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The Art of JAMA
October 13, 2015

BarracksTaneyuki (Dan) Harada

JAMA. 2015;314(14):1432-1433. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.12021

On December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked US and British military facilities in Hawaii, the Philippines, Guam, Wake Island, Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong. The American and British bases were caught by surprise and were heavily damaged. Returning from the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, a Japanese pilot crash-landed on the Hawaiian island of Ni’ihau, where he was armed and protected by three islanders of Japanese descent. The surprise attacks against US military facilities and the incident on Ni’ihau were cited as evidence that Japanese Americans could not be trusted and might support Japan against the United States. In response to this perception, the US government rounded up at least 110 000 individuals of Japanese ancestry living in the Pacific Coast states of California, Washington, and Oregon, most of them US citizens, and imprisoned them in remote areas of Arizona, Wyoming, and other states. Detainees were told to sell their assets, gather whatever possessions they could carry, and report to an assembly center. From the assembly centers they were transported to concentration camps and held in custody until the end of the war. The detainees came from all walks of life: they were farmers, longshoremen, business owners, homemakers, journalists, civic officials, teachers, and students, and a few were art instructors who taught painting and drawing in some of the camps.

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