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Japanese internment camps map

Japanese internment camps, 1942-1946


Suspicion toward Japanese-Americans ran rampant during World War II, despite the fact that two-thirds of them were U.S. citizens and no evidence of terror cells was ever found.

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In a report to President Roosevelt, Chicago businessman Curtis B. Munson acknowledged that most of the first-generation immigrants (Issei) and their children (Nisei) were loyal Americans, but "there are still Japanese in the United States who will tie dynamite around their waist and make a human bomb out of themselves."

In February 1942, Roosevelt authorized the Secretary of War to exclude ethnic Japanese from the west coast by moving them to concentration camps, Within a few months, the War Relocation Authority (WRA) had moved 120,000 of them into ten centers:

Camp name, nearest town, peak population:

Topaz, Utah (4 miles northwest of Delta): 8,130
Poston, Arizona ( 12 miles south of Parker): 17,814
Gila River, Arizona (3 miles west of Sacaton): 13,348
Granada (Amache), Colorado (1.5 miles southwest of Granada): 7,318
Heart Mountain, Wyoming (8 miles south of Ralston): 10,767
Jerome, Arkansas (8 miles south of Dermott): 8,497
Manzanar, CA (5 miles south of Independence): 10,046
Minidoka, Idaho (8 miles north of Eden): 9,397
Rohwer, Arkansas (8 miles south of Watson): 8,475
Tule Lake, CA (southwest of Newell): 18,789

Nearly 30,000 residents of the relocation camps left before the "exclusion order" was rescinded on Jan. 1, 1945. Three-quarters of them went to eight states. The largest number went to Illinois (7,652) including 6,599 to Chicago.

Others went to Colorado (3,185), Ohio (2,854), Utah (2,427), Idaho (2,084), Michigan (1,990), Minnesota (1,292), and New York (1,131). After the order was rescinded and the camps were disbanded, 10,077 returned to Los Angeles and 33,504 went elsewhere in California. Others went back to Washington (4,471) and Oregon (2,088), but a significant number of Japanese left the West Coast permanently, and the scattering has continued after the war.

In 1940, 85 percent of Japanese-Americans lived in the three West Coast states; in 1950, 69 percent did; in 2000, only 42 percent did.

Prisoners Without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War II, by Roger Daniels
Final Report: Japanese Evacuation from the West Coast, U.S. Department of War

Date: Sept. 15, 2005

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