On-line Book

Personal Justice Denied







Before Pearl Harbor

Executive Order 9066

Exclusion and Evacuation

Economic Loss

Assembly Centers

Relocation Centers

Loyalty: Leave and Segregation

Ending the Exclusion

Protest and Disaffection

Military Service


Germans and German Americans

After Camp

Latin Americans


War and Evacuation in Alaska


Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians

Part I: Nisei and Issei

Chapter 7: Loyalty: Leave and Segretation

By October 1942, the government was holding over 100,000 evacuees in relocation centers. Evacuation had been an emergency measure, but politics and the chimera of a threat to military security had sentenced the evacuees to indefinite confinement. They were still detained although no individual charges had been, or could have been, made against them. Supported by neither statute nor explicit executive order, the legal basis for confining evacuees was plainly suspect. The human toll the camps were taking was enormous—physical hardship, growing anger toward the United States and deteriorating morale. The tide of war turned with the American victory at the battle of Midway in June 1942 and as the possibility of Japanese attack grew more remote, the military necessity for detention and exclusion became increasingly difficult to defend. Nevertheless, other than the WRA's ineffective leave program, the government had no plans to remedy the situation and no means of distinguishing the loyal from the disloyal—if it were inclined to do so. Total control of these civilians in the presumed interest of state security was rapidly becoming the accepted norm.

How would the government deal with this new status quo in the fall of 1942? Having bowed to political pressure in deciding to control and detain the ethnic Japanese, what standard or test or presumption was to be established to return the evacuees to liberty? Or would the government embrace the proposition that, in wartime, total control of suspect groups of civilians is justified and legally permissible?

Commentators have characterized the exclusion and detention of the ethnic Japanese as a triumph of military over civilian authority. [1] As our account of the decisions to evacuate and detain makes clear, this view is accurate to a limited degree since the military was carrying out a program largely conceived and promoted by civilian groups and politicians. The friction between military and civilian interests is more clearly seen in the decision of whether and how to end the detention. Some in the Western Defense Command argued that there was a military interest in restricting the release of the evacuees to those who posed no conceivable military threat and, ultimately, that the Army should prepare through planning and intelligence work to control large groups of suspect civilians in any future war. The security of the state should be paramount. The civilians at the top of the War Department understood their responsibility differently; returning the loyal evacuees to normal life outside a detention camp should be the touchstone of government policy and, since exclusion and detention rested on a military justification, the War Department had to play an active role in that effort. The WRA shared this view and had more liberal opinions on the indicia of loyalty. It is a bitter irony that the loyalty review program, which the WRA and the War Department established as the predicate for release from the camps—the first major governmental decision in which the interests of the evacuees prevailed—was carried out without sufficient sensitivity or knowledge of the evacuees. Designed to hasten their release, the program instead became one of the most divisive, wrenching episodes of the captivity.


The government decision makers closest to the evacuees increasingly believed that wholesale confinement was not justified or acceptable. Dillon Myer strongly held this view and was already looking for ways to achieve large-scale resettlement. Milton Eisenhower had never been comfortable with the program. Now in the fall of 1942 John J. McCloy also adopted this view as the matter was raised with him in the context of whether evacuees should be permitted to serve in the Army.

Once the decision to evacuate was made and the WRA had taken custody of the evacuees, Stimson and McCloy had largely left the treatment of Japanese Americans to others. The Nisei in the Army, their only immediate concern, were few because the Selective Service had stopped induction at about the time of the evacuation. [2] In February, making the decision to evacuate, Stimson and McCloy had relied heavily on DeWitt, ignoring the contrary views of the FBI and failing to seek other opinions. Since then McCloy had begun to study the matter and to hear that most evacuees were loyal, that they wanted to get out of the camps and prove their loyalty, and that they could assist the war effort. [3] He was persuaded by what he heard and believed it should be applied to War Department decisions.

Allowing the Nisei to serve would reverse a policy which had evolved over the previous year. On December 7, 1941, about 5,000 young Nisei from Hawaii and the mainland were in the Army, the majority having been drafted. [4] Immediately after Pearl Harbor, the Selective Service delegated discretion for the induction of Japanese Americans to local draft boards. Some Nisei volunteers were accepted, but the induction of others was delayed. [5] During the late winter and early spring of 1942, local draft boards became increasingly reluctant to draft Nisei. The center of discriminatory practice was again the West Coast. A War Department order of March 30, 1942, discontinued the induction of Nisei on the West Coast. [6] Enlisted Japanese Americans found themselves in a precarious situation. The personal attitude of their commanding officer was decisive; some Nisei stayed in service, while others were discharged without explanation. [7]

No clear-cut Selective Service policy was established to evaluate the status of draft-age Japanese Americans until June 17, 1942, when the War Department announced that it would not, aside from exceptional cases, "accept for service with the armed forces Japanese or persons of Japanese extraction, regardless of citizenship status or other factors." [8] In July, a War Department Board convened to examine Nisei induction, and "no immediate change in War Department policy was made except for selected individuals procurred [sic] for special purposes. [9] On September 14, the Selective Service adopted regulations prohibiting Nisei induction, and classifying registrants of Japanese ancestry IV-C, the status of enemy aliens. Previously, many draft-age Nisei had been reclassified from I-A to IV-F, unsuitable for military service. [10]

McCloy had favored using Nisei in the military since at least May 1942. [11] By fall, opinions supporting his position were beginning to trickle in. Delos Emmons, the commander in Hawaii, was particularly persuasive, arguing that the Nisei would make "grand soldiers." [12] His opinion was substantiated by the excellent performance of the all-Nisei Hawaii National Guard group then in training at Camp McCoy. [13] Nisei in the Military Intelligence Service Language School were doing equally well. Moreover, departmental officials involved in recruiting reported that large numbers of Nisei were embittered by the denial of their right to serve. [14] These voices inside the War Department were joined by some influential voices outside. Dillon Myer pressed the point with McCloy throughout the fall; [15] in November, the JACL passed a resolution requesting that the Selective Service be reinstituted. [16]

Perhaps because of the enlistment issue, McCloy was also beginning to ponder the plight of evacuees, locked up indefinitely in the unhealthy atmosphere of the camps. McCloy was not entirely sure of the ultimate loyalty of each ethnic Japanese, but he did not express the belief that all evacuees were inherently dangerous; it was clear to him that the evacuees could not be held in "pens" forever and that they should be released as soon as that was possible and safe. [17] In fact, it was impossible to consider a Nisei combat team apart from the exclusion and detention issue. Any discussion of whether the Nisei belonged in the armed forces inevitably questioned whether they could be trusted to bear arms—in other words, whether they were loyal. And the question of loyalty inevitably focused on the presumption of probable disloyalty which was inherent in the exclusion.

