Japanese-American Relocation Reviewed

From the Bancroft Library, the University of California at Berkeley, the Earl Warren Oral History Project.

The particlar report consists of articles by various different people.

Volume 1: Decision and Exodus

I. Introduction: Some Recollections of, And reflections on, 1942, by Mike M. Masoka.

Earl Warren, later Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was one of the most important people behind the anti-Japanese feeling and the eventual internment of 110,000 persons of Japanese Ancestry.

The author points out that, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. Attorney General Francis Biddle wanted a distinction made between the Japanese enemy, and those of Japanese background living in the U.S.

Then came early 1942.

Earl Warren struck.

For the Tolan Committee, Earl Warren let loose:

This is the origin of his “logic” statement that, since there had been no sabotage, it was PROOF that there was sabotage being planned by persons of Japanese ancestry on the West Coat. In other words, if you have never stolen, then that is absolute PROOF that you plan to steal.

Vulcans would not approve this use of “logic.”

Walter Lippman, a columnist, grabbed on this unique use of logic and an with it in the newspapers. He said the PJAs (Persons of Japanese Ancestry) were just waiting for an invasion by the Japanese military to do all the sabotage.

They then put a chronology of events related to Earl Warren and the Japanese evacuation:

Robert B. Cozzens, Assistant National Director of the War Relocation Authority

(This section also includes a part where a reporter named Frayne is interviewed.) The writer says that Cozzens said that, in trying to determine where the relocation camps would be located, there were serious attempts at bribery to influence his choice of sites. He also tried to establish agricultural communities, but these were shut down under pressure from commercial growers.

Cozzens notes a committee that had been set up by Secretary of Agriculture, Henry Wallace, to discuss whether or not evacuating the PJAs from the West Coast was necessary. The committee met twice, and it felt that it was not necessary to evacuate the PJAs.

He goes after some of the rumors, such as the one that Japanese Americans were broadcasting to Japan. That was absolutely true. The thing is, though, that the people doing that were paid to do it by the U.S. It was sort of a Voice of America-type of thing. Reporters generally didn't add that little tidbit of information, though.

He says a major problem was panic, and the efforts of several groups to generate discontent on the West Coast.

Something I have not read anywhere else relates to how they located the camps. Cozzen was given a map from both the Navy and the Army, which showed fall-back positions if there were to be an invasion of the West Coast, and the camps needed to be beyond those positions. The camps could not be near military sites. They was a limit to the amount of copper wire they could use to hook up to power lines, so they had to be close to those. They also couldn't be close to any airports or Navy installations that existed or could exist at a later time.

They ended up not buying any sites, but located on federal land or Indian reservations.

He also talks about the speed that everything was done with. It started in March of 1942, and by Thanksgiving Day all the people had arrived in the centers.

Cozzens actually lived at Gila for a while. He remarks that there was no heat where he was living in an unfinished wing of a hospital.

There were various newspaper articles alleging that the Japanese were being given better food at the camps then were soldiers in the military. He deals with this rumor.

The Japanese evacuees also helped the U.S. military by making models of the Japanese fleet.

In another area he talks about the schools in the camps. He says that they were very crude, but there were schools.

He says that the Japanese Americans eventually relocated in every state except either North or South Carolina, he couldn't remember which of the two.

He also talks about Eleanor Roosevelt's visit to the camps.

He talks about the problems at Manzanar and Gila.

He also talks about Tule Lake.

He says that a lot of Congressional committees investigated the WRA. It seemed everyone was after them for one reason or another.

He then talks about the Nisei volunteers and the 442nd.

He talks about Earl Warren, who was governor of California by the, and says he “made very drastic statements against WRA and everybody in it.”

He talks about some problems that there were with Japanese who returned from the camps and tried to go back to their life of farming.

He talks about some more problems evacuees had trying to return to their homes in California.

The American Legion was even involved in some of this.

He says there were about 1500 people who wanted to go back to Japan. They were put into an isolated area at Tule Like. He notes, though, that most of the younger people who had made the statement were really pressured into it by the older people.

It's also pointed out that, at the time, there were 300,000 German aliens in the U.S., and 600,000 Italian aliens, but neither group was rounded up as a whole and put into camps.

