Japanese-American Internment - EXECUTIVE ORDER 9066

After Pearl Harbor, many U.S. government officials were concerned that Japan would also bomb America’s west coast. As it happened, Minoru Genda had recommended that very thing to his superiors.

Surviving the war, Genda gave many interviews to Gordon Prange, foremost historian of Pearl Harbor. In Pearl Harbor: The Verdict of History, Prange relates an important fact about Genda’s intentions.

I was also in favor of bombing the American aircraft factories and oil refineries on the California coast. In December 1941 we could have bombed San Diego, Long Beach, Portland and Seattle without much opposition. (The Verdict of History, page 505.)

Acting on fears that Japan’s bombing raids were not over, concerned that an espionage ring was operating out of the Japanese Consulate in Los Angeles, and told (among other things) that some Japanese-Americans (and resident Japanese-aliens) supported Japan’s conquests in China, President Roosevelt took an extraordinary step. He signed into law an Executive Order authorizing the United States military to take action against American citizens.

Although Japanese-Americans, Italian-Americans and German-Americans were not specifically named, the February 19, 1942 document was directed toward them. In pertinent parts, Executive Order 9066 states:

I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of War, and the Military Commanders whom he may from time to time designate, whenever he or any designated Commander deems such action to be necessary or desirable, to prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he or the appropriate Military Commander may determine, from which any or all persons may be excluded, and with respect to which, the right of any persons to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restriction the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion.

In plain English, this directive allows government officials to decide whether the United States military should exclude certain people from certain parts of the country. In fact, the decision was made that ethnic Japanese, living in the Pacific states, would be excluded from their towns, their homes, their businesses.

If people are "excluded" from their own homes, where would they go?

The Secretary of War is hereby authorized to provide for residents of any such area who are excluded therefrom, such transportation, food, shelter, and other accommodations as may be necessary, in the judgment of the Secretary of War of the said Military Commander, and until other arrangements are made, to accomplish the purpose of this order.

In other words, it was up to the Secretary of War and his advisors to figure out where the excluded citizens would live.

Those individuals came up with a plan to be carried out by the War Relocation Authority. Camps (variously referred to as internment, detention, and concentration) were hastily built as Japanese-American citizens and Japanese resident-aliens were told to start packing their bags and closing their businesses.

The President’s actions met with little resistance throughout the various States. In California, for example, the LA Times completely supported the Order:

The time has come to realize that the rigors of war demand proper detention of Japanese and their immediate removal from the most acute danger spots. It is not a pleasant task. But it must be done and done now. There is no safe alternative.

As if that were not enough, the following year the same newspaper added these words as further support for its position:

As a race, the Japanese have made for themselves a record for conscienceless treachery unsurpassed in history. Whatever small theoretical advantages there might be in releasing those under restraint in this country would be enormously outweighed by the risks involved.

Five days after FDR's action, the Canadian government also passed an order—under the Defence of Canada Regulations of the War Measures Act—to intern all “persons of Japanese racial origin.”

Around 20,000 Japanese-Canadians were rounded-up from the country’s Pacific Coast area—in 1942—and were forced to move to isolated areas where their activities were “severely restricted.” 

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Feb 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: Dec 16, 2019

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"EXECUTIVE ORDER 9066" AwesomeStories.com. Feb 01, 2002. Feb 20, 2020.
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