70 Years Ago Japanese-American Removal and Internments Began

Today marks the 70th anniversary of #EO9066, the executive order signed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt that authorized the deportation and eventual detainment of Japanese Americans from the west coast during World War II. Here is a great rundown of some of the essential facts related to internment, a particularly dark spot on our nation’s history and one glossed over by Democrats and Republicans alike.

Of the 120,000 Japanese-Americans imprisoned, 2/3 were American citizens making the number of Japanese-Americans interned without cause greater then the population of Wichita, Kansas. Americans with as little as 1/8 Japanese ancestry were interned, including orphan infants and Americans of Taiwanese and Korean descent.

In 1988 the US government made an awkward and inadequate attempt at reparations for those interned. Surviving internees received $20,000 each though families of internees who died got nothing.

Despite a rich tradition of value for the rule of law and equality as a fundamental right, this country has time and time again turned away from those values and instead embraced fear and jingoistic patriotism in times of economic uncertainty. The lessons of the Japanese internments should sit fresh in our minds as we demonize Muslims, Latinos, and women.

Each step our elected leaders take toward criminalizing the status of being an other, whether through attempts to outlaw religious practices as with the anti-sharia zeal or to criminalize women’s bodies is another step we take toward reliving the days of Korematsu, Japanese internments, and of course our most horrific legacy of all, slavery. To mark this anniversary let’s stand up against these efforts in opposition to the idea that fear-mongering based on race, gender, religion or any other characteristic that is not white and male and show the world, and remind ourselves, that we are better than this.

Photo from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff via flickr.


Chad A.
Chad A6 years ago

This was a horrific time with horrible ramifications. I hope that we do better. American muslims are not being treated well... and we could do better.

Patrick F.
Patrick f6 years ago

This story is common to both the U.S. AND Canada, we both put the Japanese people in internment camps and took their belongings, neither country has done enough to pay back these people for what they went through.

Patrick F.
Patrick f6 years ago

Only progressive politicians will learn from this mistake which is why the GOP has proven themselves ignorant and unable to learn lessons from history.

Michael A.
Michael Anda6 years ago

I REALLY don't get your "criminalize women’s bodies" business, but… 1 for this article, nonetheless.

Fred Krohn
Fred Krohn6 years ago

We went off to fight the Third Reich for doing the same s#!* while our paranoid Californians abused our fellow citizens. Too bad someone didn't stiff McCarthyism right then and trash this disgraceful USA kristallnacht...

Hugh W.
.6 years ago

As a country, our leaders need to advance legislation that treats all people equally and gives everyone the rights they deserve in this country. There are too many peoples still not being treated fairly, for example, Native Americans, among many others.

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton6 years ago


Jose Ramon Fisher Rodrigu

This is the sort of shame that a nation has no right to forget.

Sharon A.
Sharon A6 years ago

And yet, in parts of this country this is one of the things they want to remove from history books. Will we EVER learn?? Nope...we can see that there are some who still blame an entire culture and/or race for the actions of a few radicals. Hatred and bigotry are alive and well and we seem to ignore parts of the past that could teach us valuable lessons, yet we continue to hate, to blame, to incite violence on Muslims, women, doctors who perform abortions (aling with the saving of many more lives I might add), African Americans, poor people of all colors...the list goes on.

We even display bigotry and hatred in our own little groups....the KKK hates whites who support other cultures and races and they are white themselves. The christians are always blaming each group of so-called christians for not being "christian" enough or being too radical or too laid-back. Women are campaigning for this backward march toward the repression we have already been thru. Members of our own sex seek to send us back to barefoot and pregnant status.

What happened to the Japanese-Americans is a dark stain on our history. Unfortunately it is only one in a whole group of dark stains that we seem to NOT be learning from......sigh....

Jane Barton
Jane Barton6 years ago

The Third Reich has returned. They're attacking women now.