Life Magazine article about the Tule Lake Segregation Center

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Life Magazine article about the Tule Lake Segregation Center
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Tule Lake article
Life Magazine
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Tule Lake Segregation Center, Newell, California
Life Magazine
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11 page 11 x 13 inch black and white magazine pages / adhesive tape residue


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Henry F. Halliday Collection carton 1 folder 11

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Full Text
. Vol. 16, No. 12 1 llB I . March 20f 1944

Photographs for LIFE by Carl Mydans
The Japanese above, photographed behind a stockade within the
Tule Lake Segregation Center at Newell, Calif., are trouble mak-
ers. Calling themselves pressure boys, they are fanatically loyal
to Japan. Along with some 150 other men in the stockade, they
were ringleaders in the November riots which the U. S. Army, un-
der the command of Lieut. Colonel Verne Austin (left), finally had
to quell. By their strong-arm methods they are responsible for Tule
Lakes reputation as worst of all civilian detention camps in U.S.
Most of the other 18,000 men, women and children of Japanese
ancestry, now segregated at Tule Lake, are quiet, undemonstrative
people. About 70% of them are American citizens by birth. All of
the adults among them, however, are considered disloyal to the
U. S. Either they have asked to be repatriated to Japan, or they
have refused to take an oath of allegiance to the U. S., or they are
suspected of being dangerous to the national security.
In March 1042, some 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry were
moved out of their homes in strategic areas of the West Coast.
Eventually they were settled in 10 relocation centers. There the
loyal Japanese were separated from the disloyal. The loyal ones
have the choice either of remaining jn a relocation camp or of find-
ing employment in some nonstrategic area. The disloyal ones have
been sent to the segregation center at Tule Lake.
The November riots, in which some Americans were hurt, precip-
itated much heated discussion about the Tule Lake camp, and the
center remains a political issue. LIFE last month sent Staff Pho-
tographer Carl Mydans to report on conditions there. He had him-
self just been repatriated from 16 months spent in Jap internment
camps. At joint consent of War Relocation Authority, which has
charge of the camp, and the Army, who guards it, he lived at \\de
Lake for a week. His pictorial report, the first of its kind, k

Disloyal Japanese arrive from Manzanar Relocation Center. There is no station at Tule Lake
Center, but the train stops 150 yards from entrance. Army then drives newcomers into camp.
The area around Tule Lake in northern California, near the Oregon border, contains
some of the worlds richest farmland. Most of it is rockless bottom land, reclaimed
by draining the lake. Originally it was homesteaded in 60-acre lots by World War I
veterans. It is capable of grossing $1,000 an acre a year, and last month sold for $350
an acre.
The Tule Lake Segregation Center is located on the edge of this rich California
farmland. Its 1,000 acres are not good for cultivation, but last year the War Reloca-
ion Authority leased 2,600 fertile adjoining acres for the Japanese to farm. What
appened was nearly tragic. The land was put to crops of potatoes, onions, carrots,
ts, lettuce and peas. The Japanese diked the land, dug irrigation ditches and pro-
ceed a rich crop on virgin soil.
Then at harvesttime trouble broke out in the center. A Japanese workman was
killed when his truck was wrecked on the way to the farm area. Demonstrations were
held. To get more control of c&mp government, the Japs proclaimed a policy of status
quo.. They would do no work. They would not farm the fields. As a result, to get the
crop in before frost came loyal Japanese from relocation centers had to be brought
in to do the harvesting. Thousands of dollars worth of vegetables were almost lost.
Only in the last month has status quo at last been eliminated. This year, how-
ever, to take no chances, only 400 acres will be planted by the Japanese at Tule Lake.
Old-timers line a street in center, waiting for look at new arrivals from Manzanar. Unlike de-
tention camps in Japan, there is little crowding at Tule Lake. Usually the streets look empty.
Center's 1,032 buildings lie on this flat plain, with Horse Mountain in the background. Inthe
foreground are lookout towers, manned 24 hours a day by MPs, and the wire fence which
NimeS of Japanese at camp are painted here. Characters at right read Aug. 8, 1943. Since
camp was changed to segregation center, Japanese no longer walk to this rock, outside limits.

