Many may think that United States will be the land of opportunities and fairness. Several have spoken highly of America and excepted great freedom and righteous. Even many families had traveled far to be free in America and had left their countries for the better. Many have thought that they would never be treated as animals again. However, in the novel When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka, her story took place during the World War 2. The novel shows how American has changed their attitudes towards the Japanese because of the war.
Ostuka’s family was separated from each other under the American’s investigation due to that they are Japanese Americans. The Japanese Americans lost all of their rights over the suspicious of Americans’ government and was treated as animals. In the novel, the mother, brother and sister were put in horrible internment camps along with other Japanese women and children; they were identified with no names but numbers. They were put in camps in deserts and food and water were a shortage. Their father was put somewhere unknown being torture until the war was over.
In Ostuka’s novel, there are many injustices for the Japanese Americans; however, the main issue is their identity was not recognized as American citizens because of the mistreatment. Since the World War 2, people have denied the Japanese who have lived in United States for many years as Americans. No one had spoken for Japanese Americans who were punished for something that they have no involvement in. For instance in Ostuka’s novel When Emperor Was Divine she wrote that they have been in camp for three years and five months and they received only 25 dollar and questioned why not more?
Later on they found out that 25 dollars were the same amount of money given to criminals who have done their time. (pg 117-118) The Japanese people have endurance so much and done no harm to anyone, yet they were treated as criminals. They should not receive that small amount of money but something more that show that they are criminals. Furthermore, the American’s government has treated the Japanese Americans horribly even if they are women and children who innocents and helpless. The United States’ government have treated the Japanese Americans wrongly and accused them with no sufficient proof that they were spies.
The Americans may have acted out of fear but it was torture for Japanese Americans going through all the pain and suffering. The Japanese Americans should have the same rights as the any other citizens under the Bills of Rights. They should not misjudge for something that other’s actions, even if they were from same country. For example, recently after the attack of 9/11, Iranian terrorists crashed two airplanes into the Twin Towers which results the Americans mistreating the Mid-Eastern Americans differently. They started to criticize the way they dress and their culture.
American started to aim for Iranians and bad-mouthed about them. The Americans are repeating the same cycle like the way they were accusing the Japanese American to be spies without realizing they are citizens of United States. There is no difference from these two events and the American had ignored their true identity as Americans but has misjudged them by the country they have come from. We must not judge people based on others’ actions but for their own. Several Americans may have thought that when the war is over so will the problems and issues will come to an end.
However, numerous events have proven that even if war has ended there are still problems afterwards. Just as in the When the Emperor Was Divine by Julia Ostuka, she wrote about the father had come home after war and can no longer work and have become disabled. Things before the war comparing to when they had come back from the war was not the same. The family has lost their property and their dreams, promises, and lives were also shattered. (Pgs 131-136) Various Japanese families have suffered more coming back from internment camps because of discrimination and hatred.
They have to readjust to everything and realized that things will not be the same as the past before the war. It have seemed as if numerous Americans have hatred for the Japanese after the war ended and started to aimed at them such as bullying. These Japanese Americans had lived in fear because their rights have been taken away physically, such as not having police protection and rights of speech. They cannot rebel and have no voice because their lives were endangered by other Americans.
We should not treated the Japanese Americans like this because they have lost almost everything and when they came back, as for others, they only lost a little compare to the Japanese. We should be more mature about these things, put the past behind us all, and focus on the future. In the novel When the Emperor Was Divine by Julia Ostuka may have numerous obstacles that Japanese Americans have went through. What stands out is the Japanese American citizens’ status of United States was not being recognized; therefore, they were bullied and put into internment camps.
Even after the war, things have not got better for them but worse. Their hard work was taken away from them and they lived in terror. Although the Japanese had come back after the war, they have lost everything especially their rights and dreams. All the Japanese Americans have done was enduring all the pain yet they may have no involvement in the war. The United States’ government shouldn’t had punished these Japanese Americans harshly without valid evidence and treated them as criminals. But it was not just the Japanese but also Iranians because of 9/11.
These two events are similar and the mistreatment did not happen once but twice. We mistreated both of them and did not recognize the Japanese and Iranians as American citizens with respect. I saw that we have repeated our mistakes and should not continue to make this mistake again. I believe that we should be more careful who we choose to punish and how can it affect those who are innocents. Furthermore, we should not judge one’s actions onto others which are unfair because they may have no participation to the cause. Mistakes should not be repeated but to learn from it for future reference.