Impact of World War II on Asian Americans

By the onset of 1940, people from various racial and ethnic groups had settled in the United States, particularly in California. The 1940 US census reported a number of Asian groups in the United States including Filipinos and Japanese. However, the beginning of World War II had substantial impacts on these Asian American communities by disrupting their already established lives. The Japanese Americans were most affected following WW2 (Espana-Maram, 2006). Before the onset of WW2, Japanese Americans has already established themselves in various industries linked to selling and growing flowers and produce; most of them were in the middle class social status.

However, after the Attack on Pearl Harbor, the US government issued Executive Order 9066, which designated military zones in the United States aimed at excluding and mass relocation and incarceration of about 110,000 Japanese Americans. The outcome of this move was that most Japanese Americans abandoned their businesses, homes and farms and had to move to relocation centers whereas some were repatriated back to Japan. The WW2 had created a stigma where the Japanese Americans were labeled as enemies of the US because of their race; this was evident even in the second-generation Japanese Americans following the WW2 (Espana-Maram, 2006). Another group of Asian Americans significantly affected by WW2 included the Filipinos in Los Angeles. During the WW2, about 250,000 Filipinos enrolled in the United States military to fight in the WW2. However, after the WW2, the Recission Act of 1946 was signed by President Truman, which was aimed at deleting the service records of Filipinos and subsequently denying the Filipinos their military rights.

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At present, many Filipino veterans in California are living in near poverty. Despite the fact that the lives of Filipinos may have improved after their service in WW2, most of them continued to take part in migrant labor. Nevertheless, several Filipinos unionized after the WW2 and were actively involved in the United Farm Workers. The Korean Americans residing in Hawaii were also affected by the onset of WW2 (Espana-Maram, 2006). Korean Americans were candid critics of Japan and did not expect to be victims of the security measures that the US took against the Japanese Americans.

However, the US military, through Lieutenant General Walter C. Short, who was the commander of the Army in Hawaii, formed the martial law that imposed substantial deprivations and restrictions for all the people of Hawaii. The Martial law was established on accounts that Hawaii hosted a population of Japanese ancestry. In this regard, Hawaii, including the Korean Americans, was under the rule of the military, which controlled everything including traffic regulations, garbage collection, and interisland movement among others (Pai, 1989). The experience of Koreans in Hawaii was worsened basing on the fact that the military perceived Koreans as subjects of Japan; as a result, they were bound to face the same restrictions and deprivations.