Frayne says that the Marine Corps had never had any Orientals in it up until WWII.

Now, the next part of Frayne's interview presents something which I have not seen anywhere else at all. There was a shelling of Santa Barbara. In every other single report I've read, the shelling was done by a Japanese submarine, which caused minimal damage due to the shelling.

Frayne sells he had a friend who sold War Bonds, and had told him sales in California had been going slow. Apparently his friend implied that it was not a Japanese submarine, but an American one that was pulling a stunt to drive up War Bond sales by scaring the Californians but not doing any damage.

He also talks about the 9,000 balloon bombs the Japanese tried to send to the U.S. Only about 10% of them ever made it, and of those only one resulted in deaths, which were some civilians.

There is another section that I have not read elsewhere. Apparently there was a rumor that the Army had trained attack dogs for use in the Pacific, and after the war they were being let loose to attack Japanese-Americans who had moved back to California.

Interview with Dillon S. Myer

Myer talks about a radio commentator named John B. Hughes. He started a push for evacuation on the air in January of 1942. This led to the various hate groups getting under way. The growers and dealers of fruits and vegetables were jealous of the Japanese, and wanted to get their hands on the profits the Japanese were making.

He also mentions having read about the Yellow Peril and other propaganda that had been out for years. Then he talks about the Native Sons of the Golden West, which started out in 1875.

He mentions the trouble at the camps, and has an outlook that no one else had stated. Some of the problem, he says, was caused by the “tough boys from Terminal Island.” He also talks about the various rumors about how the Japanese who were interned were fed better than guys in the Army. The rumors, he says, came from the Hearst papers and other sources and were, of course, untrue.

Some of the Tule Lake negative reporting was due to the time when the Army had been called in and they refused to allow any reporters in, which made everything look worse than it actually was.

He talks about the Poston strike. He also talks about the 1950 Internal Security Act which allowed to rounding up people just like was done to the Japanese Americans.

He says the lifting of the evacuation order was not allowed by the Army until a method had been devised to separate out the trouble-makers.

As far as returning evacuees went, he says there were about thirty hate incidents, some including shooting.

He spends a good length of time talking about the Hood River American Legion problem.

He says that some of the older evacuees didn't really want to leave the centers because they were afraid of what might happen to them once they tried to resettle.

The Fair Play Committee and Citizen Participation

Ruth Klingman was involved with the “preservation of the constitutional rights of Japanese-Americans.”

She writes about when the Japanese Americans in the Berkeley area were ordered to evacuate. They were allowed to take whatever would fit in one suitcase. She talks about how the Tanforan assembly center was a racetrack, and the people lived in horses' stalls.

The Fair Play Committee was sort of like a political action committee, but a somewhat cautious one. They did not oppose the evacuation, for example. She writes about how she and others had read about the rumors from Hawaii about things the Japanese Americans had done.

She writes about how the Nisei were sent to train in Mississippi and weren't used to the discrimination against blacks, and the signs like “blacks only” at water fountains the like.

As far as relocating the evacuees out of the camps, she says this was done carefully, and they were not put into any areas where they would be opposed (although that, actually, did happen. There were some thirty incidents involved.)

She says the Hearst press was anti-Japanese, along with the McClatchy papers, including the Sacramento Bee, the Modesto Bee, and the Fresno Bee. The Los Angeles Times was also bad. She says the Oakland Tribune was sort of friendly.

She says the committee “tried to act as coordinator of private groups, churches, educators, welfare associations, etc, to see that their various programs supplemented rather than overlapped each other.”

Lila Andrews Wilson

She was on the national board of directors of the YWCA, and was asked to look into the relocation of West Coast Japanese Americans in her state of Idaho.

She checked out the Minidoka camp.

She's asked about the food they serve at the camp.

She was there for a week. She says the living quarters were “Ugly barracks buildings covered with tarpaper.” She adds that there was o plumbing, and sanitary facilities were in a separate building. Drinking water was in a bucket on the table, and there was a single bare light globe hung from the center of the ceiling.

She says the Japanese Red Cross sent food parcels to the camps, consisting of green tea and rice cakes. She says the only major complaint she heard was about the dust. The men wanted to be able to fight for the United States.

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