Japanese Evacuation
From the West Coast

One of the Army's largest undertakings in the name of defense during World War II was the evacuation of almost all persons of Japanese ancestry from California, from the western halves of Oregon and Washington, and from southern Arizona. The Army also removed persons of Japanese descent from Alaska and began what was initially intended to be a substantial transfer of such persons from Hawaii to the mainland.1 Many facets of the story of the Japanese evacuation from the west coast have already been related in published works.2  Here the discussion is limited to the plans and decisions for evacuation and to the nature of the military necessity that lay behind them.3

Initial plans for evacuation of suspected persons from strategic areas along the Pacific front concerned enemy aliens of all three Axis nations ­Germany, Italy, and Japan-rather than persons of Japanese ancestry alone. Of the latter, the census of 1940 showed that, out of a total of 126,947 in the continental United States, 112,353 were living in the three Pacific states. California alone had 93,717 Japanese, or nearly three-fourths of the national total. Of the west coast Japanese, 40,869 were aliens ineligible for


citizenship, and 71,484 were American-born citizens. In early 1942 there were about 58,000 Italian and 22,000 German aliens in the Pacific states. Most of the Germans, and a large proportion of the Japanese and Italians, lived in or near the principal cities and adjacent strategic areas. A good many of the German aliens were recent refugees from Nazi Germany. In contrast to the Germans and Italians, the Japanese in the Pacific states, and especially in California, had been the target of hostility and restrictive action for several decades, a factor that unquestionably colored the measures taken against these people after Pearl Harbor 4

The Background of Evacuation Planning

A prewar agreement made the Department of justice responsible for controlling enemy aliens in the continental United States in the event of war. During 1941 this department (primarily, through its Federal Bureau of Investigation) scrutinized the records of prospective enemy aliens and compiled lists of those against whom there were grounds for suspicion of disloyalty. Presidential proclamations of 7 and 8 December 1941, dealing with the control of Japanese and of German and Italian aliens, respectively, provided the basis for immediate action against those so suspected. On 7 December President Roosevelt authorized the Army to co-operate with the FBI in rounding up individual enemy aliens considered actually or potentially dangerous. By 13 December the Department of justice had interned a total of 831 alien residents of the Pacific states, including 595 Japanese and 187 Germans, and by 16 February 1942 the number of alien Japanese apprehended had increased to 1,266. By specifically authorizing the exclusion of enemy aliens "from any locality in which residence by an alien enemy shall be found to constitute a danger to the public peace and safety of the United States," the Presidential proclamations also provided a basis for evacuation on a larger scale.5

During the first few days after the Pearl Harbor attack the west coast was greatly alarmed by a number of reports-all false-of enemy ships offshore, and it was in this atmosphere that the first proposal for a mass


evacuation of the Japanese developed. On 10 December an agent of the Treasury Department reported to Army authorities that "an estimated 20,000 Japanese in the San Francisco metropolitan area were ready for organized action." Without checking the authenticity of the report, the Ninth Corps Area staff hurriedly completed a plan for their evacuation that was approved by the corps area commander. The next morning the Army called the local FBI chief, who "scoffed at the whole affair as the wild imaginings of a discharged former FBI man." This stopped any further local action for the moment, but the corps area commander duly reported the incident to Washington and expressed the hope that "it may have the effect of arousing the War Department to some action looking to the establishment of an area or areas for the detention of aliens." 6  His recommendation that "plans be made for large-scale internment" was forwarded by the Chief of Staff's office to G-2 and to the Provost Marshal General.7  On 19 December, and apparently as one consequence of this initial flurry, General DeWitt, as commander of the Western Defense Command, recommended to GHQ "that action be initiated at the earliest practicable date to collect all alien subjects fourteen years of age and over, of enemy nations and remove them to the Zone of the Interior." 8

However General DeWitt may have felt during December about the treatment of enemy aliens, he was then firmly opposed to any evacuation of citizens. In a telephone conversation he had on 26 December with Maj. Gen. Allen W. Gullion, the Provost Marshal General, the latter remarked that he had just been visited by a representative of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, who had asked for a roundup of all Japanese in the Los Angeles area. In response, General DeWitt said (and General Gullion expressed agreement with what he said):

I thought that thing out to my satisfaction .... if we go ahead and arrest the 93,000 Japanese, native born and foreign born, we are going to have an awful job on our hands and are very liable to alienate the loyal Japanese from disloyal .... I'm very doubtful that it would be common sense procedure to try and intern or to intern 117,000 Japanese in this theater .... I told the governors of all the states that those people should be watched better if they were watched by the police and people of the community in which they live and have been living for years .... and then inform the F.B.I. or the military authorities of any suspicious action so we could take necessary steps to handle it . . . rather than try to intern all those people, men, women and children, and hold them under military control and under guard. I don't think it's a sensible


thing to do .... I'd rather go along the way we are now . . . rather than attempt any such wholesale internment . . . . An American citizen, after all, is an American citizen. And while they all may not be loyal, I think we can weed the disloyal out of the loyal and lock them up if necessary. 9

What General DeWitt wanted at this time was the prompt issuance of clear instructions to FBI agents on the west coast that would enable them to take more positive steps to prevent sabotage and espionage. At his urging Secretary of War Stimson had conferred with Attorney General Francis Biddle, and thereafter Mr. Biddle speeded up the preparation of regulations to implement the Presidential proclamations of 7 and 8 December. Late in the month the Department of justice announced regulations requiring enemy aliens in the Western Defense Command to surrender radio transmitters, short-wave radio receivers, and certain types of cameras, by 5 January 1942. On 30 December General DeWitt was informed that the Attorney General had also authorized the issuance of warrants for search and arrest in any house where an enemy alien lived upon representation by an FBI agent that there was reasonable cause to believe that there was contraband on the premises.10  In addition, the Department of Justice and the Provost Marshal General had arranged to send representatives to San Francisco to confer with General DeWitt in order to work out more specific arrangements for controlling enemy aliens. To centralize and expedite Army action in Washington, General Gullion also arranged for General DeWitt to deal directly with the Provost Marshal General's office on west coast alien problems, and for the latter to keep GHQ informed of developments.11

