450 CHAPTER 25 IsOLATIONISM AND WORLD WAR II
As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense, that always will our whole nation remem- ber the character of the onslaught against us.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated inva- sion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.
I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form oftreachery shall never again endanger us.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our ter- ritory and our interests are in grave danger.
With confdence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determina- tion of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack byJapan on Sunday, Dec.7,1947,a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.
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Life in a Japanese Internment Camp (1942)
AsWorldWar II began, there were more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent liv- ing in the eountry, mainly along the West Coast. After the surprise attacle on Pearl Haftor, rumors spread that Japanese in Ameica would hinder the war ffirt through “ffth column” (espionage or sabotage) actions. Reacting to old suspicions, ignorant
fears, and racial prejudice toward all Asians, the federal got)emtnent orilered Japanese Americans-regardless oJ loyalty or American citizenship-to abandon theh homes and businesses and be placed in “Relocation Centers.” Nearly 110,000 people were incareerated in centers that resembled eoncentration camps:They were locateil in rcmote areas and had armed guard1 barbed-wire feneing, communal liuing arrangements in wooden banacks, and poor food. Among those relocated wa Chailes Kikuchi, an Ameican-born child $fkei) of Japanese immigrants (ksei), who leept a diary of hk internment at Thnforan, d temporary assembly area in southern Calfornia. Kikuchi’s diary excerpted as follows, reueals the tensions of ltfe in the camp as well as his own torn loyahies between hk fanily and Japanese ancestry and his American citizenship.
Q u e s t i o n s t o C o n s i d e r
1. Why does Charles Kikuchi believe the iniernment will be harmful to
Japanese Americans? Where were Kikuchit loyalties?
2. Why could Kikuchi see humor in some Americans’reaction to intern- ment, yet be fearful of nativist groups like the Native Sons of the GoldenWest?
191 LIFE IN A JAPANESE INTERNMENT CAMP (1942)
3. What does Kikuchi’s diary reveal about the situation ofJapanese Ameri- cans during World War II?
4. Were the relocation camps necessary?
S.F Japanese Town certainly looks like a ghost town. All the stores are closed and the windows are’bare except for a mass of “evacuation sale” signs.The junk dealers are having a ronurn holiday, since they can have their cake and eat it too. It works like this! They buy cheap from the Japanese leaving and sell dearly to the Okies coming in for deferue worlc. Result, good profit. . . .
Apnn 30, 1942, Brnxnr-nv Today is the day that we are going to get kicked out of Berkeley. It certainly is degrafing. I am down here in the control sta- tion, and I have nothing to do so I am jotting down these notes! The Army Lieutenant over there doesn’t want any of the photographers to take pictures of these miserable people waiting for the Greyhound bus because he thinks that the American public might get a sympathetic attitude towards them.
I’m supposed to see my family at Tanforan as Jack told me to give the same family number. I wonder how it is going to be living with them as I haven’t done this for years and years? I should have gone over to San Fran- cisco and evacuated with them, but I had a last final to take. I understand that we are going to live in the horse stalls. I hope that the army has the courtesy to remove the manure first.
This morning I went over to the bank to close my account and the bank teller whom I have never seen before solemnly shook my hand and said, “Goodbye, have a nice time.” I wonder if that isn’t the attitude of the Amer- ican people? They dont seem to be bitter against us, and I certainly don’t think I am any diferent from them. . . .
Mav 3, 1942, StrNoav A lot of Nisei kids come in and mix theirJapanese in with their English. Now that we are cut off from the Caucasian contacts, there will be a greater tendency to speak more and more Japanese unless we carefully guard against it. Someday these Nisei will once again go out into the greater American sociery and it is so important that they be able to speak English well-that’s why education is so important. I still think it is a big mistake to evacuate all the Japanese. Segregation is the least desirable thing that could happen and it certainly is going to increase the problem offuture social adjusrments. How can we expect to develop Americanization when they are all put together with the stigma of disloyalry pointed at them? I am convinced that the Nisei could become good Americans, and will be, if they are not treated with much suspicion.The presence here of all those pro-Japan Issei certainly will not help thinp out any. . . .
There was a terrific rairutorm last night and we have had to wade through the “slush alleys” again. Everyone sinks up to the ankles in mud. Some trucks came in today with lumber to build new barracks, but the earth was so soft
Chules Kikuchi, The Kikwhi Diary: Chrcnkle ftom an American Corcehhation Cawp;The TanJoran Journab oJ Charles
Kikwhi,ed.John Modcll (Urbana, IL,19’73),51-52,66,73,170,229.Copyti9ht O 1973 by the Boud ofTrustees
of thc Univcrsiry of Illiaois. Uscd with pemision of the Uniwnity of Illinois Press.
452 CHAPTER 25 ISOLATIONISM AND WORLD WAR II
that the truck sank over the hubs and they had a hell of a time pulling it out. The Army certainly is rushing things. About half of the Japanese have already been evacuated from the restricted areas in this state. Manzanar, Santa Anita, andTanforan will be the three biggest centers. Now that S.F, has been almost cleared, the American Legion, the Native Sons of the Golden West, and the Cdifornia Joint Immigration Committee are fi.ling charges that the Nisei should be disfranchised because we have obtained citizenship under false pre- tenses and that “we are loyal subjects ofJapan” and therefore should never have been allowed to obtain citizenship. This sort of thing will gain momen- tum and we are not in a very advantageous position to combat it. I get fear- ful sometimes because this sort of hysteria will gain momentum. . . . I think that they are stabbing us in the back and that there should be a separate con- centration camp for these so-called Americans. They are a lot more danger- ous than the Japanese in the U.S. ever will or have been. . . .
Jvrv 8, L942 . . .I keep saying to myself that I must view everything intel- lectually and rationally, but sometimes I feel sentiments compounded of blind feelings and irrationaliry. Here all of my life I have identified my every act with America but when the war broke out I suddenly find that I wont be allowed to become an integral part of the whole in these times of national danger. I find I am put aside and viewed suspiciously. My set of values gets rw’isted; I don’t know what to think. Yes, an American certainly is a queer thing. I know what I want, I think, yet it looks beyond my reach at times, but I won’t accept defeat. Americanism is my only solution and I may even get frantic about it if thwarted. To retain my loyalty to my country I must also retain my family loyalty or what else do I have to build upon? So I can’t be selfish and individualistic to such a strong degree. I must view it from either angle and abide by the majority decision. If I am to be in a camp for the duration, I may as well have the stabilizing influence of the family. . . .
. . . There are so many interesting people in camp. They are Americans! Sometimes they may say things that arise out of their bewildered feelings, but they cant throw off the environmental effects of the American way of life which is ingrained in them. The injustices of evacuation will some day come to light. It is a blot upon our nationd life-like the Negro problem, the way labor gets kicked around, the unequal distribution of wealth, the sad plight of the farmers, the slums of our large cities, and a multitude of things. It would make me drzry just to think about them now
Women in the Homefront War Effort (1942)
World War Il altered the economic status for many American women. As millions oJ men entered military service anil the demand for labor inoeased dramatically, old stercotypes and bariers preuenting women from etttering the industrial workplace and
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