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Executive Order Case

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Executive Order 9066

The war in Europe against Nazi Germany and Mussolini's Italy has been going on for two years, fought mainly by Russia, France, and Great Britain. The war also continues in Asia between Japan and its neighbors. Then, in December 1941, Japan attacked the U.S. military base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. After the attack, many in the United States fear a Japanese invasion from the West Coast or at least an airborne attack. Many fear that Japanese citizens might be loyal to their family's country of origin and provide assistance to Japan. As the result, the Executive Order 9066 was written, which proposed to catch and put every Japanese in America, Alaska and Hawaii in concentration camps. If I were the President Franklin D. Roosevelt in January 1942, I would sign this for a better control of my country in such a sensitive time.

After the Chinese Exclusion Act was ratified, a huge flow of Japanese was brought into the U.S to meet the demand of labor force. There were about 120,000 lived in the U.S at that time, and gathered mostly along the coastal areas. They worked truck farms in Puget Sound, Fife, Tacoma, Bellevue, Yakima Valley (Home from Eastern Sea note). The exit of Chinese in some certain jobs also opened new doors for new Japanese immigrant such as railroad, lumber, canning industries, store, restaurants and lodging house building (Schwantes 157, 158). Two third of these Japanese were American citizens. In other words, they were Americans of Japanese descent (The Japanese American Legacy Project).

Unfortunately, the World War II broke out, in which Japan and the U.S fought in two opposing sides. More or less, the big political conflict led to the Japanese attack towards the U.S military base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This incident launched a cold fury inside the U.S. The fear that most people had at that time was understandable and reasonable. Japanese was famous for their loyalty and patriot. It was possible that they might be loyal to their home country and provide assistance to Japan in plenty of ways such as spying, rebelling, protesting. Projecting these possibilities, I could not underestimate the bad interferences that they could induce in such a sensitive time.

People might argue that they were now U.S citizens, their loyalty was now to serve the U.S instead of their country of origins. Some were convinced more when they read the letter "We Cannot Fail America" written by Sakamoto. In this letter, Sakamoto was so eloquent in expressing the Japanese faithfulness towards their current country of nationality, America. "If this should occur, we will stand firm in our resolution that even if America may "disown" us -- we will never "disown" America." (Japanese Americans in King County react to declaration of war against Japan on December 8, 1941). However, standing from a political view, I could not underestimate

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