Japanese Americans

“The actions of those before us have allowed us to live the way we do.”

by H.O.

Our Experience
We had two lectures on Japanese American history on July 24th.  The lectures were given by two Japanese Americans, Terry Shima and Saki Takasu. Terry Shima was drafted into the US Army during World War II and joined the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Saki Takasu immigrated to the US when she was six-years-old and grew up bilingually and biculturally. She is one of the “Shin-Issei” Japanese Americans, which means Japanese Americans who immigrated after World War II.

​First, we had a lecture from Terry Shima. He told us about Japanese American history during the World War II and postwar period. During the war, Japanese Americans were forced to send to camps. Because the United States was fought against Japan at that time, Americans doubted Japanese Americans’ loyalty to the US. To show their loyalty, many Japanese Americans joined the US military and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was organized. This division was only organized by Japanese Americans and they fought hard against the Axis powers, including Japan. Their slogan was “Go for broke!” and they mainly fought at Europe. Some Japanese Americans got jobs deciphering enemies’ (Japanese) code because they were able to understand Japanese. After the war, the 442nd became the most decorated unit in the history of American warfare.

​Second, we were given a lecture from Saki Takasu. She told us about whole Japanese Americans history. The US-Japan relationship began in 1852 when Commodore Perry came to Japan with “Open Door Policy.” She said this allowed Japanese people to think “We can go outside.” Many Japanese immigrated in the late 19th century and early 20th century, seeking fortune. Many of them engaged in farming. But then World War II was begun. As I talked above, most Japanese were sent to camps by force. They had to leave everything in their home. When the war ended, they finally went back to US community in 1946. Most of them went back to their homes but it was hard for them to live there because discrimination against Japanese Americans still continued. The problem to the American government was how to integrate Japanese Americans into their society. In 1988, the “Civil Liberties Act of 1988” was passed in the US Congress and US President Ronald Reagan formally apologized to Japanese Americans. The act granted each surviving internee about 20,000 dollars in compensation.

The Big Ideas
This article’s title is “the actions of those before us have allowed us to live the way we do.” Japanese Americans were once discriminated against and they had a hard time to live and make good relationship between Americans. They fought against it and at last they got formal apology. They finally restored their honor. Thanks for people doing those things, we can now have good relationship. The effort of people before us changed the US-Japan relationship.

Through these lectures, we learned Japanese Americans had a severe time. It is difficult for people to trust others who can have a contact with enemy. There aren’t always good relationships between US and Japan but we can create it by efforts.