Japanese Internment During World War II: Justified? Essays Examples

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Japan, United States, Citizenship, Criminal Justice, Court, Crime, America, Military

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/12/21

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Scholars consider Japanese internment to be the foremost example of alien citizenship in American history and the most extreme example of the construction of the illegal alien (Wheelock 241). During internment, both Japanese men and women encountered harsh racism and harrowing family strain as a result of the forced uprooting of all Japanese and Japanese Americans from their homes by the U.S. government. President Franklin D. Roosevelt swiftly passed Executive Order 9066 immediately after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. Assessing the legality of this government requires proof that the Japanese living on the West Coast presented a “clear and present danger” test. In his report to Chief of Staff General C. Marshall and Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson 1943, J.L DeWitt defended Japanese internment as a necessary measure needed for the military. In response, Fred Korematsu challenged the state-sanctioned uprooting of 110,442 Japanese and Japanese Americans based on the premise that internet clearly violated the civil liberties of Japanese-American citizens, which he rendered an unconstitutional exercise of governmental power at the federal level. Through court case decisions, laws, and remarks made by Supreme Court Justices, it is unequivocal that the internment of the Japanese was not implemented because of military necessity. Rather, it represented a symptom of racial suspicion that appeased nativist sentiment that had be simmering in the United States for decades.
Naturalization is the process of becoming of the US if an individual was not born in the United States. The term “alien” refers to those who are not born in the United States and thus are not naturalized. Prerequisite cases, or law cases that featured immigrants who sought to gain their citizenship. The requirement, or prerequisite for U.S. citizenship at the end of the eighteenth century was whiteness regardless of how patriotic and assimilated they are. During the 1920s, Ozawa vs. United States exposes the contradictions rife in U.S. immigration law that unequivocally reveals how race played a formative role in court cases veiled under other “just” causes. Ozawa was rich by contemporary standards and owned land who exhibited his radical nationalism and loyalty to the United States. Ozawa, a Japanese male, sued the court in order to be considered white because of his skin color. Fully acculturated into American society as evident by his participation during World War I, Ozawa argued that he had proven his loyalty, and white skin further underscored his whiteness. He assimilated and thus should be able to be a citizen. Moreover, Ozawa contended that race should not be the basis for the procurement of American citizenship. Rather, owning property and possesses wealth should be the litmus test. The Supreme Court denied citizenship to him invoking the claim that he is not white by science because he descends from the Mongoloid race (Wheelock 240). Thus, Ozawa could not obtain his citizenship because he was Asian and not white, despite having lived in the United States his whole life and having fought under the U.S. flag in during World War I.
The abridgment of civil rights was sanctioned by the Supreme Court, so key court decisions amidst Japanese internment camp further elucidate the discursive tactics deployed by the courts to deny Japanese Americans their civil rights during an epoch replete with anxieties, fears, and nativism. Korematsu v. United States established the legality of Executive Order 9066 by removing the language of citizenship when referencing the Japanese during this epoch. It upheld the exclusion and evacuation of the Japanese as well as strictly enforced curfew on the premise of military necessity (Wheeler 248). Korematsu v. United States articulated the principle that discrimination, classification, and social alienation based on race should be scrutinized by the Supreme Court. Korematsu refused to leave his home despite the fact that it was located in an area that excluded the presence of the Japanese. Moreover, Korematsu tried to evade authorities so that he would not have to evacuate, going to the extreme of forging a new identity and getting plastic surgery to alter his appearance (Black, as cited by Wheelock, 245). The Supreme Court rendered internment constitutional because the military had deemed it necessary for national security, thereby agreeing supported DeWitt’s defense. Assessing the reasoning of the military for declaring necessity, the Court said, remained peripheral to their purview (Wheelock 237). Justice Hugo Black delivered the majority opinion and observed that “The military authorities charged with the primary responsibility of defending our shores, concluded that curfew provided inadequate protection and order exclusionin accordance with congressional authority to the military to say who should who should not remain in the threatened areas” (Black, as cited by Wheelock, 249). Justice Felix Frankfurter concurred on the premise that the Constitution legitimized extreme actions to be taken when extreme circumstances such as war are present (Frankfurter, as cited by Wheelock, 250). However, other justices such as Justice Black decried internment as unconstitutional because it legalized racism.
The Japanese, as evident through the figure Fred Korematsu, did not receive any reparations until the 1980s, when the U.S. finally acknowledged the gross injustices and unconstitutional actions exacted against them at the hands of the U.S. government. While the 1940s was a tumultuous epoch as a result of World War II tearing families and societies asunder, violating the civil rights of citizens in such a preposterous and overtly racist manner can never be justified. Indeed, Japanese internment represented a crisis in American citizenship because Japanese citizenship was nullified on the basis of race and subsequently reconstructed and reformulated vis-à-vis and the coerced acculturation of the Japanese in the camps. Loyalty became redefined as a political rather than a cultural practice. As such, Japanese internment was supported and implemented not because of military necessity but because of racial suspicion, nativism, and the preservation and sustenance of a system constructed on white hegemony and the possessive investment of whiteness.

Works Cited

Wheeler, W. and S. Becker. Discovering the American past: A look at the evidence (2nd ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin: 1990.

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WePapers. (2020, December, 21) Japanese Internment During World War II: Justified? Essays Examples. Retrieved September 18, 2021, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/japanese-internment-during-world-war-ii-justified-essays-examples/
"Japanese Internment During World War II: Justified? Essays Examples." WePapers, 21 Dec. 2020, https://www.wepapers.com/samples/japanese-internment-during-world-war-ii-justified-essays-examples/. Accessed 18 September 2021.
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"Japanese Internment During World War II: Justified? Essays Examples." WePapers, Dec 21, 2020. Accessed September 18, 2021. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/japanese-internment-during-world-war-ii-justified-essays-examples/
WePapers. 2020. "Japanese Internment During World War II: Justified? Essays Examples." Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. Retrieved September 18, 2021. (https://www.wepapers.com/samples/japanese-internment-during-world-war-ii-justified-essays-examples/).
"Japanese Internment During World War II: Justified? Essays Examples," Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com, 21-Dec-2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/japanese-internment-during-world-war-ii-justified-essays-examples/. [Accessed: 18-Sep-2021].
Japanese Internment During World War II: Justified? Essays Examples. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/japanese-internment-during-world-war-ii-justified-essays-examples/. Published Dec 21, 2020. Accessed September 18, 2021.
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