On February 12, 1942, two months after the Japanese attack on Peal Harbor, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066. This led to the incarceration in internment camps of Japanese Americans living on the West Coast, regardless of citizenship status. These Americans were forced to leave their homes and were imprisoned in camps in remote locations where conditions were often harsh, denying civil liberties to American citizens and residents.
Some Japanese Americans were able to leave the internment camps to enlist in the military or to attend college on the East Coast.
No one convicted of espionage against the United States during World War II was an American of Japanese descent. In 1988, the Japanese American Redress Bill issued an apology and provided for reparations.
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The American Friends Service Committee approached Guilford in 1942 as part of the organization's program of enabling students to leave internment camps. In April, the College voted to allow five students (Akiko Inui, Roy Hiroshi Inui, Suzu Koriyama, Tama Koriyama, and Ed Ota) to enroll. Four other Japanese-American students would later attend Guilford during the war years.
From the Guilford College Faculty Minutes for April 30, 1942:
"There was a called meeting of the faculty during the chapel period to consider a request from the American Friends Service Committee that we admit five Japanese students who are among those being evacuated from the west coast. All are American citizens, speak English, and have met all entrance requirements, one being qualified to enter the sophomore class and one the junior class. If permitted to enter, two or three would come to summer school and two would need financial assistance. After much discussion, a vote was taken on the motion that we admit these students. Sixteen voted in favor and seven against their admission."