Pre-War Prejudice

It is difficult to understand the overwhelming response against Japanese Americans during World War II without first examining a larger pattern of discrimination extending prior to the War. The bulk of immigration from Japan occurred from 1885-1924. Over the course of the early 20th century, many Japanese immigrants (known as Issei) established themselves as farmers, fishermen, and business owners. Caught up in a larger tide of discrimination against people of both Chinese and Japanese ancestry, Issei were denied the opportunity to become naturalized citizens and eventually denied the ability to purchase land. Nativist groups interested in promoting mainly white protestant interests helped fuel the exclusionary policies and attitudes in the late 19th and early 20th century. Attitudes that placed Asian heritage at odds with American identity proved crucial in carrying out the mass removal of Japanese Americans from the West Coast during World War II.

For more information see the added resources section on pre-War prejudice.