The San Francisco conference took place on 4 and 5 January 1942. Before the meetings the War Department's representative, Maj. Karl R. Bendetsen, Chief of the Aliens Division, Provost Marshal General's office, recommended that General DeWitt insist on several measures beyond those already ordered by the Attorney General. In particular he urged the definition of strategic areas from which all enemy aliens were to be excluded and that authority to prescribe such areas be vested in the Army. He also insisted that there must be a new and complete registration of enemy aliens and a "pass and permit" system similar to the one prevalent in prewar Europe. The justice representative, Assistant Attorney General James Rowe, Jr., also


presented broader plans for action than the Attorney General had hitherto approved. In opening the conference, General DeWitt emphatically declared his serious concern over the alien situation and his distrust in particular of the Japanese population-both aliens and citizens. But, according to the later recollections of Mr. Rowe, the general during the meetings opposed a mass evacuation of the Japanese. What he wanted was a full implementation of the President's proclamations. The conference ended with agreement on a plan of action providing for an alien registration with the least practicable delay, for FBI searches of suspected premises under regulations that subsequently proved satisfactory to General DeWitt, and for the designation of strategic areas from which enemy aliens could be barred by the Attorney General, who would "entertain" Army recommendations on this score if they were accompanied by an exact description of each area.12

The arrangements agreed upon at San Francisco took longer to put into effect than either General DeWitt or the justice representatives had anticipated. The registration of enemy aliens was finally undertaken between 2 and 9 February, and the large-scale "spot" raids that General DeWitt was especially anxious to have launched did not get under way until the same week, so that both operations took place in the period when agitation against the Japanese was rapidly mounting. General DeWitt had anticipated that he could fix the boundaries of restricted areas by 9 January, but it was 21 January before he sent the first of his lists to Washington for transmission to the Attorney General. One of his principal difficulties was to reconcile the recommendations of the Navy, which by agreement were to be made through him, with the position of the Department of Justice. Navy commanders wanted to exclude not only enemy aliens but also all American­born Japanese who could not show "actual severance of all allegiance to the Japanese Government." 13

General DeWitt's recommendation of 21 January, for California, called for the exclusion of enemy aliens from eighty-six Category A zones and


their close control by a pass and permit system in eight Category B zones. Many of the Category A areas were uninhabited or had no alien population, but the execution of this recommendation nevertheless would have required the evacuation of more than 7,000 persons. Only 40 percent of these would have been Japanese aliens, and the majority would have been Italians. 14  The Secretary of War's letter (drafted in the Provost Marshal General's office) forwarding this recommendation to Mr. Biddle added the following comments:

In recent conferences with General DeWitt, he has expressed great apprehension because of the presence on the Pacific coast of many thousand alien enemies. As late as yesterday, 24 January, he stated over the telephone that shore-to-ship and ship-to-shore radio communications, undoubtedly coordinated by intelligent enemy control were continually operating. A few days ago it was reported by military observers on the Pacific coast that not a single ship had sailed from our Pacific ports without being subsequently attacked. General DeWitt's apprehensions have been confirmed by recent visits of military observers from the War Department to the Pacific coast.
The alarming and dangerous situation just described, in my opinion, calls for immediate and stringent action.15

Actually there had been no Japanese submarine or surface vessels anywhere near the west coast during the preceding month, and careful investigation subsequently indicated that all claims of hostile shore-to-ship and ship-to-shore communication lacked any foundation whatsoever.16  Similar recommendations for restricted areas in Arizona, Oregon, and Washington followed, and were forwarded to Justice by 3 February.17  By then the position of the Japanese population was under heavy attack, and in consequence the alien exclusion program was being eclipsed by a drive to evacuate all people of Japanese descent from the west coast states.

Agitation for a mass evacuation of the Japanese did not reach significant dimensions until more than a month after the outbreak of war. Then,


beginning in mid-January 1942, public and private demands for federal and state action increased rapidly in tempo and volume.18  Among the first of these were letters of 16 January addressed by Representative Leland M. Ford of Santa Monica, California, to the Secretary of War and to other members of the Cabinet, urging that all Japanese -citizens as well as aliens- be moved inland from the coast and put in concentration camps for the duration of the war.19  Behind this and similar suggestions lay a profound suspicion of the Japanese population, fanned, of course, by the nature and scope of Japan's early military successes in the Pacific. A GHQ intelligence bulletin of 21 January, for example, concluded that there was an "espionage net containing Japanese aliens, first and second generation Japanese and other nations . . . thoroughly organized and working underground." 20 In conversations with General Clark of GHQ on 20 and 21 January, General DeWitt expressed his apprehension that any enemy raid on the west coast would probably be accompanied by "a violent outburst of coordinated and controlled sabotage" among the Japanese population.21 In talking with General Gullion on 24 January, General DeWitt stated what was to become one of the principal arguments for mass evacuation. "The fact that nothing has happened so far is more or less . . . ominous," he said, "in that I feel that in view of the fact that we have had no sporadic attempts at sabotage that there is a control being exercised and when we have it it will be on a mass basis." 22

The publication of the report of the Roberts Commission, which had, investigated the Pearl Harbor attack, on 25 January had a large and immediate effect both on public opinion and on government action. The report concluded that there had been widespread espionage in Hawaii before Pearl Harbor, both by Japanese consular agents and by Japanese residents of Oahu who had "no open relations with the Japanese foreign service." 23  The latter


charge, though proven false after the war was over, was especially inflammatory at the time it was made. On 27 January General DeWitt had a long talk with Governor Culbert L. Olson of California and afterward reported:

There's a tremendous volume of public opinion now developing against the Japanese of all classes, that is aliens and non-aliens, to get them off the land, and in Southern California around Los Angeles-in that area too-they want and they are bringing pressure on the government to move all the Japanese out. As a matter of fact, it's not being instigated or developed by people who are not thinking but by the best people of California. Since the publication of the Roberts Report they feel that they are living in the midst of a lot of enemies. They don't trust the Japanese, none of them.24

After another talk two days later with the Attorney General of California, Mr. Earl Warren, General DeWitt reported that Mr. Warren was in thorough agreement with Governor Olson that the Japanese population should be removed from the state of California, and the Army commander now expressed his own unqualified concurrence in this proposal and also his willingness to accept responsibility for the enemy alien program if it were transferred to him.25

In Washington, as Major Bendetsen told General DeWitt on the same day, 29 January, the California Congressional delegation was "beginning to get up in arms" and its representatives had scheduled an informal meeting for the following afternoon to formulate recommendations for action. Some Washington state Congressmen also attended this meeting, to which representatives of the justice and War Departments were invited. Major Bendetsen reported General DeWitt's views to the assembled Congressmen and, though denying that he was authorized to speak for the War Department, nevertheless expressed the opinion that the Army would be entirely willing to take over from justice, "provided they accorded the Army, and the Secretary of War, and the military commander under him, full authority to require the services of any other federal agency, and provided that federal agency was required to respond." 26  The Congressmen unanimously approved a suggested program for action, which called for an evacuation of enemy aliens and "dual" citizens from critical areas, but which made no specific mention of the Japanese. In presenting the Congressional program to his chief, Major


