.

Dear Johnny These days, there is a little bit of debate about how Amy met John Yoshimura. One of the family stories was that they met at Poston. I thought she told me once that they met at a movie. My dad thinks that they knew each other from before, because their families used to farm nearby one another.

Dear Amy I never met my grandpa John. He passed away before I was born. I used to stare at the old photographs of him and Amy in our house. I always thought they looked like Japanese movie stars. Amy always called him Johnny.

Wedding day Amy Inouye and Johnny Yoshimura were married on the afternoon of Sunday, December 18, 1949. Their wedding took place at the Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple in Los Angeles, in the neighborhood that is now known as Little Tokyo.

third generation

三 世


The kids Amy and Johnny moved their family throughout the San Luis Rey, Oceanside, and Carlsbad areas, where they continued farming through 1980. They raised five children: Marsha, Sandra, Vicky, Dean, and my father, Randy.

I don’t know how old I was. I might have been in junior high or high school. So, thirteen, fourteen - fifteen, maybe. My grandfather, you know, my Jiichan, used to live with us. He had that room - I don’t know if you remember the old house - he had the bedroom by the kitchen, kind of separate from the rest of the house. So, anyway, he went to live with Auntie Junie, and I got his room, ‘cause at that time Dean and I were sharing a room. In the room, there was a big box of pictures. And in that box was that aerial photograph of the farm, along with a bunch of old photos - old weddings, just random stuff. On the back it said “case document,” or whatever it said. Hirose vs. Gonzalez. I believe Hirose was a cousin. So I asked my mom and dad about it, and they go, “Oh, that was from back in the war. From after the war, when we had to get our farm back.” And I go, “What?” And then they told me the story for the first time that they were interned in camp.

Randy Yoshimura

In the early 1850s, foreign ships appeared in the waters surrounding the small island nation of Japan. After more than two centuries of self-imposed isolation, the country was forced into Western diplomatic and trade agreements under threat of Commodore Matthew Perry, who sailed into Tokyo harbor on behalf of the United States. A period of internal conflict ensued, culminating in the 1868 overthrow of the Tokugawa shogunate, the feudal military system that had ruled Japan since the seventeenth century. It was replaced by the modern empire of the Meiji government. The sudden opening of Japan sent the country into economic and cultural upheaval, causing many Japanese to leave their farms and small ancestral villages in search of opportunities in the large cities as well as abroad. During this time, the United States was nearing the end of its grand Gold Rush and subsequent labor projects such as the construction of the Trans-Continental Railroad, all of which had prompted an influx of Chinese immigrants to the Pacific Coast, namely California.

As gold became scarcer and competition grew, attitudes shifted toward the Chinese workers, who were once welcomed into the country by entrepreneurs seeking cheap labor. Political and mass-media campaigns sought to portray the Chinese as a threat not only to white laborers, but to the white man’s safety and way of life. After a series of anti-Chinese laws passed both in California and nationally, the United States Congress approved the Chinese Exclusion Act. It was signed by President Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1882. The new federal law prohibited all immigration of Chinese laborers. It was the very first law in United States history that barred an entire group of immigrants based on race and class. Hawaii, suddenly cut off from Chinese laborers, looked to Japan for the manpower needed to support the booming sugarcane industry. Hawaiian labor contractors actively recruited young men in Japan, and tens of thousands of Japanese immigrants arrived to Hawaii at the end of the 19th century. One of those young men was Eijiro Inouye.

The same year that Eijiro arrived in California, Japan defeated Russia in the Russo-Japanese War. Combined with the wave of Japanese immigration to Hawaii and the mainland at that time, it was the catalyst for widespread anti-Asian fear known as “yellow peril”: the belief that East Asians would invade the cultural West, bringing disease, immorality and undermining Western beliefs and values. The Chinese Exclusion Act had already set the stage for the villainization of Asian people in the U.S., and many anti-Chinese groups now turned their attention toward the Japanese.

denounced the segregation order. In an effort to soothe growing tension between the two nations and curb unrest on the West Coast, the “Gentleman’s Agreement” of 1907 was reached: an informal agreement in which the Japanese government agreed to restrict emigration to the United States by denying passports to laborers. In return, Japanese children could attend U.S. public schools.

Japan was seen as an emerging world power and a potential threat to the United States, and Japanese immigrants as undesirable and potentially dangerous.

The intention was to stop Japanese immigration to the U.S., but a provision of the Gentleman’s Agreement was that spouses and children could join their husbands already working in the U.S. This resulted in the trend of what people called “picture brides” and the continued steady growth of the Japanese population in the United States.

