On-line Book
Book Cover
Cover Page


Table of Contents





Brief History

Gila River


Heart Mountain







Tule Lake

Isolation Centers

Add'l Facilities

Assembly Centers

DoJ and US Army Facilities



Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Confinement and Ethnicity:
Barbed wire divider
An Overview of World War II
Japanese American Relocation Sites

by J. Burton, M. Farrell, F. Lord, and R. Lord

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Chapter 3 (continued)
A Brief History of Japanese American
Relocation During World War II

Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean

The mass evacuation of Japanese Americans from the West Coast was only part of the removals undertaken throughout much of the Western Hemisphere. At the outbreak of World War II there were some 600,000 ethnic Japanese living in the Americas (Daniels 1991:132).

seized fishing boats, Fraser River, BC
Figure 3.13. Seized fishing boats impounded on the Fraser River.
(Public Archives of Canada, Adachi 1976)
Canada, already at war with Germany and Italy, declared war on Japan within hours of the attacks on Pearl Harbor and British Hong Kong. Of the 23,000 people of Japanese ancestry in Canada, 75 percent were Canadian citizens. In the beginning, only Japanese aliens were arrested, but over 1,200 Japanese-Canadian fishing vessels, all owned by citizens, were impounded and later sold to finance the relocation (Figure 3.13; Daniels 1989:182-184).

By January 14, 1942, all Japanese alien males over 16 years of age had been removed from Pacific coast areas. When British Columbia politicians learned of the U.S. decision to evacuate all people of Japanese ancestry, including U.S. citizens, from the West Coast they demanded Canada do the same (Hirabayashi 1991).

A total evacuation was ordered on February 24. However, exceptions were made for those married to non-Asians (Daniels 1989:185). On March 16, eight days before the first evacuation of Japanese Americans by the U.S. Army, the removal of all Japanese-Canadians in British Columbia began. Over 21,000 were sent through the Hastings Park clearing station, the Canadian equivalent of an assembly center. From Hastings Park, half of the Japanese-Canadians were sent to Interior Housing Centers at six abandoned mining towns. The remaining were relocated to sugar beet farms, lumber camps, road construction camps, and other work camps in interior Canada (Figure 3.14). Even after the war, the Japanese-Canadians were not allowed to return to British Columbia until April 1949.

map of Japanese Canadian relocation sites
Figure 3.14. Japanese Canadian relocation sites.
(click image for larger size (~48K) )

In Mexico people of Japanese ancestry along the Pacific Coast and the U.S. border were required by the Mexican government to liquidate property and move inland to resettlement camps (Weglyn 1976:57). They were eventually required to resettle in Mexico City or Guadalajara (Daniels 1991:132).

The U.S. pressured many Central and South American counties, even those not at war with Japan, to turn over Japanese immigrants and nationals to U.S. authorities for transportation to the U.S. (Weglyn 1976:57). The U.S. cited the safety of the Panama Canal as the rationale for this removal, but the use of the Japanese as pawns for exchange was not overlooked. During the early part of the war some 7,000 U.S. citizens had been captured by Japanese forces in the Philippines, Guam, Wake Island, and China.

In all, 2,264 Japanese were sent to the U.S. from Latin American and Caribbean counties; over 1,000 were from Peru (Gardiner 1991). Brazil's 300,000 Japanese, the largest population outside of Hawaii, were left largely alone (Daniels 1991:132), as were persons of Japanese ancestry in Chile and Argentina. Cuba incarcerated all adult male Japanese.

The first transfer to the U.S. occurred in April 1942. Most of the Japanese sent to the U.S. from Latin America were confined at Crystal City, Texas, a special family facility operated by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

During the war the Swedish ship Gripsholm made two voyages to exchange 2,840 Japanese for American citizens. Nearly half of the Japanese exchanged were from Latin America. Alarmed at the number of Japanese being sent to the U.S. and with the exchange of citizens with Japan at a standstill, the Department of Justice ended the deportations to the U.S. in early 1943 (Weglyn 1976:63-64). After the war, many of the deportees were denied reentry to their sending country, and as a result many returned to Japan or stayed in the U.S. In 1946 many went to work at Seabrook Farms in New Jersey.

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Last Modified: Fri, Sep 1 2000 07:08:48 pm PDT

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