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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


The Commission's report is rooted in both its hearings and in archival research. Between July and December 1981, the Commission held 20 days of hearings and took testimony from more than 750 witnesses: Japanese Americans and Aleuts who had lived through the events of World War II, former government officials, public figures, interested citizens, and other professionals who have studied the subjects of the Commission's inquiry. Between July 1981 and December 1982, the Commission staff collected and reviewed materials from government and university archives and read and analyzed the relevant historical writing.

The account of decisions made by officials of the federal government is primarily drawn from contemporaneous memoranda, writings and transcribed conversations with a lesser reliance on memoirs and testimony before the Commission.

The account of public events outside the federal government as well as those chapters which deal with background before Pearl Harbor or events in Hawaii or the First World War experience of German Americans, cited for comparison, rely more heavily on secondary sources. For instance, while many of the working papers at the University of California which analyzed press attitudes in the first months of the war were reviewed by the staff, no effort was made to collect and reread the entire range of press coverage and comment.

The account of the experiences of Japanese Americans and Aleuts relies heavily on the personal testimony given in the Commission hearings, although substantial support is also provided by contemporaneous government reports. It has been suggested that some of these accounts suffer from the fading of memories over forty years; but it is difficult to give greater weight to accounts by a captive population which may well have believed that fully candid statements accessible to a hostile public or government were not in its best interest. The Commission proceeded carefully to develop out of the testimony a fair, accurate account of the experiences of exclusion, evacuation and detention.

The Commission has not attempted to change the words and phrases commonly used to describe these events at the time they happened. This leaves one open to the charge of shielding unpleasant truths behind euphemisms. For instance, "evacuee" is frequently used in the text; Webster's Third International Dictionary defines an evacuee as one "who is removed from his house or community in time of war or pressing danger as a protective measure." In light of the Commission's conclusion that removal was not militarily necessary, "excludee" might be a better term than "evacuee." The Commission has largely left the words and phrases as they were, however, in an effort to mirror accurately the history of the time and to avoid the confusion and controversy a new terminology might provoke. We leave it to each reader to decide for himself how far the language of the period confirms an observation of George Orwell: "In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. . . . Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.

* * *

As Special Counsel to the Commission, I wish to extend deep thanks to all the consultants, volunteers and members of the staff of the Commission throughout its existence. They have borne the burden of a difficult and sensitive task with unfailing diligence and patience. They deserve the entire credit for the additions to knowledge and understanding which the Commission's report provides: Paul T. Bannai, Mark Baribeau, Kate C. Beardsley, Donald R. Brown, Jeanette Chow, Michelle Ducharme, Donna H. Fujioka, Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga, Jack Herzig, Helen Hessler, Toro Hirose, Stuart J. Ishimaru, Gregory G. King, Key K. Kobayashi, Donna Komure, Barbara Kraft, Alex M. Lichtenstein, Karen L. Madden, Teresa M. Myers, Robin J. Patterson, Ardith Pugh, Mitziko Sawada, Nancy J. Schaub, Lois Schiffer, Maria Josephy Schoolman, Katrina A. Shores, Charles Smith, Fumie Tateoka, Tom Taketa, Terry Wilkerson, Lois J. Wilzewske, Cheryl Yamamoto and Kiyo Yamada.

I owe a special debt to two members of the staff who have borne more than their fair share of the Commission's labor: Aiko Herzig Yoshinaga, who in large part found and organized and remembered the vast array of primary documents from which the report was written, and Terry Wilkerson, whose calm and unfailing professionalism in handling a manuscript that sometimes resembled a jig-saw puzzle was crucial in allowing us to produce a printable manuscript.

The immense job of locating relevant material could not have been completed without the very substantial assistance of a great many people in archival libraries and government departments to whom the Commission wishes to express its gratitude. Without their help the report could not have been finished.

National Archives: Margaret E. Branson, George Chelow, Edwin R. Coffee, Sylvan Dubow, Angela M. Fernandez, Cynthia Ghee, Terri Hammett, Jerry Hess, Joseph Howerton, Cynthia D. Jackson, Charles Johnson, Bill Lewis, William Lind, Mary Walton Livingston, Naida Loescher, Michael McReynolds, Michael Miller, Ellie Malamud, James Paulauskas, Fred Pernell, John Pontius, Edward J. Reese, William Roth, Aloha South, John E. Taylor, John Van Dereedt, Ted Weir and Harold Williams.

Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation: William Haynes, Madelyn Johnson, Jean Kornblut, Russell Powell, Jane Scott.

Department of Defense: Dean Allard, Alfred Beck, Bernard Cavalcanti and Hannah Zeidlik.

New Executive Office Building and White House Libraries: Judith Grosberg, Sharon Kissel, Bridget Reischer, Peter Sidney, Diane Talbert and Robert Updegrove.

Federal Reserve Bank, San Francisco: Patricia Rey.

Library of Congress: Peter Sheridan.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library: Robert Parks, Susan Bosanko.

University of California at Berkeley: Bancroft Library Staff.

Yale University, Sterling Library: Judith Schiff.

In addition, a number of people in private life with particular knowledge or interest in the subject of the Commission's inquiry were especially helpful: Lydia Black, Peter H. Irons, Lael Morgan, David Musto, Raymond Y. Okamura, Thomas M. Powers, Kenneth A. Ringle and Michi N. Weglyn.

Roger Daniels and Bill Hosokawa undertook to read the historical part of the report in draft form and offered innumerable useful suggestions. They bear no responsibility for the content or conclusions of the report in its final form. The Commission staff undertook the research and review of documents and testimony from which the report was written, and any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the staff.

Great contributions to the editing and production of the report were made by Judith Dollenmayer.

Last, but by no means least, I wish to thank my wife, JoAnn, for her understanding and support throughout the time which I have devoted to the Commission's work.

—Angus Macbeth
Special Counsel

Washington, DC.
December, 1982


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