In 1906, under pressure from the newly formed Asian Exclusion League, the San Francisco Board of Education called for the Japanese students attending public schools to be sent to the city’s already segregated Chinese school. Japan officially protested, and United States President Theodore Roosevelt

Men in Japan sent their photos and information about their lives back home via mail. Through family connections or through a baishakunin, a Japanese matchmaker, marriages were arranged, granting Japanese women the ability to move to the United States and providing companionship and the possibility

to start a family for the Japanese men abroad. It resulted in the immigration of over ten thousand Japanese women to the U.S. between 1908 and 1920.

their land to their Nisei children. Eijiro purchased the land for the Inouye family’s Chula Vista farm property in his daughter, Sakae’s, name.

As the Issei and their families continued to make their homes on the West Coast and found considerable success in agriculture, anti-Japanese sentiment continued to mount.

Anti-immigrant lobbying continued and the Japanese exclusionary movement remained fierce on the West Coast. Finally, with the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924, Congress effectively ended all Japanese immigration to the United States.

Under pressure from anti-Asian groups, California passed the Alien Land Laws of 1913 and 1920. These laws prohibited “aliens ineligible for citizenship” from owning agricultural land or possessing long-term leases over it, but permitted leases lasting up to three years. The Issei were barred from becoming naturalized citizens, a restriction that was confirmed in the landmark Supreme Court case Ozawa v. United States. It would not be lifted until the passage of the 1952 Immigration Act. Many Japanese immigrants who were ineligible for citizenship circumvented the Alien Land Laws by purchasing property or transferring the title of

On December 7, 1941, at 7:55 a.m., the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service launched a surprise attack against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor in Oahu, Hawaii. It was a tactic by the Japanese military to prevent the United States from interfering in Japan’s war efforts in the Pacific. In a two-hour attack, Japanese warplanes sank or damaged 18 U.S. warships and destroyed 164 aircraft. Over 2,400 servicemen and civilians were killed. The United States had entered into World War II.

[Previous page] 7/12/1941 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii United States Department of Defense Original caption: Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. USS Arizona (BB39) afire.

Within hours of the attack on both Hawai’i and on the mainland, the FBI began arresting Issei men identified as Japanese community leaders, such as Buddhist priests, prominent businessmen, heads of organizations and Japanese language teachers. Eventually, over 5,500 Issei men were taken into custody and held as potential threats to national security. Most would be incarcerated for the remainder of the war, away from their families.

On December 8, the day after the attack, a declaration of war was brought against Japan by Congress. After decades of growing racial tension on the West Coast and antipathy toward the large Japanese population that resided there, the attack on Pearl Harbor created even more suspicion and fear directed at Japanese people in the United States, regardless of where they were born or their citizenship status.

3/1942 Oakland, Calif. Dorothea Lange Original caption: A large sign reading “I am an American� placed in the window of a store, at [401 - 403 Eighth] and Franklin streets, on December 8, the day after Pearl Harbor. 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, will be housed with hundreds of evacuees in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration of the war.

[Previous page] 4/11/1942 San Francisco, Calif. Dorothea Lange Original caption: On a brick wall beside air raid shelter poster, exclusion orders were posted at First and Front Streets directing removal of persons of Japanese ancestry from first San Francisco section to be affected by evacuation. [Facing] 2/27/1942 Oakland, Calif. Dorothea Lange Original caption: Headlines of newspapers, in stand at 14th and Broadway, presaged on February 27, 1942, the evacuation of persons of Japanese ancestry from military areas. On February 19, President Roosevelt delegated to the Secretary of War power to exclude any person, alien, or citizen, from any area which might be required, on the grounds of military necessity.

In the wartime hysteria of the months that followed, fueled by propaganda and media coverage, the environment became more and more hostile for Japanese Americans on the West Coast. On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. The order gave the U.S. military the authority to designate military zones, and to exclude any persons from said areas who may be considered a threat to national security. General John L. DeWitt of the Western Defense Command used the Executive Order to establish military zones along

the West Coast. First came curfews for Japanese Americans and calls for them to “voluntarily relocate” inland. The War Relocation Authority (WRA) was established and tasked with coordinating the mass removal of Japanese Americans. Soon, “evacuation notices” were posted up and down the west coast. On March 27, 1942, under the authority of the executive order, DeWitt issued Public Proclamation No. 4, which began the forced evacuation and detention of all West Coast residents of JapaneseAmerican ancestry on a 48-hour notice.

