Module 9 Discussion: World War II & Internment at Home
The U.S. entered World War II after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. In February 1942, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which prescribed military areas for the prevention of espionage. The order resulted in the forced relocation of all persons of Japanese ancestry to relocation centers. Roosevelt’s order affected ca. 120,000 people of Japanese descent, two-thirds of whom were native-born citizens, and none had shown disloyalty. Within weeks, military officials ordered all Japanese persons to leave their homes and report to assembly centers, where they were sent to relocation centers located in desolate areas of California, Idaho, Utah, Arkansas, Wyoming, Arizona, Colorado, and Arkansas. Four or five families shared tar-papered barracks. Barbed wire and guard towers, with guns pointing inward, surrounded the camps. In December 1944 Roosevelt rescinded the order, resulting in the evacuation and closing of all camps by 1946. However, many of the internees permanently lost their homes, businesses, property, and savings, and had to completely rebuild their lives.
1. Look at the photos below and listen to the song, “Kenji,” featured on the album, The Rising Tied, by Fort Minor, a side project of Linkin Park band member, Mike Shinoda, a Japanese American whose father’s family was interned at a relocation camp during World War II. Read the lyrics to “Kenji” while listening to the song, which includes samples of interviews Shinoda conducted with his father and aunt. In an interview with the Metro Silicon Valley, Shinoda said that he played the song for his family before he made it public, noting that his “…uncle, who is a very stoic Japanese guy, cried when he heard the song” (“Summer of ’42”). How do the lyrics of the song convey the negative effects of internment on the psyche of Japanese Americans?
2. Do you think the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was justified? Why or why not?