Thursday: St. Louis became a place of refuge for some Japanese Americans in the 1940s


This interview will be on “St. Louis on the Air” at noon on Thursday. This story will be updated after the show. You can Listen live.

The early 1940s marked the height of anti-Asian sentiment in the United States – especially towards Japanese Americans. Prior to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and WWII, federal agencies were already monitoring the community closely.

But the events of December 7, 1941 led to the detention of approximately 112,000 people of Japanese descent, of which approximately 75,000 were US citizens. Because President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, they were placed in internment camps against their will in Arkansas, Arizona, California, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado.

The executive order authorized detention without evidence or trial, and was based on the damaging assumption that Japanese Americans living in the United States were internal ties to Japan, intended to cause harm.

People inside and outside the US government knew it was wrong. And there was some vocal opposition.

“But those voices were muffled,” said Mark Sundlov, executive director of the Soldiers Museum Military Museum in downtown St. Louis.

An in-depth look at this history is now on display at the museum as part of the ongoing Smithsonian traveling exhibit “Righting a mistake: Japanese Americans and World War II. “

Sundlov will join on Thursday Saint Louis on the air to explore the themes of the exhibition and highlight local ties to this national history.

Afterwards, host Sarah Fenske will also speak with Japanese-American composer Kashi Bashi about his multimedia musical piece “Improvisations on EO9066”. He explores Japanese internment during WWII, and will be performed by the Orchester symphonique de Saint-Louis September 17th.

Associated event
What: “Righting a mistake: Japanese Americans and World War II
When: now until October 3, 2021
Where: Soldiers Memorial Military Museum (1315 Chestnut St, St. Louis, MO 63103)

What do you think of this period in the history of the United States? Tweet us (@STlonAir), send an email to [email protected] or share your impressions via our Saint Louis on the air Facebook group, and help inform our coverage.

Saint Louis on the air”Brings you the stories of Saint-Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah fenske and produced by Alex heuer, Emily woodbury, Evie hemphill and Lara hamdan. The sound engineer is Aaron Doerr.



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