5/5/42 San Lorenzo, Calif. Dorothea Lange Original caption: Washday 48 hours before evacuation of persons of Japanese ancestry from this farming community in Santa Clara County. Evacuees will be housed in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.

People had only a matter of days to sell or make arrangements for their belongings, their pets and livestock, their businesses, farms and properties. They were not told where they would be taken. Children were pulled out of school and university students had to leave their campuses. Amy Inouye was in the middle of her senior year of high school when the forced removal began. They were instructed to bring only what they could carry. Some families had non-

Japanese friends or neighbors to help them. Most did not. There were people who simply locked the doors to their homes, hoping to return home soon. The Inouyes, like so many other Nikkei families had to leave their lives behind and the farms on which they had spent decades of work and time, sacrificing their harvests. Johnny Yoshimura’s family left their 360 acres of land in the care of a man named Tom Gonzalez.

[Previous page] 5/22/42 Woodland, Calif. Dorothea Lange Original caption: Household goods belonging to evacuees of Japanese ancestry, stacked for storage. The Federal Reserve Bank is assisting, in conjunction with the Wartime Civil Control Administration, in the final settlement of their affairs.

The families reported to designated locations as directed by the order, carrying their belongings in hand. The Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, where Amy Inouye and John Yoshimura would later hold their wedding, was used as one such gathering place. Each person was issued a numbered identification tag, which they tied to the clothes they were wearing. They waited anxiously to see where they would be sent. No one was certain just how long they would be gone or when they would return home.

[Previous page] 1942 Los Angeles, Calif. U.S. Army Signal Corps. Original caption: Other evacuees were transported from their residence areas to assembly centers by train. Photograph shows a group of evacuees assembled at a Los Angeles railroad station waiting to board train for Santa Anita Assembly Center. [Facing] 4/5/42 Arcadia, Calif. Clem Albers Original caption: Outstretched hands help physicians and nurses, also of Japanese ancestry, detect signs of skin infection among newcomers at Santa Anita assembly center. Evacuees are later transferred to War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.

There was nowhere to put all of the people who were being forcibly removed from the West Coast with such urgency. The U.S. government ordered the organization of what it called “temporary assembly centers,” managed by the Wartime Civil Control Administration. There were twelve “assembly centers” in California, and one each in Washington, Oregon, and Arizona, as well as two “reception centers,” Manzanar, California, and Colorado River, Arizona. Japanese Americans were put on trains and buses

under military guard to be transported to these temporary detention facilities. The Inouye family was sent to the Santa Anita Racetrack, just north of downtown Los Angeles. Upon arrival, the incarcerees were given a medical check and their baggage was searched for contraband. Radios, cameras, and items that were deemed as potential weapons were confiscated.

4/6/1942 Arcadia, Calif. Clem Albers Original caption [top]: Military police patrolling the perimeter fence at Santa Anita park assembly center Original caption [below]: Military police on duty in watch-tower at Santa Anita park assembly center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry. Evacuees are transferred later to War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.

The sites for the detention centers were large, existing structures such as racetracks or fairgrounds that were leased by the WCCA and quickly turned into holding tanks for incarcerees while the permanent concentration camps were still under planning and construction. At racetrack facilities such as Santa Anita, inmates were housed in barracks as well as old horse stalls. The perimeter of the detention centers was patrolled by soldiers and surrounded by barbed wire fences. Survivors recall that the horse

stalls still smelled of horses and manure, and were covered with straw and dirt. At the Portland, Ore. detention center, over 3,800 evacuees were housed under one roof in a livestock pavilion subdivided into living quarters. Of the 15 detention facilities, the Santa Anita Racetrack was the largest and longest occupied (from March 27 until October 27, 1942). At its peak, the population totaled 18,719 incarcerees.

[Previous page] 4/29/1942 San Bruno, Calif. Dorothea Lange Original caption: Tanforan Assembly center. Barracks for family living quarters. Each door enters into a family unit of two small rooms. Tanforan assembly center was opened two days before the photograph was made. On the first day there had been a heavy rain. When a family has arrived here, first step of evacuation is complete.

Some families were held for months in the temporary detention centers. Others, only a metter of weeks. Beginning in May of 1942, incarcerees were shipped by train to the permanent WRA “Relocation Centers.� They totaled ten, scattered throughout the country: Manzanar, Poston, Gila River, Topaz, Granada, Heart Mountain, Minidoka, Tule Lake, Jerome, and Rohwer.

