|(Photo Courtesy of Ellen Kubokawa)
In December 1944, the government allowed Japanese evacuees to begin returning to the west coast. The following August, World War II officially ended with the surrender of Japan. In March 1946, the last internment camp closed in California. Many Japanese had no homes to return to, no jobs waiting for them, and no money to start over with.
In addition, anti-Asian discrimination was still a reality. Some Issei and Nisei had difficulties moving into certain areas of towns, or obtaining certain jobs. Though the Walter-McCarran Act allowed Issei to become citizens in 1952, it was not until the 1980s that an official presidential apology was issued and redress was given to those who had been affected by internment.
Today, the experiences of Nisei during World War II are not irrelevant. Their stories reflect the courage of individuals who survived and adapted to an extreme situation. However, their stories also hold a warning. Under what circumstances can the Constitution—and the civil rights it ensures for all citizens—become compromised? How can we, as American citizens, remain vigilant about protecting the rights we assume will always shield us from discrimination?