Bendetsen described it as actually "calling for the immediate evacuation of all Japanese from the Pacific coastal strip including Japanese citizens of the age of 21 and under, and calling for an Executive order of the President, imposing full responsibility and authority (with power to requisition the services of other Federal agencies) upon the War Department." 27  He also reported the recommendations as adopted to General DeWitt, who expressed general approval of them despite some technical objections. After the Congressional meeting its chairman, Representative Clarence F. Lea, formally presented the recommendations to the War Department.28

The next day, in reflecting on these recommendations, General DeWitt recorded this opinion:

As a matter of fact, the steps now being taken by the Attorney General through the FBI will do nothing more than exercise a controlling influence and preventive action against sabotage; it will not, in my opinion, be able to stop it. The only positive answer to this question is evacuation of all enemy aliens from the West Coast and resettlement or internment under positive control, military or otherwise.29

What he wanted, he told Major Bendetsen, was the removal of German and Italian aliens as well as all Japanese residents and he wanted all evacuees from any one particular area to be moved at the same time.30

The Department of Justice in the meantime had agreed informally to accept General DeWitt's initial recommendation for restricted areas in California, and it was preparing to carry out this and other aspects of the alien control program. On 28 January it announced the appointment of Thomas C. Clark as Co-ordinator of the Alien Enemy Control Program within the Western Defense Command, and Mr. Clark arrived on the scene of action on the following day. On 29 January justice made its first public announcement about the restricted Category A areas that were to be cleared of enemy aliens by 24 February.31

As a result of the Congressional recommendations and other developments, Attorney General Biddle asked War Department representatives to attend a meeting in his office on Saturday afternoon, 1 February. There he presented them with the draft of a press release to be issued jointly by the justice and War Departments, indicating agreement on all alien control


measures taken to date and including the statement: "The Department of War and the Department of justice are in agreement that the present military situation does not at this time require the removal of American citizens of the Japanese race." In opening the meeting Mr. Biddle stated that justice would have nothing whatever to do with any interference with citizens or with a suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. The War Department representatives -Assistant Secretary of War McCloy, General Gullion, and Major Bendetsen- agreed to the wording of the press release except for the sentence quoted. The meeting then adjourned, the War Department representatives withholding approval of any press release until General DeWitt's views could be obtained, and until they learned the outcome of a conference at Sacramento that had been arranged for 2 February between General DeWitt, Mr. Clark, Governor Olsen, and other federal and state officials. Major Bendetsen informed the Chief of Staff's office that the justice Department's proposal had been held up also because General DeWitt in telephone conversations had been provisionally recommending the evacuation of the whole Japanese population from the Pacific coastal frontier. In the meantime the Provost Marshal General's office had been formulating plans for mass evacuation and had already located sufficient nontroop shelter for substantially all of the west coast Japanese. In a telephone conversation immediately after the meeting with justice representatives, Major Bendetsen reported, General DeWitt agreed to submit a recommendation for mass evacuation in writing.32

Before General DeWitt could report the outcome of the Sacramento meeting, Secretary Stimson met on 3 February with Mr. McCloy, General Gullion, and Major Bendetsen to confer about the proposed press release and the Japanese problem in general. They discussed a proposal under which military reservations would be established around the big aircraft factories and some port and harbor installations, and from which everyone could be excluded at the outset and until they were licensed to return. In practice licenses would not be issued to Japanese residents or to other groups or individuals under suspicion. It appeared that under this plan citizens as well as aliens could be excluded legally without obvious discrimination.33


During the discussion, Mr. Stimson was handed a record of a telephone conversation between General Marshall and General DeWitt, who had called just as the Secretary of War's meeting was getting under way. In it, General DeWitt said:

I had a conference yesterday with the Governor and several representatives from the Department of Justice and Department of Agriculture, with a view to removal of the Japanese from where they are now living to other portions of the state. And the Governor thinks it can be satisfactorily handled without having a resettlement somewhere in the central part of the United States and removing them entirely from the state of California. As you know the people out here are very much disturbed over these aliens, the Japanese being among them, and want to get them out of the several communities. And I've agreed that if they can solve the problem by getting them out of the areas limited as the combat zone, that it would be satisfactory. That would take them 100 to 150 miles from the coast, and they're working on it. The Department of justice has a representative here and the Department of Agriculture, and they think the plan is an excellent one. I'm only concerned with getting them away from around these aircraft factories and other places.34

In other exchanges on this and succeeding days General DeWitt explained that what the California authorities proposed to do was to move both citizen and alien Japanese (voluntarily if possible, and in collaboration with American-born Japanese leaders from urban areas and from along the coast to agricultural areas within the state. They wanted to do this in particular in order to avoid having to replace the Japanese with Mexican and Negro laborers who might otherwise have to be brought into California in considerable numbers. The California officials felt they needed about ten days to study the problem and come up with a workable plan. By 4 February it appeared to General DeWitt that they could produce a plan that would be satisfactory from a defense standpoint.35

After the meeting with Secretary Stimson, Mr. McCloy called General DeWitt to tell him about the licensing plan and to caution him against taking any position in favor of mass Japanese evacuation.36  The next day General Gullion told General Clark that Mr. Stimson and Mr. McCloy were against any mass evacuation of the Japanese. "They are pretty much against it," he said, " and they are also pretty much against interfering with citizens unless it can be done legally." While agreeing that the Stimson­McCloy point of view represented the War Department position for the


moment, General Gullion also said that personally he did not think the licensing action proposed was going to cure the situation.37 On this same day, 4. February, Lieutenant Colonel Bendetsen (just promoted to that rank) in talking with General DeWitt remarked that he was sure that American citizens of Japanese extraction would have to be excluded from some areas at least. General DeWitt made no direct comment on this remark, but later said:

You see, the situation is this: I have never on my own initiative recommended a mass evacuation, or the removal of any man, any Jap, other than an alien. In other words, I have made no distinction between an alien as to whether he is Jap, Italian, or German-that they must all get out of Area A, that is the Category A area. The agitation to move all the Japanese away from the coast, and some suggestions, out of California entirely-is within the State, the population of the State, which has been espoused by the Governor. I have never been a body [sic] to that, but I have said, if you do that, and can solve that problem, it will be a positive step toward the protection of the coast . . . But I have never said, "You've got to do it, in order to protect the coast"; . . . I can take such measures as are necessary from a military standpoint to control the American Jap if he is going to cause trouble within those restricted areas.38