[Previous page] 4/9/42 Poston, Ariz. Francis Stewart Original caption: Highway leading to this War Relocation Authority center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry on the Colorado River Indian Reservation.

The permanent concentration camps were located in isolated areas in the interior with harsh, desolate landscapes, and were still under construction when inmates arrived. These “relocation centers,” as deemed by the government, were organized into blocks of barracks, and like the temporary detention facilities, were surrounded by barbed wire and armed military guard towers.

Because they had only been allowed to take one suitcase, they had very little to call their own. They built additional furniture, and had to order their necessities such as clothes, toiletries, and bedding, from department store catalogues such as Sears and JC Penney. The Inouye family was sent to the Poston, Arizona concentration camp, formally titled the “Colorado River Relocation Center.”

1/6/42 Poston, Ariz. Fred Clark Original caption: Living quarters of evacuees of Japanese ancestry at this War Relocation Authority center as seen from the top of water tower facing southwest.

5/3/42 Poston, Arizona Fred Clark Original caption: Typical shower facilities at this War Relocation authority center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry.

“Poston,” as the concentration camp is commonly referred to, was situated near the California border on an American Indian reservation. Because it was located in the desert near the Colorado River, it experienced extreme weather conditions: hot, humid summers with temperatures over 100 degrees and cold nights with temperatures below freezing. Poston was divided into three “units” made up of rows and blocks of small barracks that served as living quarters for incarcerees. There were roughly 200 people in each block. The barracks were 100 x 20 feet and had a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling. Each family was given 25

square feet of space. Amy and her siblings recalled that because the walls in the barracks were very thin, everybody knew everybody else’s business. The barrack walls and floors had large gaps so that the rooms were constantly filled with sand and dust. The Inouyes eventually got red linoleum for the floors of their barrack, but it did little to help against the intense dust storms. Inmates had to use communal showers and toilets, and everyone ate together in a large mess hall. Because of the close quarters and large number of people, diseases spread quickly through the concentration camps.

[Previous page] 4/23/42 Tule Lake, Calif. Clem Albers Original caption: Site on which a War Relocation Authority center is to be constructed for the housing of 10,000 evacuees of Japanese ancestry for the duration.

In 1943, The WRA required all incarcerees to fill out a form that would come to be known as the Loyalty Questionnaire, with questions that were carefully scored based on “Americanness” or “Japaneseness” of their answers. Those who were deemed disloyal based on their responses to these questions were sent to Tule Lake.

[Previous page] 4/23/42 Tule Lake, Calif. Clem Albers Original caption: A panoramic view showing site of Tule Lake War Relocation Authority Center.

The Loyalty Questionairre caused great concern and confusion among the incarcerated, particularly the final two questions on the form: Question number 27 asked if Nisei men were willing to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces on combat duty wherever ordered. Question number 28 asked if individuals would swear unqualified allegiance to the United States and forswear any form of allegiance to the Emperor of Japan. The WRA used the responses to these questions to attempt to separate “loyal” from “disloyal” Japanese, and to prepare to extend the military draft to the adult male population of the prison camps. Tule Lake was a vast concentration camp site in Modoc County, California: including the farmed areas, it spanned

4,685 acres. It had been operating, along with the other WRA “relocation centers” since May 1942. The site was chosen for the new “segregation center” based on its size and on the high number of “disloyal” responses to the Loyalty Questionnaire among its inmates due to the mishandling of the Questionnaire’s explanation and administration. The Inouye family was sent to Tule Lake. It isn’t known how they answered Questions 27 and 28 - only that they had still hoped to go back to Japan. At the age of 68, Eijiro passed away in a Tule Lake hospital. After his death, the family decided to stay in the U.S.

2/2/43 Newell, Calif. Fred Clark Original caption: Tule Lake Relocation Center, Newell, California. Thaws turn the streets and firebreaks into seas of mud, and makes difficult motor transportation through the center.

Date Unknown Tule Lake, Calif. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Original caption: View to northwest through Stockade fence, to a scene little changed since 1945; 90mm lens. - Tule Lake Project Jail, Post Mile 44.85, State Route 139, Newell, Modoc County, CA

Security at Tule Lake was increased when it became a segregation center. The WRA added more barbed wire and an eightfoot high double “man-proof� fence was constructed to transform it into a maximum-security concentration camp. The six guard towers surrounding the site were increased to twenty-eight, and a battalion of 1,000 military police with armored cars and tanks were brought in to maintain security.

