Only three cartoons in my great aunt’s collection make reference to the internment of Japanese Americans during the war, and then only indirectly. The Tom Carlisle cartoon appeared in February, 1942; the other two appeared in November.
Following the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, fears abounded about a possible “fifth column” cooperation among Japanese Americans living in Hawaii and on the West Coast. In February, 1942, Roosevelt signed an executive order which resulted in some 120,000 people of Japanese descent being removed from their homes and placed in internment camps, primarily in the western states. Conditions were difficult and in some cases families were separated and put in different camps. Many families lost homes, businesses and farms and never regained them following the war.
The U.S. justified its action by claiming there was a danger of Japanese Americans spying for Japan. More than two thirds of those interned were American citizens and half of those were children. None had shown disloyalty to the nation. During the entire war only ten people were convicted of spying for Japan and they were all Caucasian.