Two days earlier, on 2 February, members of Congress from the Pacific states had organized informally under the leadership of their senior Senator, Hiram Johnson. He had appointed two subcommittees, one headed by Senator Rufus C. Holman of Oregon to consider plans for increased military strength along the Pacific coast, and the other by Senator Mon C. Wallgren of Washington to deal with the questions of enemy aliens and the prevention of sabotage. On 4. February General Clark of GHQ and Admiral Harold R. Stark, the Chief of Naval Operations, offered testimony on the west coast military outlook at a meeting of the first of these subcommittees. Before they spoke, Senator Holman summed up the situation by saying that the people there were alarmed and horrified as to their persons, their employment, and their homes. General Clark said that he thought the Pacific states were unduly alarmed. While both he and Admiral Stark agreed the west coast defenses were not adequate to prevent the enemy from attacking, they also agreed that the chance of any sustained attack or of an invasion was as General Clark put it-nil. They recognized that sporadic air raids on key installations were a distinct possibility, but they also held that the west coast military defenses were considerable and in fairly good shape; and, as Admiral Stark said, from the military point of view the Pacific coast necessarily had a low priority as compared with Hawaii and the far Pacific. These


authoritative Army and Navy views were passed on to the Wallgren sub­committee, but they do not seem to have made much impression.39

On this same day, 4 February, the federal government's Office of Facts and Figures completed an analysis of a hasty survey of public opinion in California and concluded: "Even with such a small sample, . . . one can infer the situation in California is serious; that it is loaded with potential dynamite; but that it is not as desperate as some people believe." 40  A contemporary Navy report described what was happening to the Japanese population in the Los Angeles area in these words: " . . . loss of employment and income due to anti-Japanese agitation by and among Caucasian Americans, continued personal attacks by Filipinos and other racial groups, denial of relief funds to desperately needy cases, cancellation of licenses for markets, produce houses, stores, etc., by California State authorities, discharges from jobs by the wholesale, [and] unnecessarily harsh restrictions on travel including discriminatory regulations against all Nisei preventing them from engaging in commercial fishing." While expressing opposition to any mass evacuation of the Japanese, the report concluded that if practices such as those described continued there would "most certainly be outbreaks of sabotage, riots, and other civil strife in the not too distant future." 41

The Decision for Mass Evacuation

It was within this setting that Colonel Bendetsen on 4 February addressed a long memorandum to General Gullion which concluded that an enemy alien evacuation "would accomplish little as a measure of safety," since the alien Japanese were mostly elderly people who could do little harm if they would. Furthermore, their removal would inevitably antagonize large numbers of their relatives among the American-born Japanese. After considering the various alternatives that had been suggested for dealing with citizens, Colonel Bendetsen recommended the designation of military areas


from which all persons who did not have permission to enter and remain would be excluded as a measure of military necessity. In his opinion, this plan was clearly legal and he recommended that it be executed by three steps: first, the issuance of an Executive order by the President authorizing the Secretary of War to designate military areas; second, the designation of military areas upon the recommendation of General DeWitt; and, third, the immediate evacuation from areas so designated of all persons to whom it was not proposed to issue licenses to re-enter or remain. Colonel Bendetsen assumed that, if military areas were established on the west coast in place of all Category A areas thus far recommended by General DeWitt, about 30,000 people would have to be evacuated. On the same day, Colonel Bendetsen's division drafted a proposal for applying the military area scheme to the entire nation.42

The Deputy Provost Marshal General, Col. Archer L. Lerch, indorsed Colonel Bendetsen's proposals, and in doing so commented on what he called the "deciding weakening of General DeWitt" on the question of Japanese evacuation, which he considered "most unfortunate." He also thought the plan for resettlement within California being worked out between General DeWitt and the state authorities savored "too much of the spirit of Rotary" and overlooked "the necessary cold-bloodedness of war." 43  General Gullion presented a condensed version of Colonel Bendetsen's observations and recommendations to Mr. McCloy on 5 February. He also noted that General DeWitt had changed his position and now appeared to favor a more lenient treatment of the American-born Japanese to be worked out in co-operation with their leaders; in General Gullion's opinion, such co-operation was dangerous and the delay involved was "extremely dangerous." 44  A revision of his. memorandum, with all reference to General DeWitt deleted, became the Provost Marshal General's recommendation of 6 February to Mr. McCloy that steps be taken immediately to eliminate what General Gullion described as the great danger of Japanese-inspired sabotage on the west coast. He advised that these steps should include the internment by the Army of all alien Japanese east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, together with as many citizen members of their families as would voluntarily


accompany them, and the exclusion of all citizen Japanese from restricted zones and their resettlement with the assistance of various federal agencies.45

On the following day, 7 February, Colonel Bendetsen read General Gullion's memorandum to General DeWitt, who expressed some enthusiasm for its recommendations but who did not want to indorse them without further study.46  On the same day Colonel Bendetsen drafted an acknowledgement to the Congressional letter of 30 January, which affirmed that "an adequate solution" for the west coast situation would be "formulated and recommended in the very near future." 47  By 7 February, also, Mr. McCloy had decided to send Colonel Bendetsen to the west coast "to confer with General DeWitt in connection with mass evacuation of all Japanese," 48  a mission that was presently to produce new and detailed recommendations from the west coast commander. 49

In the meantime, the War and Justice Departments had been approaching an impasse over the area evacuations contemplated under the enemy alien control program. After agreeing informally to accept General DeWitt's initial California recommendation, justice officials balked at accepting the very large Category A areas he recommended for Washington and Oregon, since they included the entire cities of Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland. The


execution of this recommendation would have required the evacuation of about 10,700 additional enemy aliens and, as in the case of California, only about 40 percent of these would have been Japanese. As a practical matter the Department of justice would have found it extremely difficult to supply either the manpower or the internment facilities that a compulsory evacuation of 17,000 or 18,000 enemy aliens would have required, and by 4 February its representatives were intimating that, if there were any further Category A recommendations or if the evacuation of any citizens were to be involved, justice would have to bow out and turn its evacuation responsibilities over to the War Department. General DeWitt on 4 February was considering putting the whole Los Angeles area into Category A, because his Air commander had recommended Category A zones around 220 different installations that, when plotted on the map, almost blanketed the area anyway. For the same reason, General DeWitt believed he might have to put all of San Diego in Category A also.50  He finally recommended the blanket Category A coverage of these two cities on 7 February, and five days later he recommended that almost all of the San Francisco Bay area be put in Category A. If all of General DeWitt's recommendations for Category A areas through 12 February had been accepted, it would have made necessary the evacuation of nearly 89,000 enemy aliens from areas along the Pacific coast-only 25,000 of whom would have been Japanese.51  Additionally, of course, General DeWitt was counting upon the California state authorities to persuade the citizen Japanese to evacuate California's urban areas and other sensitive points along the coast.