Tule Lake had already earned a reputation for strikes, protests and general unrest. Under segregation, it became an even more complicated prison camp, bringing together the leaders, organizers and the disaffected from the other nine WRA sites. Tensions ran high and there were many incidents between inmates and guards.

[Previous page] 9/1944 Tule Lake, Calif. Dept. of Interior Original caption: A field of cabbage on the Tule Lake Center farm.

Tule Lake eventually became the largest WRA concentration camp, with a peak population of 18,789 inmates. Like the other detention centers and prison camps, it was designed to be largely selfsufficient. Inmates planted and harvested crops and raised livestock, producing the majority of the food needed to operate the camp. In addition to agriculture, other inmate work was essential to keep the prison camps running. Employment was not mandatory, but most adults chose to work, either finding a job in their professional field or taking up a new skill in the camps. Each site had its own schools, hospital, police and fire department, as well as various administrative offices in which Japanese American employees worked under white directors.

Although life wasn’t easy in the prison camps, the Japanese Americans who were incarcerated worked hard to maintain some semblance of their lives before the war. School-age children attended classes, though often in makeshift facilities and with little to no supplies. Incarcerees also organized a number of clubs and organizations, and each site had an active newspaper. Sports, especially baseball, played a huge role in camp life as incarcerees turned to recreational activities to deal with the monotony and depression of camp life. They formed organized teams and leagues with highly competitive games that drew crowds of fellow-inmate spectators. At some sites, camp guards even participated in the games.

9/1945 Poston, Ariz. Hikaru Iwasaki Original caption: Mattresses no longer needed by block residents are piled in the middle of the block awaiting removal. Units II and III of the Colorado River Relocation Center, Poston, Arizona, meet their scheduled closings ahead of the deadline. These two camps which at one time had a combined population of more than 8,500 Japanese Americans are now completely deserted.

1945 Poston, Arizona Hiraku Iwasaki Original caption: The bus waits outside and young and old are anxious to be off. After the final plans have been made, boxes packed, and grants picked up, the residents of Poston are at last ready to leave the center. Now that so many of their friends have gone out before them, it is with a feeling of anticipation rather than sorrow that the evacuees prepare to leave the place which for three years has been home to them.

The incarceration camps began closure in 1945 following the Supreme Court decision in the case Endo v. the United States, which ruled the incarceration of Japanese Americans unconstitutional. In May 7, 1945, Germany surrendered, ending the war in Europe. While the U.S. celebrated, the majority of the Japanese Americans remained incarcerated in camps on U.S. soil On August 6, 1945 the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in Japan. Three days later, a second bomb was dropped in Nagasaki. Japan surrendered on August 14.

At the end of the summer some 44,000 people still remained in the camps. Many had nowhere to go, having lost their homes and jobs. Still more were afraid of anti-Japanese hostility back in their hometowns and cities. On March 20, 1946 the last incarerees of the Tule Lake “Segregation Center� were sent home. It was the last of the War Relocation Authority concentration camps to close. None of the Japanese Americans incarcerated were ever found guilty of sabotage or espionage.

[Previous page] 1/23/1946 Tule Lake, Calif. Jack Iwata Original caption: Bye bye Tule Lake! Be it vanished with all the horrible memories and be it forgotten as a dream of the short summer nite!

Japanese American families faced a slow and painful re-entry process into American society. They not only had to pick up the pieces of their lives before incarceration, but they also had to leave the friends and communities they had built throughout the war. Some people had nowhere to return. Many Nisei men who had been interned went into the military to serve the very nation that had imprisoned them and their families. Johnny Yoshimura enlisted in the Army and was stationed in Japan. Amy Inouye and her family returned to Southern California.

While Johnny was away, he and Amy sent photos and letters back and forth and upon his return, they got married. The Yoshimura family, who had left their farm in the hands of a caretaker during the war, had to go to court to resume prosession of the land and compensation for all the money that had been made off of their crops while they were held in the prison camps. In 1950, they won the California Supreme Court case Hirose v. Gonzalez, the documents of which their son, Randy, found over a decade later.

There had been a variety of protest and resistance efforts against the incarceration by Japanese Americans during the war. Groups demonstrated and protested from within the concentration camps, and individuals such as Minoru Yasui, Gordon Hirabayashi, and Fred Korematsu tried to challenge the constitutionality of the exclusion efforts in the U.S. Supreme Court. They were held up time and time again.

During 20 days of hearings, the CWRIC listened to the testimonies of more than 500 Japanese Americans who had been incarcerated. Many had never before shared their experiences with the public or even their own children.

