THE TEXT OF THIS PAMPHLET ORIGINALLY APPEARED
IN FORTUNE MAGAZINE, APRIL. 1944. UNDER THE
TITLE OF ISSEI. NISEI. AND KIBEI
cz^fmzx'uxzn dounaiL on
2153 FLORIDA AVENUE WASHINGTON, D. C.
WHEN the facts about Japanese brutality to the soldier
prisoners from Bataan were made known, Americans
were more outraged than they had been since December 7,
1941. Instinctively they contrasted that frightfulness with our
treatment of Japanese held in this country; and, without being
told, Americans knew that prisoners in the U.S. were fed three
meals a day and had not been clubbed or kicked or otherwise
brutalized. Too few, however, realize what persistent and ef-
fective use Japan has been able to make, throughout the entire
Far East, of U.S. imprisonment of persons of Japanese descent.
This propaganda concerns itself less with how the U.S. treats
the people imprisoned than who was imprisoned. By pointing
out, again and again, that the U.S. put behind fences well
over 100,000 people of Japanese blood, the majority of them
citizens of the U.S., Japan describes to her Far Eastern radio
audiences one more instance of American racial discrimina-
tion. To convince all Orientals that the war in the Pacific is a
crusade against the white mans racial oppression, the enemy
shrewdly notes every occurrence in the U.S. that suggests in-
justice to racial minorities, from the Negroes to the Mexicans
The enemy, of course, deliberately refrains from making
distinctions among the various kinds of detention we have
worked out for those of Japanese blood in this country. Unfor-
tunately, Americans themselves are almost as confused as the
Japanese radio about what has happened to the Japanese
minority in this countryone-tenth of 1 per cent of the nations
total population. There are three different types of barbed-
wire enclosures for persons of Japanese ancestry. First there
are the Department of Justice camps, which hold 3,000 Japa-
nese aliens considered by the F.B.I. potentially dangerous to
the U.S. These and these alone are true internment camps.
Second, there are ten other barbed-wire enclosed centers
in the U.S., into which, in 1942, the government put 110,000
persons of Japanese descent (out of a total population in con-
tinental U.S. of 127,000). Two-thirds of them were citizens,
born in the U.S.; one-third aliens, forbidden by law to be
citizens. No charges were brought against them. When the
war broke out, all these 110,000 were resident in the Pacific
Coast statesthe majority in California. They were put behind
fences when the Army decided that for military necessity
all people of Japanese ancestry, citizen or alien, must be re-
moved from the West Coast military zone.
Within the last year the 110,000 people evicted from the
West Coast have been subdivided into two separate groups.
Those who have professed loyalty to Japan or an unwillingness
to defend the U.S. have been placed, with their children, in
one of the ten camps called a segregation center (the third
type of imprisonment). Of the remainder in the nine loyal
camps, 17,000 have moved to eastern states to take jobs.
The rest wait behind the fence, an awkward problem for the
U.S. if for no other reason than that the Constitution and the
Bill of Rights were severely stretched if not breached when
U.S. citizens were put in prison.
Back in December, 1941, there was understandable nervous-
ness over the tight little Japanese communities scattered along
the West Coast. The long coast line seemed naked and unde-
fended. There were colonies of Japanese fishermen in the port
areas, farmlands operated by Japanese close to war plants,
and little Tokyos in the heart of the big coastal cities. There
were suspected spies among the Japanese concentrations and
there was fear of sabotage. Californians were urged to keep
calm and let the authorities take care of the problem. In the
first two weeks the Department of Justice scooped up about
1,500 suspects. A few weeks later all enemy aliens and citizens
alike were removed from certain strategic areas such as Ter-
minal Island in Los Angeles harbor, and spots near war
plants, power stations, and bridges. But Californians did not
completely trust the authorities. While the F.B.I. was picking
up its suspects., civilian authorities were besieged with tele-
phone calls from citizens reporting suspicious behavior of
their Oriental neighbors. Although Californias Attorney Gen-
eral Warren (now governor) stated on February 21, 1942,
that we have had no sabotage and no fifth-column activity
since the beginning of the war, hysteria by then had begun to
spread all along the coast. Every rumor of Japanese air and
naval operations offshore, and every tale of fifth-column activ-
ity in Hawaii, helped to raise to panic proportions Californias
ancient and deep antagonism toward the Japanese-Americans.
For decades the Hearst press had campaigned against the
Yellow Peril within the state (1 per cent of the population)
as well as the Yellow Peril across the seas that would one day
make war. When that war prophecy came true, the newspapers
campaign of hate and fear broke all bounds. And, when Hearst
called for the removal of all people of Japanese ancestry, he
had as allies many pressure grqups who had for years resented
the presence of Japanese in this country.