surrounds the camp. The buildings at the left foreground are where Army troops live and is in between. Behind it are buildings housing 18,000 Japanese. 'Even if the guards were re-
those at right foreground are the offices and barracks for the WRA. The new parade ground moved the Japanese probably would not try to escape. They are afraid of Tule Lake farmers.
Barracks for Japanese are placed in rows like marching soldiers. Every one, tar-papered from apartments living conditions are crowded but bearable. Average space per person: 106-11$
rooftop to baseboard, is just like all the rest. Each chimney marks an apartment. Inside the sq. ft. Outside there are no trees and no grass. The winter is cold; the summer dusty and hot.

Tule Lake (continued)
The Manji family, in their Tule Lake apartment, are all classed as disloyal. The father, 62 (at here in 1918. The children are all U. S. citizens by birth. From left to right around the table
far right), came to the U. S. from Yamaguchi, Japan, in 1904. He became a rice farmer in Nel- they are Masako, 22, June, 16, Lillian, 20, Grace, 18. On the floor are Terry, 14, Makoto, 11,
son, Calif, where he and his family were living when war came. His wife (to the left) arrived and Minoru, 9. On the bookshelf stand photographs of two more sons, both in the U. S. Army.
School classes, like those in any U. S. town, are held daily in school barracks for the young
Japanese. Taught by 46 American teachers and eight Japanese teachers, the lessons are in Eng-
lish, Regular subjects are American history, arithmetic and English grammar. Enrollment is
2,269. Also held regularly are the Japanese-language schools, conducted by Japanese teachers.
In these enrollment is 4,608, double that of the centers English-language schools. Because the
camp has freedom of belief and religion, the Japanese can teach the children what they want.

A 116W Japanese baby with silky black hair is held by a Japanese nurse in the obstetrical ward in either country. The hospital is a rambling, wooden barracks building with 250 beds in eight
of the Tule Lake Hospital. There are about 25 births a month in the campa birth rate above wards. It has all the drugs, supplies and equipment found in any U. S. Army hospital and can
that of the U. S. but below that of Japan. The death rate (about 10 per month) is lower than handle virtually any kind of operation. Attached to the hospital are two convalescent barracks.

Representatives of the Japanese meet with WRA officials on
camp problems. Center: Ray Best, WRA project manager. Af-
ter November riots negotiating-committee members, who
had made demands on WRA, were put in stockade. A new
coordinating committee was picked to represent Japanese.
This group, shown here, supported a return-to-work program.
Roll call for pressure boys is taken by the Army. Below, ted to repatriation by their parents. However, they now want
a young married couple, William and Roslyn Mayeda, have to leave the camp. When they take oath of allegiance to U. S.
hearing before a WRA committee. They have been commit- and the FBI checks them, they will probably be relocated.
Byron Akitsuki is executive secretary of coordinating com-
mittee {see upper left). He comes from Los Angeles, before war
was an engineer. He is typical of young Japanese in camp.
May Iwohara is a graduate of Compton Junior College. Be-
fore the war she managed a flower shop. She is holding two "
packages of green tea sent from Japan to Tule Lake Center.

What it feels like to be a prisoner s shown in expression of this young Japanese pressure at me the same way I guess I looked at a Japanese official when he came to check on me a
boy, in stockade. He was singing Home on the Range when Mydans entered stockade bar- Camp Santo Tomas in Manila. At the back of my mind was the thought, Come on, get it ove
racks. Reports Mydans: He sang it like an American.There was no Japanese accent. He looked and get out. Leave me alone/ This boy felt the same way. He was just waiting, killing time.