Along with other civil rights, antiwar, and ethnic pride movements in the 1960s and 1970s, Japanese American activitsts intensified their criticism of the incarceration, seeking recognition and compensation for the wrongs commited against them. This is known as the Redress Movement.

The broad historical causes which shaped [the incarceration] were race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership.

In 1980, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) was created under President Jimmy Carter. Over the next several years, the CWRIC investigated the events and circumstances resulting in Executive Order 9066.

A grave injustice was done to American citizens and resident aliens of Japanese ancestry who, without individual review or any probative evidence against them, were excluded, removed and detained by the United States during World War II.

In 1983, the CWRIC presented its findings in a 467-page report titled Personal Justice Denied. The document declared the following:

Widespread ignorance of Japanese Americans contributed to a policy conceived in haste and executed in an atmosphere of fear and anger at Japan.

Based on the report’s recomendations, activists pursued further reparations from the U.S. government. In 1983, the federal court nullified Fred Korematsu’s wartime conviction, followed by the convictions of Minoru Yasui and Gordon Hirabayashi in following year. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act, which offered an apology to Japanese Americans who had been incarcerated during World War II. The act granted each survivor US $20,000 with payments beginning in 1990, nearly fifty years after the closure of the U.S. concentration camps.

fourth generation

四 世


Kenzie and Amy It has been over one hundred years since my great-grandfather Eijiro first set foot in the United States. Over fifty years since my father, Randy, discovered the court documents buried in a closet in his house. And one month since the passing of my grandmother, Amy. She lived to be ninety-six. As Yonsei, this is the story I know. It is not taught in school or told by our families. It has to be searched for and pieced together with whatever we have left. It is a story about silence. But it is also a story of four generations of joy in spite of sorrow. Of triumph in spite of injustice. A story we have to keep telling and retelling.


esearch conducted with the fourth (Yonsei) generation Japanese Americans suggests continued incarceration trauma impacts. Though the Yonsei have been eager to learn about the incarceration from their Sansei parents and Nisei grandparents, they still encounter aspects of silence. One might expect the Yonsei to be less connected with their ethnic history than previous generations. However, influenced by an increasingly multicultural environment, Yonsei are reviving their knowledge of Japanese heritage, cultural practices, language, and Asian American history. Yet, the specifics about the camps remain ‘cryptic or nonexistent’, a gap they attribute to their Sansei parents being raised by the Nisei to assimilate. As a result, most Yonsei have relied on books to learn what happened.” - Donna K. Nagata, Jacqueline H. J. Kim, & Kaidi Wu, The Japanese American Wartime Incarceration: Examining the Scope of Racial Trauma


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UNITED STATES. Committee on the Judiciary: Subcommittee on Administrative Law and Governmental Relations. (1988). Legislation to implement the recommendations of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. https:// babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=pst.000 013607456&view=1up&seq=1 WANG, F. (2019, March 25). Japanese-American activists will bring paper cranes to show solidarity with migrant families. NBC News. https:// www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/japanese-american-activists-will-bring-paper-cranes-show-solidarity-migrant-n983856 WEIK, TAYLOR (2016, March 16, ). “Behind Barbed Wire: Remembering America’s Largest Internment Camp”. NBC News. https://www. nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/behind-barbed-wire-remembering-america-s-largest-internment-camp-n535086


WRA INCARCERATION RECORDS Search family members in the official WRA database to find incarceration location, dates and other information from their file. https://www.archives.gov/research/ japanese-americans/wra#basic DENSHO DIGITAL REPOSITORY View thousands of historic photographs, documents, newspapers, letters and other primary source materials from immigration to the WWII incarceration and its aftermath. http://ddr.densho.org/ NATIONAL ARCHIVES CATALOGUE Search official WRA photographs from the ten concentration camps and forced relocation. https://catalog.archives.gov/ LIBRARY OF CONGRESS Digital collections include Ansel Adam’s documentation of the Manzanar War Relocation Center and over 4,000 concentration camp newspapers. https://www.loc.gov/collections/ TESSAKU Oral history project with additional resources to help you find your family’s incarcaration information. https://www.tessaku.com/

for Amy 3/8/1924 - 9/21/2020

2020 Kenzie Yoshimura Trabajo Final de Máster en Diseño Gráfico EINA Centre Universitari de Disseny i Art de Barcelona All images are available in the public domain via U.S. government digital collections, or are from the personal collections of the Yoshimura and Inouye families

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Yonsei: A Japanese American Story  

Yonsei: A Japanese American Story  


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