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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Can the Japanese Internment be Justified?

      In my opinion, the Japanese Internment order did not find the right balance between national security and the civil rights of its citizens.

The 14th Amendment states, "... No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States..." A majority of the Japanese population in the United States at that time were with either immigrants or had Japanese parents, but were citizens of the United States. Therefore, since the US exiled all Japanese people in fear of an attack similar to Pearl Harbor, they technically were discriminating on American citizens, because of their race. This, in fact, is a violation of the 14th Amendment. The Court justified this, in the Korematsu case, through the compelling State interest. This meant that the Court or State could not abridge the privileges of citizens based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude, unless it is "an extremely important purpose for the government." That clause of justification, I think, is absolutely unreasonable because the government could deem anything as "extremely important" and get away with it. Lastly, I think that even though a majority of the Japanese population in America was sent to internment camps, if Japan really wanted to attack the US, they would have done it with or without the help of American-Japanese residents. 

 I do not agree that racial prejudice does not play a role in the government's treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The first main reason is that the executive order, issued by the President, was written in very vague terms, and never mentioned the exclusion of Japanese Americans that would follow. Therefore, since they did not mention a particular race, the United States could have relocated and incarcerated any other group of people along with Japanese Americans, but they did not. Instead, they used the executive order as method of discrimination against the Japanese population of America. Secondly, the government gave an excuse of doing this simply in an act of self-defense against Japanese espionage that might preside with in the United States. Although, there is no record of any Japanese-American sabotage or espionage during World War II, or in times before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Moreover, prejudice against Asian Americans existed in the United States long before WWII: it started with the Chinese Exclusion Act, continued to be maintained through WWII, and then the major act of discrimination (Japanese Exclusion) occurred. A pattern can be devised when looking at these two events. Not only did they discriminate against this Asian population, they abridged the rights of those who had been living in the United States their whole lives, most of whom have lost touch with their home country or original ancestry. Lastly, any one of Japan's allies (Germany or Italy) could have attacked the United States, but the government did not do anything about that, because the Japanese population was one of color (not white), and they wanted a "legitimate" excuse to use their power and wipe the entire Japanese population out of America. 
       

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