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WHEREAS the successful prosecution of the war requires every possible protection against
espionage and against sabotage to national defense material, national defense premises, and
national defense utilities…: NOW, THEREFORE, by virtue of the authority vested in me as
President of the United States, and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I hereby
authorize and direct the Secretary of War, and the Military Commanders whom he may
from time to time designate, whenever he or any designated Commander deems such action
necessary or desirable, to prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he
or the appropriate Military Commander may determine, from which any or all persons may
be excluded, and with respect to which, the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave
shall be subject to whatever restrictions the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military
Commander may impose in his discretion. The Secretary of War is hereby authorized to provide for residents of any such area who are excluded there from, such transportation, food,
shelter, and other accommodations as may be necessary, in the judgment of the Secretary of
War or the said Military Commander, and until other arrangements are made, to accomplish
the purpose of this order. The designation of military areas in any region or locality shall
supersede designations of prohibited and restricted areas by the Attorney General under
the Proclamations of December 7 and 8, 1941, and shall supersede the responsibility and
authority of the Attorney General under the said Proclamations in respect of such prohibited
and restricted areas. I hereby further authorize and direct the Secretary of War and the said
Military Commanders to take such other steps as he or the appropriate Military Commander
may deem advisable to enforce compliance with the restrictions applicable to each Military
area herein above authorized to be designated, including the use of Federal troops and other
On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. Drawing on his authority as a wartime president, it ordered that
all Japanese-Americans west of the Mississippi River be relocated to prison
camps.This is the text of the order.
by Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Executive Order 9066
World War II on the Home Front
Federal Agencies, with authority to accept assistance of state and local agencies.
I hereby further authorize and direct all Executive Departments, independent establishments and other Federal Agencies, to assist the Secretary of War or the said Military Commanders in carrying out this Executive Order, including the furnishing of medical aid, hospitalization, food, clothing, transportation, use of land, shelter, and other supplies, equipment,
utilities, facilities, and services. This order shall not be construed as modifying or limiting in
any way the authority heretofore granted under Executive Order No. 8972, dated December
12, 1941, nor shall it be construed as limiting or modifying the duty and responsibility of the
Federal Bureau of Investigation, with respect to the investigation of alleged acts of sabotage
or the duty and responsibility of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice under
the Proclamations of December 7 and 8, 1941, prescribing regulations for the conduct and
control of alien enemies, except as such duty and responsibility is superseded by the designation of military areas hereunder.
* – The term ‘fifth column’ refers to people within a country who are aiding that country’s enemies
during an attack. It comes from the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s, when four columns of rebel forces
surrounded the city of Madrid (one on each side of the city), and the rebels were aided by a “fifth”
column of sympathizers within the city.
ATTORNEY GENERAL WARREN: For some time I have been of the opinion that the solution of our alien enemy problem with all its ramifications, which include the descendants
of aliens, is not only a Federal problem but is a military problem. We believe that all of the
decisions in that regard must be made by the military command that is charged with the security of this area. I am convinced that the fifth-column activities* of our enemy call for the
participation of people who are in fact American citizens, and that if we are to deal realistically with the problem. We must realize that we will be obliged in time of stress to deal with
subversive elements of our own citizenry…
A wave of organized sabotage in California accompanied by an actual air raid or even
by a prolonged black-out could not only be more destructive to life and property but could
result in retarding the entire war effort of this Nation far more than the treacherous bombing of Pearl Harbor. I hesitate to think what the result would be of the destruction of any of
our big airplane factories in this State. It will interest you to know that some of our airplane
factories in this State are entirely surrounded by Japanese land ownership or occupancy. It is
a situation that is fraught with the greatest danger and under no circumstances should it ever
be permitted to exist…
Unfortunately, however, many of our people and some of our authorities and, I am
afraid, many of our people in other parts of the country are of the opinion that because we
have had no sabotage and no fifth column activities in this State since the beginning of the
war, that means that none have been planned for us. But I take the view that that is the most
ominous sign in our whole situation. It convinces me more than perhaps any other factor that
Earl Warren was most notable for his service as governor of California from
1943 to 1953 and as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1953 to
1969. Prior to holding those high offices, he was attorney general for the
state of California.While serving in that capacity, he provided this testimony
before Congress, arguing in favor of Japanese internment.
by Earl Warren
Solving Our Alien Enemy Problem
ATTORNEY GENERAL WARREN: I believe, sir, that in time of war every citizen must
give up some of his normal rights.
CONGRESSMAN JOHN SPARKMAN: I have noticed suggestions in newspaper stories. I
noticed a telegram this morning with reference to the civil rights of these people. What do
you have to say about that?
the sabotage that we are to get, the fifth column activities that we are to get, are timed just
like Pearl Harbor was timed and just like the invasion of France, and of Denmark, and of
Norway, and all of those other countries.
I want to say that the consensus of opinion among the law-enforcement officers of this
State is that there is more potential danger among the group of Japanese who are born in this
country than from the alien Japanese who were born in Japan. That might seem an anomaly
to some people, but the fact is that, in the first place, there are twice as many of them. There
are 33,000 aliens and there are 66,000 born in this country.
