The Japanese Evacuation



United States Army Assistant Chief of Staff, Western Defense Command and Fourth Army

Delivered before the Commonwealth Club, San Francisco, May 20, 1942

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VIII, pp. 541-544.

THE problem of evacuation of all persons of Japanese ancestry from the Pacific coastal frontier is one that interests the people of the United States. Especially is it one that interests members of the Commonwealth Club, as well as all persons resident in this coastal area.

First, I should like to tell you something of the reasoning behind the evacuation of all persons of Japanese ancestry from this coastal frontier.

There are three principal dangers—hence, three principal problems bearing upon internal security in time of war. These problems, and the methods used to combat them, are described, ordinarily, in these terms: Anti-sabotage, counterespionage and counter-fifth column. By the latter is meant action in concert by well-organized groups under raid or invasion conditions.

The relationship of the Japanese population to these dangers, following the outbreak of war, became a problem peculiar to the West Coast. The Japanese community presented a group with a high potential for action against the national interest—I will comment more fully on this in a moment. To approach the problem as one involving only alien enemies would be to suggest, first, that the danger, if any, would emanate from alien Japanese alone, a group of persons whose average age is well above sixty years. Also, it would be to suggest that every alien Japanese is a potential saboteur or espionage agent; and, perforce, to suggest the converse.

By design, or by accident, substantial numbers of the Japanese coastal frontier communities were deployed through very sensitive and very vital areas.

Now, if you and I had settled in Japan, raised our families there and if our children and grandchildren were raised there, it is most improbable that during a period of war between Japan and the United States, if we were not interned, that we would commit any overt acts of sabotage acting individually. Doubtless, in the main, and irrespective of our inner emotions, you and I would be law abiding.

But when the final test of loyalty came, if United States forces were engaged in launching an attack on Japan, I believe it is extremely doubtful whether we could withstand the ties of race and the affinity for the land of our forbears, and stand with the Japanese against United States forces.

To withstand such pressure seems too much to expect of any national group, almost wholly unassimilated and which has preserved in large measure to itself, its customs and traditions—a group characterized by strong filial piety.

It is doubtless true that many persons of Japanese ancestry are loyal to the United States. It is also true that many are not loyal. We know this. Contrary to other national orracial groups, the behavior of Japanese has been such that in not one single instance has any Japanese reported disloyalty on the part of another specific individual of the same race.

There has been no substantial evidence of manifestation of nationalistic fervor exhibited by any Japanese group in the United States since the outbreak of the war. Even on the Emperor's birthday there was no visible evidence that the day was remembered in evacuee centers.

This attitude—well illustrated, I think, by the fact that there has not been a single instance when any Japanese has reported disloyalty on the part of another of the same race— may be, and can be a most ominous thing. Chasing specters of fear is merely exhausting. It accomplishes nothing. The Army least of all will expend its energies in that direction. But it must be realistic—the nation must be realistic. The real contingencies must be taken into account. The contingency that under raid or invasion conditions there might be widespread action in concert—well-regulated, well-disciplined and controlled—a fifth column, is a real one. As such, it presented a threat to the national security and therefore a problem which required solution.

Here, in brief, is a timetable of how that problem was met.

On February 19th the President of the United States delegated to the Secretary of War the power to exclude any person, alien or citizen from any area which might be required on the grounds of military necessity. This delegation of power included the authority to carry out an evacuation program.

The following day these powers were delegated by the Secretary of War to Lieutenant General J. L. DeWitt, Commanding the Western Defense Command and Fourth Army. Responsibility for a solution of the problem relating to Japanese along the coastal frontier became his.

The development of a program depended in part on enactment by Congress of the necessary sanctions, upon which enforcement could be predicated. This was done on March 21st with the approval of Public Law 503, 77th Congress, making it a misdemeanor to violate any published regulations made applicable by Commanding General under the Executive Order to the right to enter, remain in, or leave the military area.

On March 2nd, General DeWitt by Public Proclamation Number One designated the West half (roughly) of Washington, Oregon, California and the South half of Arizona as Military Area No. 1. There were created certain prohibited and restricted zones. In establishing these military areas, General DeWitt announced that Japanese aliens and American born persons of Japanese lineage would be the first required to evacuate certain critical points to be designated.