In the cooperative barbershop, haircuts cost 15& shaves 10^. communal life. They eat together, have their haircuts togeth-
Together the beauty parlor {opposite page) and the barber- er, shop together, have their shoes repaired together. There
shop take in $2,750 a month. The Tule Lake Japanese live a is very little privacy either for the adults or for the children.
The cooperative shoe shop repairs more than 750 pairs of
shoes a week. The customers can get both rubber and leather
resoling. No new shoes are made there. The proprietor, stand-
ing in background at right, has two sons in the U. S. Army
at Camp Shelby, Miss. All Japanese inmates who are willing
to work are paid from $12 to $10 a month, depending on job.
operative periodical store sells magazines. Unlike Japans sorship of mail either. A man can write directly to Spanish
Mention camps, where Mydans could get only one newspa- Government (Japans representative in the U. S.) and re-
*?, there is no censorship of reading matter. There is no cen- quest repatriation without the WRA even knowing about it.
Catholic Mass is said by Father Hugh La very, visiting priest.
Camp chaplain is Father Joseph J. Hunt who has spent 18
years as a missionary in Korea and Manchuria. More than
Each mess hall serves between 250 and 300 persons a meaL
The food, which is procured through the Army Quartermas-
ter and meets Army specifications, is free. There is a contin-
The kids pldy marbles in the chilly winter sun. The dress in
camp is strictly American, not Japanese, and the language,
especially among the young, almost always English. Mydans

75% of Tule Lake Japanese are Buddhists. Another 12%
are Christian and the rest have no church affiliation. No at-
tempt is made by WRA authorities to interfere with religion.
ual argument as to how good it is. Some wealthy Japanese
never eat in the mess halls at all. Instead they buy their food
frfm cooperative stores and cook it in their own apartments.
no one who could not make himself understood in Eng-
" '"v reverted to Japanese only when discussing among
v ^her to allow him to take their pictures or not.
ThC Cooperative beauty Shop has 21 chairs, five permanent- other social events which are continually taking place at Tule
wave machines and six or seven driers. Women like to have Lake. Before the riots movies were always shown nightly in
their hair fixed for the parties, shows, discussion groups and the mess halls. Admission: 5fi. Soon they will be held again.
At cooperative dress and coat shop, women design and make press their own individuality. Other ways: carving weird ani-
their own clothes, which sell only within the camp area. Buy- mals, draping bright curtains in the barracks windows, grow-
ing new clothes is one of the few ways these folk have to ex- ing flowers in little gardens and building new front porches.
Cooperative general store sells hardware, groceries and mens
clothes. The center is just about as well supplied with mer-
chandise as any U. S. community of 18,000 people. To make
money, some families dig up shells from the drained lake bot-
tom, bleach them with orange or lemon peels and paint them
with fingernail polish. Then they sell them outside the canjp.

