Japanese-American Internment - INTERNMENT CAMPS

This map, from the National Park Service and online via the U.S. National Archives, depicts the location of the ten "War Relocation Centers," also referred to as internment camps. Japanese-Americans were sent to these camps as a result of President Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066.


After people were initially processed at the assembly centers, they were sent to one of ten internment camps, located in seven states. (Ethnic Japanese in Canada were also rounded up and transferred to Canadian internment camps.)

Many remained in their assigned camp for the duration of World War II, although others were allowed to leave, join the Army (where they served with distinction), or attend college outside of the West-coast exclusion area.

To understand who was actually sent to the camps, we need to know some of the terms referenced in government documents:

  • Issei: The first generation of ethnic Japanese in America (born in Japan, immigrated to the States)

  • Nisei: The second-generation in America (born in the States to Japanese-immigrant parents)

  • Sansei: Third generation in America (children of Nisei, born in the States)

  • Kibei: Children who returned to Japan to attend school

Members of each group were impacted by the exclusion order.

On the 14th of February, 1942, Lt. General John L. DeWitt sent his recommendation for exclusion to the Secretary of War. Referred to as “Evacuation of Japanese and Other Subversive Persons from the Pacific Coast,” DeWitt had concluded that the west coast was vulnerable to Japanese air and naval attacks, not to mention acts of sabotage on land.  

Requesting the power to exclude ethnic Japanese from their homes and businesses, DeWitt set forth his military justification:

The area lying to the west of Cascade and Sierra Nevada Mountains in Washington, Oregon and California, is highly critical not only because the lines of communication and supply in the Pacific theater pass through it, but also because of the vital industrial production therein, particularly aircraft. In the war in which we are now engaged racial affiliations are not severed by migration.

The Japanese race is an enemy race and while many second and third generation Japanese born on United States soil, possessed of United States citizenship, have become "Americanized," the racial strains are undiluted...That Japan is allied with Germany and Italy in this struggle is no ground for assuming that any Japanese, barred from assimilation by convention as he is, though born and raised in the United States, will not turn against this nation, when the final test of loyalty comes.

It, therefore, follows that along the vital Pacific Coast over 112,000 potential enemies, of Japanese extraction, are at large today. There are indications that these are organized and ready for concerted action at a favorable opportunity. The very fact that no sabotage has taken place is a disturbing and confirming indication that such action will be taken.

Once the government approved removing people of Japanese ancestry from the Pacific-coast region DeWitt had described, they were sent to one of the following camps:

Amache (Granada), Colorado
Opened: August 24, 1942
Closed: October 15, 1945
Highest Population: 7,318
Minidoka, Idaho
Opened: August 10, 1942
Closed: October 28, 1945
Highest Population: 9,397
Gila River, Arizona
Opened: July 20, 1942
Closed: November 10, 1945
Highest Population: 13,348
Poston (Colorado River), Arizona
Opened: May 8, 1942
Closed: November 28, 1945
Highest Population: 17,814
Heart Mountain, Wyoming
Opened: August 12, 1942
Closed: November 10, 1945
Highest Population: 10,767
Rohwer, Arkansas
Opened: September 18, 1942
Closed: November 30, 1945
Highest Population: 8,475
Jerome, Arkansas
Opened: October 6, 1942
Closed: June 30, 1944
Highest Population: 8,497
Topaz (Central Utah), Utah
Opened: September 11, 1942
Closed: October 31, 1945
Highest Population: 8,130
Manzanar, California
Opened: March 21, 1942
Closed: November 21, 1945
Highest Population: 10,046
Tule Lake, California
Opened: May 27, 1942
Closed: March 20, 1946
Highest Population: 18,789

Although the camps have been closed for decades, we can take a trip back in time to visit a few of the most notorious.

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

Original Release: Feb 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: Sep 01, 2017

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"INTERNMENT CAMPS" AwesomeStories.com. Feb 01, 2002. Jan 25, 2020.
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