The Experience

History:: Experience:: Redress Act

Robert Matsui and his family were interned at Tule Lake in Northern California. It was one of the most infamous of internment camps because prisoners there frequently held demonstrations and strikes demanding their rights under the U.S. Constitution. As a result, it was made a “segregation camp” where all the troublesome internees from the other camps were sent. Tule Lake held at most 18,789, and was one of the last camps to close on March 20, 1946. Survivors of these camps suffer from both physical and mental pain.

"My parents' citizenship and loyalty suddenly meant nothing."- Robert Matsui

Most internees were second and third generation American citizens who were loyal to America. But their loyalty were unjustly questioned as they were forced to abandon their homes into internment camps after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. They were not told of their crime nor given a speedy trial by jury. In the camps, their Shinto religion was prohibited. But moreover, they were prohibited from using the Japanese language at public meetings. The Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians states that “Evacuees feared and resented the changes forced by life in the centers, particularly the breakdown of family authority...Children unsettlingly found their parents as helpless as they."

Aside from mental destruction, many internees were physically abused in these camps as well. In addition, hospital staffs were understaffed, medical care poor, and healthy food was scarce. In general, few internees escaped from living in horrible and fearful conditions. Again from the Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, innocent and mentally challenged evacuees were said to have been shot by guards. The living conditions in the internment camps were just unacceptable and inappropriate.