At this time it was also indicated that following the evacuation of critical areas there would be a gradual clearance of all of the coastal area and all prohibited zones.

By order of the Commanding General on March 10, the Civil Affairs Division of the General Staff of Western Command and Fourth Army was created. It was charged, under the Assistant Chief of Staff for Civil Affairs, with responsibility for formulation of plans and directives for "Control and exclusion of civilians, including the designation of military areas." On March 11, 1942, the Wartime Civil Control Administration was created by order of General DeWitt. It is the operating agency of the Civil Affairs Division under command of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Civil Affairs to carry out such plans and directives.

On March 18, a Presidential Order established the War Relocation Authority. It is charged with responsibility of selecting, preparing and operating permanent centers where evacuees may live and work for the duration of the war, and to supervise all work and employment of evacuees both in and out of such centers.

On March 29th an order was issued by General DeWitt prohibiting voluntary migration by the Japanese. This date marked the beginning of planned, supervised evacuation.

On May 31st, the interim evacuation of the Japanese population to temporary Assembly Centers will have been completed, except for 2,000 who will be evacuated by June 6.

This timetable represents the highlights of the undertaking.

The evacuation program itself consisted of three interim steps and a final solution.

The first step was designation of military areas from which the Japanese were to be excluded and the volunteer migration which followed. Encouragement was given to the voluntary migration from Military Areas and an effort was made on the part of some groups of Japanese to locate in other states. Altogether about 6,000 Japanese moved inland, but voluntary migration, on the whole, proved to be impractical because it was not accepted. The Army had in mind from the beginning that the major extent of the movement of the Japanese from military areas would have to be undertaken as a completely organized, controlled and supervised operation. The Army's job, however, called for the evacuation of 113,000 people and this involved development of means to assist evacuees in the disposition of homes and businesses, farms and crops, equipment and property, and innumerable problems of personal adjustment as well as finding and preparing temporary locations for the evacuees.

The second interim step was a plan for immediate evacuation if developments required. The Army needed time to prepare a permanent program and the situation called for an emergency plan. It was impossible, of course, at this time for the Army to reveal the fact that it was prepared to affect a complete evacuation, practically overnight, in the event of an emergency. Plans were made to move the 113,000 Japanese into already established Army cantonments in a mass movement which could have been undertaken immediately. Prepared in this way against the possibility of fifth column activity, or for any outbreaks of anti-Japanese feeling, the Army continued with its plans for a permanent program.

The third interim step was the selection and preparation of eighteen temporary Assembly Centers to which the Japanese could be quickly removed for later transfer to permanent locations. The decision to remove the Japanese to temporary Assembly Centers was based upon several important considerations. In the first place, the use of fairgrounds, race tracks and other public properties which provided installations of utilities as well as convenient locations, contributed to greater speed in the evacuation program. The use of these properties also made it easier to protect the evacuees' welfare and property. Moreover, evacuation through these centers could be accomplished with the use of a minimum number of soldiers.

The final step in the program is the settlement of evacuees in the permanent centers operated by the War Relocation Authority. This is the phase of the program that has taken more time than was available considering the necessity for early evacuation. It was primarily to prepare for this concluding phase of the evacuation program that the methods described were employed in the preliminary or interim steps.

The actual operation of the program is under the Civil Affairs Division of the General Staff of the Fourth Army and Western Defense Command. In direct charge of the evacuation operation is the Assistant Chief of Staff who serves as head of the Civil Affairs Division of the Fourth Army Staff and of the Wartime Civil Control Administration.

In addition to the military, the Wartime Civil Control Administration includes representatives of all Federal departments and civilian agencies involved in the evacuation job.

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, has assisted Japanese in the disposition of their property including leases, transfers, merchandise, automobiles, and household furnishings.

The Department of Agriculture through the Farm Security Administration undertook a program of resettlement of evacuated lands and the protection of growing crops.

The Federal Security Agencies, through the United States Employment Service, the Social Security Board, and the United States Public Health Service, have given important assistance at several stages of the evacuation centers.

The Department of Justice has had difficult legal problems and its Federal Bureau of Investigation has made an important contribution. The Works Progress Administration has provided civilian personnel to handle under Army direction the management and operation of the evacuation centers.

