Sins of Omission

American MAGIC and Japanese-American Spies

The competition for victim status is fierce in today’s America.  Considering their disproportionate degree of success here in the United States, it is ironic that, for the last several decades, Japanese-Americans have been engaged in that competition.  The relocation camps of World War II are now called “concentration camps,” relocation itself is referred to as “internment,” and the evacuation and relocation of Pacific Coast Japanese is claimed to have been done only for “racist” reasons.  Since President Franklin D. Roosevelt was ultimately responsible for the program, conservatives and libertarians would love to find him guilty of committing great transgressions against the resident Japanese without good cause.  Such, however, was not the case.

When the Japanese perpetrated their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, there were some 112,000 Japanese living on the Pacific Coast, largely in California.  About 40 percent were resident aliens; the remainder having been born in the United States, were citizens.  That only tells part of the story, however.  The citizens were mostly children or teenagers; when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, their parents automatically became enemy aliens.  Moreover, the Japanese emperor claimed all Japanese born overseas as subjects, and the resident Japanese regularly had their children’s names inscribed on the scrolls of their...

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