There were other reasons to link the combat team to the general issue of release from detention. Recruiting for a combat team without loosening other restrictions would open the War Department to the charge that the Nisei were being used as "cannon fodder." [18] It would be unfair to deny individuals barred from military service the opportunity to participate in the war effort in some other way, and it would be illogical to argue that loyalty should be tested only for those who might serve in the Army. [19] Discussions began to focus on the combat team as a way to get evacuees out of the camps and to rehabilitate them in the eyes of the public. McCloy's assistant, Colonel Scobey, explained bluntly that the need was "to assist the release of these people from the centers, to expedite the WRA mission." [20]

McCloy himself was convinced that change was needed, but his advocacy alone did not make policy. A War Department study, commissioned earlier in 1942 and approved on September 14, recommended that "the military potential of the United States citizens of Japanese ancestry be considered as negative because of the universal distrust in which they are held." [21] Thus, by the end of September, the career military opposed McCloy.

On October 2, Elmer Davis, Director of the Office of War Information (OWI), and Milton Eisenhower, now Davis's deputy, raised the issue with the President. In order to establish the legitimate interest of the OWI, Davis characterized the issue as one of war propaganda and asked the President to intervene and authorize the enlistment of Japanese Americans. His memorandum also reflected the debate's humanitarian overtones:

Loyal American citizens of Japanese descent should be permitted, after individual test, to enlist in the Army and Navy. It would hardly be fair to evacuate people and then impose normal draft procedures, but voluntary enlistment would help a lot.

This matter is of great interest to OWI. Japanese propaganda to the Philippines, Burma, and elsewhere insists that this is a racial war. We can combat this effectively with counter propaganda only if our deeds permit us to tell the truth. Moreover, as citizens ourselves who believe deeply in the things for which we fight, we cannot help but be disturbed by the insistent public misunderstanding of the Nisei. . . [22]

As Davis and Eisenhower no doubt expected, the memorandum was referred to Secretary Stimson for comment. McCloy set out to persuade Stimson and General Marshall of the wisdom of his position. Dismissing the War Department study as too narrow, McCloy made three major points: almost everyone agreed that most Nisei were loyal; citizens had a fundamental right to serve their country; and enlistment would have an important psychological effect internationally. [23] Stimson took little convincing and sent Marshall a handwritten note which read in its entirety:

I am inclined strongly to agree with the view of McCloy and Davis. I don't think you can permanently proscribe a lot of American citizens because of their racial origin. We have gone to the full limit in evacuating them. That's enough. [24]

Meanwhile, the careerists were reviewing their previous findings. Their September recommendations against Nisei combat service had not been unanimous and, with indications that their civilian leadership was tending in the other direction, they revised their conclusions. On December 16, the general staff sent Marshall a memorandum advocating an all-Nisei combat team. [25]

The new recommendations were approved by Marshall on January 1, 1943. [26] In testimony before the Commission, McCloy recalled: "I encountered opposition from everybody except those on my immediate staff and General Marshall. I went to General Marshall who then ordered the unit formed." [27]

On January 2, 1943, a committee was convened by Deputy Chief of Staff McNarney and told that some evacuees might be released. The committee's job was to "determine by what means Japanese-Americans of the Nisei class may be released from war relocation centers, and, if released, what disposition may be made of them." [28] A week later, the committee reported back, recommending the procedure that ultimately prevailed.

A questionnaire for Japanese Americans would be devised to reveal "tendencies of loyalty or disloyalty to the United States," [29] including questions about the background and affiliations of the Nisei, and also soliciting a pledge of loyalty to the United States. Teams of Army personnel would supervise execution of the forms at the relocation centers. Copies of the questionnaires for males within the age limits for military service would be sent to military intelligence to decide who should be inducted. The remaining questionnaires would go to the Provost Marshal General's office which would check with the FBI and Naval Intelligence and evaluate the answers given. Then the questionnaires would be shipped to the Western Defense Command for investigation.

The second phase of the program would be handled by a Joint Board, including representatives of the Navy, WRA, military intelligence and the Provost Marshal General, which would decide whether the individual might be released from the relocation center and whether he might be employed in a plant important to the war effort. [30] The Board's mission was subsequently amended to make the Board's determination on release advisory to the WRA, which retained final authority. [31] The Joint Board retained power to decide whether an individual would be allowed to work in a war production facility.

The Joint Board was conceived as a way to avoid multiple investigations. Individuals who had been investigated and released by the WRA were being reinvestigated by the Army sector commander after they reached their destination. This inefficient process also handicapped the arriving evacuee by branding him suspicious. The Board would now make the only investigation. [32]

The WRA had not been involved in the War Department's planning. [33] Upon learning of the forthcoming registration, early in January, the WRA proposed that the process be enlarged to cover all persons over 17 years of age, including the Issei. This step, they believed, would expedite the existing leave clearance process which took so long that promised jobs were sometimes gone before the evacuee was released. By asking everyone to fill out the form, the WRA reasoned, much of the investigative work could be done before the evacuee was actually ready to leave. The WRA thus prepared a companion questionnaire, titled "Application for Leave Clearance," to be filled out by the Issei and Nisei females. [34] The entire review program was vehemently but unsuccessfully opposed by DeWitt and the Western Defense Command, who remained firmly persuaded that the loyal could not be distinguished from the disloyal. [35] The War Department rejected these views and prepared to go forward with the WRA on the broad program of loyalty review and release.

Secretary Stimson announced the new policy on the combat team:

It is the inherent right of every citizen, regardless of ancestry, to bear arms in the Nation's battle. When obstacles to the free expression of that right are imposed by emergency considerations, those barriers should be removed as soon as humanly possible. Loyalty to country is a voice that must be heard, and I am now able to give active proof that this basic American belief is not a casualty of war. [36]

There was also a letter from the President, released the following week, approving the combat team. With a fine disregard for past treatment of the Nisei, Roosevelt proclaimed:

No loyal citizen of the United States should be denied the democratic right to exercise the responsibilities of his citizenship, regardless of his ancestry. The principle on which this country was founded and by which it has always been governed is that Americanism is a matter of the mind and heart; Americanism is not, and never was, a matter of race or ancestry. A good American is one who is loyal to this country and to our creed of liberty and democracy. Every loyal American citizen should be given the opportunity to serve this country wherever his skills will make the greatest contribution—whether it be in the ranks of our armed forces, war production, agriculture, government service, or other work essential to the war effort. [37]

The first significant steps to end detention had been taken.


