Japanese Concentration Camps In The United States

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Japanese concentration camps in the United States

What are human rights? 

Are the freedoms and obligations inherent to all human beings that nobody has authority to deny them. They do not distinction sex, nationality, ethnic origin, color, religion, language, age, political party or social, cultural or economic condition. They are universal, indivisible and interdependent. The Universal Human Rights Declaration of December 10, 1948 collects in its 30 articles human rights considered basic. The union of this declaration and international human rights pacts and its protocols include what has been called the International Human Rights Charter. While the declaration is generally an orientative document, the pacts are international treated that force the signatory states to comply with them.

The entrance of the United States into World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbor gave rise to one of the darkest and most unknown chapters of the history of that great nation. Thousands of Japanese-Americans were confined as enemies in concentration camps after "the date that will live in infamy". After the attack in Hawaii, the United States began taking measures to control possible internal attacks by the Japanese-American community.

Washington feared reprisals after declaring war on the Japanese empire and launched the machinery to protect its territory. The most radical measure in reaction to this event was the executive order 9066. Signed on February 19, 1942 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Dad), it aimed to delimit the military areas of exclusion in which to control the "rival", in this case the Japanese-American.

The United States Government created Dare of the Executive Order 9066 Ten concentration camps in 8 states: California, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, Arkansas and Georgia. In total they housed around 120,000 Japanese-Americans until 1945.

The Government was aimed to transfer these citizens since their habitual residence, mostly on the west coast, to facilities built under extreme measures of security to the center of the country. The fields were closed with barbed fence, watched by soldiers, and located in the most remote parts of the 8 aforementioned states. The abandonment attempts of the field sometimes resulted in the dejection of the boarding schools.

There were also hospitalizations in American concentration camps for citizens of German and Italian origin, this is because just like Japan, Nazi Germany and Italy under Mussolini also declared war on the United States. Of course compared to the number of citizens affected by Japanese origin, approximately 120,000, the Germans­American and Italians­Americans, suffered a lot.

This drastic measure was taken as a reaction to the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II, as mentioned earlier. The United States joined the allies who fought against the forces of the axis, and therefore, instead of preventing possible attacks or even invasions, they had to react to the attack, something that has already become customary in the American government.

Initially, ethnic Japanese to live in selected areas in the interior of the country, far from strategic and important points of the nation, but the residents of these areas protested the measure and decided to intern the prisoners in Campos especially especiallycreated for the end of internment.

Then the Japanese-Americans were forced to sell their homes and businesses in eight days, although in some parts this time was reduced to four days or rose to two weeks. Upon learning of this measure, hostile buyers appeared, which bought Japanese possessions at very low prices. In those days, the Japanese-Americans had 0.02% of the cultivable land of the west coast, but the value of their lands, on average, was seven times higher than the regional average. When an additional days were affected by the measure to collect his harvest, he destroyed it. He was immediately arrested accused of sabotage, this was the biggest case of Japanese sabotage reported in the United States during the war.

Many Japanese-Americans placed their possessions in warehouses, hoping to claim them after the war, but in the meantime they were vandalized and stolen. Some lease them, but the occupants then refused to pay the rent. Some plantations owners discovered after the war that their workers had sold the land to third parties. Many who decided not to sell their properties, discovered after the war that their houses had been invaded or that the State had expropriated them for not having paid taxes.

Once the time for preparation is finished, the Japanese-Americans were taken to meeting centers in trains or buses, guarded by armed guards. In most cases, these centers were racetracks, and the evacuees had to sleep in the stables.

At the end of May 1942, the evacuees were installed in fields surrounded by barbed wire. These fields were called ‘relocation centers’, but the living conditions there were slightly better than those of concentration camps. In the fields, plates were given to each family with an engraved number for each member, which were used to identify.

Crystal City in Texas, one of the internment fields, was where Japanese-American and Germans were staying, the boarding schools received a pleasant treatment from the US authorities. On the other hand, Tule Lake’s field was under a more severe regime;It was reserved for the descendants of Japanese and their families who were suspected of espionage, betrayal or unfair, as well as for community leaders, as priests or teachers. Another Japanese-American families were taken to Tula Lake by requesting to be repatriated to Japan. In this field there were some pro-haponous manifestations in the course of the war.

In response to the events suffered by the Japanese-Americans, a phrase that became very common among them, "Shikata ga nai" arose ". The phrase commonly translates as "nothing can be done about it". In fact, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston, they relate in their memoir Farewell to Manzan.

During the war, many Americans descendants of Japanese lost all their possessions since their savings were confiscated by the Government to be considered ‘enemy property’. It is estimated that about $ 400 million were lost in this way, but after the war, the government only returned $ 40 million. However, these returns occurred many years after the attack on Pearl Harbor. In the case of Yokohama Specie Bank’s clients, a American bank of Japanese origin, the depositors did not receive their savings until 1969, when the Supreme Court ruled in their favor, specifying that the return should be carried out without interest and the pre-war change.

In fact, one of the most awarded units during World War II was the 442º Combat Regiment Team, composed of Japanese-American. In total, it received seven presidential citations from the unit, a medal of honor, 47 distinguished service crosses, 350 silver stars, 850 bronze stars and more than 3600 purple hearts. However, in some cases, a soldier’s family could be found in the fields.

The exact designation of the fields is the object of discussion between the sources and the historians;Official references designate them as ‘internment fields’. Measure defenders prefer the name of relocation fields;others talk about them as arrest or concentration camps.

It was not until the spring of 1944 that the war department recommended the dissolution of the fields to President Roosevelt. However, because this year Roosevelt was looking for re -election, the decision was postponed.

In this way, at the first cabinet meeting after Roosevelt’s re -election, it was decided to release all the evacuees who had proven loyal. But this decision took a year to completely. Upon exit, the evacuees received a train ticket and $ 25 dollars.

The US government would offer compensation to victims from 1951, but it would apologize only in 1988, stating that the concentration of prisoners was due to ‘racial prejudices, warlike hysteria and political leadership deficiency’ deficiency. President Ronald Reagan also signed an act, where he offered $ 20,000 to the surviving victims of the concentration camps, and it would be paid until 1991.

The defenders of the term relocation fields argue that this was the official name;that the fields were not prisons;And that almost ¼ of the Japanese residents, came to receive permission to settle outside the fields, although they were prohibited access to the exclusion area on the west coast of the United States except that they would exceptionally support them a responsible family not-Japonese, or a government agency.

Critics of the official denomination deduce that it is a name that does not adequately describe the real nature of these fields: fenced perimeters, surveillance by armed guards and isolated location, outside the population area. But cases have been documented in which the guards fired inmates who tried to cross the fences. The conditions correspond to what is generally understood as a concentration camp, although the conditions were not exactly equal to those of those of Nazi Germany or the British concentration camps in South Africa during the Second Bóer War.

As there are two versions on the same issue, but the truth is that concentration camps or asylum centers, it is indisputable that what happened after the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii was a violation of the human rights of the Japanese-American.

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