In the second place, most of the Japanese who were born in Japan are over 55 years
of age. There has been practically no migration to this country since 1924. But in some
instances the children of those people have been sent to Japan for their education, either in
whole or in part, and while they are over there they are indoctrinated with the idea of Japanese imperialism. They receive their religious instruction which ties up their religion with
their Emperor, and they come back here imbued with the ideas and the policies of Imperial
We believe that when we are dealing with the Caucasian race we have methods that will
test the loyalty of them, and we believe that we can, in dealing with the Germans and the Italians, arrive at some fairly sound conclusions because of our knowledge…of the way they live
in the community and have lived for many years. But when we deal with the Japanese we
are in an entirely different field and we cannot form any opinion that we believe to be sound.
Students weren’t as aware of national politics then as they are now, and Japanese-Americans were actually apolitical then. Our parents couldn’t vote, so we simply weren’t interested in politics because there was nothing we could do about it if we were.
There were two reasons we were living in the ghettos: Birds of a feather flock together, and we had all the traditional aspects of Japanese life—Japanese restaurants, baths,
and so forth; and discrimination forced us together. The dominant society prevented us
from going elsewhere.
Right after Pearl Harbor we had no idea what was going to happen, but toward the end
of December we started hearing rumors and talk of the evacuation started. We could tell
from what we read in the newspapers and the propaganda they were printing—guys like
Henry McLemore, who said he hated all Japs and that we should be rounded up, gave us
the idea of how strong feelings were against us. So we were expecting something and the
evacuation was no great surprise.
I can’t really say what my parents thought about everything because we didn’t communicate that well. I never asked them what they thought. We communicated on other
things, but not political matters.
Once the evacuation was decided, we were told we had about a month to get rid of
our property or do whatever we wanted to with it. That was a rough time for my brother,
Following President Roosevelt’s executive order, nearly 200,000 Japanese
and Japanese-Americans living in the Western United States were relocated to internment camps. The following accounts come from three of those
evacuees. Ben Yorita was a teenager living in a predominantly Japanese
community when he was interned; he later was allowed to leave the camp
to take a job in Utah. Philip Hayasaka was also a teenager, though his family lived and owned a business in a predominantly white community. Jeanne
Wakatsuki-Houston was younger than Yorita of Hayasaka; only seven years
old when her family was interned. Her book, Farewell to Manzanar, is the
single most famous account of Japanese internment.
by Ben Yorita, Philip Hayasaka, and Jeanne Wakatsuki-Houston
Accounts of Japanese Internment
who was running a printshop my parents owned. We were still in debt on it and we didn’t
know what to do with all the equipment. The machines were old but still workable, and we
had English type and Japanese type. Japanese characters had to be set by hand and were
very hard to replace. Finally, the whole works was sold, and since nobody would buy the
Japanese type, we had to sell it as junk lead at 50 cents a pound. We sold the equipment
through newspaper classified ads: ‘Evacuating: Household goods for sale.’ Second-hand
dealers and everybody else came in and bought our refrigerator, the piano, and I had a
whole bunch of books I sold for $5, which was one of my personal losses. We had to sell
our car, and the whole thing was very sad. By the way, it was the first time we had ever had
a refrigerator and it had to be sold after only a few months.
We could take only what we could carry, and most of us were carrying two suitcases
or duffel bags. The rest of our stuff that we couldn’t sell was stored in the Buddhist church
my mother belonged to. When we came back, thieves had broken in and stolen almost
everything of value from the church.
I had a savings account that was left intact, but people who had their money in the
Japanese bank in Seattle had their assets frozen from Pearl Harbor until the late 1960s,
when the funds were finally released. They received no interest.
They took all of us down to the Puyallup fairgrounds, Camp Harmony, and everything
had been thrown together in haste. They had converted some of the display and exhibit areas into rooms and had put up some barracks on the parking lot. The walls in the barracks
were about eight feet high with open space above and with big knotholes in the boards of
the partitions. Our family was large, so we had two rooms.
They had also built barbed-wire fences around the camp with a tower on each corner with military personnel and machine guns, rifles, and searchlights. It was terrifying
because we didn’t know what was going to happen to us. We didn’t know where we were
going and we were just doing what we were told. No questions asked. If you get an order,
you go ahead and do it.
There was no fraternization, no contact with the military or any Caucasian except
when we were processed into the camp. But the treatment in Camp Harmony was fairly
loose in the sense that we were free to roam around in the camp. But it was like buffalo in
cages or behind barbed wire.
There was no privacy whatsoever in the latrines and showers, and it was humiliating
for the women because they were much more modest then than today. It wasn’t so bad for
the men because they were accustomed to open latrines and showers.
We had no duties in the sense that we were [not] required to work, but you can’t expect a camp to manage itself. They had jobs open in the kitchen and stock room, and eventually they opened a school where I helped teach a little. I wasn’t a qualified teacher, and I
got about $13 a month. We weren’t given an allowance while we were in Camp Harmony
waiting for the camp at Minidoka to be finished, so it was pretty tight for some families.
