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Reviewed by:
  • Democratizing the Enemy: The Japanese American Internment
  • Kelli Y. Nakamura
Democratizing the Enemy: The Japanese American Internment. By Brian Masaru Hayashi. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2004. 328 pp. $35.00 (cloth).

Numerous scholars have explored the subject of Japanese internment during World War II, and their explanations for internment have largely focused on domestic factors. Most have neglected the wider, global context that influenced the decision makers and ultimately the internees as well. In this detailed and extensively researched work, Hayashi reexamines Japanese internment by relying on previously unreleased documents and recently declassified material and analyzes both the domestic and international considerations that shaped the decision to incarcerate Japanese in the United States. In addition, Hayashi investigates the significance of internment not just as it affected Japanese Americans but also as it influenced domestic issues such as water rights and land development. Moreover, he discusses how U.S. officials applied the "lessons learned" in educating Japanese Americans in democracy to other peoples abroad. Hayashi brings a fresh perspective to Japanese American internment in an original study that bridges national and international histories to suggest the global relevance of internment.

Hayashi's book encompasses seven chapters that detail the history and the far-reaching consequences of internment. In the first chapter, Hayashi delves into the prewar background of the camp administrators, social scientists, federal government officials, and military officers who administered the internment camps of Manzanar, Poston, and Topaz. Hayashi distinguishes among these four groups and asserts that the latter two associated "race" with "culture" and equated "Japanese" with "Japanese Americans." Thus, they assumed that Japanese loyalties lay with Japan and, as a result, favored their mass removal from American society. Conversely, camp administrators and social scientists believed "loyalty" came from "culture;" they also believed that the Japanese, particularly those born in America, had immersed themselves in American [End Page 244] culture. They therefore confidently asserted that the internees were loyal to the United States. These clear divisions did not exist within the Japanese community itself, and in chapter 2, Hayashi shows how, prior to the war, Japanese ideas of governance and Japanese loyalties differed by prefecture, class, and even generation. These contrary notions about authority and classification among Caucasians and Japanese resulted in turmoil and peace within the camps, depending on which group of white administrators assumed power in a camp.

Chapter 3 focuses on the forced removal and internment of Japanese under the guise of "military necessity," which was, surprisingly, supported by the majority of Japanese, who feared worse treatment during wartime hysteria. However, tensions between different segments within the Japanese community and among camp administrators over issues of loyalty and governance did not diminish. Chapters 4 and 5 address these problems that arose in governing the Japanese within the camps as well as the successful solutions found that ushered in a "quiet period," when internees and administrators accepted new rules of governance.

Chapter 6 examines the end of the mass removal policy in December 1944, which resulted in a reduction of camp rules but also increased administrative pressure for relocation. During this time internees who were loyal to Japan shifted their support to the United States in light of the decline of the Japanese empire.

The last chapter, and the epilogue in particular, proved to be the most intriguing part of Hayashi's analysis, as he demonstrates how internment affected a wide range of peoples and a vast geographic expanse. While some individuals profited from the internment of Japanese Americans, Hayashi likewise points out how the water and land development associated with the camps often negatively impacted those residing within the immediate vicinity of the camps, including Native Americans. Internment experiences transformed some camp governors, who went on to apply the lessons of relocation to areas as diverse as Paraguay and Iran. Hayashi underscores as well how Japanese Americans' lives, along with their relationship to Japan, were fundamentally altered, as many severed commercial and cultural ties with Japan. Relocation later shaped Japanese American demands for reparation from the U.S. government as the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) and "progressives" in the Japanese community carefully censored images that could suggest Japanese disloyalty. They also...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-8050
Print ISSN
1045-6007
Pages
pp. 244-246
Launched on MUSE
2005-11-21
Open Access
No
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