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Newspaper Articles on Japanese-American Internment

Newspaper headlines of Japanese Relocation. FDR Library.


San Francisco News
March 2, 1942

Only One State Set for Evacuees

A new evacuation order which may affect 200,000 Pacific Coast enemy aliens and their American-born children was awaited today as governors of states between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi — with one exception — announced they would permit Japanese aliens to live only in concentration camps if they were moved inland.

Lieut. Gen. John L. DeWitt, commanding general of the Fourth Army and the Western Defense Command, said a proclamation would be issued “shortly” designating military areas from which the exclusion of certain groups will be required.

President Roosevelt has given the Army authority to designate certain vital defense areas and exclude from them all persons, citizens and aliens alike.

Governors Queried

Rep. John H. Tolan (D., Cal.), heading a House committee investigating national defense migration, said he had polled the governors of 15 states west of the Mississippi River on proposals to send evacuees from Pacific Coast states.

Nine replied, in effect: “No Japanese wanted - except in concentration camps.”

However, Governor Ralph L. Carr of Colorado told General DeWitt his state would receive evacuated aliens as a contribution to the war effort, and General DeWitt telegraphed him the Army’s thanks.

The final decision as to who will be excluded, from where and when are “military decisions which must be based on military necessity,” General DeWitt said.

He was strongly critical of those who carried “unfounded rumors” and “so-called official statements” regarding Pacific Coast evacuation.

Japs Prepare to Go

Nevertheless, executives of the Japanese-American Citizens League were preparing their members for complete evacuation from the Coast. They pledged wholehearted co-operation with the Army.

Only the Army knows where these evacuees will go, and General DeWitt made plain that wherever they are moved, the public must accept them.

‘Clamor’ to Be Ignored

“Public clamor for evacuation from non-strategic areas and the insistence of local organizations and officials that evacuees not be moved into their communities cannot and will not be heeded,” he said.

“Considerations of national security come first.

“The appropriate agencies of the Federal Government are engaged in far-reaching preparations to deal with the problem. A study is in progress by those agencies regarding the protection of property, the resettlement and relocation of those who are affected.

“The complete preparation will include measures designed to safeguard as far as possible property and property rights, to avoid the depressing effect of forced sales, and generally to minimize resulting economic dislocations.

“As soon as these studies are concluded, definite designation of persons to be affected willl be made.”

Co-ordinator Sought

Rep. Tolan has asked President Roosevelt to appoint a Federal co-ordinator to have charge of evacuees’ problems, and possibly an alien property custodian for each of the Western states.

Replying to Colorado Governor Carr’s offer to co-operate, General DeWitt said: “I am hopeful that the governors of other states in this region will take a similar position, as it will be most helpful to me in solving the program [problem].”

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Behind the News With Arthur Caylor

San Francisco News
March 2, 1942

This, in a way, may be an add on [Westbrook] Pegler’s Friday column, in which, among other things, he made very clear the importance of the Negro people’s attitude toward the war. My story is that, whatever the philosophy involved, the enemy’s agents in our town are not neglecting an attempt to create a Japanese-Negro anti-white-race fifth column.

The Japanese colony and the Negro colony in San Francisco are close enough neighbors to provide many contacts. They share some things in common. The color-line is not so noticeable as it is elsewhere. This had made it possible, my agents learn from loyal Negro sources, for Japanese to spread racial propaganda.

It isn’t propaganda of the ridiculous Nazi kind, either. It doesn’t tell the Negro people that they’re really black Aryans. It points out subtly that their own experience should teach the Negroes that there’s less difference between brown and black than between black and white.

It takes advantage of all the real discrimination that has gone on, as well as the propaganda the Communists have used in past years in their effort to grab off the Negro vote. It attempts to sell the Negro on the idea that, although pacific by nature, he has often been forced into American military enterprises—and paid off in dirt.

