On Terminology

The difficulty of using accurate terminology related to the mass removal of Japanese Americans during World War II revolves around the tendency of the United States Government to use terms that minimize the severity of the actions taken against Japanese Americans.  Furthermore, decades of scholarship have entrenched terms that are not technically correct based on current understandings of this subject.  Because there is still debate over what should be the proper terminology regarding the exclusion of Japanese Americans during World War II, I have had made decisions that, while hopefully aiding clarity, may arouse questions regarding their technical accuracy. 

Throughout this exhibit, I refer to the nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans incarcerated under the authority of Executive Order 9066 as “internees.”  This term is based on the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund “Resolution on Terminology.”

I refer to the 10 facilities run by the Wartime Relocation Authority (WRA) as either “detention camps” or “Relocation Centers.”  These facilities held those incarcerated under Executive Order 9066.  Because Relocation Center is euphemistic, I use it sparingly primarily to distinguish between the large facilities run by the WRA from those run by the Department of Justice with the official designation of “Internment Camp.” In other sources, "Concentration Camp" is the preferred term and it is not uncommon for "Internment Camp" to be used as a blanket term, however, the use of internment in this manner is not quite accurate since it refers to actions taken specifically against foreign nationals.

For more on terminology see:

Civil Liberties Public Education Fund, "CLPEF Resolution Regarding Terminology," http://www.momomedia.com/CLPEF/backgrnd.html#Link%20to%20terminology (Accessed Feb 14, 2013).

Densho contributors, "Do Words Matter?: Euphemistic Terminology," http://encyclopedia.densho.org/terminology/ (Accessed Feb 18, 2013).