Yes, over 120,000 Japanese Americans—around 90% of all Japanese Americans living in the continental U.S.—were held in American concentration camps. The prison camps were located in seven U.S. States: Jerome Incarceration Camp (AR), Rohwer Incarceration Camp (AR) Poston Incarceration Camp (AZ), Gila River Incarceration Camp (AZ), Tule Lake Incarceration Camp (CA), Manzanar Incarceration Camp (CA), Granada (Amache) Incarceration Camp (CO), Minidoka Incarceration Camp (ID), Topaz Incarceration Camp (UT), and Heart Mountain Incarceration Camp (WY).
The climax of nearly fifty years of anti-Japanese bias, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 (issued on February 19, 1942), authorized the forced removal and mass incarceration. Throughout the spring and summer of 1942, the army systematically removed Japanese Americans living in California and most of the states of Washington, Oregon, and Arizona from their homes and livelihoods. Nearly two-thirds of those imprisoned were native-born U.S. citizens and about a third were children. Japanese Americans were stripped of their constitutional rights: there were no charges and no trials.
Yes, George Takei and his family were incarcerated.
George Hosato Takei was born in Los Angeles on April 20, 1937, to a Japanese immigrant father and an American born but Japanese educated mother. With the outbreak of World War II, George, his parents and two younger siblings were among the Japanese Americans forcibly removed from the West Coast. He spent much of his childhood in the Rohwer, Arkansas and Tule Lake, California concentration camps. At war’s end, the family returned to Los Angeles.
Video (16 min): TED TALK – George Takei: Why I love a country that once betrayed me
Video (3 min): PBS – PIONEERS OF TELEVISION | George Takei’s life in an internment camp
Allegiance, as a historical drama, blends fact and fiction: the story follows a fictional Japanese American family as they navigate true historical events.
Most of the story is true to historical fact, however the invention of fictional characters and story moments utilize artistic license for dramatic effect.
Largely, yes, the camp life depicted in Allegiance is accurate. Many of the events dramatized in the show took place in Heart Mountain Concentration Camp, like the movement of resistance by the Fair Play Committee led by Frank Emi.
In some instances, the show dramatizes events as having occurred at Heart Mountain when historically they occurred elsewhere: for instance, the song Get in the Game was inspired by Kenichi Zenimura, who led his community with his passion for baseball in the Gila River concentration camp in Arizona. In other instances, historical fact and historical fiction are blended into story moments: for example, historical records do not indicate camp staff was shot or killed, however violence and fatal shootings did occur in the camps. As a piece of historical fiction, Allegiance sets fictional characters, dialogue, and story against a true historical backdrop.
Online article: http://encyclopedia.densho.org/Heart_Mountain
Online article: http://encyclopedia.densho.org/Heart_Mountain_Fair_Play_Committee
Online article: http://www.densho.org/american-concentration-camps
“Oral History” video (3 min): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaceJUjaB4I
“Oral History” video (2 min): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsgMPUj5VZk
Yes, Mike Masaoka (1915–91) was a real historical figure.
Masaoka was the executive secretary (and the only paid staff person) of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) during World War II. Masaoka and the JACL went on record as opposing the mass removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans, though they also advocated a policy of full cooperation with governmental orders—engaging in efforts to “prove” the patriotism of Japanese Americans—such as advocating for the opportunity to join the U.S. armed forces, and of discouraging dissent.
Such a stance was of course controversial. The JACL was limited to American born U.S. citizens, and many immigrant leaders accused the JACL of cozying up to government officials in an effort to secure their own power. Masaoka’s brash personal style—he was born and raised in Utah largely away from other Japanese Americans and, being outside of the restricted area, did not go to a concentration camp himself—also rubbed many Japanese Americans the wrong way. He had both many admirers and detractors during and after the war years.
No, Sam Kimura is a fictional character.
He is based on the experiences of several Japanese Americans including George Takei; George’s father, Norman Takei; and Ben Kuroki, a decorated World War II tail gunner in the Army Air Force who was perhaps the most famous Japanese American at war’s end. Sam is also based on the many personal accounts of Japanese Americans incarcerated during the war and who later served in the U.S. armed forces.
“Oral History” video (2 min): http://encyclopedia.densho.org/sources/en-denshovh-kben_g-01-0011-1
“Oral History” video (1 min): http://encyclopedia.densho.org/sources/en-denshovh-kben_g-01-0009-1
Yes, everyone in a camp over the age of 17 was required to sign what was informally known as the “Loyalty Questionnaire” in the early months of 1943.
The “Loyalty Questionnaire” had two functions: to aid the War Department in identifying Japanese Americans who could become part of the newly formed Japanese American combat unit, and to help the War Relocation Authority (the federal agency that administered the concentration camps) separate the “loyal” from the “disloyal” people. “Loyal” people were encouraged to leave the camps for “resettlement” in parts of the country other than the still off-limits West Coast; “disloyal” people were segregated in a higher security prison camp. Both the wording of the questionnaire and the WRA’s implementation of it were clumsy, causing unrest and bitterness.
Online article: http://encyclopedia.densho.org/Loyalty_questionnaire/
“Oral History” video (1 min): Making the Decision to Resist the Draft
“Oral History” video (2 min): The So-Called “Loyalty Questionnaire” and Draft Resistance
Yes, The 442nd Regimental Combat Team was a segregated Japanese American unit in the U.S. Army formed in 1943, when the federal government lifted restrictions banning Japanese Americans from enlisting in the armed forces.
The 442nd absorbed the 100th Infantry Battalion, an earlier segregated unit comprised of Japanese Americans from Hawai’i who had been in the army prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. The 442nd saw combat in several major campaigns in Europe and became one of the most decorated units of its size and length of service in U.S. military history.
Yes, nearly 300 incarcerated Japanese Americans resisted the draft, including 63 “resisters of conscience” in the Heart Mountain Concentration Camp who became known as the Fair Play Committee.
Draft resisters came from eight of the ten War Relocation Authority Camps, with the largest numbers coming from Poston and Heart Mountain. The most well-organized and well-known group of resisters was called the Fair Play Committee in the Heart Mountain Camp. This group of 63 “resisters of conscience” circulated leaflets and refused to undergo physical examinations. Consequently, they were arrested, charged with willful evasion of the draft, tried, convicted, and sentenced to three years in federal prison. In December of 1947, President Harry S. Truman granted the convicted members of the Fair Play Committee a full pardon, but for decades after the war the draft resisters were shunned and criticized by many members of the Japanese American community. In 2000, the Japanese American Citizens League adopted—by a sharply divided vote—a resolution of apology to the resisters for decades of exclusion and criticism.
Online article: Draft Resistance
Online article: JACL Apology to Draft Resisters
“Oral History” video (3 min): The Trial of the Heart Mountain Resisters
“Oral History” video (2 min): Deciding to Resist the Draft