By February 6, ten teams of Army officers, enlisted men and WRA staff, trained for this assignment, were on the way to the relocation centers. [38] The questionnaires they carried sought background information, but also asked two prospective questions. Question 27 asked draft-age males: "Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty, wherever ordered?" For others, including the Issei and women, it asked whether they would be willing to join the WACs or the Army Nurse Corps. Question 28 was the loyalty question:

Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, or any other foreign government, power or organization? [39]

The registration teams arriving at the centers during the first weeks of February 1943 found a hostile audience. In the past year, evacuees had endured the evacuation, the assembly centers and the relocation camps. Living conditions were poor, their lives outside the centers had disintegrated, and the government had broken many promises. Congressmen in Washington continued to agitate for stripping the Nisei of citizenship. Disturbances at Poston and Manzanar during the two previous months showed tensions that existed to some degree at all the camps. It was not surprising that many were ready to question any government action that might affect their future, [40] and there was considerable sentiment for putting the claims of family ahead of those of country.

It became rapidly apparent that the government had not thought through the implications of the loyalty review program. Not only was the program forced on the evacuees with no notice and with few answers to important questions, but the documents themselves were flawed. The evacuees did not know how their responses would be used. [41] Particularly critical to the Issei was Question 28 on loyalty. The question was both unfair and unanswerable because it called upon the Issei to renounce their Japanese nationality, although they were barred by law from becoming United States citizens. To answer it affirmatively, they argued, would have made them "men without a country." [42] On the other hand, answering it negatively might well bring separation from one's family and attract suspicion to oneself as a security risk. The WRA quickly corrected the question to avoid forcing Issei to make such a Hobson's choice, [43] but suspicion and distrust lingered. There was confusion about the program and its basic intent. The document for Issei and women was titled "Application for Leave Clearance." Did this mean, asked many, that they would be forced to leave the center? They had lost their homes and property; with no assets were they now to be abandoned by the government in hostile communities? One evacuee described this dilemma:

One can understand a situation of the head of a household, his livelihood taken away, having to face the possibility of earning a living for his family in some strange city. The temptation to declare a no, "no" position [to Questions 27 and 28] just to maintain the dependent life style in the camps was very strong indeed. In such cases the issue is survival, not loyalty. [44]

The Issei were also bitter about their own treatment and that of their citizen children. As a Naval Intelligence report stated, Issei opposition to enlistment was based less on reluctance to see their sons fighting Japan than on losing faith in America:

[T]he parents have made quite an issue of the fact that the citizen Japanese and the alien Japanese received identical treatment. This indicates, they say, the American Government does not recognize the nisei [sic] as full citizens. [45]

The Nisei too doubted the government's good faith and were wary of the program. The same Army and country confining them and their families behind barbed wire now asked Japanese Americans to volunteer to fight for principles of liberty, justice and equal protection under the law. To some, the segregated combat unit, although signifying the restoration of some of their rights as citizens, also continued discrimination. [46] While German and Italian Americans were drafted by normal procedures through the Selective Service System, Japanese Americans were stigmatized by their classification as enemy aliens.

Others had different problems with Question 27. A "yes" answer might be interpreted as volunteering. [47] A number of those who were loyal would stop short of enlisting in the military. With dependents at home and perhaps relatives in Japan who might suffer reprisals if they were known to have enlisted, some could not easily say "yes" to Question 27.

Finally, many were obligated to care for aging parents who were becoming more dependent and fearful in the camps' isolated confinement. If they were separated on the basis of differing answers, who would tend the Issei? Some felt they had to comply with parents who demanded that they maintain family solidarity. [48]

My father was no longer willing to venture out from camp to a society from which he had been expelled and whose business was demolished. [To him, it was clear that] the questionnaire was to be used to force him out of the camp. . . . The other, the bind that I was in, was to try and make a resolution in which I would pay homage and honor my parents so that I would not break up the family and yet try to figure out how to give expression to my own future. [49]

The Nisei, too, had problems with Question 28, the loyalty question. Some saw it as a trick question: "forswearing" their allegiance to the Japanese Emperor required admitting that they had once had such an allegiance. [50]

Not only had our government disregarded our citizenship but put us behind barbed wire, but now was asking these same citizens to foreswear [sic] allegiance to the Emperor of Japan and to swear allegiance to the United States as if at one time all of us had sworn allegiance to the Japanese Emperor. [51]

Then, there was the insult of being asked to fill out another questionnaire which implicitly doubted one's loyalty. To many, their earlier compliance with the orders to evacuate and to be confined in the relocation centers had sufficiently shown their loyalty. [52]

Still, despite reservations, most answered that they were loyal. Some retained their faith in the United States; some felt that, whatever happened, their future lay here; some simply wanted to leave camp.

[M]y family all wrote "yes, yes." There is a Japanese saying, "umi-no-oya-yori mo sodate no oya," meaning, "your adoptive parents are your real parents." [53]

[I]n my case I registered "yes, yes" because I felt that this is the only country I have. [54]

In those centers where good relations between government authorities and evacuees had fostered a sense of trust in the government, a higher proportion of evacuees were willing to state their loyalty. Minidoka, for example, had the highest number of positive responses. There, the project director consulted with a number of Issei leaders before any meetings on the loyalty questionnaire. Some of the Issei participated in the meetings, and thorough discussion followed. [55]

At the other extreme was Tule Lake. There, discussion was cursory and no time was allowed for discussion from the floor. When registration was to begin, many evacuees were unwilling to fill out questionnaires. After the administration announced that registration was compulsory, there were still refusals and resistance. Gangs formed to prevent others from registering and, eventually, a group of resisters were removed from the center. Finally, the community council and Issei planning board resigned. [56] Frank Kageta described his experience at Tule Lake:

The most tragic, as well as traumatic, event that happened during my stay in Tule Lake that still remains with me is the questionnaire with the loyalty oath that was required of all of us to answer. I have never even mentioned this to my children. This, as you may know, was a controversial document that affected each of us 17 years of age or older, in one way or another. We were forced into concentration camps by the government, and then we were being forced into taking a loyalty oath. Furthermore, at this point there was no indication as to what the consequences would be for refusing. We had area block meetings on the issue. Rumors were numerous and sinister. We voted, at that time, as a block, not to sign the loyalty oath. Soon after we voted not to sign this document, based solely on rumors, I was pointedly accused by my peers as having been seen going to the administration office to sign the questionnaire. Our family got together after this ugly incident and told them that I had not gone to sign the loyalty oath. [57]

Registration at Tule Lake was never completed; [58] approximately 3,000 ultimately refused to register. [59]

