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Japanese American

A Japanese American is a person of Japanese ancestry or origin who was either born in or is an immigrant to the United States.

Table of contents
1 Immigration
2 Internment
3 Farming
4 Soldiers
5 Japanese Americans today
6 See also
7 External Links


People from Japan began migrating to the U.S. in significant numbers following the political, cultural, and social changes stemming from the 1868 Meiji Restoration. Particularly after the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, Japanese immigrants were sought by industrialists to replace the Chinese immigrants. In 1907, the "Gentlemen's Agreement" between the governments of Japan and the U.S. ended immigration of Japanese workers (i.e., men), but permitted the immigration of spouses of Japanese immigrants already in the U.S. The Immigration Act of 1924 banned the immigration of all but a token few Japanese.

The ban on immigration produced unusually well-defined generational groups within the Japanese American community. Initially, there was an immigrant generation, the Issei, and their U.S.-born children, the Nisei. The Issei were exclusively those who had immigrated before 1924. Because no new immigrants were permitted, all Japanese Americans born after 1924 were--by definition--born in the U.S. This generation, the Nisei, became a distinct cohort from the Issei generation in terms of age, citizenship, and language ability, in addition to the usual generational differences. Institutional and interpersonal racism led many of the Nisei to marry other Nisei, resulting in a third distinct generation of Japanese Americans, the Sansei. Significant Japanese immigration did not occur until the Immigration Act of 1965 ended 40 years of bans against immigration from Japan and other countries.

The Naturalization Act of 1790 restricted naturalized U.S. citizenship to "free white persons," which excluded the Issei from citizenship. As a result, the Issei were unable to vote, and faced additional restrictions such as the inability to own land under many state laws.

Japanese Americans were parties in two important Supreme Court decisions, Ozawa v. United States (1922) and Korematsu v. United States (1943). Korematsu is the origin of the "strict scrutiny" standard, which is applied, with great controversy, in government considerations of race since the 1989 Adarand decision.


Main article: Japanese-American internment

The Internment during World War II, is the best known example of Japanese Americans in U.S. history. However, the history of Japanese Americans should not be reduced to the internment experience.


Japanese Americans have made significant contributions to the agriculture in the western United States, particularly in California and Hawaii. Nineteenth century Japanese immigrants introduced sophisticated irrigation methods that enabled cultivation of fruits, vegetables, and flowers on previously marginal lands. While the immigrants prospered in the early 20th century, many lost their farms during the internment, although Japanese Americans remain involved in these industries today, particularly in southern California.

Detainees irrigated and cultivated lands nearby the World War II internment camps, which were located in desloate spots such as Poston, in the Arizona desert, and Tule Lake, California, at a dry mountain lake bed. These farm lands remain productive today.


The 442nd Regimental Combat Team/100th Artillery Battalion is the most highly decorated unit in U.S. military history. Composed of Japanese Americans, the 442nd/100th fought valiantly in the European Theater even as many of their families remained in the detention camps stateside. The 100th was one of the first units to liberate the Nazi extermination camp at Dachau. Hawaii Senator Daniel K. Inouye is a veteran of the 442nd.

Japanese Americans today

Most Japanese Americans in the United States reside in California and Hawaii. Smaller communities exist in New York City, Chicago, Illinois, Houston, Texas, and other large U.S. cities.

See also

External Links