[Air Mail] June 4th, 1941. The honorable the ATTORNEY GENERAL, Washington, D. C. (Attention: Wendell Berge, Assistant Attorney General)
SIR: Reference is made to your letter dated May 22, 1941 in which you asked my opinion concerning the prosecution of the several Japanese Sub-Consular Agents in Hawaii and also my radiogram of May 31, 1941 relative to the same matter.
Immediately after receiving your letter, I contacted Mr. R. L. Shivers, Special Agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Agent F. G. Tillman, who has been assigned to Japanese matters exclusively. Although I have been aware of this general situation for some time, no reports concerning these matters have been submitted to this office. Mr. Shivers brought with him, at my request, a copy of the investigative report of Special Agent F. G. Tillman, dated at Honolulu, March 10, 1941, in reference to ITSUO HAMADA, concerning a violation of the Registration Act. From my conversation with Mr. Shivers and Mr. Tillman and from the information set out in the report, I think that a successful prosecution could be had against this individual and other Japanese Sub-Consular Agents in the Territory if the facts are substantially the same in all of these cases. Mr. Shivers advises me that about forty of these
cases have been investigated completely and would be ready for immediate prosecution and that the facts in the remaining two hundred or so are approximately the same and they could be brought up to date with very little notice.
In a conference with representatives of the Army and Navy in which Captain I. H. Mayfield represented the Admiral of the 14th Naval District and Colonel M. W. Marsden represented the Commanding General of the Hawaiian Department, Captain Mayfield stated that it was the opinion of the Admiral that prosecution should be instituted immediately against these Japanese Sub-Consular Agents and that it should be handled in a routine manner so as to cause as little disturbance as possible. Colonel Marsden stated that it was the opinion of the Commanding General of the Hawaiian Department who is charged with the internal security of the Islands, that prosecution at this time would be detrimental to the general plans of the Army and would probably have a bad effect on work already done. It is also the Commanding General's opinion that the majority of the American citizens of Japanese ancestry will be loyal to the United States and that prosecution at this time of the Sub-Consular Agents would only tend to aggravate the situation and probably materially effect the loyalty of these individuals. The Army has conveyed the opinion to the Japanese population as a whole that they will be taken care of and given full protection of the law if they are loyal to the United States.
It is my opinion that these prosecutions should be instituted at the earliest possible time if they do not conflict with any policy of the State Department or other Departments of the Government. I think it has been clearly developed from investigation that these Sub-Consular Agents exercise an enormous influence on the Japanese population in the Territory and all evidence indicates the fact that they are the sources of information for the Consul and the Agents through whom he delivers his instructions to the Japanese in the Territory.
I think that if we ever hope to divorce the influence of the Consul and Tokyo from the Japanese people in the Territory of Hawaii, it should be begun immediately and that this would be one of the best steps in that direction.
During the conference with the Army and Navy and other conferences that I have had with individuals in Honolulu in reference to this situation, it is impossible to predict just what reaction the Japanese population as a whole in the Territory would have to such step, but it is my opinion that the good that would be done would far outweigh any evil that might result.
No further action will be taken on this matter until advice is received from you.
ANGUS M. TAYLOR, Jr., United States Attorney, District of Hawaii.