Despite the turmoil, the WRA judged the program a success. The agency acquired the background data to expedite leave clearance, and 1,208 volunteers for the Army had been recruited. [60] Although this was a small proportion of the 10,000 eligible that the War Department had estimated, [61] and fell short of the 3,000 that it had expected to recruit, [62] the WRA judged that those who had volunteered represented "the cream of the draft-age group." [63] By WRA's count, 77,957 residents had been eligible to register, of whom 68,018 (87%) had answered the loyalty question with an unqualified "yes." Of the remaining 9,939, about 5,300 had answered "no " and the rest had failed to register, failed to answer the loyalty question, or qualified their loyalty in some way. Relatively few were unwilling to profess their loyalty. Still, government planners were disturbed to find that over 20 percent of the Nisei males were in the negative category. Of the approximately 21,000 Nisei males eligible to register, about 4,600 answered the loyalty question with a "no," a qualified answer or no reply. [64]

Although the Western Defense Command interpreted the results as a vindication of its position that there were many disloyal evacuees, [65] other observers looked behind the responses for reasons. Certainly some evacuees wanted to go to Japan and serve that country. [66] But, for many, the reasons for answering "no" had little to do with loyalty. As Dillon Myer explained it, the negative answers meant many things. They were the answers of people unhappy at the way they had been treated, enraged at the government, and discouraged about their future in the United States. [67] Testimony before the Commission supports Myer's conclusion—the loyalty questionnaire demanded a personal expression of position from each evacuee, a choice between faith in the future in America and outrage at present injustice. Most evacuees probably had deeply-ambiguous feelings about a government in whose rhetorical values of liberty and equality they wanted to believe, but who found their present treatment a painful contradiction of those values. The loyalty questionnaire left little room to express that ambiguity. Indeed, it provided an effective point of protest and organization against the government, from which an increasing number of evacuees felt alienated. The questionnaire finally raised the central question underlying exclusion policy, the loyalty issue which had dominated the political and personal lives of the Nikkei for the past year. Questions 27 and 28 forced evacuees to confront the conflicting emotions aroused by their relation to the government:

I answered both questions number 27 and 28 in the negative, not because of disloyalty but due to the disgusting and shabby treatment given us. A few months after completing the questionnaire, U. S. Army officers appeared at our camp and gave us an interview to confirm our answers to the questions, and followed up with a question that in essence was asking: "Are you going to give up or renounce your U.S. citizenship?" to which I promptly replied in the affirmative as a rebellious move. Sometime after the interview, a form letter from the Immigration and Naturalization Service arrived saying if I wanted to renounce my U.S. citizenship, sign the form letter and return. Well, I kept the Immigration and Naturalization Service waiting. [68]

Well, I am one of those that said "no, no" on them, one of the "no, no" boys, and it is not that I was proud about it, it was just that our legal rights were violated and I wanted to fight back. However, I didn't want to take this sitting down. I was really angry. It just got me so damned mad. Whatever we do, there was no help from outside, and it seems to me that we are a race that doesn't count. So, therefore, this was one of the reasons for the "no, no" answer. [69]

Personal responses to the questionnaire inescapably became public acts open to community debate and scrutiny within the closed world of the camps. This made difficult choices excruciating.

After I volunteered for the service, some people that I knew refused to speak to me. Some older people later questioned my father for letting me volunteer, but he told them that I was old enough to make up my own mind. [70]

[T]he resulting infighting, beatings, and verbal abuses left families torn apart, parents against children, brothers against sisters, relatives against relatives, and friends against friends. So bitter was all this that even to this day, there are many amongst us who do not speak about that period for fear that the same harsh feelings might arise up again to the surface. [71]

Because of the incarcerations, here I was, a 19-year-old, having to make a decision that would affect the welfare of the whole family. If I signed, no, no, I would throw away my citizenship and force my sisters and brother to do the same. Being the oldest son and being brought up in the Japanese tradition, it was up to me to take care of my parents, sisters, and brother. It was about a mile to the administration building. I can still remember vividly. Every step I took, I questioned myself, shall I sign it "no, no, or no, yes?" The walk seemed like it took hours and then when I got there, a colonel asked me the first question and I cursed him and answered, "no." To me, he represented the powers that put me in this predicament. I answered "yes" to the second question. In my 57 years, I have never had to make such a difficult decision as that. [72]

The response to the call for Army volunteers in Hawaii, where there was no substantial exclusion or detention, underscores the effects of the exclusion program. There, nearly 10,000 Nisei volunteered—one third of those of draft age, although the Hawaiian quota had been set at only 1,500. [73]

The registration process, conceived by the War Department and WRA as a dramatic step toward freedom, had become for many evacuees their bitterest experience in the camps.


With the ambiguous results of the loyalty questionnaire in hand, the government began to decide who should leave the camps. The WRA's leave policies had been in effect for several months. It was now ready to modify these. The War Department was not content to leave this matter to the WRA. Despite the continuing protestations that evacuees were a matter for the civilian WRA, the War Department plan of January 1943 called for the formation of a Japanese American Joint Board (JAJB)—a largely military body—which would also have a hand in deciding whom to release. While the WRA would retain ultimate authority, the JAJB would recommend individual releases.

In devising a release policy after a year of war the justification for the evacuation and detention—military necessity—required reexamination. Logic suggests that the appropriate course would have been to have recognized that no threat to security existed in 1943 (whether or not it ever had), and to have thrown open the gates of the camps. No one, however, advocated this position. It would have created a public relations problem and perhaps raised doubt about the original decision to evacuate—both unpalatable. Two choices remained: one, to determine that the security risk still outweighed the right to individual liberty and, thus, to release as few people as possible. This was, in essence, the view of the WDC, which had never conceded the validity of the loyalty program. The other alternative was to find a compromise to balance the claims of security and liberty in individual cases. This was the position adopted by the JAJB and WRA. But, lacking common assumptions or precedent to guide their task, and having differing views on the matter, the two agencies found actual decisions about leave confusing, inconsistent and a cause of friction.

The Western Defense Command

On January 14, DeWitt first learned of the loyalty review program. For months, he had argued that the War Department's responsibility on Japanese American issues had ended with the exclusion from the West Coast; now the loyalty review program undermined DeWitt's fundamental premise that the loyal could not be separated from the disloyal. Rejection of that premise implied that the War Department was reversing DeWitt and his policy. Worse still from DeWitt's point of view, it would be difficult to sustain the exclusion of certified loyal evacuees from the Western Defense Command. DeWitt and Bendetsen turned to defeating the plan. They failed, but they did not change their minds. DeWitt and his associates remained firm in their belief that the evacuees were a risk to security. As long as they believed that the loyal could not be separated from the disloyal, they would find all ethnic Japanese suspect. Far from rethinking their position, they worked to substantiate it through a project designed to demonstrate "danger" from the ethnic Japanese.