The American Legion, since its founding in 1919, has never
once failed to pass an annual resolution against the Japanese-
Americans. The Associated Farmers in California had com-
petitive reasons for wanting to get rid of the Japanese-Amer-
icans who grew vegetables at low cost on $70 million worth of
California land. Californias land laws could not prevent the
citizen-son of the Japanese alien from buying or renting the
land. In the cities, as the little Tokyos grew, a sizable commer-
cial business came into Japanese-American handsvegetable
commission houses, retail and wholesale enterprises of all
kinds. It did not require a war to make the farmers, the Legion,
the Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West, and the
politicians resent and hate the Japanese-Americans. The rec-
ords of legislation and press for many years indicate that the
antagonism was there and growing. War turned the antagonism
into fear, and made possible what California had clearly
wanted for decadesto get rid of its minority.
By early February both the Hearst press and the pressure
groups were loudly demanding the eviction of all people of
Japanese bloodto protect the state from the enemy, and to
protect the minority from violence at the hands of Filipinos
and other neighbors. A few cases of violence had, indeed, oc-
curred, and spy talk ran up and down the coast. On February
13, a group of Pacific Coast Congressmen urged President
Roosevelt to permit an evacuation; a week later the President
gave thaLauthority to the Army. On February 23, a Japanese
submarine shelled the coast near Santa Barbara. Lieutenant
General John L. DeWitt, on March 2, issued the order that
all persons of Japanese descent, aliens and citizens, old and
young, women and children, be removed from most of Cali-
fornia, western Oregon and Washington, and southern Arizona.
The greatest forced migration in U.S. history resulted.
At first the movement inland of the 110,000 people living
within the prohibited zone was to be voluntary. The Japanese-
Americans were merely told to get out. Within three weeks
8,000 people had packed up, hastily closed out their business
affairs, sold their possessions or left them with neighbors, and
set forth obediently toward the east. But Arizona remembered
all too well how California had turned back the Okies in the
past, and many Japanese-Americans were intercepted at this
border. Kansas patrolmen stopped them. Nevada and Wyoming
protested that they did not want to receive people found too
dangerous for California. About 4,000 got as far as Colorado
and Utah. It became apparent that the random migration of
so many unwanted people could result only in spreading chaos.
By March 29 voluntary evacuation was forbidden, and the
Army made its own plans to control the movement.
The evacues reported to local control stations where they
registered and were given a number and instructions on what
they could take (hand luggage only) and when they should
proceed to the first camps, called assembly centers. Although
they were offered government help in straightening out their
property problems, many thousands, in their haste and confu-
sion, and in their understandable distrust of government,
quickly did what they could for themselves. They sold, leased,
stored, or lent their homes, lands, personal belongings, tractors,
and cars. Their financial losses are incalculable.
The Army, in twenty-eight days, rigged up primitive bar-
racks in fifteen assembly centers to provide temporary quarters
for 110,000. Each evacue made his own mattress of straw, took
his place in the crowded barracks, and tried to adjust to his
new life. By August 10 everyone of Japanese descent (except
those confined to insane asylums and other safe institutions)
was behind a fence, in protective custody. They were held
here (still within the forbidden military zone) until a newly
created civilian agency, the War Relocation Authority, could
establish other refuges farther inland. WRAs job was to
hold the people until they could be resettled in orderly fashion.
WRA appealed to the governors of ten nearby western states.
With one exception, Colorados Governor Carr, they protested
that they did not want the Japanese-Americans to settle in their
domain, nor did they want any relocation center erected within
their borders unless it was well guarded by the Army. Finally
nine remote inland sites were found, all of them on federally
owned land. (One assembly center in eastern California became
a relocation camp.) Most of them were located, for lack of
better acreage, on desolate but irrigable desert tracts. More
tar-papered barracks were thrown up, more wire fences built,
and once more the people moved. By November, 1942, all the
evacues had packed up their miserably few possessions, had
been herded onto trains, and deposited behind WRAs soldier-
guarded fences, in crowded barracks villages of between 7,000
and 18,000 people.
They felt bitterness and anger over their loss of land and
home and money and freedom. They knew that German and
Italian aliensand indeed, Japanese aliens in other parts of
the U.S.had been interned only when the F.B.I. had reason
to suspect them. Second-generation citizens of German and
Italian origin were not evacuated from California; nor were
the second-generation citizens of Japanese descent elsewhere
in the U.S. put behind fences.
Although the evacues resentment at regimentation within
WRAs little Tokyos is deep, it is seldom expressed violently.