It’s not nice to think that Japanese agents should be trying to stir up strife right in our own town—and at a time when the Japanese problem may mean such tragedy for loyal Japanese-Americans. But if you don’t think such things can go on, who do you suppose is tearing down air-raid shelter signs and defacing other notices designed to prevent confusion and save lives? Now is the time for Jap spies to do their stuff.

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The San Francisco News
March 3, 1942

93,000 Nipponese in California Are Affected by Order

The entire California, Washington and Oregon coasts, as well as the Southern sections of California and Arizona along the Mexican border, today were designated Military Area No. 1 by Lieut. Gen. John L. DeWitt, commanding the Western Defense Command and Fourth Army.

From this vast area, General DeWitt announced “such persons or classes of persons as the situation may require will by subsequent proclamation be excluded.”

Eventually this vast area will be cleared of all alien and American-born Japanese, as well as many Italians and Germans, but General DeWitt emphasized there will be no mass evacuation of Japanese, as some state and local officials have suggested. Mass evacuations, said General DeWitt, would be “impractical.”

“Evacuation from military areas will be a continuing process,” he said. “Japanese aliens and American-born Japanese will be required by future orders to leave certain critical points within the military areas first. These areas will be defined and announced shortly. After exclusion has been completed around the most strategic area, a gradual program of exclusion from the remainder of Military Area No. 1 will be developed.”

93,000 Affected

Unofficial estimates were that 93,000 aliens and American-born Japanese in California would be affected by today’s orders and those to follow.

While no immediate evacuation order was issued, General DeWitt suggested all Japanese—alien and American-born—might do well to get out of Military Area No. 1 as quickly as possible.

“Those Japanese and other aliens who move into the interior out of this area now will gain considerable advantage and in all probability will not again be disturbed,” he said.

Where to Go?

Where they might go, however, was uncertain. All portions of California, Oregon, Washington and Arizona were designated Military Area No. 2, from certain portions of which enemy aliens and American-born Japanese may be excluded.

General DeWitt said “military necessity is the most vital consideration, but the fullest attention is being given the effect upon individual and property rights” and that “plans are being developed to minimize economic dislocation and the sacrifice of property rights.”

Creation of Military Area No. 1 eventually will clear all American-born and alien Japanese and hundreds of other enemy aliens from the coastal section of California in which are located the most important military and industrial establishments.

This area is divided into two zones, A1 and B1. Enemy aliens will be completely barred from zone A1, and in zone B1 their movements will be greatly restricted.

The proclamation also imposed restriction on persons within the military area and designated postoffices as places where enemy aliens must register every time they change place of residence within the area or by leaving the area. Forms are being prepared.

Enemy Aliens in Five Classes

Enemy aliens, for greater efficiency, have been classified into five classes and proclamations affecting their future will be forthcoming with these numbers, General DeWitt said.

No. 1—All persons suspected of espionage, sabotage, fifth column or other subversive activities. The FBI and intelligence services are rounding them up daily.

No. 2—Japanese aliens.

No. 3—American-born Japanese.

No. 4—German aliens.

No. 5—Italian aliens.

After the military areas are cleared of Japanese, the general indicated, German and Italian aliens would be next in line for evacuation. However, German and Italian aliens 70 years of age or over will not be required to move “except when individually suspected.”

Also exempted will be “the families, including parents, wives, children, sisters and brothers of Germans and Italians in the armed forces,” unless such removal is required for specific reason.

Area Divided Lengthwise

The area of the four Western states named is divided lengthwise into the two military zones. Fronting the ocean and from a distance of three miles off shore to beyond the coast range mountain areas is the prohibited zone “A-1.”

The adjoining territory—which in Central California extends as far east as Placerville, thereby slicing the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys down the middle—comprises restricted “zone-B.”

In addition there are 97 specific localities and communities containing military installations and utilities which are closed to non-citizens and are marked “prohibited zones A2-A99 inclusive.”

San Francisco and the entire Bay Region as far as Vallejo and Tracy are within the prohibited zone. To the north Highway 101 in general follows the contours of the line dividing the prohibited zone from the contiguous restricted zone.