The WDC research project began in 1942 to remedy the dearth of information on individual evacuees. [74] It was designed too to collect adverse information on as many ethnic Japanese as possible. The project's approach was to collect masses of material on the Japanese American community—newspapers, immigration records, magazines and pamphlets of evacuee organizations—and to use it to identify dangerous organizations and individuals. For example, four Japanese language newspapers were analyzed from 1937 to 1942; information thus gained about organizations and their members were noted in individual files. Upon deciding that an organization was suspect, for example, because it had sent money to Japan to support the Russo-Japanese War, the WDC would identify all members of the organization and label them suspicious as well. From there, it might implicate their close relatives. The idea was to investigate an entire population and to evaluate individuals not by their statements or illegal acts but primarily by their affiliations and travel patterns. From records of entirely legal prewar activities, the WDC tried to evaluate an individual's potential risk to military security. The task was mammoth, the method crude and, by the WDC's own admission, fraught with error. After two and a half years, shortly after General Emmons took over the Western Defense Command, the research project remained incomplete but was halted due to insufficient manpower.

The most notable feature of the WDC project was the extraordinarily large effort it devoted to extracting a minimum of useful in formation. There is no indication that it uncovered evidence of criminal activity, much less espionage or sabotage. The entire project was based on dubious assumptions. The finding that 40% of adult Nisei had been to Japan at some time is important only if one accepts the assumption that those who went to Japan were potentially dangerous; [75] that there were 29,704 accounts of fixed deposits (similar to savings certificates) in Japanese banks is irrelevant unless fixed deposits are linked to security risk. [76] The connection WDC attempted to make between carefully researched material and security risk was simply not credible.

Nevertheless the WDC did not abandon its fundamental premise that individuals could be judged by the organizations and programs in which they participated. Rather, they concluded that more time and planning should be devoted to the task. The WDC urged that the military be better prepared for the next crisis and recommended, in its postwar analysis of the program,

That there be created a peacetime unit within the Federal government charged with the continued study and research relative to all organizations with foreign connections within the United States. This unit should be small, but composed of highly trained personnel who will have access to all intelligence information. In wartime this personnel should form the nucleus of a central organization that would make security determinations.

That complete planning be instituted by the War Department as to necessary civilian controls in the event of a future war, upon the assumption that the next war will involve a large portion of our civilian population from the outset. The planning should include types of controls, the mechanics of putting the control into force, the methods of notification, and the means of enforcement. [77]

The WDC did not flinch from the conclusion that they were urging abandonment in wartime of the normal protections of American constitutional government. In the view of the WDC, the review and control of civilians who presented some security question might well require other methods:

One of the most fundamental parts of the problem is that Americans, having been trained under our Common Law system of courts and juries, are strongly imbued with the idea that determinations by courts and juries are not only reasonably accurate but also that they completely solve a specific problem, and that a problem, having once been decided by a jury, cannot be reopened under the double jeopardy theory of our law. This unquestionably is the reason so many people felt that hearing or screening boards could easily have examined the records of the members of the Japanese population and satisfactorily separated the sheep from the goats. At the same time, they would be quite undisturbed by the fact that possibly some who should have been goats were labelled as sheep. It is a real question whether in wartime we can afford to protect our peace and security by these quite slipshod determinations. Ordinarily in peacetime, if a criminal, who has committed a theft or some crime of violence, has been acquitted, there is little likelihood that the public as a whole will be penalized for this inaccurate judgement of the court or jury, for such a criminal will only again commit a crime probably affecting one member of society; but in the case of one committing espionage or sabotage, the effect upon the population as a whole is quite different. The furnishing of a vital piece of information to the enemy may affect thousands of lives, rather than just one individual. . . . So the question has to be asked whether our Common Law system of trial by jury for an individual crime is sufficiently satisfactory in the situation under discussion here.

Another phase of our court system that works well enough in the eyes of the majority in peacetime, but which has to be reexamined in time of war, is the theory that the jury can only be composed of people who have formed no opinion about the trial at issue, for otherwise a jury member either will be removed for cause or pre-emptorily [sic] challenged by either side. . . .

The theory that any reasonably honest and intelligent person is capable of passing judgment upon many complex factors is certainly open to severe question in the case of making determinations in the interest of the peace and security of the country in time of war. [78]

The WDC went the additional step of suggesting a citizen education program to condition the public to accept such deprivations of due process in a future war.

In essence, the WDC was willing to advocate military control of civilians in wartime unfettered by normal constitutional restraints. Having prejudged the loyalty of Japanese Americans on the flimsiest evidence, they also believed the United States should begin a continuing program of domestic intelligence-gathering to make judgments about which civilians should be "controlled" in future wars. The interests of state security would predominate over the civil liberties of suspect citizens, even if there were no basis for criminal charges against them. This would truly exalt military authority in war over every traditional protection of American government.

The Japanese American Joint Board

The JAJB, composed almost entirely of representatives of the military intelligence agencies, had tremendous difficulties from the start in administering the loyalty review. Indeed, in attacking the loyalty program, General DeWitt had pointed out one omission in planning symptomatic of JAJB's entire effort. If the Joint Board were presented with an individual on whom it had no information, asked DeWitt, would it presume loyalty and recommend release of that individual, or presume disloyalty and recommend continued confinement? [79]

Under normal circumstances, asking such a question about United States citizens would be absurd, but the question was important now. Whatever the original intent, the fact of exclusion and detention worked as a presumption against Nisei loyalty and innocence. If the Joint Board presumed innocence, then the government would be reversing its previous position, implicitly admitting that its earlier assumption of potential danger had been wrong. As DeWitt put it:

If the presumption is favorable to loyalty then the federal government would seem to be embarrassing its original position that evacuation was a military necessity. This follows because it was the fundamental premise that Japanese loyalties were unknown or doubtful. [80]

If, on the other hand, the Joint Board were to remain consistent and presume probable danger, the procedure would become unworkable. As DeWitt expressed it:

If the presumption is unfavorable to loyalty then the chances of determining the loyalty of any substantial segment will probably be low. This is because there is a great dearth of positive information on the majority of Nisei. There are two reasons for this: (1) Only the Japanese themselves know the answers and (2) the Nisei Japanese are mostly too young to have any records. . . . The resultant inability to establish the loyalty of any substantial segment of Nisei may unnecessarily embarrass the government. . . . [81]

In fact, the problem was even more difficult than DeWitt thought. Proving loyalty would be impossible in any circumstances. Unlike proving disloyalty, which involves showing only one disloyal act, proving loyalty would require exploring a person's entire life to show the absence of disloyal acts. Undertaking such a task for even a small group, let alone tens of thousands, would be hopelessly expensive and time-consuming.