Considering the emotional strains, the uprooting, and the crowd-
ing, no one can deny that the record of restraint has been re-
markable. Only twice have the soldiers been asked to come
within a WRA fence to restore order.
CODDLING, AT 31 CENTS A DAY
But WRA and its director, Dillon Myer, have been under
almost continual attack by congressional committees in Wash-
ington, and by a vdiole long list of badgering groups and
individuals on the West Coast. The Dies Committee goes after
WRA* and the Japanese minority at frequent intervals. Even
*Herman P. Eberharter, a member of the Dies Committee, has said of its
September, 1943, findings, . the report is prejudiced, and most o)
its statements are not proven. The committee wound up by suggesting
three policies, all of which the WRA had already adopted.
Hedda Hopper, the movie gossip, prattles innuendoes. Not
wishing to imply anything, she noted last December that
weve had more than our share of explosions, train wrecks,
fires, and serious accidents since WRA has released so many
of the evacues. Actually, not one of the 17,000 has been
convicted of anti-American activity.
WRA has usually been criticized for the wrong reasons. It
has been accused of turning loose, for resettlement, danger-
ous Japs. The implication usually is that no Japanese-Ameri-
can should be released, although from the very beginning
WRAs prescribed purpose was to help the evacues to find some
place to live outside the prohibited zone. Again and again,
the pressure groups and California Congressmen have urged
that WRAs ten centers be turned over to the Army. (In Feb-
ruary the President, instead, dropped WRA intact, with its
Director Dillon Myer, into the Department of Interior.) Most
frequently Mr. Myer has been charged with pampering the
Japanese-Americans. Almost every day the Hearst papers
fling the word coddling, with the clear implication that all
persons of Japanese descent, citizen or no, women and infants,
should be treated strictly as prisoners of war, which of course
they are not.
No one who has visited a relocation center and seen the
living space, eaten the food, or merely kept his eyes open
could honestly apply the word coddling to WRAs ad-
ministration of the camps. The people are jammed together
in frame barracks. A family of six or seven is customarily
allotted an apartment measuring about twenty by twenty-
five feet. It is a bare room, without partitions. The only privacy
possible is achieved by hanging flimsy cotton curtains between
the crowded beds.
Furniture is improvised from bits of scrap lumber: a box
for a table, three short ends of board made into a backless
chair. The familys clothing and few personal possessions are
somehow stuffed neatly awayon shelves if scrap lumber, a
priceless commodity in all camps, is available. Otherwise,
they are stuffed away under the beds. The quarters are usu-
ally neat. There are no cooking facilities and no running
water in the barracks, unless the evacue has brought his own
electric plate or had a friend on the outside send one in.
As in Army camps, each block of twelve or fourteen barracks
(250 to 300 people) has its central mess hall, laundry build-
ing, public latrines, and showers.
With faithful regularity, irresponsible yarns are circulated
that the evacues are getting more and better food than other
Americans. Actually, the food cost per day is held below
45 cents per person. For 15 cents a meal the food is possibly
adequate, but close to the edge of decent nutrition. In most
camps, located far from dairy districts, milk is provided only
for small children, nursing and expectant mothers, and special
dietary cases. There are two meatless days a week and a heavy
emphasis on starches. Nearly a third of the food requirements
are grown on the irrigated fields of the camp itself. This re-
duces the actual cash outlay for food to 31 cents per person.
Practically everyone who wants a job can work, and most
of the able bodied do. They plant and till the camps vege-
table acreage, prepare the food in the mess halls, do steno-
graphic work for the Caucasian staff, work in the cooperative
store.* In some centers they make furniture for the administra-
tion building or cotton mattresses to take the place of the hard
straw pallets. Some are barbers and cobblers for the com-
munity, doctors in the hospital, scrubwomen in the latrines,
garbage collectors. The maximum wage (a doctor, for in-
stance) is $19 a month; the minimum, $12; the average, $16.
In addition, those who work get a clothing allowance for them-
selves and their dependentsat the most, $3.75 a month for
an adult in the northernmost center.
Individual enterprise is forbidden. To set up ones own dress-
making service within the community, or to sell shell jewelry
or anything else to the outside is prohibited. In order to keep
the center wage uniform, all economic activities must be
conducted through the community cooperative, which pays
its barbers and other workers the standard stipend. With
their small monthly wage, and by dipping into their prewar
savings, most evacues buy extras to eat, but they can get only
nonrationed food, since they possess no ration books. They
send to the mail-order houses for some of their clothes, buy
*WRA has a lexicon of its own: Caucasian is the term for appointed ad-
ministrative personnel, to distinguish them from the evacues, sometimes
called colonists; beyond the gate is the outside
shoes, yard goods, and clothing at the cooperative store. Their
children go to school in the barracks village, and when they
are sick, to the center hospital.
