The effects the internment period had on the individuals and families involved, forever changed their lives. Japanese Americans had to uproot their lives and were imprisoned for up to four years. People were forced to leave their homes and jobs, not knowing if they would be there for them when they got back. Families were separated, and the health of people was greatly at risk. The Japanese Americans were treated like animals put behind barbed wire fences, losing all prior freedoms.
Many factors contribute to the psychological and emotional affects of the internment period.
Japanese Americans didn’t have the easiest of lives, even before the internment period. Owning and leasing land was always an issue, as well as obtaining citizenship. They made the most of their circumstances though, and receiving the notice they had to leave hit them really hard. Martha Daly said, “Imagine that one day you received notice that you and your whole family must be ready to move within 48 hours.
You could only take the possessions you could carry and no one would tell you when you would be permitted to return. Sound like a bad dream? This happened to over 100,000 United States citizens and legal residents during World War II.
Your job is to find out why” (World War II). Life in the Japanese internment camps wasn’t pretty, and very sad. Stephen Holsapple adds; “People were taken away from their houses, jobs, loved ones, and the familiar” (PBS). Not only were they taken away from the familiar, but immediately entering the camps the Japanese were locked up behind barbed wire fences like animals. Mary Tsukamoto, a survivor of the internment camps said, “When the gates were shut, we knew that we had lost something that was very precious; that we were no longer free (Daily Life).” These people were in a sense being put through the same thing as the era of the “Nazis” by being put in American Concentration Camps (World War II).
After being put behind barbed wire, these people were now forced to make familiar with the new, and call these camps “home”. Immediately, they had to adapt to climate changes out of their comfort zone. Some people were placed into camps in the desert facing unbearable heat, or places where it would get below freezing. Not having proper clothes for these climates took a toll on people, as well as their health. These people were said to have been very “mistreated” by the government.
For example: a woman’s baby suffered after the internment camps just because the government wouldn’t supply milk for her baby, so she was forced to give it only water. She says’ “My daughter still pays for it today, health-wise, for the way the government treated us” (World War II). An internment camp in Utah wouldn’t allow anyone in the camps to have milk unless they were under the age of twelve, receiving only six ounces a day. Pregnant woman were not allowed milk because their children were “unborn” leaving their babies with birth deficiencies.
Privacy wasn’t a concern to those in charge of the Japanese Americans. They were assigned blocks to sleep in with half sized sheets for walls having six people to a room that were twenty feet long. The bathrooms didn’t have stalls, but instead were wide open rooms with sinks, showers, and toilets. Plumbing issues were a common thing and people eventually got sick of not having privacy in the bathrooms they eventually made stalls out of cardboard. Given only a bed with no mattress or blankets, if the internees wanted any other furniture they had to make it on their own. Food was unappetizing in the mess halls as most of their food was mixed with sand if they were in one of the many camps in the desert (Moore). Eating in the dining hall was extremely chaotic as well, breaking apart the “traditions and conversations” of the family table, said Akemi Tamaribuchi whose grandparents were incarcerated during the internment period (Sister).
Children living during this time period had to go through the most because the majority of them never fully could comprehend what was going on. They still got some form of education and would try to do anything they could to distract and entertain themselves. Playing games and sports was important for the children, allowing them to still act their age when they could (Daily Life). For these children, they grew up with too many responsibilities and had to be a parent at times taking care of their families when loved ones were away. Waking up daily to guards with guns standing outside of their new “homes”, these kids were forced to mature too fast. The incarcerated kids had to grow up watching their grandparents disrespected, while their parents were forced to sell everything for the smallest amounts of money.
This all affected the children growing up after leaving the camps because the “country that they had always known and loved treated them like criminals” said KidCaps, and they would soon view the government differently (KidCaps 303). After leaving the internment camps, the Japanese Americans had to go back and create new lives for themselves, trying to forget what had happened in the camps. They no longer had houses to come back to or homes to live in. Aya Nakamura said, “Finally getting out of the camps was a great day. It felt so good to get out of the gates, and just know that you were going home… finally. Home wasn’t where I left it though. Getting back I was just shocked to see what had happened, our home had been bought by a different family, different decoration in the windows; it was our house, but it wasn’t anymore..” (World War II) The Japanese Americans experienced a variety of psychological effects from being incarcerated. Some of the effects happened immediately, but thousands of people were affected even after the camps had been closed for multiple years. Fear, worry, and shock were common initial reactions and psychological effects to being incarcerated.
The Japanese Americans felt humiliated and somehow blames themselves for being incarcerated. Not only that, but most people now “sensed the feelings of shame associated with being Japanese,” says Donna Nagata from Varsity Victory Volunteers (Nagata). The incarceration was a serious attack on the development of the Japanese’s Americans identity, having a significant impact on everyone involved. Families were torn apart in the blink of an eye, health was at risk, and people were psychologically scarred for life. Being mistreated by the government not only took a toll on the incarcerated, but the unborn. Also, the Japanese having nothing to come home to when let go from the camps was just the start of long term effects the incarceration was going to have on them.
The emotional and psychological effects the internment period had on the individuals and families involved, forever changed their lives. On the fiftieth anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, President George W. Bush gave this following statement: “In remembering, it is important to come to grips with the past. No nation can fully understand itself or find its place in the world if it does not look with clear eyes at all the glories and disgraces of its past. We in the United States acknowledge such injustice in our history. The Internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry was great injustice, and it will never be repeated”(KidCaps 367). Works Cited:
“Daily Life in the Internment Camps.” OurStory. Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Web. . Holsapple, Stephen, ed. “Children of the Camps Internment History.” PBS. Ina Satsuki, n.d. Web. . KidCaps. Internment Camps for Japanese-Americans During World War Two. BookCaps, 2013. Kindle. Moore, Julie. “The Japanese Internment and World War II: What Happened and Why?.” Yahoo Contributor Network. (2009) . Nagata, Donna K. . “Psychological effects of camp.”Varsity Victory Volunteers. 2013. . Sister, The Kitchen. “Weenie Royale: Food and the Japanese Internment.” Bancroft Library. (2007): n. page. . “World War II.” ThinkQuest. Oracle Education Foundation, 2003. .
Cite this Japanese American Internment Essay
Japanese American Internment Essay. (2016, Jun 16). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/japanese-american-internment/