That the JAJB never answered this fundamental question speaks volumes about its effort. Rather than face the hard questions, it floundered, trying various systems to determine the "dangerousness" of each evacuee. A point system failed as did a system of assigning cases to individual members of the Board. Finally, an ever-changing system was adopted that would bring an adverse recommendation if any one of a number of "factors" were present. The "factors" included whether the person was Kibei; whether he refused to register; whether he was a leader in any organization controlled or dominated by aliens; and whether he had substantial fixed deposits in Japan. [82] By adopting this approach, the JAJB was spared having to find an illegal or even disloyal act as the basis of recommending continued confinement. Instead, individual characteristics and legal acts became cause for a finding of "dangerousness."

After about a year of making such determinations as well as doing its other work of clearing laborers for vital war plants (an equally uncertain venture), the JAJB was finally terminated. It had handled nearly 39,000 cases and made over 25,000 recommendations for leave clearance. [83] Of 12,600 recommendations against release, the WDC reported that the WRA ignored half and released the people anyway. [84] That no espionage or sabotage occurred among this group of over 6,000 released despite JAJB objection suggests the doubtful value of the JAJB's work. Clearly, it erred on the side of security, once again to the detriment of evacuees.


Compared to the WDC or the JAJB, the WRA pursued a liberal course, although its policies continued to compromise individual civil liberties. At the beginning of 1943 WRA policy was a two-step process: the evacuee needed both "leave clearance"—which required a finding that he was not a danger to national security—and a "leave permit"—which would be issued if WRA was satisfied with the resettlement arrangements he had made. [85] The policy's central disadvantage was the extended time it took to process individual evacuees.

With the results of the mass registration in hand, WRA moved to simplify and expedite the procedure. Rather than requiring clearance from Washington, it allowed project directors to grant leave to those considered unquestionably loyal. [86] In March 1943, a financial aid system was instituted. Although the grants were minimal—about $25.00 per person plus transportation costs, they did provide some assistance. [87] A leave clearance review was established in the summer of 1943 for those who had some adverse information in their file. Principally these were cases in which Question 28 had not been answered with an unqualified "yes;" where repatriation or expatriation had been asked, or there was an adverse report from an intelligence agency or the JAJB. [88] Using this system, 16,000 evacuees left the centers on indefinite leave during 1943 in addition to 5,000 seasonal farm workers and a number of students. [89] Not one case of espionage or sabotage was reported among these evacuees. [90]

In early 1944, two changes in leave regulations were made, again to encourage resettlement. Agricultural work leaves were restricted in order to encourage indefinite leaves. Indefinite leave for a four-month trial period was made available, with no return to centers allowed during that time. Return was permitted only during the two months following the initial four. [91] Before December 1944, 18,500 more evacuees left the centers on indefinite leave. [92]

Despite the government's cautious leave decisions, WRA continued to have political problems with relocation. In April, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia of New York objected to Under Secretary Fortas about the number of Japanese Americans who could come into the city. Fortas told LaGuardia that barring relocatees from New York would immediately become a nationwide issue and would be vigorously opposed by organizations throughout the country which were interested in humane, decent handling of these people. In addition, a prohibition would adversely affect the fate of American citizens, including New Yorkers, interned in Japan; it would also be used by the Japanese in anti-American racial propaganda. [93] LaGuardia raised the old cry to haunt every government resettlement effort since the exclusion decision: "If it was necessary to evacuate them from their homes originally and put them in a concentration camp, what justification is there for turning them loose in Eastern cities at this time? If Washington, Oregon, and California do not want them, what right has the Federal government in placing them in New York?" [94]

Continuing public hostility was reflected in WRA policies. In February 1944, Dillon Myer wrote the Attorney General explaining WRA's leave regulations; he stressed that the WRA had considered permitting people with leave clearance to leave the centers at any time, instead of requiring them to show some means of support and a good chance of community acceptance:

We decided, however, that it was not administratively wise to take that course. The enemies of the relocation program could easily distort such an action on our part and picture it as a dangerous relaxation of controls in disregard of the national interest in time of war.

If the Supreme Court should hold that detention of such an evacuee under such circumstances is invalid, the very fact of the Court's decision would serve to provide public justification for such a change in the program. I believe, therefore, that communities generally throughout the Nation would continue to be willing to receive evacuees after such a Court decision, whereas the storm that might attend an administrative change of the Regulations in this respect might very well seriously retard the relocation program.

This is one case where I strongly believe that it is more desirable to have the change made as a result of a Court decision than a result of unforced administrative action. [95]

The Executive now hoped that the Supreme Court would kill the monster it had created.


Most evacuees found beginning a new life difficult; many were unenthusiastic about the prospect. A mid-1943 WRA survey gave the reasons: uncertainty about public reaction; lack of funds or information about conditions; fear of inability to support oneself and family; and fear of failing to find adequate housing. [96] Many had come to view the camps as refuges and would prefer to stay where their most basic needs would be supplied. [97] The young were most willing to leave. Seven of every ten individuals leaving the camps in 1943 and 1944 were between 15 and 35. Many were women. Those who came from the northwest were more willing to resettle than the Californians. [98] Those who left found that, while their experience was fundamentally peaceful, it was not without incident and hardship. [99] Some faced housing discrimination [100] and cramped quarters. [101]

[W]e could not get housing. It is critical for anyone, but for Japanese and someone with a child—we have walked miles and miles every day, dragging Linda here and there, snatching a few hours for a nap here, carrying her there, looking for a place to stay. [102]

Seeking work, many found discrimination against Japanese Americans [103] and ended up working at menial or low-paying jobs, [104] depriving the country of skills needed during the war. [105]

The uncertain period of resettlement was not easy for my family. My older sisters worked at low paying jobs. For four years, we lived in a one bedroom apartment that housed five of us. [106]

In a few places, there were incidents. In New York City, for example, the establishment of a hostel in Brooklyn met local resistance that was eventually overcome. [107] May Ichida described her experience in Cleveland:

Our two sons were immediately placed in public schools and the experience of being a resettled person was compounded with jeering remarks and fights. [108]

The WRA made some effort to help evacuees resettle, as did several church groups. [109] The WRA opened field offices in key eastern and midwestern cities designed to create community acceptance and find jobs that evacuees might fill. They worked with resettlement committees set up by concerned individuals and groups, particularly the churches. [110] By mid-1943, church groups were running hostels for short-term living space in four midwestern cities. [111]

Although the evacuees moved to many cities, particularly Denver and Salt Lake City, [112] Chicago became the center of resettlement. There was less discrimination there, integration into the larger Caucasian community was easier, and jobs were plentiful. As word of conditions in Chicago filtered back to the camps, the midwest became a favored area. When the exclusion ended, Chicago was the only resettlement community from which there was no mass exodus to the West Coast. [113]

The evacuees leaving in 1943 and 1944 took all manner of jobs. A few had enough capital to begin their own businesses, [114] although not all were successful.

