East to America: A History of the Japanese in the United States

Robert A. Wilson, Bill Hosokawa, 1980

The book starts off with a little bit about how Japan was first opened to the outside world by Admiral Perry and others and then spends some chapters discussing Japanese immigration to the U.S. complete with charts of numbers of passports issued, what occupations they went into and information on even what specific areas they settled in.

Chapter 8 discusses the beginning of anti-Japanese hostility in the U.S., and chapter 9 examines American racism. Chapter 10 examines the Japanese in Hawaii and notes that it was a rather successful adjustment they made, being integrated into the overall society well, including positions of leadership. (This helped to set up a much less racist view of the Japanese in their midst for the white Hawaiians than the whites in California had of Japanese living in their midst, which all tied in to the evacuation of the Japanese Americans from the West Coast but not from Hawaii. The blacks in both places were still suffering segregation of their own.)

Chapter 11 deals with the Nisei and the Kibei, the JACL and also contains a very good selection of photographs. The next chapter gets into the beginning of the internment and looks at things from the JACL view where they say they had only three alternatives open to them; resist, threaten to resist or cooperate with the government. The government wasn't about to negotiate with them, and open resistance could have led, in their opinion, into even worse things happening to the Japanese Americans than internment. This is the first book I've seen that explained their position in this manner and it makes sense.

The next two chapters discuss the internment camps and the types of problems that developed in them, including the loyalty questionnaire and the issue of the draft, and then moves on in the following chapter into a discussion of the Nisei who volunteered (or not) for serving in the U.S. military.

Chapter 16 deals with the court cases launched over the internment issue.

The next chapter discusses the internees returning from the camps and brings up something very interesting about the California government. It tried a legal maneuver to basically extort money from the internees who wanted to buy back the land that belonged to them initially but that they had to sell, rent, etc, when they were taken off their land and put into the internment camps.

The rest of the book deals with other efforts to end the governmental-sponsored discrimination against the returning internees and the successes the Japanese-Americans have had since that time.

The book also includes two other sections of photographs and a number of appendices.

This is a very interesting book, especially for someone who wants to know more about the history of Japanese immigration, and it brings up some things that other books tend to overlook. A very good book.

Main Index
Japan main page
Japanese-American Internment Camps index page
Japan and World War II index page