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

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."

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

KING 5's Lori Matsukawa reports.



History in black and white: Japanese Internment 75 years ago


Historical photos of Minidoka internment camp


Warriors and resisters during the Japanese internment


Fighting for Redress


The Arts


Extended interviews:

Don Shimono on understanding his father's anger after the internment

Don Shimono was born at Camp Minidoka. He shares how pilgrimages to Minidoka has deepened his understanding of his father's anger and what he went through as an incarceree. KING


Kay Sakai Nakao recalls how her father loved America - even after internment

KING's Lori Matsukawa reports. KING


'Morning Service' by spoken word artist Troy Osaki 

"Morning Service" by spoken word artist and Seattle University law student Troy Osaki. His grandmother, Etsuko, was 11 when she was incarcerated at Minidoka concentration camp. He said it took him two years to write this poem. KING


Related stories and resources:

Community events remembering the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066

Resources and links on the Japanese American Incarceration

Why KING 5 is airing a series on the internment of Japanese Americans

The Sound Podcast: Host Ryan Takeo and Lori Matsukawa share their family connections to the camps

The story behind the story: A conversation with Lori Matsukawa and photojournalist Dave Wike

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

KING 5's Lori Matsukawa explains the definition of the camps used to house Japanese-Americans during World War II.


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