[W]e relocated to Brigham City, Utah, and worked at the Brigham City Laundry and Dry Cleaning Company. Because my uncle wanted to get back to farming which was his profession, we moved to American Fork, Utah, in 1946, to try farming one more time. That summer we planted onions, cabbage and celery. As it turned out, this was a fiasco. In the fall, while we were still harvesting the crops, heavy frost came early and destroyed the cabbage crop, destroyed the celery crop. If it was not for the onions, we would have come out of there poverty-stricken. The summer's hard labor was all for naught. By Christmas 1946, we were back at Brigham City, my uncle and mother going back to laundry jobs. Mother and I lived in a one bedroom apartment in the heart of the city above the J.C. Penney Company, rat infested, roach infested. We lived like a poverty-stricken downtrodden ghetto dweller. Mother cooked on a two burner kerosene stove. I had the bedroom and mother slept on the couch. [115]

Most went to work for others. Seabrook Farms in New Jersey, the largest single employer of ethnic Japanese, took 1,500 workers into farming and processing food. [116] Several evacuees recalled the long hours, camp-like conditions, and hostility from surrounding communities that marked Seabrook. [117]

Most who went to the larger cities were employed in industry, although white-collar work was also available. [118] Departing from pre-war patterns, most evacuees did not work in jobs serving the ethnic Japanese community. Following WRA advice, many resettlers avoided associating exclusively with each other, working instead to become integrated into the larger communities. [119]

The loyalty program was partly responsible for allowing many to leave the camps and resettle in the interior. For the many more left in camp, the questionnaire was less benign. Now it would become a tool to distinguish the loyal from the disloyal before moving all the disloyal to Tule Lake.


The idea of separating evacuees into groups arose almost at once after evacuation. The WDC, still protesting that it wanted nothing further to do with the evacuees, interfered again. By August 1942, General DeWitt was convinced that Nisei should be separated from Kibei and advocated stripping the Kibei of their citizenship, interning and expatriating them (along with the Issei) to Japan as rapidly as possible. [120] DeWitt pressed his point with Chief of Staff Marshall in four letters from September 8 through November 23; the Kibei were subverting otherwise loyal Nisei and should be segregated. [121] By the end of October, McCloy had come to believe the idea was worth considering, [122] and in November he wrote both DeWitt and WRA that he too favored segregation, [123] although he was unwilling to impose his view on WRA.

By mid-December, DeWitt had developed a plan for the segregation. In extraordinary detail, his plan envisioned a surprise move in which designated evacuees would be gathered, put aboard trains and moved to the Poston camp, where evacuees not to be segregated would then be removed. The people to be segregated would include those who wished repatriation; parolees from detention or internment camps; those with "bad" records during their confinement in assembly centers or relocation camps; others whom the intelligence services thought dangerous; and immediate families of segregants. The plan anticipated about 5,600 segregants. [124]

As the War Department view of segregation evolved, WRA was also considering the idea. WRA objected to DeWitt's early proposals because they suggested segregating by category. As Myer explained it:

The War Relocation Authority, after full consideration, rejected the idea of segregating entire categories of the population. We felt, and still feel, that while we should probably look with particular care at the individuals who fall into certain specific categories, the arbitrary removal of an entire class would be unjust, unwise, and seriously damaging to evacuee morale. The evacuation process itself was such a categorical segregation involving, as has been acknowledged, many injustices to individuals. The evacuation was justified by military urgency, but military necessity could not justify segregation on a categorical basis as proposed to the Authority. The disloyal of the group were now in safe custody under military guard.

Moreover, there were practical considerations. Removal of the Issei en masse would have disrupted the majority of the families. There are in the centers some 40,000 American citizens under 20 years of age, most of whom are sons and daughters of aliens. At the time of evacuation General DeWitt had repeatedly reassured the evacuees that family composition would not be disturbed; in fact, the Western Defense Command put itself to great trouble to unite families during and immediately following evacuation to assembly centers. Removal of the Kibei, likewise, would have penalized many loyal citizens. In this connection, it is relevant that a large proportion of the evacuees recruited for the special Army school at Camp Savage, Minnesota, and for the Navy language school at the University of Colorado are Kibei. [125]

WRA rejected the December plan for different reasons. It called for secrecy, military control, cancellation of normal activities, and it raised the probability of rioting and bloodshed—all entirely at odds with the semblance of normality that WRA hoped to achieve. [126] Three steps already under way would, WRA hoped, eliminate a need to segregate: the indefinite leave program; Justice Department custody for aliens whom WRA believed should be interned; and an isolation center at Leupp for troublemakers. [127]

During Spring 1943, however, pressure grew to segregate. Senator Chandler's Senate Committee recommended segregation, which McCloy publicly (and Secretary Stimson privately) endorsed. The JACL favored it, and in May WRA project directors unanimously approved segregation. [128] Remarking that he still felt relocation was "the only civilized way" of separating the evacuees, Myer finally agreed. [129]

Tule Lake was chosen as the segregation center because it was a large facility and already housed many potential segregants. Five groups would be segregated:

  • those who had applied for expatriation or repatriation to Japan and not withdrawn their application before July 1, 1943;

  • those who answered "no" to the loyalty question or refused to answer it during registration and had not changed their answers;

  • those who were denied leave clearance due to some accumulation of adverse evidence in their records;

  • aliens from Department of Justice internment camps whom that agency recommended for detention; and

  • family members of segregants who chose to remain with the family. [130]

On July 15, 1943, the WRA announced the policy of segregating persons who "by their acts have indicated that their loyalties lie with Japan during the present hostilities or that their loyalties do not lie with the United States." [131]

Next came a series of rehearings for individuals selected because of a "wrong" loyalty answer. Despite the consequences, most evacuees stuck by their original statements and the rehearing process registered mostly grief, disappointment and anger. Numerous Issei professed "disloyalty" as a way of getting back to California or of avoiding release. Many Kibei chose Tule Lake out of frustration with official distrust of their group. Others had no choice; they were family members—elderly, children or handicapped—who could not leave their relatives. A number of evacuees already at Tule Lake embraced disloyalty to avoid moving again. [132]

Between mid-September and mid-October, thirty-three trips transferred 6,289 people from Tule Lake and 8,559 to Tule Lake from other centers; later transfers moved 249 more residents out and 3,614 additional segregants in. Six thousand old Tuleans stayed. Meanwhile, Tule Lake was being transformed. A double eight-foot fence was erected, the guard increased to a battalion, and six tanks lined up conspicuously. [133]