On 9 February Attorney General Biddle formally agreed to announce the Category A areas initially recommended for Arizona, California, Oregon.


and Washington as prohibited to enemy aliens by 15 or 24 February-with the latter date applicable to those areas that had a considerable alien population. But Mr. Biddle questioned the necessity of forcibly excluding German and Italian aliens from all of these areas and wondered why whole cities had been included in Washington and Oregon and none in California. He added that if, as he had been informally advised, all of Los Angeles County was going to be recommended as a Category A area, the Department of justice would have to step out of the picture because it did not have the physical means to carry out a mass evacuation of this scope. In conclusion, he stated that the Department of justice was not authorized under any circumstances to evacuate American citizens; if the Army for reasons of military necessity wanted that done in particular areas, the Army itself would have to do it.52

The Attorney General's stand led naturally to the drafting of a War Department memorandum summarizing the "questions to be determined re Japanese exclusion" that needed to be presented to President Roosevelt for decision. These questions were:

(1) Is the President willing to authorize us to move Japanese citizens as well as aliens from restricted areas?
(2) Should we undertake withdrawal from the entire strip DeWitt originally recommended, which involves a number of over 100,000 people, if we included both aliens and Japanese citizens?
(3) Should we undertake the intermediate step involving, say, 70,000, which includes large communities such as Los Angeles, San Diego, and Seattle?
(4) Should we take any lesser step such as the establishment of restricted areas around airplane plants and critical installations, even though General DeWitt states that in several, at least, of the large communities this would be wasteful, involve difficult administrative problems, and might be a source of more continuous irritation and trouble than 100 percent withdrawal from the area? 53

After a morning conference with Mr. McCloy and General Clark about the alternative courses proposed, Mr. Stimson tried to see the President to discuss them with him. Mr. Roosevelt was too busy for an interview, but in a telephone call at 1:30 p.m. the Secretary after describing the situation to the President "fortunately found that he was very vigorous about it and


[he] told me to go ahead on the line that I had myself thought the best." 54  What Mr. Stimson thought best at this time, according to his Diary, was to begin as quickly as possible with the evacuation of both citizen and alien Japanese from the vicinity of "the most vital places of army and navy production." 55

In reporting Mr. Stimson's conversation with the President to San Francisco, Mr. McCloy told Colonel Bendetsen that "we have carte blanche to do what we want to as far as the President's concerned," and that Mr. Roosevelt had specifically authorized the evacuation of citizens. Mr. McCloy said that the President had recognized that there probably would be some repercussions to the evacuation of citizens, but that what was to be done had to be dictated by the military necessity of the situation, subject only to the qualification, "Be as reasonable as you can." The Assistant Secretary also told Colonel Bendetsen that he thought the President was prepared to sign an Executive order giving the War Department the authority to carry out whatever action it decided upon.56

The President's decisions as reported by Mr. McCloy gave an understandable impetus to the preparation of new written recommendations by General DeWitt, which with the assistance of Colonel Bendetsen he had begun to draft on the evening of 10 February. These were embodied in a formal memorandum for the Secretary of War of 13 February, which was forwarded with a covering memorandum for GHQ via air mail.57  General DeWitt's new recommendations differed from those he had already submitted under the enemy alien control program in only one important particular: he recommended the enforced evacuation by federal authority of the American-born Japanese from the Category A areas already recommended by him in previous letters to the Secretary of War.58  His memorandum


reached GHQ at 5:00 p.m., 18 February. On 19 February it was decided at a GHQ staff conference not to concur in General DeWitt's recommendations, and instead to recommend to General Clark that only enemy alien leaders be arrested and interned. General Clark, being aware of developments in the War Department, must have realized the futility of a GHQ nonconcurrence.59  On 20 February GHQ sent General DeWitt's memoranda to the War Department through normal channels, with an indorsement that they were being "transmitted in view of the proposed action already decided upon by the War Department." 60  They finally reached the Provost Marshal General's office "for remark and recommendation" on 24 February, the day after General DeWitt received new instructions from the War Department that differed in many particulars from the recommendations he had submitted.61

In the meantime, on 13 February, the Pacific coast Congressional sub­committee on aliens and sabotage had adopted the following recommendations:

We recommend the immediate evacuation of all persons of Japanese lineage and all others, aliens and citizens alike, whose presence shall be deemed dangerous or inimical to the defense of the United States from all strategic areas.

In defining said strategic areas we recommend that such areas include all military installations, war industries, water and power installations, oil fields, and refineries, transportation and other essential facilities as well as adequate protective areas adjacent thereto.

We further recommend that such areas be enlarged as expeditiously as possible until they shall encompass the entire strategic area of the states of California, Oregon and Washington, and Territory of Alaska.

These recommendations were forwarded to President Roosevelt with a covering letter of the same date signed on behalf of the entire west coast Congressional delegation.62  On 16 February the President sent the letter and its inclosed recommendations to Secretary Stimson, with a memorandum


that. read: "Will you please be good enough to reply to Congressman Lea in. regard to the enclosed letter." 63

On the same day, 16 February, Colonel Bendetsen boarded an airplane in San Francisco, and he reached the War Department's offices in Washington about noon on 17 February.64  Before his arrival the Provost Marshal General's office initiated a telegraphic survey among the corps area commanders with the following message:

Probable that orders for very large evacuation of enemy aliens of all nationalities predominantly Japanese from Pacific Coast will issue within 48 hours. Internment facilities will be taxed to utmost. Report at once maximum you can care for, including housing, feeding, medical care, and supply. Your breakdown should include number of men, women, and children. Very important to keep this a closely guarded secret. 65

A follow-up letter explained that 100,000 enemy aliens would be involved, 60,000 of whom would be women and children, and that all were to be interned east of the Western Defense Command, "50 percent in the Eighth Corps Area, 30 percent in the Seventh, and 10 percent each in the Fourth and Sixth." 66 There were three reasons for the intention (as of 17 February) for removing the Pacific coast Japanese to areas east of the Western Defense Command. Since mid-December General DeWitt had insisted that internment of enemy aliens ought to be outside his theater of operations; some of the governments of the intermountain states had already indicated that they would not countenance any free settlement of the west coast Japanese within their borders; and, lastly, an Army survey of existing facilities for intern-


ment in the five interior states of the Ninth Corps Area disclosed that they could not accommodate more than 2,500 people. 67

The War Department's plan for mass evacuation took definite shape in an afternoon conference on 17 February of Secretary Stimson with Mr. McCloy, General Gullion, General Clark, and Colonel Bendetsen. Despite General Clark's protest that any mass evacuation would involve the use of too many troops, Mr. Stimson decided that General DeWitt should be instructed to commence an evacuation immediately and to the extent he deemed necessary for the protection of vital installations. After the meeting General Clark consulted his GHQ chief, General McNair, who decided that General DeWitt should not be allotted any additional troops for evacuation purposes. 68

