When World War II began, Americans and immigrants of Japanese descent found that the discrimination and prejudice that they had long experienced were escalated with hatred toward them being exhibited on every front. Immediately after the Imperial Navy of Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, leaders from within the Japanese and Japanese American communities were arrested by the FBI. It was a time of great uncertainty and fear.
Then Executive Order 9066 was issued and signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942. This gave authority to the military commanders in certain areas to remove any persons from their homes. Although the order could have been used against others, it was only enacted with the people of Japanese heritage living on the West Coast of the United States. It was not used in Hawaii.
People were removed from their homes with little notice and taken to temporary assembly centers where they were housed at racetracks or fairgrounds. Most lived in horse stalls recently vacated by the previous occupants. Then ten camps were built in remote and desolate areas of the United States. The people were taken by train to those locations, where most were required to live as prisoners until the war ended in 1945.
At the end of the war, the people were released from the camps. Most were given a token amount of $25 plus a train ride or bus fare to the place of their choosing. Many tried to return to their former homes in California, Washington, or Oregon. It was extremely difficult for them to start over basically with nothing.
The story of one such family who tried to return to their former home in California is told in a film named, Tadaima The Movie. It premiered at the CAAMFest 2015 in San Francisco. It has received several awards including: Best Drama at the NYC Downtown Short Film Festival and Best Short Narrative at DisOrient Film Festival of Oregon. Several screenings are scheduled. Information is available on the Internet. The meaning of the Japanese word “tadaima” is: I’m Home.
The film features a Japanese American family which must find the strength to rebuild their house and their family after suffering emotional and physical destruction caused by their incarceration experience during the war. The film stars Toshi Toda, Vivian, Umino, Mackenyu Maeda, and Jordyn Kanaya.
Tadaima The Movie was written and directed by Robin Takao D’Oench. The film honors the legacy of his grandfather, Paul Takagi, who was a UC Berkeley Professor Emeritus and recently passed away. The story is based on the experiences of his family and other Japanese Americans after the end of World War II. It is part of the Japanese American story.