Japanese American Recounts Time in Internment Camp

CHICAGO, IL (January 24, 2017) – Minoru Imamura, a 91-year-old resident of Covenant Village of Northbrook, says his family’s life was shattered when they were forced to live in a U.S.  internment camp for Japanese Americans during WW II.

Imamura’s story was featured last night during a segment on Chicago Tonight, a local PBS news program. He is part of a project by the Chicago History Museum called “Facing Freedom.”

The segment also highlighted a new book of historic photographs called Un-American: The Incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.

More than 100,000 Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps in 1942 out of fear that they might be spies or otherwise help the enemy.

Imamura, who was a high school sophomore when his family was relocated from their farm south of Los Angeles, California, recalled filling out a questionnaire so that officials could determine whether he would be allowed to live in the camps or sent to prison.

Ironically, Imamura was drafted into the Army. He served in Europe with the highly decorated 442nd Regiment, which was made up primarily of Japanese Americans.

Like most other Japanese, Imamura’s family was not allowed to reclaim their farm. His family then moved to Chicago. Despite his ordeal, Imamura said he loves America. “There is no country like the USA,” he said.

Covenant Village is operated by Covenant Retirement Communities.


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About the Author

Stan Friedman

Stan Friedman is the news and online editor for the Covenant Companion and is grateful for the opportunity to serve in a job that combines his newspaper and pastoral ministry experience. He has been to 15 Bruce Springsteen concerts in four cities and listened to “Thunder Road” an average of at least once a day for 41 years.

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  1. A remarkable personal story in the midst of this tragic blight in our nation’s history. The phrase “Never Again!” comes to mind, just as it is regarding the Holocaust. It was painful to hear that the Imamuras could never reclaim their farm. What happened with this?

    I can say that the members of the Japanese colony near where I live in Hilmar, CA had their farms cared for when they were sent off to the camps by their Caucasian neighbors – and their farms were returned to them following the war.

    1. When I served in Kingsburg, California, I learned of families that had cared for the farms of Japanese Americans who were able to get their land back. But that didn’t happen for many families.- Stan

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