On the evening of 17 February, Mr. McCloy, General Gullion, and Colonel Bendetsen met with justice representatives at the home of Attorney General Biddle. After some preliminary discussion, General Gullion pulled from his pocket and proceeded to read the draft of a proposed Presidential Executive order that would authorize the Secretary of War to remove both citizens and aliens from areas that he might designate. Mr. Biddle accepted the draft without further argument, because the President had already indicated to him that this was a matter for military decision. After several more meetings between justice and Army officials during the next two days, the Executive order was presented to the President and signed by him late on 19 February.69  Between 18 and 20 February Mr. McCloy, General Gullion, and Colonel Bendetsen drafted the instructions for General DeWitt to guide his execution of the evacuation plan, and embodied them in two letter directives, both dated 20 February. 70

On 21 February the Secretary of War, in accordance with the President's request, answered the Congressional letter of 13 February by assuring the


west coast delegation that plans for the partial or complete evacuation of the Japanese from the Pacific coast were being formulated.71  In consultation with the Department of Justice, War Department officials at this time also prepared a draft of legislation that would put teeth into the enforcement of the new evacuation program, but did not submit it to Congress until 9 March. This draft as a bill became Public Law 503 after brief debate; it was passed by a voice vote in both houses on 19 March and signed by the President on 21 March. Three days later, the Western Defense Command issued its first compulsory exclusion order.72

As already noted, the plan for evacuation embodied in the War Department's directives of 20 February differed materially from the plan recommended by General DeWitt in his memorandum of 13 February. The central objective of the DeWitt plan was to move all enemy aliens and American­born Japanese out of all Category A areas in California, Oregon, and Washington that the general had recommended through 12 February. Although General DeWitt had repeatedly described the Japanese as the most dangerous element of the west coast population, he also made it clear as late as 17 February that he was "opposed to any preferential treatment to any alien irrespective of race," and therefore that he wanted German and Italian aliens as well as all Japanese evacuated from Category A areas.73  His plan assumed that all enemy aliens would be interned under guard outside the Western Defense Command, at least until arrangements could be made for their resettlement. Citizen evacuees would either accept internment voluntarily or relocate themselves with such assistance as state and federal agencies might offer. Although this group would be permitted to resettle in Category B areas within the coastal zone, General DeWitt clearly preferred that they move inland.

The central objective of the War Department plan was to move all Japanese out of the California Category A areas first, and they were not to be permitted to resettle within Category B areas or within a larger Military Area No. 1 to be established along the coast .74  There was to be no evacuation of Italians without the express permission of the Secretary of


War except on an individual basis. Although the War Department -plan ostensibly provided that German aliens were to be treated in the same manner as the Japanese, it qualified this intention by providing for the exemption of "bona fide" German refugees. This qualification automatically stayed the evacuation of German aliens until General DeWitt could discover who among them were genuine refugees. The War Department plan contemplated voluntary relocation by all types of evacuees to the maximum extent possible, with internment as necessary outside the Western Defense Command. Another major difference between the two plans was related to General DeWitt's recommendation of a licensing system for Category A areas; the President's Executive order of 19 February did not require the application of the licensing plan, and licensing was not embodied in the War Department's directives of 20 February.

There were other lesser differences between the two plans. General DeWitt had recommended that before any evacuation all preparations should be complete, including the "selection and establishment of internment facilities in the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Corps Areas." As already noted, the War Department at this time was also planning to put all internees east of the Ninth Corps Area, but its directives did not contemplate any postponement of evacuation until internment facilities were ready. General DeWitt had also recommended the initial and separate internment of all enemy alien males over 14 years of age, until family units could be established in internment camps. The War Department plan had no such provision. As for the number of people to be involved, General DeWitt's memorandum contained an estimate that 133,000 people would have to be evacuated either voluntarily or by compulsion. A breakdown of this figure (based on his previous Category A recommendations) discloses that his plan would have involved about 69,000 Japanese (25,000 aliens and 44,000 American citizens), about 44,000 Italians, and about 20,000 Germans. The War Department planners apparently made no estimate of the numbers that their directives would involve, but eventually they did involve more than 110,000 Japanese residents-citizens and aliens-of the west coast states.

The Evacuation of the Japanese

How the Army would handle Japanese evacuation remained uncertain for a month or so after General DeWitt received his new instructions. That it would have to act, and quickly, was certain by late February. In effect President Roosevelt with the unanimous backing of the Pacific coast Con-


gressional delegation had directed the War Department to evacuate the Japanese, and the War Department now detailed its most industrious advocate of mass evacuation to help General DeWitt execute the mandate. And, although there was no threat of an enemy invasion of the west coast that might have stirred disloyalty among some of its Japanese residents, a condition had developed that made some solution of the Japanese problem mandatory.75

This condition had been forecast in a careful survey of Pacific coast public opinion made during the week of 7-13 February (and analyzed too late to influence the course of events), which indicated a state of affairs needing "prompt and careful attention," because of the very widely held belief along the coast that the Japanese population was disloyal and a menace to the national security. The report of this survey concluded that "racial or national antagonism seems to account in large part for the unfavorable attitude toward the Japanese" and that the factor of economic competition was relatively minor. It also indicated a much more pronounced anti-Japanese sentiment in southern California than elsewhere along the coast; outside of southern California, less than one-half of those interviewed favored the internment of Japanese aliens, and only 14 percent the internment of Japanese citizens.76

By late February a stream of pleas for action was flowing into the War and Justice Departments from California. On 22 February, for example, the Commandant, Eleventh Naval District, sent the following dispatch to Washington:

Situation of Japanese in Southern California very critical. Many are forced to move with no provision as to subsequent housing or means of livelihood. Many families already destitute. All localities object to movement of evacuees into their area. Recommend that the Departments concerned make immediate plans for the evacuation and reestablishment of aliens removed from areas designated by military authorities.77

On the succeeding two days the shelling of the Santa Barbara oil installations


and the "Battle of Los Angeles" added a strong fillip to the local temper of opinion.78  Even after General DeWitt's public announcement of evacuation plans at the beginning of March, the San Francisco representative of the Office of Government Reports held there was a "serious possibility of mob violence and vigilante committees if the Army does not work fast enough." 79

On 23 February Colonel Bendetsen arrived in San Francisco to serve as a liaison officer between General DeWitt and Assistant Secretary of War McCloy and to help in the execution of the War Department directives. With his assistance, General DeWitt drafted and obtained War Department approval of his first public proclamation of the new program and of an explanatory press release, both of which were issued on 2 March. The proclamation established two military areas, a Military Area No. 1, which encompassed the western halves of the three Pacific states and southern Arizona and a Military Area No. 2, which covered the eastern halves of the Pacific states and northern Arizona. The press release forecast the exclusion of all persons of Japanese ancestry from Military Area No. I, and the subsequent exclusion of German and Italian aliens at least from the prohibited zones within Area No. I. 80