The restricted zone extends approximately from Highway 101 to Highway 99E to the vicinity of Fresno, thence along 99 to where it joins California Highway 198, eastward near the towns of Johannesburg, Daggett, and Cadez, along Highway 66 to Topock, Ariz., past Mathia, Hot Springs Junction, Phoenix, and more or less to the Arizona-New Mexico state lines to Mexico via the towns of Superior, Bowie and San Simon.

General DeWitt has announced creation of a special civilian staff headed by Tom C. Clark, Federal alien co-ordinator, to assist the Army in the economic planning made necessary by the evacuations.

Protests Over-ruled

Informed that governors of nine interior states were protesting any resettlement of Japanese in their areas, General DeWitt said military necessity must take precedence over civilian wishes.

The proclamation and the specific evacuation orders which are to follow “shortly” are culmination of an alien control policy the Government instituted immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

FBI agents seized key Japanese, German and Italian leaders in nationwide raids. Then aliens were ordered to turn in cameras, shotguns, short wave radio sets, binoculars and other materials usable for spying or sabotage. Next all enemy nationals were ordered to register so the Government could check identities and residences.

History Traced

In January the policy of excluding enemy aliens from strategic areas was developed. The Army and the FBI cleared 147 such districts in the four Western states on Feb. 15 and Feb. 24. FBI agents instituted wholesale raids to seize contraband and “potentially dangerous enemy aliens” including leaders of Japanese, Italian and German labor, military and naval societies.

Thus approximately 15,000 enemy aliens were brought into custody or removed from vital areas.

General DeWitt’s proclamation seeks to bring all remaining enemy aliens on the Coast—closes area to possible Japanese attack—under control.

Mike M. Masaoka, national secretary and field executive of the Japanese American Citizens League, said today:

“We are instructing the 65 chapters of our organization in 300 communities to call meetings immediately in their locality to discuss methods by which they can correlate their energies and co-operate extensively in the evacuation process.”

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The San Francisco News
March 3, 1942

The Committee on National Security & Fair Play, headed by Dr. Henry F. Grady, former assistant secretary of state and president of the American President Steamship Lines, today urged that care of evacuated persons be committed to civilian government agencies experienced in social welfare.

It is said there “appear to be only three methods of caring for evacuees"—allow their settlement whereby they can work freely and produce for the war or civilian needs; set up supervised work projects or support them in part or whole at public expense.

The committee warned that “indiscriminate removal of citizens of alien parentage might convert predominately loyal or harmless citizens into desperate fifth-columnists.”

Thus far, it said, 9000 have been evacuated.

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The San Francisco News
March 4, 1942

The greatest forced migration in American history was getting under way today.

Along the entire Pacific Coast, and from the southern half of Arizona, some 120,000 enemy aliens and American-born Japanese were moving, or preparing to move, to areas in which the threat of possible espionage, sabotage or fifth column activities would be minimized.

None of the Japanese had actual orders to get out of the coastal military area designated yesterday by Lieut. Gen. John L. DeWitt, Western defense and Fourth Army commander, but all had his warning that eventually they must go.

Before deadlines are set for clearing of the area—twice as large as Japan itself—there is much to be done by the Army and by governmental agencies co-operating with it in working out a program that will call for the least possible economic confusion.

Thomas C. Clark, alien control co-ordinator, said in Los Angeles he hoped Japanese might be removed from coast prohibited areas within 60 days, but that “we are not going to push them around.”

“We are going to give these people a fair chance to dispose of their properties at proper prices,” Mr. Clark said. “It has come to our attention that many Japanese farmers have been stampeded into selling their properties for little or nothing.”

Sixty-five chapters of the Japanese-American Citizens League, which claims a membership of 20,000 American-born Japanese, will hold meetings soon in 300 communities “to discuss methods by which they can correlate their energies and co-operate extensively in the evacuation process.”

