California State University Japanese American Digitization Project: An Exhibit

Executive Order 9066

Suspicion: The shock and fear brought on by the Japanese Government’s attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 led the U.S. into World War II accompanied by years of fear and outrage among the U.S. population. This fear merged with Asian xenophobia resulting in President Roosevelt’s executive order. 

Executive Order 9066 authorized the War Relocation Authority to coordinate and oversee the removal of any and all persons from military areas on the Pacific Coast. “Any and all persons” were later specified, according to the "Civilian Exclusion Order", as all Japanese nationals and citizens of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast. This facilitated the removal of Japanese Americans to 16 temporary assembly centers. The Centers consisted of fairgrounds, racetracks and other public facilities in California, Oregon, Washington State, and Arizona. The Assembly Centers were temporary holding facilities until more permanent camps were constructed at remote inland areas. The Centers were administered by the U.S. Army's Wartime Civil Control Administration (WCCA).

The Japanese Americans were forced into the Assembly Centers behind fences and guarded by police in watchtowers. They were confined to horse stalls and other unsanitary areas that immediately resulted in a striking loss of privacy and freedom. Though newspapers were published and recreational events took place, the Centers were temporary and that state of flux resulted in additional stress for those uprooted citizens.

Image: Los Angeles, California Railroad Station, 1942 (SJS)


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