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Living Conditions of Japanese American Internment Camps

Page history last edited by Mickey 14 years, 2 months ago



After Pearl Harbor, American military forces sent Japanese into internment camps all across the US because they were afraid of Japanese Americans spying for Japan. The living conditions of Japanese American internment camps were very hard for the Japanese because of housing, food, and the daily experiences Japanese went through. Japanese citizens were give approximately 48 hours to evacuate their homes, and they were only allowed to take few possessions. About 120,000 Japanese were relocated to internment camps after Pearl Harbor. At the camps, sometimes entire families lived in small, one room cells or barracks. Also, meals were distributed three times a day in mess halls where portions were small and dull. Several people died in these camps due to stress and lack of medical care.




Housing conditions for Japanese Americans in internment camps were very different from the average home.  Japanese were housed in barracks; sometimes entire families live in one room cells (McGill). Internment camps were sometimes located in remote areas where weather conditions weren’t always favorable, such as Manzanar and Tulelake in California ("Relocation Camps"). Japanese also had to use communal areas for washing, laundry, and eating ("World War II-Japanese"). Mine Okubo describes the conditions of the camps, “The camps represented a prison: no freedom, no privacy, no ‘America’” (Okubo 2). Internment camps were also guarded by US military personnel (World War II-Japanese), and a barb wire perimeter (McGill).


Hospital at the Minidoka Internment Camp.         Japanese Americans on a bus on the way to an internment camp


Food in Japanese internment camps also added to the hardships of the Japanese. In internment camps, Japanese were fed three times a day (Kent). Meals were served in long mess halls, where bells would signal mealtimes (Kent). Food portions were small, food starchy, and dull (Kent). Most meals consisted of potatoes and bread ("Reloa). A doctor at Tanforan describes the eating habits of people in these camps, “There is no milk for anyone over 5 years of age… No meat at all until the 12th day when very small portions were served… Anyone doing heavy or outdoor work states they are not getting nearly enough to eat and they are hungry all the time, this includes the doctors” (Kent 52).

Japanese eating dinner at the Minidoka mess hall.



The work and daily activities of Japanese Americans in internment camps was attempted to copy the Japanese normal ways of life. The camps had school, medical care, camp newspapers, and sometimes musical entertainment (Kent). Also, internees were payed by the government to do work in the camps, $13, $16, or $19 per month depending on the amount of work done (Kent). Unfortunately, some internees died from inadequate medical care or the high level of emotional stress (World Ware II- Japanese).Even though camps tried to portray Japanese's average lifestyle, Japanese were only allowed to bring few possessions from home (World Ware II- Japanese).The daily activities in the internment camps were far from what the Japanese would have experienced in their own homes.




Japanese Working in a field at Minidoka.               Japanese Americans attending school at Minidoka



During the entire war, only ten people were convicted of spying for Japan, and they all were Caucasian.





Clearing a field at Minidoka, ca. 1943. 7 May 2010. flickr. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 May 2010. <http://www.flickr.com/‌photos/‌imlsdcc/‌4586969098/>.

Dinner in a Minidoka mess hall, ca. 1943. 7 May 2010. Flickr. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2010. <http://www.flickr.com/‌photos/‌imlsdcc/‌4586965284/>.

High school students in classroom at Minidoka, ca. 1943. 7 May 2010. Flickr. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 May 2010. <http://www.flickr.com/‌photos/‌imlsdcc/‌4586975750/>.

Hospital at Minidoka, June 1943. 7 May 2010. flickr. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 May 2010. <http://www.flickr.com/‌photos/‌imlsdcc/‌4586990824/>.

Japanese American Internment Camps. United Streaming, 2003. United Streaming. Web. 5 May 2010. <http://player.discoveryeducation.com/‌index.cfm?guidAssetId=9CA33ABC-605D-4B10-A121-E408661DD637&blnFromSearch=1&productcode=US>. 6

Japanese Americans in a Bus Being Taken to Internment Camp. 2006. Discovery Education. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 May 2010. <http://player.discoveryeducation.com/‌index.cfm?guidAssetId=CF4CE69B-9C9A-4B43-94E9-170D94CC3BDC&blnFromSearch=1&productcode=US>.

Kent, Deborah. The tragic history of the Japanese Internment Camps. New Jersey: n.p., 2008. Print. 5

McGill, Sarah Ann. “Internment of Japanese Americans.” Ebsco Host. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 May 2010. <http://web.ebscohost.com/‌ehost/‌detail?vid=5&hid=12&sid=5c756705-aeb2-4d7f-9c1b-04fb4ce78a9e%40sessionmgr12&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=mih&AN=17988081>. 1

“Minidoka Internment National Monument.” Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 May 2010. <http://gme.grolier.com/‌article?assetid=0194215-0>. 2

“Relocation Camps.” Relocation Camps. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 May 2010. <http://mcel.pacificu.edu/‌as/‌students/‌lwash/‌camps.html>. 3

World War II- Japanese American Experience. Windows Media Player, 2004. United Streaming. Web. 5 May 2010. <http://player.discoveryeducation.com/‌index.cfm?guidAssetId=9e862e31-19f6-480f-8727-6e4e0cfa5b33>. 7

“World War Two-Japanese Internment Camps in the USA.” History on the Net. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 May 2010. <http://www.historyonthenet.com/‌WW2/‌japan_interment_camps.htm>. 4



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Comments (4)

Sylvester said

at 9:21 am on May 12, 2010

I like the purple background color behind the text

Sylvester said

at 5:43 pm on May 17, 2010

I really like your titles!!

Mickey said

at 7:42 am on May 18, 2010

thanks! :]

Sylvester said

at 5:30 pm on May 19, 2010

dude this is awesome it looks fantastic and has really good info!!i love it! =)

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