Apparently, in late February and early March both the War Department and General DeWitt hoped that the mere announcement of prohibited and restricted zones would induce a voluntary migration out of these zones, as had been the case in the California prohibited zones previously announced by the Department of Justice. General DeWitt estimated that 15,000 persons (of whom many must have been Japanese citizens) had moved out of these zones by midnight, 24 February. Most of them had moved into adjacent restricted zones in urban areas.81  In his press release of 2 March, General DeWitt urged the Japanese to move voluntarily into the interior from Military Area No. 2 and stated that those who did so would "in all probability not again be disturbed." But only about 2,000 Japanese residents actually moved out of Area No. I before it was announced that voluntary migration would soon cease.82  Although large numbers of Japanese appear to have been willing before 1 March to migrate voluntarily into the interior, most of them


could not do so thereafter for two reasons: first, almost nothing had been done to help evacuees solve the many personal problems inevitable in a quick removal; and second, there was a very open and rapidly spreading hostility among governments and populations of interior areas to the free settlement of Japanese in their midst 83

That the first of these reasons for the failure of voluntary migration was the fault of the federal government as a whole seems evident from Secretary Stimson's record of a Cabinet discussion on 27 February concerning Japanese evacuation

The President brought this up first of all and showed that thus far he has given very little attention to the principal task of the transportation and resettlement of the evacuees. I outlined what DeWitt's plan was and his proclamation so far as I could without having the paper there. Biddle supported us loyally, saying that he had the proclamation already in his hands. I enumerated the five classes in the order which are being affected and tried to make clear that the process was necessarily gradual, DeWitt being limited by the size of the task and the limitations of his own force. The President seized upon the idea that the work should be taken off the shoulders of the Army so far as possible after the evacuees had been selected and removed from places where they were dangerous. There was general confusion around the table arising from the fact that nobody had realized how big it was, nobody wanted to take care of the evacuees, and the general weight and complication of the project. Biddle suggested that a single head should be chosen to handle the resettlement instead of the pulling and hauling of all the different agencies, and the President seemed to accept this; the single person to be of course a civilian and not the Army . . . .84

The person chosen for this assignment was Mr. Milton S. Eisenhower of the Department of Agriculture. Mr. Eisenhower worked informally on the evacuation problem from the end of February until 18 March, when President Roosevelt named him director of the newly created War Relocation Authority. Before its establishment, General DeWitt had acquired a civil affairs organization of his own to handle evacuation problems. The directives of 20 February in effect put the Western Defense Command's evacuation operations under the direct supervision of the Secretary of War, and, as noted, Colonel Bendetsen had been chosen as co-ordinator of matters between Washington and San Francisco.85  During a visit of Mr. McCloy to


the west coast, General DeWitt, on 10 March, established a Civil Affairs Division in his general staff, and, on the following day, a Wartime Civil Control Administration to act as his operations agency for carrying out the evacuation program. At Mr. McCloy's urging, and with General Marshall's approval, Colonel Bendetsen was formally transferred from the War Department staff and made chief of both agencies.86  These agencies and the War Relocation Authority provided the administrative means for handling a controlled rather than voluntary evacuation.

By early March the Army had selected two sites -one in the Owens Valley of California and the other along the Colorado River in Arizona­ for relocating as many as 20,000 to 30,000 Japanese who could not or would not locate anywhere else.87  When, by mid-March, most of the interior states west of the Mississippi River had made it known officially that they would not permit free settlement of citizen or alien Japanese within their borders, it became obvious that if the Japanese were to be evacuated en masse they would have to be put in government-operated camps under armed guard. On 21 March (the same day that President Roosevelt signed the enforcement act) Colonel Bendetsen recommended the termination of voluntary migration, and four days later General DeWitt and Mr. Eisenhower agreed that it would have to end. In consequence, General DeWitt stopped voluntary migration on 29 March and prepared to carry out a program of enforced evacuation, initially to Army-operated assembly centers. The large-scale movement of Japanese under Army supervision actually began on a voluntary basis from the Los Angeles area on 21 March; after the end of March all evacuations (beginning with Bainbridge Island) were compulsory.88  Until a meeting with the governors and other officials of the intermountain states at Salt Lake City on 7 April, the War Relocation Authority continued to hope that it could arrange the free settlement of a substantial number of the evacuated Japanese in the interior. But the intransi-




gent attitudes exhibited at that meeting persuaded all concerned that the Japanese, whether aliens or citizens, would have to be kept indefinitely in large government-operated camps, called relocation centers, which were built by the Army Engineers in the spring and summer of 1942.89


North of the Pacific states, the Canadian Government carried out an evacuation of Japanese residents from British Columbia that closely paralleled that from the west coast of the United States in time and circumstance. The agitation against the Japanese appears to have developed more quickly in British Columbia than in California, and as a consequence the commander of the Canadian Army's Pacific forces recommended on 30 December 1947 that the Japanese be removed from the coastal area, primarily because he thought there was a definite danger of interracial riots and bloodshed.90  On 14 January 1942 the Canadian Government announced plans for a partial evacuation of British Columbia's 22,000 Japanese, and on 26 February it authorized a complete evacuation from a wide area inland from the coast. As a result, 21,000 Japanese residents (three-fourths of them Canadian­born) were evacuated between February and October to interior camps similar to the relocation centers in the United States.91

Further north, in Alaska, the Army had been made responsible for controlling enemy aliens soon after the Pearl Harbor attack, and it had promptly interned those considered dangerous. On 6 March 1942 the Secretary of War extended his authority under Executive Order 9066 to the Army commander in Alaska. By the end of May, he had evacuated not only his alien internees but also the whole Japanese population of Alaska-230, of whom more than half were United States citizens.92

It was General DeWitt's intention in early May not only to complete the evacuation of Japanese from Military Area No. 1, but also to move all of the other 16,000 Japanese living within an eight-state area "so there won't be any Japanese in the Western Defense Command who are not in resettlement projects." 93  Thereafter, General DeWitt intended also to carry out an evacuation of German and Italian aliens from all prohibited zones within the Western Defense Command. There were more than one thousand of these zones after mid-March when he extended the scope of the enemy alien program to the four interior states of his command not previously covered by it. But his plans for a collective evacuation of German and Italian aliens faced


strong opposition. In General DeWitt's own San Francisco headquarters, the assistant chief of the Civil Affairs Division concluded:

So far as concerns the mission [of the Western Defense Command] of protecting against sabotage and the evacuation of German and Italian aliens, the accomplishment of the mission should be started by a different approach. In the case of the Japanese, their oriental habits of life, their and our inability to assimilate biologically, and, what is more important, our inability to distinguish the subverters and saboteurs from the rest of the mass made necessary their class evacuation on a horizontal basis. In the case of the Germans and the Italians, such mass evacuation is neither necessary nor desirable.

