A military police officer posts Civilian Exclusion Order No. 1, requiring evacuation of Japanese living on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

A military police officer posts Civilian Exclusion Order No. 1, requiring evacuation of Japanese living on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

The internment of Japanese-Americans into camps during World War II was one of the most flagrant violations of civil liberties in American history. According to the census of 1940, 127,000 persons of Japanese ancestry lived in the United States, the majority on the West Coast. One-third had been born in Japan, and in some states could not own land, be naturalized as citizens, or vote. After Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941, rumors spread, fueled by race prejudice, of a plot among Japanese-Americans to sabotage the war effort. In early 1942, the Roosevelt administration was pressured to remove persons of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast by farmers seeking to eliminate Japanese competition, a public fearing sabotage, politicians hoping to gain by standing against an unpopular group, and military authorities.

On February 19, 1942, Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which forced all Japanese-Americans, regardless of loyalty or citizenship, to evacuate the West Coast. No comparable order applied to Hawaii, one-third of whose population was Japanese-American, or to Americans of German and Italian ancestry. Ten internment camps were established in California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, and Arkansas, eventually holding 120,000 persons. Many were forced to sell their property at a severe loss before departure.

A child looks at a soldier as he assembles for evacuation with his family.

A child looks at a soldier as he assembles for evacuation with his family.

Social problems beset the internees: older Issei (immigrants) were deprived of their traditional respect when their children, the Nisei (American-born), were alone permitted authority positions within the camps. 5,589 Nisei renounced their American citizenship, although a federal judge later ruled that renunciations made behind barbed wire were void. Some 3,600 Japanese-Americans entered the armed forces from the camps, as did 22,000 others who lived in Hawaii or outside the relocation zone. The famous all-Japanese 442nd Regimental Combat Team won numerous decorations for its deeds in Italy and Germany.

In January 1944, a Supreme Court ruling halted the detention of U.S. citizens without cause, and the exclusion order was rescinded, and the Japanese Americans began to leave the camps, most returning home to rebuild their former lives. The last camp closed in 1946.

This store owned by a man of Japanese ancestry is closed following evacuation orders in Oakland, California, in April of 1942. After the attack on Pearl Harbor the owner had placed the

This store owned by a man of Japanese ancestry is closed following evacuation orders in Oakland, California, in April of 1942. After the attack on Pearl Harbor the owner had placed the “I Am An American” sign in the store front window.

On a brick wall beside an air raid shelter poster, exclusion orders were posted at First and Front Streets in San Francisco, California, directing the removal of persons of Japanese ancestry from the first part of San Francisco to be affected by the evacuation. The order was issued April 1, 1942, by Lieutenant General J.L. DeWitt, and directed evacuation from this section by noon on April 7, 1942.

On a brick wall beside an air raid shelter poster, exclusion orders were posted at First and Front Streets in San Francisco, California, directing the removal of persons of Japanese ancestry from the first part of San Francisco to be affected by the evacuation. The order was issued April 1, 1942, by Lieutenant General J.L. DeWitt, and directed evacuation from this section by noon on April 7, 1942.

In 1980, under mounting pressure from the Japanese American Citizens League and redress organizations, President Jimmy Carter opened an investigation to determine whether the decision to put Japanese Americans into internment camps had been justified by the government. He appointed the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) to investigate the camps. The Commission’s report, titled Personal Justice Denied, found little evidence of Japanese disloyalty at the time and concluded that the incarceration had been the product of racism. It recommended that the government pay reparations to the survivors.

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which apologized for the internment on behalf of the U.S. government and authorized a payment of $20,000 (equivalent to $41,000 in 2016) to each camp survivor. The legislation admitted that government actions were based on “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership”. The U.S. government eventually disbursed more than $1.6 billion (equivalent to $3,240,000,000 in 2016) in reparations to 82,219 Japanese Americans who had been interned and their heirs.

Of 127,000 Japanese Americans living in the continental United States at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, 112,000 resided on the West Coast. About 80,000 were nisei (literal translation: “second generation”; American-born Japanese with U.S. citizenship) and sansei (“third generation”; the children of Nisei). The rest were issei (“first generation”) immigrants born in Japan who were ineligible for U.S. citizenship under U.S. law.

First graders at a public school in San Francisco pledge allegiance to the flag before evacuations are ordered.

First graders at a public school in San Francisco pledge allegiance to the flag before evacuations are ordered.

Tom C. Clark, coordinator of the Alien Enemy Control program of the Western Defense Command.

Tom C. Clark, coordinator of the Alien Enemy Control program of the Western Defense Command.