The Department of Commerce through the Bureau of Census has provided highly qualified statistical and research personnel and service.

The Office of Emergency Management has assisted in administrative operation.

So far we have considered the problem that confronted the government and the nation, the timetable of important developments in meeting the problem, the major step in the evacuation program, and the administrative authority and organization in charge of the program. This brings me to the actual detail of how the evacuation is carried on.

There are 64 W. C. C. A. stations on the coast through which the Japanese are given necessary assistance. In each station there are representatives of each Federal agency directly involved. For example, the Federal Security Administration provides a receptionist; a social worker who is prepared to assist in family problems and in preliminary plans for housing. The Federal Reserve Bank provides consultants to advise on property protection, auto and truck transportation, household goods, storage, etc. Representatives of Farm Security Administration advise on crop loans, handling offarm equipment and matters relating to the purchase or management of farm lands.

The exclusion order is the first step in actual evacuation procedure. It has required careful advance planning down to the smallest detail by the Army staff comprising the Wartime Civil Control Administration. The task of each agency, whether civil or military is carefully prescribed to fit the evacuation project involved. Careful synchronizing must be assured by this advance planning. Following this, the order for the evacuation of a given, desirable area is given and the team starts functioning.

Notices are posted advising the Japanese population of the limits of the area to be evacuated and advising them to report to a Civil Control Station and to be prepared to move by a given date.

Each civil control station functions about five days in a particular evacuation area. The team which makes up a given "station" then moves on to its next assignment—it spends about 4 days in advance reconnaissance. Such a team comprises civilian agency representatives including a medical examiner from the U. S. Public Health Service and a team captain from the U. S. Employment Service. They have been trained in advance for the job by the Wartime Civil Control Administration.

The next major phase of the evacuation procedure is the transportation of evacuees to the Assembly Centers.

On the date of moving the Army takes full charge of the movement and determines whether the evacuation is accomplished by train, bus or automobile caravan. Evacuees may sell their automobiles to the Government or have them stored temporarily.

Upon arrival at the center the evacuees are registered and assigned living quarters by the civilian personnel. Much of the detail work connected with resettlement in the Assembly Centers is carried on with the assistance of the Japanese themselves. A small Army contingent guards the camp but the Army has no other personnel involved in the operation of the Assembly Centers after the evacuees have been brought into the grounds.

The accommodations at each of the Assembly Centers include living quarters for family units, group dining halls, milk stations, shower baths, toilets and laundries. A post exchange is in operation at each center and a modest program of recreational activities to supplement work projects is being provided. Each center has its own hospital and staff.

The evacuees are supplied with food, housing, hospitalization, medical and dental care and necessary clothing. During their temporary residence in the Assembly Centers, Japanese are given nominal allowances for incidentals. Upon application the evacuees may secure coupon books which may be used for the purchase of merchandise at the center exchanges or stores. These books entitle a single adult to $2.50 merchandise per month, a couple to $4.00, an individual under 16 years $1.00. The maximum allowance for any family is $7.50.

Compensation is given to those evacuees who work in the Assembly Centers upon this basis: unskilled workers $8.00 a month; skilled workers $12.00; professional and technical workers $16.00 a month. No wage schedule for evacuees who are assigned to administrative and maintenance work has been determined. The wage schedule in Assembly Centers are based on a 44 hour week. The compensation to which I refer is provided only for work done in connection with the operation of the Assembly Centers.

The eighteen temporary Assembly Centers were selected for the accommodation of all Japanese in the Western States.

These centers are located in four states as follows:




Fresno, Marysville, Merced, Pinedale, Pomona, Sacramento, Salinas, Arcadia, Stockton, Tanforan, Tulare, Turlock, Tule Lake, Manzanar.





The largest is at Santa Anita race track in Arcadia, with a capacity of 17,000. Next come Manzanar and Tule Lake with a capacity of 10,000 each and Puyallup and Tanforan, each with 8,000.

Fresno, Merced, Pinedale, Pomona, Sacramento, Stockton and Tulare have capacities of 5,000 each, Salinas and Turlock 4,000 each, Marysville and Portland 3,000 each, and the more or less isolated Mayer Center, 250.