Tule Lake now had a more diverse population than any other center. People had come from all over California, Hawaii, Washington and Oregon. They were disproportionately rural people and unmarried farm laborers. [134] Of 18,422 evacuees at Tule Lake between September 1943 and May 1944, 68 percent were citizens. Most were there because they had requested repatriation or expatriation (39 percent), answered the loyalty questionnaire unsatisfactorily (26 percent) or were family of someone who was segregated (31 percent). [135]

The arriving group immediately found themselves at a disadvantage. There was not enough housing, so segregants were squeezed into quarters that did not give them even the usual small space, or they occupied makeshift dormitories in recreation halls. Improvements by former occupants were gone, for they had taken most of their handiwork on leaving. Remaining furniture and shelves had been appropriated by other residents before the segregants arrived; even plasterboard and wood had been ripped from the walls to make crates. The "old Tuleans" had taken all the best jobs, too. Finally, many transferees found the facilities, the food and the environment inferior to their "home" projects. [136]

Tule Lake's population and restrictive policies guaranteed conflict there. The first incident was a labor dispute when on October 7 the administration fired 43 coal workers. No one would take the vacant positions. On October 12, the administration reinstated the workers and made other concessions. Three days later an accident touched off a strike when a truck carrying a work crew to the project farm overturned, killing one worker and injuring several. Dissident leaders used the incident to begin a strike of agricultural workers for more safety precautions. The next week a committee presented demands to the project director including a demand for "resegregation"—separating those who preferred the Japanese way of life from those at Tule Lake for other reasons. The committee also requested physical improvements and staff changes. The work stoppage among the farm workers was not resolved. On October 28, the administration announced it was firing the farm employees and bringing in a group of "loyal" evacuees from other camps. Compounding the insult, food from evacuee warehouses was requisitioned to feed the new farm workers. [137]

On November 1, while Myer was visiting the camp, a large group gathered and the committee demanded to talk to him. During their discussion, another group of evacuees had visited the hospital and ended up beating the chief medical officer. Eventually, Myer addressed the full group and the gathering dispersed. [138]

Several days later, on November 4, the explosion came. A gang moved into the administrative area to prevent the removal of food for volunteer farm workers from other centers. They fought with the internal security force and a staff member was injured. When the rioters moved toward the project director's house, the military guard was called in. [139]

Tokio Yamane described this incident from an evacuee's point of view:

It was on November 4th, 1943, as I recall, that the Tule Lake Food Warehouse Disturbances occurred. A Mr. Kobayashi, a Japanese American on security patrol, discovered several WRA Caucasian personnel stealing food from the Internee Food Warehouse during the night and loading the food on their own truck which was parked alongside the warehouse. Mr. Kobayashi, who had the authority of a warder, remonstrated with the WRA personnel because they were taking the internees' food. Mr. Kobayashi was attacked by the Caucasian WRA personnel and a scuffle ensued.

As the scuffle was going on, the Organization for the Betterment of Camp Conditions, made up of representatives of the numerous internee blocks, was holding a meeting. As soon as news of this incident was brought to the Organization, Rev. Kai and Mr. Kuratomi, the heads of the Organization, asked Mr. Koji Todorogi and me, who were attending the meeting, to go to the scene and try to restore calm and keep the situation under control by bringing back the internees who had gathered at the scene of the incident.

As Mr. Koji Todorogi and I were heading toward the warehouse area, several Caucasian WRA personnel suddenly appeared out of the darkness and attacked the two of us, without any provocation on our part, with pistols, rifles, and bats, and finally took us to the WRA office.

As the two of us were being interrogated, Mr. Kobayashi, the warder, was brought in by another group of Caucasians. During his interrogation Mr. Kobayashi was hit on the head with such force that blood gushed out and the baseball bat actually broke in two. I was a witness to this brutal attack and remember it very vividly.

From about 9 P.M. that evening until daybreak, we were forced to stand with our backs against the office wall with our hands over our heads and we were continuously kicked and abused as we were ordered to confess being the instigators of the disturbance. We denied these accusations but our protestations of innocence were completely ignored by our tormentors. The beatings continued all night long and at day break the three of us were turned over to the Military Police and we were thrown into the stockade for confinement.

As if the camp authorities had been expecting this incident to happen, the Military Police Detachment immediately entered the detainee compound with tanks, machine guns, and tear gas, and started their repressive measures to cow the detainees, and to overwhelm the youth organization which was made up of unarmed and defenseless teenagers. The repressive measures and the martial law instituted by the camp authorities took the following forms:

1. The MP tanks and jeeps constantly patrolled the area in a show of force designed to harass and frighten the detainees.

2. Unannounced and frequent inspections of the detainees' barracks in search of alleged contraband such as kitchen paring knives, sewing scissors, carpenters' and gardeners' tools.

3. Firing of tear gas at small groups of unarmed internees assembling at bath houses and bathrooms to get water for washing, or standing at the coal pile to get coal or kindling for heating, or standing at the shower area waiting to bathe, or at the laundry area to do their laundry. These repressive measures lasted two or three months and resulted in nightmarish fear, particularly among the very young and the very old detainees. [140]

Leaders of the demonstration were isolated in a detention center that became known as "the stockade." [141]

The Army retained control of Tule Lake until January 15, 1944. The period was one of "turmoil, idleness, impoverishment, and uncertainty." [142]

I was thirteen years old when we were at Tule Lake, California. The most upsetting experience happened to me when martial law was declared throughout the camp because of a food riot. We were told that the military police would come to search each one of our families in the barracks. The two MPs looked formidable as they walked in with guns at their side and asked roughly if we had any weapons, liquor or cameras. To be forced to let the MPs in our small humble quarters seemed like such invasion of personal privacy that the emotional effect of that search still haunts me. [143]

The partial strike continued and the stockade's population grew. Although there were no more major outbursts, the distinction sharpened between "loyal and disloyal," and suspicion of collaborators and informers flourished.

The loyalty program pushed evacuees in opposite directions. Some had been released and were heading toward a more normal, productive life. To those who expressed their anger and frustration, however, the loyalty program brought a more repressive, violent and frustrating period at Tule Lake. The loyalty program is rightly remembered as one of the most divisive events in the camp. It broke apart the community of evacuees by forcing each to a clear choice—a choice that could be made only by guesswork about a very uncertain future. It was a choice that was hard to hedge, and it divided families and friends philosophically, emotionally and, finally, physically, as some went east to make new lives and others were taken off to the grimmer confinement of Tule Lake.


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