. MlU
L0AC (continued)
The Japanese at Tule Lake have everything they need
for happiness except the one thing they want most
liberty. That they cannot have. They are prisoners,
even though the War Relocation Authority tries to
soften this fact by using the euphemistic name Seg-
regees. Because the problems which have arisen to
plague the camp stem fundamentally from their loss of
liberty, those problems can never really be solved.
Their life cannot be made pleasant. It can only be made
The responsibility of WRA is to make life at Tule
Lake endurable. This it has succeeded in doing, in the
face of bitter criticism by part of the press, the public
and the government. On the one side it has been ac-
cused of Jap coddling. On the other side it has been
accused of depriving American citizens of their native
In its accomplishment it has had the tactful help of
the Army. Naturally both of them have made mistakes.
At the time of the November riots they clamped an un-
wise censorship on the center, thus giving the wildest
rumors the chance to spread across the country. But
most important of all, they have avoided bloodshed.
These interned Japanese are not criminals. In peace-
time they would be living normal civilian lives. But
this is war and they are loyal to Japan, i.e., disloyal to
the U. S. They must, of necessity, be put in a place
where they cannot hurt the U. S.
But it is too easy to say that they are all disloyal
and treat them all accordingly. Some 70% of them are
American citizens. In almost every individual case
there are conflicting loyalties. Young men and young
women especially have disturbing sociological prob-
lems. They have perhaps been committed to repatri-
ation by their parents. Yet they have been born and
brought up here. What they know about Japan they
have learned only from books and stories. They are
accustomed to the American standard of living. They
have gone to American schools and colleges.
Now suddenly they have been put in what seems to
them a prison. Some of them are bitter. They feel as if
they have no country at all. Carl Mydans talked to
one such boy. The conversation:
Mydans: Why do you want to leave this country?
You have never been in Japan.
Boy: Oh, I dont know. Japanese families always
stick together. My mother and father want to go back.
Mydans: If you go to Japan, will you want to return
here when the war is over?
Boy: No, I dont think I ever want to come back.
The feeling will be too much against us.
Mydans: But you have never been to Japan. How
do you know youll want to stay there?
Boy: But I dont want to stay in Japan. None of us do.
Mydans: But then where will you go?
Boy: I dont know, really. Maybe Australia. We
want to go where there are new frontiers. I think well
find them in Australia. (Australia admits no Oriental
Other young Japanese are not so bitter. They have
resolved their conflicting loyalties between family and
the U. S. in favor of the U. S. To them WRA offers a
chance for release from Tule Lake. If they are willing
to take an oath of allegiance to the U. S. and are favor-
ably checked by the FBI, they can be sent to one of
the nine relocation centers. There they will have the
opportunity to seek regular jobs in nonstrategic sec-
tions of the country.
But this method of release sometimes does not work.
Recently a young Japanese workman and his wife were
cleared for release into a safe area. At the last min-
ute they refused to leave camp because of a false rumor
that a Japanese family relocated on an Arkansas farm
had been killed by an irate anti-Japanese mob.
In his report on Tule Lake Photographer Mydans
made an inevitable comparison between it and the
prison camps he had seen at Manila and Shanghai.
Said he: Americans interned under the Japanese have
a certain ease of mind in knowing that as Americans
they are considered enemies and noting wjh don^
for them. The Japs lay down a few all-m.iusjve regula-
tions and the internees know that if the> are brokok
the entire camp will be severely punished. l>a es-
capes he will be shot.
Over here we have the problem of American,'Citi-
zens being interned as aliens. There are political and
sociological conflicts. The internees do not hate us, or
the WRA, the way we hated the Japs and our guards.
On the other hand internees over here are made
physically comfortable out of all comparison to the
comforts given us. The Japanese standard of living is
lower than ours. In our camps we received as much
food as the average Japanese civilian, yet it wasnt
enough. The usual camp over there is an abandoned or
bombed university building or warehouse. The placfc is
dirty and empty. When internees are put into suc^ a
camp, they must bring their own bedding and beds,
forage for most of their own food, build their own
kitchens, carry their own garbage, build their own
clinic, plan their own administration.
At Tule Lake all these things have been provided.
Yet newspaper charges that the Japanese there are liv-
ing in luxury are obviously exaggerated. By Japanese
standards it is pretty luxurious but by American stand-
ards it is an ugly dreary way of life.
The task of the WRA is not easy. Nor will it get
easier. The Japanese within the camp will keep up tljjeir
agitation for better conditions. Current conditioi^ak
must be maintained so that the Japanese Governi
itself will have no excuse for the^badjiiiL^^
own camps, where Americans are imprisoned. The 18,-
000 Japs at Tule Lake are, in a sense, a form of insur-
ance for the safety of some 10,000 American civilians
still in the hands of the Japanese and as U. S. casualty
lists grow longer and the war hatred grows more bittjbr,
our treatment of these people will directly affect th&j:
treatment of our fellow Americans across the Pacific.
Japanese drum majorettes practice high-stepping marches on the main fire break, between In each of them there is a conflict between Americanism and Nipponism. In fa<
rows of dormitories. Some of these girls have been drum majorettes at schools and colleges. same Japanese girls who march as majorettes above and do the Japanese