Japanese American, generational studies, internment camp, ethnic identity

Document Type

Article in Response to Controversy


The Ethics of Memory: What Does it Mean to Apologize for Historical Wrongs


Japanese Americans have a longstanding history in the U.S.-- comprising of more than five consecutive generations. Yet generational research on this ethnic group is understudied (Meredith, Wenger, Liu, Harada, & Kahn, 2000; Pang, 2007). By connecting the historical experiences of previous generations of Japanese Americans to the present, findings on how history has impacted this population can be applied in other ethnic multi-generational groups in the United States.

An Ethnic Identity & Generational Status Model was developed by the author that was influenced by Jean Phinney (1990), Handlin (1951), Mannheim (1927), and Matsuo (1992) to support the varied roles that contribute to ethnic identity formation: history, family, education, and society. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the historical influences of fourth and fifth generation Japanese American identity.

40 participants who identify as fourth or fifth generation Japanese American on at least one side of their family through purposive snowball sampling were interviewed using an open ended questionnaire. This study will examine the historical responses from the interview protocol. Therefore, the research question in this paper asks, “How does history influence the ethnic identity of fourth and fifth generation Japanese American adults?”



Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

Japanese Americans--History; Ethnicity; Segregation in education; Remorse--United States


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Geographic Coverage

United States