Japanese internment | KUOW News and Information

Japanese internment

A watercolor by Takuichi Fujii painted between May 1942 and October 1945.
Courtesy of Washington State History Museum

A newly exhibited, hand-painted diary from an internment camp is shedding light on wartime experiences here in the Pacific Northwest.

Auburn's population was almost 1/3 Japanese American, before World War II and the internment. After the war, many families did not come back. This family photograph is on display at the White River Valley Museum, in Auburn.
White River Valley Museum

Auburn, Washington, used to be an agricultural community surrounded by farmland. Many of those farms were owned by Japanese-Americans. But the internment in WWII changed everything.


Echoes from Northwest history rang loudly for people in the present at a memorial ceremony Thursday to mark 75 years since the U.S. government forcibly removed the first Japanese Americans from their West Coast homes and sent them to internment camps. This happened in the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II.

Courtesy of Lynette Hoy

Author Lori Tsugawa Whaley grew up in a rural, mostly white community disconnected from her Japanese heritage. She didn’t even realize there was something different about her until she faced teasing and prejudice in grade school. 

Growing up Japanese-American in a time of Islamophobia

Feb 18, 2017
Sophia Stephens.
Courtesy of Sophia Stephens via Youth Radio

Recently, my mother sent a picture of our traditional Hinamatsuri dolls.

In the past, my sister and I helped her unpack each doll – about 16 in total – and arrange them on a precarious platform in our living room.

This time, it was just the emperor and empress sitting on top of the family piano.

The picture was gorgeous, but something felt wrong. I quickly realized that it embodied how it felt growing up Japanese American: beautiful but abbreviated.

Caption by photographer Dorothea Lange: Ester Naite, an office worker from Los Angeles, operates an electric iron in her quarters at Manzanar, California, a War Relocation Authority center where evacuees of Japanese ancestry will spend the duration.
Dorothea Lange/Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division Washington, DC 20540 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

It’s not often that we look back on ugly times in our nation’s history. We’re not very good at that as Americans.

But the Japanese internment has been coming up a lot lately.

This weekend marks 75 years since President Roosevelt's executive order that sent Japanese-Americans to internment camps.

Roy Ebihara and his wife, 82-year-old Aiko, were children then, and both were held in camps with their families.

At StoryCorps, 83-year-old Roy told Aiko about what happened in his hometown of Clovis, N.M., in the weeks just before the executive order was issued.

KUOW PHOTO/BILL RADKE

Bill Radke speaks with author Frank Abe about his 2000 documentary "Conscience and the Constitution," which looks at Japanese who resisted their internment in American camps during World War II. Abe explains why this resistance was so controversial at the time, why it means so much now and what modern resistance looks like. 

Bill Radke talks with writer and Humanities Washington speaker Mayumi Tsutakawa about the 75th anniversary of the World War II order that led to Japanese internment in America. Tsutukawa explains her own personal connection to internment, and how it can help educate about modern prejudices.

Photo taken from a Japanese plane during the Pearl Harbor attack
Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy

Fujiko Tamura Gardner was 9 years old when Pearl Harbor was attacked. She remembers hearing about it on the radio at her parents’ farm in Fife, Washington.

“I just remember the horror and not really understanding what was going on and what was going to happen,” Gardner said.

Shiyogi Kawabata, 88, worked on a wooden chain (below) while interned at Minidoka, a Japanese internment camp in Idaho.
KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

At 88, Shiyoji Kawabata remembers the harsh conditions he and his family endured in the Minidoka Relocation Center during World War II.

Ticks. Coyotes. Scorpions. Black widow spiders.

Online editor Isolde Raftery reads an old residential ledger at the Puget Sound Regional Branch of the Washington State Archives in Bellevue.
KUOW Photo/Amina Al-Sadi

First, an admission.

We were clueless when we started researching the house at 1643 South King Street in Seattle's International District.

Living witnesses to the forced relocation of West Coast Japanese-Americans during World War II are growing fewer every year. Many who were incarcerated are in their 80s and 90s now.

KUOW Photo/Jeannie Yandel

Jeannie Yandel visits the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial, which recently underwent a name change. She speaks with memorial board member Lily Kodoma and Congressman Derek Kilmer about the significance of adding the word "exclusion" to the site which honors the residents of Japanese descent who were forcibly removed from the island during World War II.

Memories Of Exclusion Inspire Seattle Architect's Work

Jul 28, 2014
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Seattle architect Johnpaul Jones will receive the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama on Monday. The White House says he will be the second Native American to receive the medal.

YouTube

Ross Reynolds speaks with film maker Don Sellers and Karen Matsumoto, the daughter of World War II hero Roy Matsumoto. 

Roy Matsumoto enlisted in the army to get out of a Japanese American internment camp. He went on to serve  as a translator for the Merrill’s Marauders behind enemy lines in the Burma and won a medal for outstanding bravery.

KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

One of the first signs of spring is when the cherry trees bloom at the University of Washington. The iconic trees on the quad have become a symbol of the University’s ties to Japan. Yesterday, the University celebrated a gift from Japan — 18 new cherry trees to add to the campus.

One of the 30 young cherry trees the University of Washington dedicated in a ceremony on Tuesday.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

In a ceremony on Tuesday morning, the University of Washington dedicated more than 30 young cherry trees, gifts from Japan.

Flickr Photo/clappstar

Rick Williams: On Anger, Grief And Gifts

In 2010, woodcarver John T. Williams was killed by Seattle Police Officer Ian Birk. Controversy over the shooting led to much anger and distrust for the police department. In 2012, a 34-foot memorial totem pole was raised in John T. Williams' honor. Steve Scher talked with John T. Williams’ brother Rick Williams at the site of the totem pole.

Talking To Cops

Back in 2012, the Seattle Police asked the public for help. Deputy Chief Nick Metz urged people to talk to the police to help stop what he called a “huge increase” in shootings. That's counter to a strong "don't talk to the cops" mantra espoused by many. Steve Scher talked with columnist Larry Mizell and singer Choklate Moore about why many individuals think talking to the police is unsafe and unwise.

Stories Of WWII Incarceration

Within 48 hours of the December 7 attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the FBI began arresting the Japanese-Americans they considered subversive. In its second wave of action, the rest of the Japanese-American community along the West Coast was forced to leave their homes and move to incarceration camps. These actions are a strong, vivid and very recent part of our city's history and the legacy of the Japanese-Americans living here. Steve Scher talked with Fumiko Hayashida and Sam Mitsui about their own experiences at that time.