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Prisoners in Their Own Land: Remembering the internment of Japanese Americans 75 years later

<p>KING 5's Lori Matsukawa examines one of the dark chapters in U.S. history as Japanese Americans from the Pacific Northwest share their stories of being "prisoners in their own land."</p>

KING Staff

If you were given six days to pack one bag, what would you take? What would you leave behind?

That's what happened to Japanese Americans living on the West Coast during World War II.

Seventy-five years ago, two months after Imperial Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which forced approximately 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry into government internment camps for years. Ten camps were established in California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, and Arkansas. What he set in motion then would touch Japanese Americans for generations.

KING 5's Lori Matsukawa examines one of the dark chapters in U.S. history as Japanese Americans from the Pacific Northwest share their stories of being "Prisoners in Their Own Land."

Part 1: Life in the Camps

Part 2: Trials after the War

Part 3: Warriors and Resisters

Part 4: Fighting for Redress

Part 5: The Arts

Special Presentation: Return to Minidoka

INFOGRAPHIC: The internment of Japanese-Americans 75 years later

Galleries:

Extended interviews:

Related stories and resources:

Internment Camps vs. Concentration Camps
Some viewers may be wondering what to call these wartime camps. The words "internment camp" are considered imprecise by scholars, since those were used for holding dangerous aliens and prisoners of war. I use the words "concentration camp" in my reports because that's what the people I interviewed called them and, by definition, that's what they were, according to history website DENSHO: “Prison camps outside the normal criminal justice system, designated to confine civilians for military or political purposes on the basis of race and ethnicity." This is not meant to take away from what happened to Jews and others in Europe, who were imprisoned in "concentration camps," which some now acknowledge was a euphemism for Nazi "death camps." - Lori Matsukawa