Thus the pampering and thus the humiliation. A doctor
distinguished in his profession, who lived with grace and
charm in a decently comfortable home before the war, is
today huddled in a small room with all his family. He prac-
tices his profession for $19 a month at the center hospital,
serving under a Caucasian of lesser accomplishments, hired
for considerably more money. A man who spent twenty years
building up his own florist business or commission house, or
who operated a large vegetable farm in one of Californias
valleys, is merely stoop labor on the centers acreage.
The record of Japanese-Americans during the depression
indicated that they did not take to public relief. They were
too proud. They stuck together, helped each other, and almost
never appeared on WPA or home-relief lists. To virtually all
of them it is now galling to be distrusted wards of the nation,
their meager lodging and food a scanty handout, the payment
for their labor somewhat the same.
They have always been an isolated, discarded, and therefore
ingrown people. Today this is more true than ever. The bar-
racks village as a rule is literally isolated. At Manzanar, Cali-
fornia, for example, the center is but a tiny square in a vast
and lonely desert valley, between two great mountain ranges.
Spiritually the people are just as isolated as that. Thrown to-
gether in a compact racial island of their own frustrated people,
they grow in upon themselves and each other; they become
almost completely detached from American life, the war, the
world. Their small children speak more Japanese than they
would if they competed daily with other American school
children. The teen-age boys and girls are ostentatiously Ameri-
can in clothes, slang, and behavior. It is as if they were trying
too hard to convince themselves that they are Americans. They
know that they must and will go out the gate soon.
The adults think about themselves, and about the past they
left. With time and distance, Californias farm valleys, towns,
and cities become more golden-hued than ever to the evacues.
They brood vaguely and fearfully on the future; the war,
sometimes, seems like a vague abstraction, the cause of their
troubles. And they think about rumorswhich they often trust
more than they do printed, official announcements. It may be
a rumor that the Army will take over. Or that the evacues in
this center will all be transported to another. This is the most
nightmarish rumor of all to people who have moved so much
in the past two years.
They think, too, about the endless details of their camp life.
Each group of 250 or so evacues has a block manager who
gets $16 a month for listening to their complaints and, if pos-
sible, straightening out innumerable daily problems. The food
in the mess hall is badly prepared; there is no toilet paper in
the ladies latrine; the neighbors play the radio too late and too
loud; the roof of No. 29 barracks has a small leak.
Finally, there are gossip and politics. The Japanese-Ameri-
cans back in California went their way without much partici-
pation in politics as most American citizens know it. In the
barracks village of WRA there is little real self-government.
Most of the centers have a Council made up of block repre-
sentatives or managers. But there is only a slight area within
which such a congress can make community decisions. Usually
at the meeting of the Council the members do little more than
listen to new rules, new plans of WRA, handed down from
Washington or the local director. The block representatives
are expected to pass on this information to all the people.
Originally WRA ruled that citizens alone could hold office
in the centers, but this proved to be unwise. Two-thirds of the
evacues are citizens, but most of these American-born Nisei
are from eighteen to twenty-eight years of agetoo young to
take on such responsible jobs as the block managers. Besides,
among the Japanese-Americans bom here are hundreds of
Kibeiyoung men who were sent to Japan for part of their
education. Not allbut a large percentage of themare pro-
Japan, particularly those who gained the latter part of their
education in Japan. Disliked by the Nisei majority, outnum-
bered and maladjusted, the Kibei often have become a nuisance,
creating little areas of disaffection in the center.
Thus it turned out that the Isseithe aliens, parents of the
Nisei and Kibeicould best provide the authority, stability,
and seasoned wisdom needed in a block manager. They pos-
sessed a tradition of family and community leadership, and
had commanded respect in the past. Above all they usually
have an earnest desire to make the block of 250 or more
people in which they live function in an orderly and quiet
fashion. They are aliens primarily because U.S. law forbade
them to become citizens. Many of them have a real loyalty to
the U.S., not because the U.S. has invited their loyalty but
because they look to their childrens American future for
their own security.
Politics in the centers has nothing to do with office or votes
or apparent power. But it is power-the power of demagoguery,
of spreading the infection of" bitterness, exaggerating an in-
stance or affront into an issue that may even get to the point
of a small strike against WRA. The leaders have not invariably
been pro-Japan. Some, both aliens and citizens, who had been
good Americans became indignant at their loss of freedom
and their right to participate in the life of the nation.