Necessity Realized

Mike Masaoka, national field secretary of the league, said its members “realize that it was the necessity of military expediency which forced the Army to order the eventual evacuation of all Japanese,” and that he “assumed” the classification of Americans of Japanese lineage “in the same category as enemy aliens was impelled by the motives of military necessity and that no racial discrimination was implied.”

Among those who must move, after the Army swings into its plan for progressive clearing of the 2000-mile-long military area (Japanese and Japanese-Americans will be affected first) are more that 400 University of California students - 315 American-born Japanese, 11 alien Japanese, 75 Germans and six Italians.

Deadline Definite

General DeWitt gave no indication when the first deadline for Japanese in the coastal area would be set.

There was continued action, however, against “Class 1” persons listed in General DeWitt’s announcement of the military area. This class includes persons definitely suspected of sabotage and espionage, of which several thousand already have been taken into custody by the FBI on presidential warrants accusing them of being potentially dangerous aliens.

Among the most important arrests during the past 24 hours was that of George Nakamura, an alien Japanese living close to the Santa Cruz shoreline. In his possession FBI agents and police said they found 69 crates of powerful fireworks of the signal type - rockets, flares and torches.

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Jap Ban to Force Farm Adjustments

The San Francisco News
March 4, 1942

Evacuation of Japanese from California’s agricultural areas will necessitate serious adjustments in farming and marketing of fruits and vegetables in this state farm spokesmen said today. Officials of the California Farm Bureau estimated that 40 per cent of all California’s vegetables were raised by Japanese, with the percentage of fruit lands under their control running somewhat less.

Some types of agricultural produce are practically dominated by Japanese labor or control.

‘Nearly 100 Per Cent’

“Strawberries are nearly 100 per cent under the control of Japanese,” one farm authority said. “The work requires the most arduous form of ‘stoop labor’ and much of it must be done on hands and knees. It is impossible to get any other type of labor than Japanese to stand the pace of the nine-month season.”

Japanese plantings in celery, tomatoes, peppers, are important and it is estimated that they likewise are responsible for nearly 75 per cent of the state’s acreage in cucumbers, onions and spinach.

While officials of the Farm Bureau point out that white farmers can handle the planting of tomatoes this year, the problem of their harvest later will create a real problem.

Early School Closing?

“It has been proposed to close rural schools earlier this year as a potential source of labor for harvesting tomatoes,” one bureau official said.

Other proposals under considerable by farm groups include shutting down relief projects to provide more farm workers, and possible use of Mexican labor.

Lettuce harvests around the Salinas Valley are not expected to be affected where an ample of supply of Filipino labor is available. The valley supplies 90 per cent of the lettuce to the entire country when the flow of “green gold” is at its seasonal peak.

Close watch is also being kept on the possible movement of Italians from the coastal belt, particularly in the artichoke industry which they dominate from Colma to Monterey County. The harvest season is just reaching its peak and will last about another month.

The impending evacuation of Japanese “makes possible a return of the Chinese to the good earth,” The Chinese Press, only all-English Chinese paper in America, said today.

Editor Charles Leong said:

“A few Chinese remember that their parents labored on farms in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys and all along coastal farm areas. Many owned potato and asparagus ranches. In farm centers like Watsonville and Santa Cruz, Chinese at one time owned all the strawberry business.

“But when the old-timers passed on, it seems that the ranch life, a hard life, did not appeal to the second generation. As a result the Japanese today have a monopoly on an industry when the Chinese could have continued to develop... .”

California faces the major problem with the Japanese on farm lands on the West Coast, the census figures reveal, as they are listed as owning 68 million dollars worth of farm lands here and only an additional two million dollars worth of farm lands in Oregon and Washington combined.

The three major clusterings of Japanese in rural areas are in the Sacramento River delta regions, the lower San Joaquin Valley district and the country around Santa Maria and Santa Barbara.

