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Roger Daniels Questions

Student: Based on your knowledge of Japanese Internment, do you think that it was necessary in order to keep the country safe?
Roger Daniels: No, I think that it was totally unnecessary. That is not just my opinion but also that of the presidential Commission on the Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) in 1983 report, PERSONAL JUSTICE DENIED.

Student: Were there any alternatives to internment discussed at the time?
Roger Daniels: Oh, yes. The government considered a number of lesser steps, that would have inconvenienced some people by keeping them out of certain areas but it would have left them free.

Student: Do you think that it's possible for another such internment to ever happen again in the future?
Roger Daniels: Given the correct circumstances — the CWRIC spoke of "war hysteria, racism, and a failure of political leadership" — I am afraid that it could happen again — and so do large numbers of
Japanese Americans.

Student: Have you ever spoken directly with survivors of this internment and if so do they hold hostility against the United States government, or do they blame certain people for the decisions that were made?
Roger Daniels: I have spoken, over the years, with more than a thousand survivors. Most are not bitter. However, just after the war, about 5,000 Japanese Americans, some of them born here, were so disillusioned that they asked to be sent to Japan and the government sent them there.

Student: Why did you study the Japanese American plight during WWII?
Roger Daniels: That is a complicated question. I was not from California, but I did my graduate work at UCLA. When I said that I wanted to study how some people were deprived of their civil rights — I was thinking mainly of African Americans — my professor said that there was little historical material available there about African Americans — this was 1957 — but that there was a lot about Chinese and Japanese Americans. After I had studied a little of their history I became quite interested in it and, nearly half a century later, I am still studying it.

Student: Where would be a good place to start researching Japanese Internment camps?
Roger Daniels: There is a great collection of documents on the Internet that will give you plenty of information online at the Truman Presidential Museum and Library. Check it out at
Good luck.

Student: Why do some people say that the relocation of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans "was neither a mistake nor an error in judgment nor an inadvertence"?
Roger Daniels: It is difficult to know why some people say what they say. I agree with the Presidential
Commission or the Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians which argued in 1983 that
" the broad historical causes ... were race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political; leadership."

Student: Your bio says that you were involved in the presidential Commission on the Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians — what exactly does that mean? What did you do? Are you still involved politically?
Roger Daniels: The Commission was established by an act of Congress to determine whether any "wrong" was done to Japanese Americans because of Executive Order 9066 and, if so, to make recommendations
for any possible apology. As a consultant I furnished historical information to the Commissioners, as did the staff of the Commission.
It eventually recommended a formal apology and a $20,000 tax-free payment to each survivor, which Congress eventually voted and President Reagan signed into law in 1988. Payments were made to more than 80,000 survivors beginning in 1990.

Student: What is your job?
Roger Daniels: I teach history at the University of Cincinnati. I also consult for museums, television programs, and public bodies such as the National Park Service.