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Taken: Oregonians Arrested after Pearl Harbor


How was this possible?

Although prominent in the Japanese community, those "taken," as we are calling them, lived in the shadow of restrictive laws, including anti-miscegenation laws and the Japanese Exclusion Act of 1924. Asian nationals and other immigrants from around the world looked to the U.S. as the land of opportunity, with the promise that any hard working man could succeed. But as aliens they were often the targets of discrimination.

As John W. Dower, one of the pre-eminent historians of the Pacific War and modern Japan, writes:

To scores of millions of participants [of World War II], the war was also a race war. It exposed raw prejudices and was fueled by racial pride, arrogance, and rage on many sides. Ultimately, it brought about a revolution in racial consciousness throughout the world that continues to the present day.

...Although only a few individuals spoke up on behalf of the persecuted Japanese Americans, both the oppression of blacks and the exclusion of Asian immigrants became political issues in wartime America...World War Two contributed immeasurably not only to a sharpened awareness of racism within the United States but also to more radical demands and militant tactics on the part of the victims of discrimination.

It is within the larger history of long-standing racism in the United States, that we must view the incarceration of Japanese Americans in wartime. The stories here, told by family members who at the time were often children or young adults, reveal the tragic consequences that awaited them for simply being a non-majority, ethnic population within the United States of America.

Based on this original

Watercolor of Santa Fe
uploaded by Oregon_Nikkei
Watercolor of Santa Fe, "Draw by Inuzuka". Circa 1944. Part of 1998.04.01, gift of the Takeoka Family. More »

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