Kabuo Assumed Guilty Because of Japanese Heritage in Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
In the novel, Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson, Kabuo Miyamoto is arrested for murder without any substantial evidence. He was charged with a crime he did not commit. He was accused based strictly on his race. Kabuo’s trial was unfair because there was racial conflict with the Japanese following World War II.
The racial conflict with Japanese-Americans began when the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. On December 7, 1941, the Empire of Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, a military naval base located in the state of Hawaii. “Behind them they left chaos, ...view middle of the document...
Thus, there was no reason for these internment camps, but people do irrational things when driven by fear. In theinternment camps, many of the Japanese became sick or even died because of lack of nourishment in the food provided at these camps. The conditions in the internment camps were awful. One of the internment camps, Manzanar, was located to the west of Desert Valley in California. “Manzanar barracks measured 120 x 20 feet and were divided into six one-room apartments, ranging in size from 320 to 480 square feet. Each block of 15 barracks shared bath, latrine, and mess buildings” (Thistlethwaite 2). This is a very small living space for a family to have to live in, especially if the family had more than 5 or 6 members. The Japanese were not killed purposely in the internment camps as the Jews were in German concentration camps. Most Japanese men, that were able, joined the armed forces to prove their loyalty to the United States and also to escape from the horrible conditions of the internment camps. The Japanese were released from the internment camps in 1945 only to return to their homes and see everything they had destroyed or stolen.
In 1944, the trial of Korematsu vs. United States was held. This trial was held to decide, “Did the President and Congress go beyond their war powers by implementing exclusion and restricting the rights of Americans of Japanese decent?” (“Korematsu” 1) The court decided that the need to protect against spies far exceeded the rights of Korematsu. Also in 1944, the trial of Ex Parte Endo took place. In this case, the Supreme Court sided with Endo. They approved a petition stating, “A citizen who is concededly loyal presents no problem of espionage or sabotage. When the power to detain is derived from the power to protect the war effort against espionage and sabotage, detention, which has no relationship to that objective, is unauthorized” (“Ex” 1). This meant that anyone who was a citizen and proven to be completely loyal should not be held. This would have been good had it been followed. The Japanese were detained no matter if they had proven themselves to be loyal or not.
In the novel, Kabuo is arrested for the murder of Carl Heine. He is arrested because Horace Whaley, the coroner, tells Sheriff Art Moran “to start looking for a Jap with a bloody gun butt—a right-handed Jap, to be precise” (Guterson 59). There is no other evidence that would even suggest that Kabuo had anything to do with the death of Carl Heine. While Art Moran is searching Carl’s boat, he does not investigate closely enough to see the blood on the mast, the cut ropes on the mast, or the cracked wood with a few pieces of Carl Heine’s hair in it. The Sheriff missing these clues tells me that he did not try hard enough to find Kabuo not guilty. He got a story, and he went with it even though it was not true and was based solely on the prejudiced opinion of the coroner.