From Camp Harmony on, the family structure was broken down. Children ran everywhere they wanted to in the camp, and parents lost their authority. We could eat in any
mess hall we wanted, and kids began ignoring their parents and wandering wherever they
Eventually they boarded us on army trucks and took us to trains to be transported to
the camps inland. We had been in Camp Harmony from May until September. There was
a shortage of transportation at the time and they brought out these old, rusty cars with
gaslight fixtures. As soon as we got aboard we pulled the shades down so people couldn’t
If you could become invisible, you could get along. We were forced into a situation of
causing no trouble, of being quiet, not complaining. It was not a matter of our stoic tradition. I’ve never bought that. We did what we had to do to survive.
stare at us. The cars were all coaches and we had to sit all the way to camp, which was
difficult for some of the older people and the invalids. We made makeshift beds out of the
seats for them, and did the best we could.
When we got to Twin Falls, we were loaded onto trucks again, and we looked around
and all we could see was that vast desert with nothing but sagebrush. When the trucks
started rolling, it was dusty, and the camp itself wasn’t completed yet. The barracks had
been built and the kitchen facilities were there, but the laundry room, showers, and latrines
were not finished. They had taken a bulldozer in the good old American style and leveled
the terrain and then built the camp. When the wind blew, it was dusty and we had to wear
face masks to go to the dining hall. When winter came and it rained, the dust turned into
gumbo mud. Until the latrines were finished, we had to use outhouses.
The administrators were civilians and they tried to organize us into a chain of command to make the camp function. Each block of barracks was told to appoint a representative, who were called block managers. Of course we called them the Blockheads.
When winter came, it was very cold and I began withdrawing my savings to buy
clothes because we had none that was suitable for that climate. Montgomery Ward and
Sears Roebuck did a landslide business from the camps because we ordered our shoes and
warm clothing from them. The people who didn’t have savings suffered quite a bit until
the camp distributed navy pea coats. Then everybody in camp was wearing outsize pea
coats because we were such small people. Other than army blankets, I don’t remember any
other clothing issues.
The barracks were just single-wall construction and the only insulation was tar paper
nailed on the outside, and they never were improved. The larger rooms had potbellied
stoves, and we all slept on army cots. Only the people over sixty years old were able to
get metal cots, which had a bit more spring to them than the army cots, which were just
These camps were technically relocation centers and there was no effort to hold us
in them, but they didn’t try actively to relocate us until much later. On my own initiative I
tried to get out as soon as I could, and started writing letters to friends around the country.
I found a friend in Salt Lake City who agreed to sponsor me for room and board, and he got
his boss to agree to hire me. I got out in May 1943, which was earlier than most. In fact, I
was one of the first to leave Minidoka…
The older people never recovered from the camps. The father was the traditional
breadwinner and in total command of the family. But after going into the camps, fathers
were no longer the breadwinners; the young sons and daughters were. Most of them
couldn’t even communicate in English, so all the burdens fell on the second generation.
And most of us were just kids, nineteen or twenty. Consequently there was a big turnover
of responsibility and authority, and the parents were suddenly totally dependent on their
children. When we returned to the cities after the war, it was the second generation again
that had to make the decisions and do all the negotiating with landlords, attorneys, and
Each barracks was divided into six units, sixteen by twenty feet, about the size of a living room, with one bare bulb hanging from the ceiling and an oil stove for heat. We were
assigned two of these for the twelve people in our family group … We were issued steel
army cots, two brown army blankets each, and some mattress covers, which my brothers
stuffed with straw.
The people who had it hardest during the first few months were young couples, many
of whom had married just before the evacuation began, in order not to be separated and
sent to different camps. Our two rooms were crowded, but at least it was all in the family.
My oldest sister and her husband were shoved into one of those sixteen-by-twenty-foot
compartments with six people they had never seen before-two other couples, one recently
There was a lot of hysteria at the time, a lot of confusion, and the not knowing what
was going to happen created such a fear that we became supercautious. We would hear that
the FBI was going into different houses and searching, and we would wonder when they
were coming to our house. We just knew that they were going to come and knock on the
door and that we wouldn’t know what to do when they came.
A lot of people were burning things that didn’t need to be burned, but they were afraid
suspicion would be attached to those things. All those wonderful old calligraphies were
destroyed, priceless things, because they thought someone in authority would believe they
represented allegiance to Japan. One time I was with my mother in the house, just the two
of us, and there was a knock on the door. My mother had those rosary-type beads that the
Buddhists use for prayer, and she put them in my pocket and sent me outside to play and
stay out until whoever was at the door left. She was afraid it was the FBI and they would
take them away from us. It sounds silly now, but that kind of fear was pervasive then. It
When this happened, my dad’s business went to hell. Suddenly all his accounts payable were due immediately, but all the accounts receivable weren’t. People knew the guy
wasn’t going to be around much longer, so they didn’t pay him. I knew at one time how
much he lost that way—we had to turn in a claim after the war—but I’ve forgotten now.
But it was a considerable amount. Those claims, by the way, didn’t give justice to the victims; it only legitimized the government. We got about a nickel on the dollar.
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