Time of Fear
The program starts out with the attack on Pearl Harbor.
They film says 'They were confined in concentration camps.'
A group is being sent to Arkansas to the camps at Rohwer and Jerome.
Southeast Arkansas at the time was extremely poverty stricken, and had frequent floods from the Mississippi River.
Jerome and Rohwer were sharpely divided by race. One black guy says that, if a black guy was walking and two whites approached, he would move to the side of the sidewalk so they could pass unhindered.
It continues to talk about how poor the area was.
To show the U.S. was making a direct reply to the attack, they began arresting Japanese American people, doing so on camera to get maximum propaganda value out of it.
The FBI took them away (without charges or trials of any kind, of course.) 'More than 1200 men were detained without charges.'
A major writer on the topic.
The police searched for cameras, radios, anything they considered proof of collaboration with Japan.
A lot of the Japanese burned all evidence of their personal history including pictures. The historical loss I am sure was considerable.
The film then talks about the early immigration of the Japanese.
As farmers, 'They produced miracles on land that no one else wanted.'
When they had made some money, they sent for brides from Japan (picture brides.)
'They built communities infused with the concepts of honor and obedience to authority.'
'Their success in farming and business made their white competitors jealous and vindictive.'
Then it talks about the fear and hatred of the Japanese on the West Coast.
The military heads in California felt that all Japanese were potential collaborators, and they wanted them all removed as a 'military necessity.'
Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which allowed the roundup of all the person of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast.
Most were given only ten days to take care of all their personal business, dispose of their property by sale or storage, sell or rent their homes or ask someone to look after them, and pack and get everything else ready for their evacuation. (This all led to massive financial losses for many of them.)
They were then sent to assembly centers. Around 40% were children. Around 70% were American citizens (Nisei).
They were surrounded by barbed wire.
Milton Eisenhower was put in charge of the War Relocation Authority.
The ten sites for the inland camps. The people of Japanese ancestry (PJAs) would go to these camps and then, in theory, would finds jobs and move to places other than on the West Coast, thus distributing the Japanese American population throughout the entire country instead of being concentrated on the West Coast.
The two in Arkansas were on land that had been defaulted for failure to pay taxes. The governor of Arkansas was furious over the camps being put then, and was afraid that they would upset the state's 'efficient' system of segregation.
Money talks, though, and the government convinced the governor and others that money would be coming to the area. The governor insisted, though, that the PJAs be under military guard, not be allowed to work in the state, note be allowed to buy land in the state, and be gotten out of the state when the war ended.
Fall, 1942, 16,000 or so PJAs were put on trains to Arkansas from the assembly centers.
Rohwer had a total population of 142. Jerome had only 112.They felt overwhelmed by all the PJAs that arrived.
Notice the guard tower.
One of the restrooms. Notice there is no partition between the toilets.
The camps had their own stores and were aimed to be self-sufficient.
Weather could get bad, and the ground extremely muddy.
One controversy was that the white teachers who agreed to teach in the camps earned more than those who taught outside the camps, so teachers would tend to leave public schools to go to the camps. Another controversy was over the food the camps would get, and the people outside the camps had to use food stamps.
Dillon Myer took over the WRA and tried to address the problems. It didn't really help, though. Then the people outside the camps complained that the people in the camps had a hospital which they didn't have.
Inside the camps one of the problems was the growing difference in approach of the Issei and the Nisei, and the growing marginalization of the Issei men. Also, the family unit itself began to fall apart.
A Rohwer yearbook.
'In segregated Arkansas, there was no place for Japanese Americans.'
The Japanese Americans had a hard time figuring out where they belonged under the Arkansas system of segregation.
The Arkansas colleges made it known they did not want Japanese American youth in their colleges.
The Nisei had to find jobs in other states.
In January, 1943, a Japanese American fighting unit was approved. They were trained at Camp Shelby, Mississippi.
Then it talks about the loyalty questionnaire that caused so much trouble.
George Takai (Sulu) was in the camps himself.
Around twenty five percent said no to both questions 27 and 28, and were thus sent to Tule Lake.
The Nisei recruits from Hawaii clashed with the Nisei recruits from the mainland over cultural differences. There was a good chance the whole thing would fall apart, but some of the Hawaiians were taken for a visit to Jerome and Rowher. When they say their own people imprisoned, they returned to the camps and say, basically, that they admired the mainlanders for volunteering even under those harsh conditions. The unit became unified, then.
The program then talks about the 442nd in Europe and the battles they fought.
A lot of the young people liked it in the camps as they had lots of friends.
Some of the local people lost their animosity towards the Japanese Americans as time went on and the reputation of the 442nd became known.
By December of 1944 there was really no solid reason to keep the PJAs in the camps, and the Supreme Court had ruled that loyal American citizens couldn't be held like that anyways. The people left the camps, some to go back to California, some to other cities like New York, Cleveland and Chicago.
Four decades later the American government apologized for what had happened.
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