It may be that the administration was not willing to permit
a big funeral for a man accidentally killed when a work
truck overturned; it may be that three or four of the Caucasian
staff displayed signs of race discrimination; it may be a rumor
more plausible than fact. The politicians take any one of
these, or a series, and worry it into a big camp issue. How
great an issue it becomes depends most of all on the degree
of confidence the center as a whole has in its director and the
coolness and fairness with which he customarily handles his
people. Too often the administration is out of touch with the
main issues and grievances within the camp. WRA suffers,
like every other agency, from the manpower shortage. Com-
petent center directors and minor personnel are scarce. Often
enough the director finds his Caucasian staff more of a problem
than the evacues.
The two so-called riots, which brought the Army over
the fence, arose from the accumulation of small grievances,
whipped up to a crisis by groups struggling for power and
eager to put the administration on the spot. There was, in each
instance, a strike. Actually a strike in a relocation center is
self-defeating since almost all labor in the community works
to provide goods and services for the evacues themselves; no
more than a handful work in the staff mess and office building.
Only when violence occurred, and the director thought he
needed help in maintaining order, was the Army invited in.
But trouble rarely reaches either the strike stage or vio-
lence. The people in the Pacific Coasts little Tokyos rarely
appeared on police blotters in the past, and now the crime
record of WRA centers compares favorably with that of any
small cities of their size, or, indeed, with any Army camp.
Most of the policing is done by the evacues themselves, ap-
pointed to the internal security staff of each center.
Policing should be simpler than ever from now on. The ideo-
logical air has been cleared; the pro-Japan people have been
moved out. The process of sifting the communities, separating
the loyal and the disloyal, is virtually complete. The disloyal
have been sent to a segregation center in northeastern Califor-
nia, leaving the other nine centers populated only by the loyal.
REGISTRATION AND SEGREGATION
To all the evacues the two words, registration and segregation,
are almost as charged with emotion as that disturbing term,
evacuation. Quite simply the two nouns mean that a question-
naire was submitted to all adults in the centers to determine
their loyalty or disloyalty. On the basis of this, plus F.B.I. rec-
ords and in some instances special hearings, WRA granted or
denied the evacues leave clearance, the right to go East and
find a job. The same information was used as a basis for
segregating the disloyal in a separate center. About 18,000
(the disloyal and ail their dependents) will sit out the war
at Tule Lake, within a high, manproof, barbed-wire enclosure,
unless Japan shows more enthusiasm than she has to date for
their repatriation. (These 18,000 must not be confused with
the few thousand interned by the Department of Justice.)
But separating the loyal and the disloyal is not so simple
a job as it might seem. Loyalty is difficult to measure accurately
on any scales, and the sifting of the evacues was clumsily han-
dled. The process began in February, 1943, when the Army
decided to recruit a combat unit- of Japanese-Americans. A
registration form was printed containing twenty-eight ques-
tions to determine loyalty and willingness to fight. It was to
be filled out by all men of military age. Someone realized
that it would be well to have just such records on all adults
in the centers. Plans were suddenly changed and everyone from
seventeen years of age up was given the twenty-eight questions.
Nothing is more disastrous in a rumor-ridden, distrustful,
neurotic community like a relocation center than to make one
explanation of purpose today and a quite different one tomor-
row. The people, newly arrived in the WRA centers, were still
stunned by their evacuation, loss of property and freedom, and
were acutely conscious of their stigma as enemy. There was
misunderstanding about the purpose of registration at most of
the centers. The questionnaire was so carelessly framed its
wording had to be changed during the process of registration.
A few thousand refused to fill out the form at all. Others, re-
membering that they had lost business, home, and their civil
rights, wrote angry (disloyal) answers. They had no enthu-
siasm for defending a democratic America that had imprisoned
them for no crime and without trial.
WRA, in an effort to be fair, has granted hearings in recent
months for those who wished to explain the answers they made
in anger or confusion. Pride made a few people stick to what
they first wrote. There is little question that the majority of
adults sent to Tule Lake feel loyalty to Japan, but there are
also behind Tules fences a few thousand who are not disloyal.
Most of the Issei who chose Tule Lake are there because of
firm ties of loyalty to Japan, or strong ties of family relation-
ships. Some Issei were afraid of bringing reprisals upon their
relatives in Japan by affirming loyalty to the U.S. The parents
who chose Tule Lake usually have taken all their children
with them. Only a few sons and daughters over seventeen, who
had the right to choose for themselves, could resist strong
family pressure. It is ironic and revealing that at the high
school at Tule Lake, civics and American history are popular
Japan, however, makes no legal claims of protective interest
in the Nisei or Kibei. When the Spanish consul visits Tule
to report conditions to Japan, he is legally concerned only
with the welfare of the Issei, the nationals of Japan. And,
under U.S. law, the Nisei and Kibei cannot abrogate their
American citizenship during wartime, even if they want to.