Within the Bay Area the number of farms owned by Japanese are listed as follows: Alameda County, 130; San Mateo County, 71; Contra Costa County, 70; Marin, 4, and Santa Clara, 390.

The Japanese exodus also will hit the lawns and gardens of thousands of Bay Area residents, particularly those on the Peninsula, for there seems no substitute labor supply to replace the hundreds of Japanese gardeners. Fast and efficient workers, some of the Japanese have been caring for from 40 to 50 gardens each.

The entire problem is being studied closely by officials of the California State Chamber of Commerce, the Farm Bureau, and other state and Federal agencies interested in agricultural questions.

‘Japtown’ Problem

Under study locally was the matter of the eventual clearing out of the Japanese section roughly bounded by Geary, Pine, Octavia and Webster-sts, in which several hundred homes and shops are occupied by Japanese.

The 1940 census listed 5280 Japanese—2004 citizens and 2276 aliens—in San Francisco. The majority of them live in the Japanese section. Some have been interned and many more already have moved inland. But possibly 4000 still are there.

What will become of the homes and shops they eventually will vacate is under discussion by real estate organizations. No decision has been reached.

SANTA FE, N.M., March 4.—In the wake of reports that “nearly 3000 Japanese” being evacuated from the Pacific Coast would be interned in New Mexico, Governor John E. Miles today announced his state would co-operate fully. He urged strict methods to safeguard New Mexico citizens.

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San Francisco Chronicle
May 21, 1942

For the first time in 81 years, not a single Japanese is walking the streets of San Francisco. The last group, 274 of them, were moved yesterday to the Tanforan assembly center. Only a scant half dozen are left, all seriously ill in San Francisco hospitals.

Last night Japanese town was empty. Its stores were vacant, its windows plastered with "To Lease" signs. There were no guests in its hotels, no diners nibbling on sukiyaki or tempura. And last night, too, there were no Japanese with their ever present cameras and sketch books, no Japanese with their newly acquired furtive, frightened looks.

A colorful chapter in San Francisco history was closed forever. Some day maybe, the Japanese will come back. But if they do it will be to start a new chapter - with characters that are irretrievably changed. It was in 1850 - more than 90 years ago - that the first Japanese came to San Francisco, more than four years before Commodore Perry engineered the first trade treaty with Japan. The first arrival was one Joseph Heco, a castaway, brought here by his rescuers. What happened to Heco is, apparently, a point overlooked by historians. He certain came and probably went – but nobody seems to know when or where.

Not for another 11 years did the real Japanese migration begin. In 1861, the second Japanese came here. Five years later, seven more arrived. The next year there were 67, and from then on migration boomed. By 1869 there was a Japanese colony at Gold Hill near Sacramento. In 1872 the first Japanese Consulate opened in San Francisco – an office that passed through many hands, many regimes, and many policies before December 7, 1941. On that fateful day, according to census records, there were 5,280 Japanese in San Francisco.

They left San Francisco by the hundreds all through last January and February, seeking new homes and new jobs in the East and Midwest. In March, the Army and the Wartime Civil Control Administration took over with a new humane policy of evacuation to assembly and relocation centers where both the country and the Japanese could be given protection. The first evacuation under the WCCA came during the first week in April, when hundreds of Japanese were taken to the assembly center at Santa Anita. On April 25 and 26, and on May 6 and 7, additional thousands were taken to the Tanforan Center. These three evacuations had cleared half of San Francisco. The rest were cleared yesterday.

These last Japanese registered here last Saturday and Sunday. All their business was to have been cleaned up, all their possessions sold or stored. Yesterday morning, at the Raphael Weill School on O'Farrell Street, they started their ride to Tanforan. Quickly, painlessly, protected by military police from any conceivable "incident," they climbed into the six waiting special Greyhound buses. There were tears – but not from the Japanese. They came from those who stayed behind – old friends, old employers, old neighbors. By noon, all 274 were at Tanforan, registered, assigned to their temporary new homes and sitting down to lunch.

The Japanese were gone from San Francisco.

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