Japanese-Americans in San Francisco line up to register for evacuation and housing.

Japanese-Americans in San Francisco line up to register for evacuation and housing.

Two plainclothes men, left, watch as Japanese aliens are removed from their homes on Terminal Island, a vital Naval and Shipbuilding center in Los Angeles, California, on February 3, 1942. Some 400 male Japanese aliens -- Terminal Island residents -- were rounded up early on February 2 by 180 federal, city and county officers.

Two plainclothes men, left, watch as Japanese aliens are removed from their homes on Terminal Island, a vital Naval and Shipbuilding center in Los Angeles, California, on February 3, 1942. Some 400 male Japanese aliens — Terminal Island residents — were rounded up early on February 2 by 180 federal, city and county officers.

Japanese heads of family and persons living alone form a line outside Civil Control Station located in the Japanese American Citizens League Auditorium in San Francisco, California, to appear for

Japanese heads of family and persons living alone form a line outside Civil Control Station located in the Japanese American Citizens League Auditorium in San Francisco, California, to appear for “processing” in response to Civilian Exclusion Order Number 20, on April 25, 1942.

Persons of Japanese ancestry from San Pedro, California, arrive at the Santa Anita Assembly center in Arcadia, California, in 1942. Evacuees lived at this center at the Santa Anita race track before being moved inland to other relocation centers.

Persons of Japanese ancestry from San Pedro, California, arrive at the Santa Anita Assembly center in Arcadia, California, in 1942. Evacuees lived at this center at the Santa Anita race track before being moved inland to other relocation centers.

A crowd of onlookers in Seattle jam an overhead walk to witness the mass evacuation of Japanese from Bainbridge Island, Washington, on March 30, 1942. Somewhat bewildered, but not protesting, some 225 Japanese men, women and children were taken by ferry, bus and train to California internment camps. The evacuation was carried out by the U.S. Army.

A crowd of onlookers in Seattle jam an overhead walk to witness the mass evacuation of Japanese from Bainbridge Island, Washington, on March 30, 1942. Somewhat bewildered, but not protesting, some 225 Japanese men, women and children were taken by ferry, bus and train to California internment camps. The evacuation was carried out by the U.S. Army.

A man in Pasadena packs his car with belongings before heading to the Manzanar War Relocation Camp.

A man in Pasadena packs his car with belongings before heading to the Manzanar War Relocation Camp.

Soldiers escort an elderly Japanese-American couple from their home on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Soldiers escort an elderly Japanese-American couple from their home on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Japanese-Americans escorted by soldiers cross a bridge as they are evacuated from Bainbridge Island to be taken to a relocation camp.

Japanese-Americans escorted by soldiers cross a bridge as they are evacuated from Bainbridge Island to be taken to a relocation camp.

Japanese-Americans assemble in San Francisco for transportation to an assembly center, and later to various relocation centers. Photographer Dorothea Lange is visible above the crowd.

Japanese-Americans assemble in San Francisco for transportation to an assembly center, and later to various relocation centers. Photographer Dorothea Lange is visible above the crowd.

A mother and daughter assemble for relocation at a Los Angeles train station.

A mother and daughter assemble for relocation at a Los Angeles train station.

The Mochida family of Hayward, California, await relocation.

The Mochida family of Hayward, California, await relocation.

A boy sits on his belongings as he awaits relocation from San Francisco.

A boy sits on his belongings as he awaits relocation from San Francisco.

Evacuees' baggage is piled up for transport at an assembly center in Salinas, California.

Evacuees’ baggage is piled up for transport at an assembly center in Salinas, California.

Evacuees assemble at a Los Angeles railroad station.

Evacuees assemble at a Los Angeles railroad station.

Evacuees in Los Angeles watch as trains carry their friends and relatives to Owens Valley.

Evacuees in Los Angeles watch as trains carry their friends and relatives to Owens Valley.

Japanese families waiting to be relocated.

Japanese families waiting to be relocated.

Waiting to be relocated.

Waiting to be relocated.

Japanese-American-owned fishing boats sit idle in Los Angeles harbor.

Japanese-American-owned fishing boats sit idle in Los Angeles harbor.

The last Japanese-American residents of Redondo Beach depart for relocation by truck.

The last Japanese-American residents of Redondo Beach depart for relocation by truck.

A technician bids farewell to his wife as he departs for Manzanar.

A technician bids farewell to his wife as he departs for Manzanar.

John W. Abbott, left, an investigator for the Tolan Congressional Defense Committee on Migration, speaks to a young celery farmer who has just completed arrangements for leasing his farm during evacuation.

