CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER
CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER

How a Segregated Regiment of Japanese Americans Became One of WWII’s Most Decorated

The About-Face Permitting Japanese Americans to Enlist Provoked Dissent, Anger—and the Remarkable 442nd Regiment

President Harry S. Truman reviews the Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Washington, D.C. on July 15, 1946. Photo by Abby Rowe/National Archives and Records Administration.

In January 1943, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his War Department abruptly reversed course by allowing Japanese Americans to enlist in the U.S. Army in the fight against Germany and Japan.

This was not a foregone conclusion: The draconian mass removal and incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans had been justified as a military necessity—and continued to be enforced. Two-thirds of those incarcerated were American-born Nisei, second-generation citizens; one-third were Issei, Japan-born immigrants, prohibited by law from applying for naturalization.

In the event of an invasion by Japan, the argument …

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