World War 2
Japan in WW2
US in WW2
Japanese Internment Camps

How were conditions for Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War 2?

User Avatar
Wiki User
October 26, 2011 6:32PM

Most camps were very hard to live in. People had small houses that could have anywhere from 1 to 3 families living in them. Most camps had very little food that was given out to people in very small amounts for 48 cents per meal. Because of this, many people were malnourished.

When they were brought to the camps, they could only bring what they were wearing and what they could carry. Many lost possessions and many could not keep their homes or farms.

Compared to POW Treatment

Nobody was tortured in the US camps where Japanese people were held during the war. Nobody was beaten to death, nor were they forced to work as slave labour. Nobody was executed for being "lazy". Nobody went blind from vitamin deficiency, or lost a leg to gangrene.

The American, British, Canadian, Australian, and Indian soldiers who were prisoners of the Japanese government WERE beaten to death, and starved to death, and worked to death, and so were the civilian women and children that were also captured by the Japanese army. The difference in treatment was huge and the number of western POWS who died in Japanese camps was a disgrace.

And here is more input:

  • I don't recall ever hearing that anyone was close to starving in the "camps"; sounds like an exaggeration. However, these internment camps were surrounded by barbed-wire fences and guard towers. There were armed guards. The barracks were hastily-constructed tar-paper covered structures with multiple families assigned to live together with no privacy. Meals were eaten in mess halls. Toilet facilities were in a separate building, with no partitions between them. Yes, if you're going to compare prison camps, conditions for the Japanese-Americans during WWII were not as bad. They made the best of their forced situation by trying to create a sense of normalcy with sports and dances for the kids. But the American government had every reason to make apologies to the internees, many of whom were US citizens deprived of their legal rights. Many lost their homes and businesses. Higher education and career paths were interrupted or abandoned due to the circumstances. They were looked upon as traitors in their own country, where not even a single incident of treason was found to be committed by Japanese Americans.
  • 62% of the people held in the Japanese concentration camps were United States Citizens. They were not soldiers sent to our country to kill us unlike the people held in internment camps in Japan. You can try to deny this fact but they definitely weren't there to serve them milk and cookies.

    The United States government actions were un-American and more importantly unconstitutional, regardless of the ruling of Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black.

  • They internees did have small portions, but the only reason people died was of poor sanitation and lack of the proper nutrients in the food.
  • While the living conditions were austere, the Japanese Americans certainly were not treated inhumanely in respect to food. In fact they were allowed to eat in dining halls spread out within their blocks, and they were even allowed to utilize more than one dining facility if they desired. In respect to the above writers contention that 48 cents per meal was near starvation levels one needs to consider that in 1942 $19 per month was considered a pretty fair wage and that a good breakfast in a restaurant cost 35 cents. Every Japanese Internee was offered a job if they could work and room and board were not taken out of their wages. Every camp had a hospital which was on par with hospitals located in combat to soldiers and sailors, so the contention that internees expired due to lack of medical attention is also meritless. These facilities were so good in fact that local municipalities competed for their equipment at the end of the war. When one attempts to make a comparison with the conditions that Americans and other national lived under in both the German and Japanese POW camps abroad is not a feasable argument either and cheapens the suffering of the Holocaust by a wide margin.
  • There is always the condition of not being able to become a doctor, of not being able to fullfill your dreams. And once those camps were done, there were still the ramifications of being a Japanese American, of not having been trusted as loyal. The condition of the camps was still the condition of being trapped someplace, imprisoned without having comitted a crime. Whether other people suffered more or not, doesn't mean that it wasn't suffering to be ripped away from your friends and school and home. FDR had good reasons, that doesn't mean that it was fair to these Americans.
  • It is true that during the war, a number of Japanese-Americans could not get livesaving medical care because they were not transported to hospitals outside the camps. They could not visit their families in other camps, and had little or no contact with non-Japanese friends. Although the camps did serve to reduce bloodshed from racial incidents, the internees were essentially deprived of control over their own lives for up to 4 years. The wartime propaganda campaign deemed all Japanese to be not just un-American, but inhuman, and this was reinforced by wartime atrocities. However, as shown by the combat valor of Japanese-American soldiers, the families of these immigrants were just as loyal as German-Americans and Italian-Americans.