Most of the Japanese immigrants in the U.S. had come from the countryside of Japan, beginning in the late 19th century. Most owned farms or opened small businesses.Members of the Japanese American community were trying to establish their loyalty by becoming air raid wardens or joining the army. But it did not deter President Roosevelt. Military zones were created in California, Washington, and Oregon—states with the largest population of Japanese Americans—and Roosevelt’s executive order commanded the relocation of Americans of Japanese ancestry.The method by which Japanese Americans were forced into these camps were harsh and brutally unfair. Families had no more than six days in which to dispose of nearly all their possessions, packing only “that which can be carried by the family or the individual.”
This was defined as bedding, toilet articles, clothing, and eating utensils. Businesses had to be sold, forcing huge losses, and houses abandoned.Takei went with his family to a camp established for Japanese Americans in the swamps of Arkansas at the age of five, and he did not leave until he was eight. At first his father told him the family was going on a vacation. “ We adjusted to lining up three times a day to eat lousy food in a noisy mess hall,” he said.Initially the Japanese American families reported to centers, which had until very recently served as fairgrounds and racetracks, with buildings not meant for human habitation. Families, including young children, the disabled, and the elderly, slept in horse stall or cow sheds reeking of manure.
Actor and activist George Takei, a series regular and consultant on The Terror, has given interviews about his family’s experience and helped to educate about the reality of the internment camps. Takei, best known for his role as Sulu on Star Trek, was born in Los Angeles to parents also born in California. “We were Americans—we were citizens of this country,” Takei said to Democracy Now. “We had nothing to do with the war. We simply happened to look like the people that bombed Pearl Harbor. But without charges, without trial, without due process—the fundamental pillar of our justice system—we were summarily rounded up, all Japanese Americans on the West Coast