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Democratizing the Enemy: the Japanese American Internment

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Essay title: Democratizing the Enemy: the Japanese American Internment

Democratizing the Enemy: The Japanese American Internment. By Brian Masaru Hayashi. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2004. 328 pp.

Racial prejudice, the hysterics of war, and appalling government leadership are repeatedly used as the rationale behind Japanese- American internment during World War II. Brian Hayashi’s book, “Democratizing the Enemy: The Japanese American Internment, suggests the government was maybe not acting as adolescently as the previous excuses for internment rational would suggest but rather conducting the beginning stages of a much larger complex plan. Hayashi’s suggestion that the governments decision for internment reaches beyond racism, wartime hysteria, and bad leadership is not a terribly new concept; but his induction of such specific domestic and international factors like land development and future foreign objectives of concerning an occupation in Japan is a more diverse approach when compared to other conventional writings or accounts of Japanese-American internment reasoning during WWII. Hayashi accurately brings to light the often overlooked origins of internment policy while not discounting the familiar justifications at the same time but rather evaluates their relationship to one another. Hayashi gathered such information from recently declassified documents and previously unreleased material that ultimately brings a better comprehensive understanding of the big picture for anyone desiring a better understanding of the fundamental causes of internment. Hayashi also discusses, as his title suggests, the teaching of democracy to Japanese-Americans and its long lasting affects on the internees and other groups of people throughout the world.

Hayashi's book contains seven chapters that feature the history of internment and then the unintended consequences of internment. In the first chapter, Governors and Their Advisers, 1918-1942, Hayashi investigates the prewar conditions of camp supervisors, officials in the government, culture scientists, and military officers who oversaw and had direct correlation between the internment camps of Manzanar, Poston, and Topaz. Hayashi then separates and categorizes these groups and identifies how certain individuals inside these offices come about projecting their stereotypical predispositions toward Japanese-Americans. Hayashi describes such presumptions as having to do with the linking of words like "race" and "culture" which then translates to "Japanese" and "Japanese Americans." This categorization given by Hayashi explains why certain officials and people in the American public believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that any Japanese-American could not be trusted. And because of this assumption, policy was set in motion with an incorrect motive and ultimately played a significant role in policy leading to internment. Ironically, social scientists and camp directors believed "loyalty" came from "culture;" they also believed that the Japanese-Americans, especially those born on U.S. soil, had fully assimilated and had thrown away any thoughts of loyalty to the Japanese empire. This clear separation of superficial thought was completely nonexistent inside the Japanese population itself and in Hayashi’s second chapter, The Governed: Japanese Americans and Politics, 1880-1942, Hayashi shows that before WWII, Japanese thoughts of governance and Japanese loyalties actually did differ by region, economic status, and could be seen most prevalent in earlier generations of Japanese-Americans. Hayashi then discloses that these opposing view points resulted in some camps experiencing somewhat good relations between camp directors and the interned while other camp internees lived in constant fear of camp officials and to some degree vice versa, all depending on which group of white administrators ran each individual internment camp.

Chapter 3 focuses on the mandatory evacuation of Japanese-Americans under the cloak of "military necessity," which Hayashi claims was actually supported by the majority of Japanese because they feared they would be treated worse by an overzealous wartime population fueled by hysteria outside the walls of a government controlled camp rather than inside. At the time I was reading this assertion in Hayashi’s book I had never been introduced to this train of thought and found it very interesting. But even though Hayashi claims most Japanese-Americans were in favor of an internment, he also correctly explains that anxiety among camp administrators and unrest throughout the different sectors of the Japanese community over issues of loyalty and governance absolutely existed. The next two chapters talk about the troubles that surfaced in controlling the Japanese inside the various camps and also the resolutions set forth by the administration that proved to be successful. Evidence

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