John W. Abbott, left, an investigator for the Tolan Congressional Defense Committee on Migration, speaks to a young celery farmer who has just completed arrangements for leasing his farm during evacuation.

A Japanese-American-owned business in Los Angeles.

A Japanese-American-owned business in Los Angeles.

A family awaits a ferry to Seattle and on to a relocation camp.

A family awaits a ferry to Seattle and on to a relocation camp.

San Francisco boys, one of them wearing a

San Francisco boys, one of them wearing a “Remember Pearl Harbor” hat, wave goodbye as they await relocation buses.

Japanese children waiting to be relocated.

Japanese children waiting to be relocated.

An Japanese girl with her doll.

An Japanese girl with her doll.

Japanese-Americans ride on a train to an assembly center.

Japanese-Americans ride on a train to an assembly center.

Evacuees wave goodbye to friends and relatives bound for Owens Valley.

Evacuees wave goodbye to friends and relatives bound for Owens Valley.

Selling the furniture.

Selling the furniture.

The Santa Anita Park race track is converted into an internment camp for evacuated Japanese Americans who will occupy the barracks erected in background in Arcadia, California. Photo taken on April 3, 1942.

The Santa Anita Park race track is converted into an internment camp for evacuated Japanese Americans who will occupy the barracks erected in background in Arcadia, California. Photo taken on April 3, 1942.

apanese Americans removed from their Los Angeles homes line up at Manzanar Relocation Center, in California, on March 23, 1942, for their first meal after arrival at the camp. Rice, Beans, Prunes, and bread were included in the menu.

apanese Americans removed from their Los Angeles homes line up at Manzanar Relocation Center, in California, on March 23, 1942, for their first meal after arrival at the camp. Rice, Beans, Prunes, and bread were included in the menu.

A wide view of the Tule Lake Relocation Center, in Newell, California. Photo taken in 1942 or 1943.

A wide view of the Tule Lake Relocation Center, in Newell, California. Photo taken in 1942 or 1943.

Four young evacuees from Sacramento, California, read comic books at the newsstand in the Tule Lake Relocation Center, in Newell, California, on July 1, 1942.

Four young evacuees from Sacramento, California, read comic books at the newsstand in the Tule Lake Relocation Center, in Newell, California, on July 1, 1942.

 Japanese American evacuees make camouflage nets for the War Department in the Manzanar Relocation Center, in California, on July 1, 1942.

Japanese American evacuees make camouflage nets for the War Department in the Manzanar Relocation Center, in California, on July 1, 1942.

A street scene at the Manzanar Relocation Center, winter, 1943.

A street scene at the Manzanar Relocation Center, winter, 1943.

 A referee in traditional dress watches over a Sumo wrestling match in front of Japanese-Americans interned at Santa Anita, California.

A referee in traditional dress watches over a Sumo wrestling match in front of Japanese-Americans interned at Santa Anita, California.

After the orders to relocate and detain persons of Japanese ancestry were rescinded, evacuees began returning home, and camps began to close. Here, Shuichi Yamamoto, the last evacuee to leave the Granada Relocation Center, in Amache, Colorado, says

After the orders to relocate and detain persons of Japanese ancestry were rescinded, evacuees began returning home, and camps began to close. Here, Shuichi Yamamoto, the last evacuee to leave the Granada Relocation Center, in Amache, Colorado, says “Goodbye” to Project Director James G. Lindley, as the War Relocation Authority camp is officially closed October 15, 1945. Mr. Yamamoto, 65 years of age, was returning to his former home in Marysville, California.

 Roaring into Sacramento on Monday morning, July 30, 1945, a special train of seven cars brought some 450 Japanese American residents of California back to their homes after staying over three years at the Rohwer Center of the War Relocation Authority, in McGehee, Arkansas.

Roaring into Sacramento on Monday morning, July 30, 1945, a special train of seven cars brought some 450 Japanese American residents of California back to their homes after staying over three years at the Rohwer Center of the War Relocation Authority, in McGehee, Arkansas.

 A crowd of Japanese Americans stand behind a barbed wire fence waving to departing friends on train leaving Santa Anita, California.

A crowd of Japanese Americans stand behind a barbed wire fence waving to departing friends on train leaving Santa Anita, California.

 A Japanese family returning home from a relocation center camp in Hunt, Idaho, found their home and garage vandalized with anti-Japanese graffiti and broken windows in Seattle, Washington, on May 10, 1945.

A Japanese family returning home from a relocation center camp in Hunt, Idaho, found their home and garage vandalized with anti-Japanese graffiti and broken windows in Seattle, Washington, on May 10, 1945.