Their expatriation, and even the repatriation of most of the
Issei to Japan, during the war, is unlikely. Negotiations for
the exchange of civilian war prisoners have been slow, and the
delay is due to Japan, not to the U.S. State Department.
To a minority living at Tule Lake, Japans unwillingness to
arrange frequent exchange of prisoners is not disheartening.
This minority does not want to set sail for Japan; it wants to
stay in the U.S. People are at Tule Lake for many complicated
reasons besides disloyalty and family relationships. There
is evidence, for example, that some chose this kind of imprison-
ment for reasons of security and weariness. This is indicated
by the percentages of people in the various centers who said
they wanted to be segregated. When the decision was made last
fall to turn the Tule Lake camp into a segregation center,
nearly 6,000 out of 13,000 residents of that center decided to
stay put. This high percentage of disloyal, the highest in
any center, is explained in part by unwillingness to be uprooted
and moved again. In the Minidoka relocation center, in Idaho,
only 225 people out of 7,000 chose to go to Tule.
There are a few tired and discouraged people from other
WRA centers who went to Tule Lake because they knew that
the barbed-wire fences in that camp would stand permanently
throughout the war. They reasoned that they would have cer-
tain refuge for the duration, while the other centers, accord-
ing to evacue rumor, might be abruptly closed, and everyone
turned loose without resources.
Some chose Tule Lake imprisonment as a gesture against
what they consider the broken promises of democracy. For
example, there is a young Nisei who enlisted in California
early in 1941 because he felt strongly about fascism. He
was abruptly thrown out of his countrys army after Japan
attacked the U.S. and put behind the fences along with all the
other evacues. In February, 1943, when he was handed a
questionnaire on loyalty and his willingness to defend the
U.S., he was too angry to prove his loyalty that way; he
had already amply demonstrated it. He is at Tule Lake, not
because of his love for Japan, but as a protest to the govern-
ment he honestly wanted to serve back in 1941.
There is the Japanese-American who fought in the last war
in the U.S. Army, and is a member of the American Legion.
When the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor, he offered his serv-
ices to the Army and to industry in California. He was turned
down. Sent to a relocation center he became a troublemaker,
with the slogan, If you think you are an American, try walk-
ing out the gate. He was packed off to an isolation center,
and finally wound up at Tule Lake. Last year the U.S. Treas-
ury received a check from him, mailed from behind Tules
barbed wire. It was a sum in excess of $100 and represented
his income tax for the calendar year, 1942, when he had re-
ceived belated payment for his 1941 services as navigator on
a Portuguese ship. He insisted on paying his tax, as usual.
He has, of course, no wish to go to Japan. He too sits out the
war at Tule Lake in protest against the failure of democracy.
The minority who are in Tule for reasons of weariness or
protest are not important numerically. But they show what can
happen to people who are confused, discouraged, or justifiably
angry. They reveal some ugly scars inflicted by our society.
It is too early to speculate about what will happen to these
18,000 prisoners. A few thousand, at the most, may get aboard
the Gripsholm. Will all the rest be shipped finally to a defeated
Japan? Or will they be a postwar U.S. problem?
Where the Tule Lake prisoners will end their days is less
important to consider than what is to become of those loyal
evacues who are still in the nine other centers. Everyone
deemed loyal, by the sifting process of registration and hear-
ings, has been granted leave clearance. Fortified with a
handful of official papers, a numbered identification card
bearing his picture and fingerprints, an evacue can set forth
to the East. He gets his railroad fare, $3 a day travel money,
and if he has no savings, $25 in cash.
During the last twelve months, 17,000 evacues have had
the courage to go outside. They are, with rare exceptions,
young and single, or married but childless. A Nisei has to
muster considerable courage to go out into the society that
rejected him two years ago. From behind the fence the out-
side has become vague, enormous, and fearful. The huddling
together, which is resented, is nonetheless a cohesive, protective
force, hard to overcome. As he leaves the soldier-guarded gate,
the young Nisei is about as lonely as any human being could
be; he faces even more prejudice than his father did as im-
migrant contract labor.
The most powerful magnets to draw him out are letters
from friends who have already gone east. Those who have
made the plunge usually report back to their friends enthusi-
astically. The people who have started a new lifemost of
them from eighteen to thirty years oldare the pioneers. In
the factories and in the restaurants and hotels, in the offices and
in the kitchens where they work, they are building a future not
merely for themselves, but for those who may follow. When
they write back, We can eat in any restaurant in New York,
they spread a little hope. Or, I attracted very little attention
on the train. Or, In Chicago, nobody seems to care that I
have a Japanese face. They tell of the church groups who
are almost alone in providing some kind of organized social
protection for those who relocate in cities like Chicago.
