Sue Kunitomi Embrey: Concentration Camps, Not Relocation Centers

by Bruce Embrey

To download a copy of this paper, click on the image above.

The following paper, Concentration Camps, Not Relocation Centers, written by Sue Kunitomi Embrey, grew out of a panel discussion held at California State University, Fullerton, on March 25, 1976. It represents one of the earliest efforts of the Manzanar Committee to educate the broader public about the incarceration of 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry.

As its title succinctly states, it is an effort to clarify the nature of the War Relocation Authority camps where Americans of Japanese ancestry were unjustly imprisoned during World War II.

Despite being used in an official state plaque, despite being used by Presidents, the Attorney General of the United States, and numerous scholars, the use of concentration camp to describe these camps, rather than relocation centers, or other euphemistic terms, still generates considerable resistance, often times, from within the Nikkei community.

This debate rages on precisely because words matter. The terms one chooses to use to describe the incarceration and wholesale deprivation of the civil rights of the Nikkei community fundamentally impacts what political lessons one draws from this ugly chapter of American History.

Euphemistic language and misnomers distort history. By failing to capture accurately what occurred during World War II, the work to insure this never happens again will be all that much weaker.

We hope republishing this paper will contribute to a better understanding of what the Japanese Americans endured 68 years ago.

Bruce Embrey is co-chair of the Manzanar Committee.

The views expressed in this story are those of the author and are not necessarily those of the Manzanar Committee.

The PDF version of Concentration Camps, Not Relocation Centers, available for download above, requires Adobe Reader to view the file.

Related Stories:

Creative Commons License The Manzanar Committee’s Official Blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. You may copy, distribute and/or transmit any story or audio content published on this site under the terms of this license, but only if proper attribution is indicated. The full name of the author and a link back to the original article on this site are required. Photographs, graphic images, and other content not specified are subject to additional restrictions. Additional information is available at: Manzanar Committee Official Blog – Licensing and Copyright Information.

Manzanar Committee Comment Policies

9 Responses to Sue Kunitomi Embrey: Concentration Camps, Not Relocation Centers

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Sue Kunitomi Embrey: Concentration Camps, Not Relocations Centers « Manzanar Committee --

  2. Pingback: Grateful Crane’s Soji Kashiwagi Weighs In On Use Of “Concentration Camp” « Manzanar Committee

  3. Pingback: More From Okazaki On Use of “Concentration Camp;” Refutes Rafu Shimpo Columnist George Yoshinaga « Manzanar Committee

  4. Pingback: Manzanar Committee Member Joyce Okazaki: “Yes, It Was A Concentration Camp” « Manzanar Committee

  5. Pingback: Words Can Lie Or Clarify Criticizes Euphemistic Language Used To Describe WWII Camps Used To Imprison Japanese Americans « Manzanar Committee

  6. Pingback: Mako Nakagawa Delivers Keynote Address At 42nd Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage « Manzanar Committee

  7. Pingback: Cast in Bronze: Terminology Symposium in San Francisco, October 22, 2011 « Manzanar Committee

  8. Pingback: Euphemistic Terms Used To Describe WWII Incarceration Of Japanese Americans Targeted At JANM Event « Manzanar Committee

  9. Pingback: Manzanar Committee Urges Japanese American Citizens League To Ratify Power Of Words Handbook « Manzanar Committee

Please post your comment on this story below

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: