Relocated Residents or Prisoners?
What words accurately describe the experience of persons of Japanese descent during World War II? Were Japanese Americans evacuated and relocated and housed in protective custody, or forcibly removed from their homes and stripped of their freedom as prisoners in American-style gulags?
To inform site visitors and promote understanding of the way language has been used to represent, or misrepresent, the wartime experience of Japanese Americans, we have included a “virtual library” of articles and papers on the topic.
Several of these articles are written by second-generation American-born Japanese Americans, who, as young adults, were incarcerated during WWII. Their writings are offered to provide greater insight into that lived experience and how it shaped their views on the language being used to describe their experience.
Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga, Words Can Lie or Clarify (revised) (pdf)>
Mako Nakagawa, The Power of Words (pdf)>
James Hirabayashi, “Concentration Camp” or “Relocation Center,” What’s in a Name? (pdf)>
Raymond Okamura, The American Concentration Camps, a Cover-up Through Euphemistic Terminology (pdf)>
Roger Daniels, Words Do Matter: A Note on Inappropriate Terminology and the Incarceration of Japanese Americans (pdf)>
JACL National Resolution on Terminology (pdf)>
Sue Kunitomi Embrey, Concentration Camps, Not Relocation Centers (pdf)>
Links to more websites discussing this issue:
Lost and Found: Reclaiming the Japanese American Incarceration, by Karen L. Ishizuka>
Civil Liberties Public Education Fund Resolution Regarding Terminology>
Last updated: August 20, 2022