They are being sent outside wherever a not-too-prejudiced
community provides opportunity. Seven WRA regional officers
have staffs scouting for job prospects, talking to employers
of farm and industrial labor, sounding out public opinion,
and, in general, smoothing the way. Illinois has taken more
relocated American Japanese than any other state4,000.
Most of these have found jobs in and around Chicago. Winnetka
housewives compete for Nisei servants, and even the Chicago
Tribune has been calm. Only Hearst howls.
Ohios industrial cities have taken about 1,500 from the re-
location centers. Although special clearances have been needed
for the eastern defense area, a few hundred have already gone
to New York City, and the stream to the northeastern states
will increase steadily. Scattered throughout midwestern states
like Wisconsin, Montana, and Iowa aie hundreds more.
There are, of course, areas of resistance. Antagonism to
WRAs evacues is apt to increase not diminish when the Euro-
pean war ends and the casualty lists come only from the Pacific.
Utah has taken about 2,000 evacuesmostly in Ogden and Salt
Lake City where at first they were quietly absorbed. But last
month the state A.F. of L. petitioned Salt Lake City authorities
to deny business licenses to people of Japanese ancestry. Two
thousand have gone to Colorado, but recent campaigns like
Hearsts in the Denver Post and proposed new discriminatory
legislation keep the state aroused. Wayne W. Hill, a state repre-
sentative in Colorado, wearing the uniform of a sergeant in
the U.S. Army, got emergency leave from his camp last month
to beg the Colorado Legislature not to pass a bill barring
Japanese aliens from owning land. About to be discharged
from the Army, he said, I am just as willing to die a political
death as I am to die in battle to preserve American freedom.
He was warmly applauded, but the House passed the bill; the
Senate turned it down fifteen to twelve.
Arizona has had such a spree of race hating in the last year
that WRA does not try to place people of Japanese ancestry
there. A year ago the governor signed a bill making it impos-
sible to sell anythingeven a pack of cigarettesto a person
of Japanese descent without first publishing in the newspaper,
days in advance, ones intention to do so, and filing documents
with the governor. The law was declared unconstitutional after
a few months operation. It was not aimed merely at the
new WRA settlers who number fifty-seven. It was intended
to strangle Arizonas prewar Japanese-American population
(632), many of whom make a good living in the highly com-
petitive business of vegetable farming.
With only 17,000 young, unencumbered, and fairly bold
Nisei out on their own, the biggest and hardest job of re-
settlement remains. The supply of young people without de-
pendents is not unlimited. Early this year the Army, which
had previously accepted only volunteers,* decided to draft
the Nisei, like Negroes, for segregated units. This new turn of
events will draw off a few thousand evacues. But the most diffi-
cult problems are obviously the large families and the older
people. Depending heavily on the well-known tightness of the
family unit of its evacues, WRA believes that many of the
young men and women already relocated will soon bring their
parents and small sisters and brothers out. Perhaps these Nisei
who are so aggressively American themselves will not want
their families held behind the fences.
*No less than 1,200 Nisei have already volunteered from behind the wire
fences of the centers. Including Hawaiian Nisei, the total in the armed
forces in January was close to 10,000. Some are doing intelligence work in
the South Pacific. An all-Japanese-American battalion did distinguished
service in Italy, with heavy losses.
However, in WRA centers there are hundreds of families
with several young children, none old enough to leave alone.
He is a courageous father who dares to start a new life with
these responsibilities when, at the center, food, shelter, educa-
tion, medical care, $16 a month, and clothing are provided.
Farm families are often afraid to go to the Midwest to tr^
a totally new kind of agriculture. And many feel that they
are too old to start again as day laborers. There are the men
who had retail, export, import, wholesale, commission busi-
nesses. The concentrated little Tokyos in California made
possible a whole commercial structure in which the Japanese
provided goods and services for each other. Presumably there
will be no more little Tokyos to serve.
Even if the evacues were allowed back on the Pacific Coast
tomorrow, they could not readily establish themselves in the
old pattern. Quite apart from race prejudice, the gap they
left has closed in two years. Except for the few who own land,
they would have to build in California as patiently as they now
do in the East. They have been more thoroughly dislocated
than they realize as they think nostalgically about California.
