In February 1942, President Roosevelt signed an order requiring people of Japanese descent living on the West Coast to be removed and placed in “relocation centers”, which were essentially prison camps. Approximately 110,000 Japanese Americans were relocated, two-thirds of which were Nisei (of Japanese descent but born in the
Families were forced to sell their homes, businesses, and possessions for low value. The confinement camps were barren and isolated, and children were separated from their parents for most of the day with the exception of breakfast. Life within the barbed-wire fences was both tragic and terrifying. In the end, no specific charges were filed against any Japanese Americans, and no evidence of sabotage was ever found.
Because of the injustice they faced, Japanese Americans fought for a very long time for compensation. In Korematsu v. United States in 1944, the Supreme Court justified the evacuation of Japanese Americans as a “military necessity.”
The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) pushed the government for restitution to everyone who faced internment. Finally, in 1990, a $20,000 check was sent to every Japanese American who was confined in a relocation camp.
“We can never fully right the wrongs of the past. But we can take a clear stand for justice and recognize that serious injustices were done to Japanese Americans during World War II.” –President George Bush
National Memorial in Washington, DC