ジョナサン・バン・ハーメルン

(Jonathan van Harmelen)

Jonathan van Harmelen is currently a PhD student in history at UC Santa Cruz specializing in the history of Japanese-American incarceration. He holds a BA in history and French from Pomona College, and has completed an MA from Georgetown University. From 2015 - 2018, he previously worked for the National Museum of American History as an intern and researcher. He can be reached at jvanharm@ucsc.edu.

Updated February 2020

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Hung Wai Ching: The Founding of the Varsity Victory Volunteers and relations between Chinese and Japanese Americans

The study of relations between Chinese and Japanese Americans during WWII is a small yet growing field. Although both immigrant communities shared experiences of racial discrimination, tensions between Chinese and Japanese immigrant communities increased drastically following the invasions of Manchuria and China. Following Pearl Harbor, anti-Japanese sentiment forced Chinese Americans to distinguish themselves and take a position against their neighbors. Yet as historian Greg Robinson notes in his column for Discover Nikkei, a number of Chinese Americans stood as advocates for the Japanese American community or, in cases of marriage, were separated from their spouses by mass removal.

One such ...

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Eugene Rostow’s Japanese American articles: A Reconsideration - Part 2

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Eugene Rostow’s twin articles appeared in late summer 1945. The overall thesis of both pieces was that the indefinite “internment” of West Coast Japanese Americans under prison conditions, and the severe property losses they had sustained, had been a grave injustice - “the worst blow our liberties have sustained in many years.”1 Worse, by upholding the government’s actions in the “Japanese American cases,” the Supreme Court had converted a “wartime folly” into permanent legal doctrine.2

Rostow asserted that in the Supreme Court cases, the government had not offered any proof of military necessity that ...

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Eugene Rostow’s Japanese American articles: A Reconsideration - Part 1

In the annals of civil rights, a special place should be reserved for Eugene Rostow. In 1945, even as Japanese Americans remained confined in camps by official order, Rostow, then a young law professor at Yale University, published a pair of articles that criticized their wartime treatment. In his first article, “The Japanese-American Cases - A Disaster,” published in the Yale Law Journal in mid-1945, Rostow presented a powerfully-reasoned critique of removal and incarceration as America’s “worst wartime mistake,” and refuted the official justifications offered. He followed this with an article in the popular magazine Harper’s in September 1945 ...

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Dentistry in Camp

The late Hiroshi Kashiwagi’s short play Laughter and False Teeth remains a staple of Asian American Theatre. In an interview with Emiko Omori in her landmark film Rabbit in the Moon, Kashiwagi explained the real-life background of the piece in the experience of his mother at the time of mass removal:

“she had to go to camp without teeth. And she was only, as I say, about forty. And she had to go like this all the time. [Covers mouth with hand] And it must have been miserable for her. God, she never got over this hiding her mouth ...

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Findings from a small town archive

If you go to the heart of downtown Arroyo Grande, you will find tucked away in a small house the South County Historical Society. Stored in the house are thousands of documents and other artifacts chronicling the town’s century-and-a-half existence and the lives of its inhabitants. For instance, among the documents in the house is a pair of check registers belonging to the former Chief of Police, Fred Norton. Yet rather than being a record of payments, however, each page in these ledgers has scribbled on it in pencil the name of a Japanese American household in Arroyo Grande ...

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