No one can gauge how soon the prewar unwillingness to
accept charity or government relief deteriorates into a not-
unpleasant habit of security. It is too much to expect of any
people that their pride be unbreakable. Some of the old farm
women who were stoop labor all their lives, even after their
Nisei sons landholdings or leased acres became sizable, have
had the first rest in their history. Most of the old bachelors who
had always been day laborers frankly enjoy the security of
If the war lasts two more years, and if WRA has succeeded
in-finding places for 25,000 more Japanese-Americans in the
next twenty-four months (and WRA hopes to better that figure),
it will be a job well done. That would leave some 45,000 in
tKe relocation centers, as continuing public wards, not to men-
tion over 20,000 at Tule Lake and the Department of Justice
internment camps. Whatever the final residue, 25,000 or 45,000,
it is certain that the protective custody of 1942 and 1943
cannot end otherwise than in a kind of Indian reservation, to
plague the conscience of Americans for many years to come.
MILITARY NECESSITY, PROTECTIVE CUSTODY
Meanwhile in the coming months, and perhaps years, a series
of cases testing the constitutionality of evacuation and de-
tention, even suits for recovery of property will come before
the higher courts. Verdicts of unconstitutional, or even
rentual settlement of property claims cannot undo the record.
It is written not only in military orders, in American Legion
resolutions, Hearst headlines, and Supreme Court archives.
It is written into the lives of thousands of human beings, most
of them citizens of the U.S.
When future historians review the record, they may have
difficulty reconciling the Armys policy in California with
that pursued in Hawaii. People of Japanese blood make up
more than one-third of the Hawaiian Islands population, yet
no large-scale evacuation was ordered after Pearl Harbor and
Hickam Field became a shambles. Martial law was declared;
certain important constitutional rights of everyone were sus-
pended. The Department of Justice and the military authorities
went about their business, rounded up a few thousand sus-
pects. In Hawaii, unlike California, there was no strong po-
litical or economic pressure demanding evacuation of the
Japanese-Americans. Indeed, had they been removed, the very
foundation of peacetime Hawaiian life, sugar and pineapple
growing, would have been wrecked. General Delos C. Emmons,
who commanded the Hawaiian district in 1942, has said of
the Japanese-Americans there: They added materially to the
strength of the area.
For two full years the West Coast military necessity. order
of March, 1942, has remained in force-an unprecedented
quasi-ma.Yl\al law, suspending a small minoritys constitutional
rights of personal liberty and freedom of action. Those loyal
evacues who can take jobs in war plants in the East have
reason to ask why they are forbidden to return to California
to plant cabbages. Mr. Stimson and Mr. Knox have assured
the nation that the Japanese enemy is not coming to our shores.
The Pacific Coast is now a defense command, no longer a
theatre of operations, in the Armys own terminology. Each
month the March, 1942, order seems more unreasonable.
Perhaps the Army forbids the evacues to return home less
for military reasons than because of strong California pres-
sures and threats. The Hearst papers on the Pacific Coast
promise pogroms if any Japanese citizen or alien is permitted
to come home. New groups like the Home Front Commandos
of Sacramento have risen to cry: They must stay outor
else. The Associated Farmers and the California Grange,
the American Legion and the Sons and Daughters of the
Golden West reiterate the theme of or else. Politicians listen
and publicly urge that the despised minority be kept out of
California for the duration.
There are Californians who care about civil liberties and
human justice and see the grave danger of continued quasi-
martial law but they have difficulty getting their side heard.
The California C.I.O., the League of Women Voters, and seg-
ments of the church are all putting up a fight against con-
tinued protective security. They work side by side with the
Committee on American Principles and Fair Play, a group
that includes such distinguished Californians as President
Robert G. Sproul of the University of California, Ray Lyman
Wilbur, and Maurice E. Harrison.
Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt, who ordered the evacua-
tion in 1942, encouraged Californias racist pressure groups
when he said, I dont care what they do with the Japs as
long as they dont send them hack here. A Jap is a Jap. Gen-
eral Delos C. Emmons, who succeeded DeWitt on the West
Coast last September, says very little. He is the same General
Emmons who decided not to order wholesale evacuation of
the Japanese from Hawaii.
The longer the Army permits California and the rest of
the Pacific Coast to be closed to everyone of Japanese descent
the more time is given the Hearst papers and their allies to
convince Californians that they will indeed yield to lawless-
ness if the unwanted minority is permitted to return. By con-
tinuing to keep American citizens in protective custody,
the U.S. is holding to a policy as ominous as it is new. The
American custom in the past has been to lock up the citizen
who commits violence, not the victim of his threats and blows.
The doctrine of protective custody could prove altogether
too convenient a weapon in many other situations. In Cali-
fornia, a state with a long history of race hatred and vigilante-
ism, antagonism is already building against the Negroes who
have come in for war jobs. What is to prevent their removal
to jails, to protect them from riots? Or Negroes in Detroit,
Jews in Boston, Mexicans in Texas? The possibilities of pro-
tective custody are endless, as the Nazis have amply proved.