The complete job of preparing the Assembly Centers and actual removal of the Japanese to these centers will have been accomplished during a period of about two months. During this time housing for 113,000 people has been erected, supplied and equipped. The construction, equipping and supplying of eighteen Assembly Centers and the whole evacuation procedure have been accomplished under the direction of only 35 Army officers.

We have referred to Assembly Centers as temporary locations. It is definitely understood that the Japanese who have been removed to the Assembly Centers will be transferred at a later date to the permanent Relocation Centers which are now being prepared.

The machinery for this final phase of the program was established under executive order on March 18th in the creation of the War Relocation Authority as a civilian agency under the direction of Mr. Milton Eisenhower. The War Relocation Authority works in cooperation with the War Department and is charged with the responsibility for locating and operating Relocation Centers in which the Japanese may live for the duration of the war. The Army will have no part in this phase of the program except for the actual transfer of evacuees from Assembly Centers to Relocation Centers and the maintenance of protective military guards outside the centers, although the Army does actually construct and equip the permanent Centers which War Relocation Authority is to operate.

Many people have asked about the extent to which the Japanese will be available to contribute to the nation's production of agricultural and other products.

This matter lies solely within the jurisdiction and responsibility of the War Relocation Authority, the separate agency charged with the permanent handling of the whole problem.

Therefore, I can only answer the question in part directly and in part by quoting from a statement of policy just issued by War Relocation Authority.

War Relocation Authority has created a War Relocation Work Corps in which all Japanese over 16 years of age may voluntarily enlist. The following is quoted from War Relocation Authority's booklet on the subject:

"Enlistment in the work corps is entirely voluntary and all evacuees over sixteen years of age who are employable,

both men and women, may apply. Among the obligations which the enlistee assumes are these:

1. He agrees to serve as a member of the corps until two weeks after the end of the war.

2. He swears loyalty to the United States and agrees to perform faithfully all tasks assigned to him by the Corps authority.

3. He may be granted furloughs for work in agricultural, industrial or other private employment under the following conditions:

a. Since the Army cannot provide protective services for groups or communities of less than 5,000, each State and local community where enlistees are to work must give assurance that they are in a position to maintain law and order.

b. Transportation to the place of private employment and return must be arranged without cost to the Federal Government.

c. Employers must, of course, pay prevailing wages to enlistees without displacing other labor and must provide suitable living accommodations.

d. For the time enlistees are privately employed, they will pay the Government for expenses incurred in behalf of their dependents who may remain at Relocation Centers.

Upon application from War Relocation Authority, and statement that the conditions just quoted have been met to the satisfaction of War Relocation Authority, the Army will permit Japanese to leave Assembly Centers for private employment providing the location of such Japanese is to be outside the boundaries of Military Area No. 1. The Army will grant no permits for work within Military Area No. 1 under any circumstances. So far as the Army is concerned then, evacuees are now in Assembly Centers—virtually all of them. Soon all of them will be. While there, they are the Army's full responsibility. It accepts that. When the permanent centers are built it will transport evacuees to such centers under Army convoy. It will also provide military guard around such established centers. It accepts that responsibility, too. But it cannot accept the responsibility when evacuees are released to be employed privately because it does not have the men or the equipment to spare. On the other hand if state, local and private interests ask War Relocation Authority for evacuees labor, and agree to be responsible for the maintenance of law and order, knowing that the Army cannot provide supervision, the Army cannot and will not stand in the way of permitting such labor to be made available by War Relocation Authority,

Prospective employers seeking to arrange for the private employment of Japanese under the conditions I have outlined should consult Mr. E, R. Fryer, Regional Director of the War Relocation Authority, Whitcomb Hotel, San Francisco.

I have tried—and I hope—succeeded—in making clear the distinction between relocation which is being handled by War Relocation Authority without cooperation, and evacuation which has been the Army's job, and which I have described in detail.

At the present time we are pleased to report that the evacuation of West Coast Japanese to Assembly Centers has been practically completed and the program has been carried out thus far without a single major accident or disturbance. We believe that the undertaking has been accomplished with due regard for the basic rights of the evacuees and in the spirit of American democracy. At least we know that the job has been done in time.