Japanese-American Internment

Part of the Global Perspectives on War and Peace Collection. A look back at the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

0:00Copy video clip URL The segment begins with a simulated instructional film on the war effort, compiling footage of Hollywood celebrities mobilizing to help out. It focuses on a vintage propaganda film starting Ronald Regan called “How To Identify A Zero.” Regan is a young pilot eager to shoot down Japanese planes. On his first flight, however, his eagerness leads him to shoot at a fellow American plane. Luckily he missed! On his second flight we see him victoriously shooting down a Japanese plane, which crashes and goes up in flames.

1:32Copy video clip URL Cut to 1988, where we see television footage of President Reagan offering reparations to victims of Japanese-American internment. “We must recognize that the internment of Japanese-Americans was just that – a mistake.”

1:52Copy video clip URL Watching the footage is Frank Emi, who was interred during this period. He speaks of the absolute absurdity of what happened, and how none of the Japanese-Americans could believe it was actually happening. “Actually, I don’t think we thought too much about the future. We were pretty shocked that, as citizens, that we’d be treated like non-citizens… All of our civil rights were stripped away. We didn’t have a hearing. How much danger would a little baby pose to the government in this war effort?” He recalls that even liberal politicians like Earl Warren jumped on the bandwagon to persecute the Japanese.

3:45Copy video clip URL While watching Emi’s taped footage of the pardon, he shows where he was interviewed for television. They had asked him to speak Japanese for the interview, which is funny because he says he doesn’t even speak it that well and has a bit of an American accent. “A pardon alone wouldn’t suffice, but the fact that there are reparations makes it much sweeter. It took 40-some odd years for us. It took a little too long for my taste.”



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