He went on to urge instead a policy of individual exclusion for the Germans and Italians, rather than mass evacuation.94  In Washington, as Colonel Bendetsen subsequently explained, "there was much opposition in the War Department to the evacuation of Italian aliens and considerable opposition, as well, to the collective evacuation of German aliens." 95

The Washington opposition to German and Italian evacuation developed in part as a consequence of the Provost Marshal's February proposal to extend the military area scheme to the entire continental United States.96  On 13 February the War Department had asked eight of the corps area commanders to submit recommendations for areas within which the Army should control the residence or presence of civilians to a greater or lesser degree.97  Each of them responded with recommendations, which, if adopted, would have required a fairly sizable alien exclusion program throughout the nation. For example, the Second Corps Area commander recommended a prohibited zone ten miles wide along the seacoast from the Delaware-Maryland state line northward to the eastern tip of Long Island (and including all of Suffolk County, N.Y.) from which all enemy alien residents were to be evacuated. Within this area he thought that it would probably be necessary to regulate the residence and movement of all other civilians by a permit and pass system. He also recommended a prohibition against enemy aliens approaching or being found within one hundred yards of any waterfront installation in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area.98  Collectively the corps area recommendations seemed to reflect an early wartime attitude


toward aliens expressed immediately after the war by an officer of the Provost Marshal General's office in these words:

In connection with subversive warfare, during the last war, I would like to make this observation. In the fall of 1941 and the winter of 1942, we expected that subversive elements would be found mainly in the alien population. To our amazement by 1943 we discovered such was not the case at all. Most aliens were scared to death. So most of our disloyal individuals were old-line families in this country. That was amazing to us, and we had to face the facts and recognize it.99

By early March the War Department had come to appreciate that any general evacuation of German and Italian aliens from the west coast (even with broad exemptions) would be bound to produce repercussions throughout the nation.100  When Attorney General Biddle heard about conferences on alien restrictions being held in New York City, he sent a vigorous protest to President Roosevelt, in which he contended that any German or Italian evacuation on the east coast would have the gravest consequences to the nation's economic structure and war morale since it would be bound to produce confusion and disaffection among persons of those nationalities throughout the country. The President was in thorough agreement with the seriousness of this prospect, and Mr. Stimson hastened to assure him that "no such mass evacuation of aliens on the East Coast as is suggested by Mr. Biddle's memorandum . . . is either under way or contemplated," although he admitted that limited evacuations from particularly critical areas were being studied. As a consequence, General Drum was informed that there must be no evacuation of aliens within the Eastern Defense Command except with the knowledge and approval of the War and Justice Departments.101  With Presidential approval the War Department on 22 April did extend the military area system authorized by Executive Order 9066 to all of the continental defense commands, but only after it had been explained to the President that this extension was necessary to enforce dim-out and air defense regulations, and so forth, and not for the purpose of controlling enemy aliens. "The control of alien enemies," the President informed Mr. Stimson, "seems to me to be primarily a civilian matter except of course in the case of the Japanese mass evacuation on the Pacific Coast." 102


It was this background of related developments that determined the fate of General DeWitt's recommendation, submitted through Colonel Bendetsen on 10 May 1942, for a limited collective evacuation of German and Italian aliens from Military Area No. 1.103  When General DeWitt was told on the following day that Mr. Stimson and Mr. McCloy were not inclined to agree with his recommendation, he insisted that the removal of German and Italian aliens as recommended by him was an essential war measure; and he insisted, too, that, if the War Department refused to adopt his recommendation, then he must be given definite instructions to the contrary that would exempt him from all responsibility for the consequences.104  Before General DeWitt's recommendation could be discussed with the President, the Congressional committee that had been studying the west coast evacuation of the Japanese issued its second report, which, among other observations, labeled any mass evacuation of German and Italian aliens "out of the question if we intend to win this war." 105  On 15 May the President approved an alternative to General DeWitt's recommendation upon which the War Department secretaries had already agreed. Instead of a collective evacuation of German and Italian aliens from the west coast or from anywhere else in the United States, the War Department would authorize the defense commanders to issue individual exclusion orders against both aliens and citizens under the authority of Executive Order 9066. Instructions to this effect, including a caution enjoining strict secrecy, went to General DeWitt on 22 May and, although they did not contain the waiver of responsibility he had requested, apparently they gave him a broad enough grant of authority to satisfy his concern over the problem of German and Italian aliens.106


As for General DeWitt's intention of interning all of the other Japanese residents of the Western Defense Command, the War Department approved the evacuation of those in the eastern half of California only and left undisturbed those in eastern Oregon and Washington, in northern Arizona, and in the other states of the Western Defense Command-except, of course, as General DeWitt applied to them his new authority to exclude suspected individuals from sensitive areas.107  The final mass evacuation measure nevertheless affected about 10,000 persons and was carried out by direct movements from places of residence to relocation centers.108

The Western Defense Command completed the evacuation of more than 100,000 persons of Japanese ancestry from Military Area No. 1 on 7 June, and the removals from Military Area No. 2 in California were virtually complete by early August. The Army kept control of the evacuees until 3 November 1942 when, with the last movement from an assembly center to a relocation center, the War Relocation Authority took over general responsibility for the care and disposition of relocated Japanese.109

What were the reasons that impelled the Army to carry out the mass evacuation of Japanese residents from the west coast beginning in March 1942? The general answer to this question is that the President and Congress had approved mass evacuation and the Secretary of War and his principal civilian assistant in this matter themselves thought it necessary to carry it out. Mr. Stimson on 16 March (and before the evacuation had begun) referred to the prospect as a "tragedy" that seemed "to be a military necessity" because very large numbers of the Japanese were "located in close proximity to installations of vital importance to the war effort." 110  A week later Mr. McCloy reported, after his west coast visit, that there had been no cases of sabotage traceable to the Japanese population, but that "there was much evidence of espionage." 111

The most damaging tangible evidence against the Japanese was that produced by the intensive searches of their premises by the FBI from early February onward. By May it had seized 2,592 guns of various kinds, 199,000


rounds of ammunitions, 1,652 sticks of dynamite, 1,458 radio receivers, 2,914 cameras, 37 motion picture cameras, and numerous other articles that the alien Japanese had been ordered to turn in at the beginning of January. Nonetheless, after assessing this evidence, Department of Justice officials concluded:

We have not, however, uncovered through these searches any dangerous persons that we could not otherwise know about. We have not found among all the sticks of dynamite and gun powder any evidence that any of it was to be used in bombs. We have not found a single machine gun nor have we found any gun in any circumstances indicating that it was to be used in a manner helpful to our enemies. We have not found a camera which we have reason to believe was for use in espionage. 112

There were better if less tangible grounds for suspecting that some of the Japanese people -citizens as well as aliens- would become disloyal in the event of a Japanese invasion. The Navy report of early February 1942 previously cited concluded that a very small minority (less than 3 percent) of alien and citizen Japanese were so fanatically loyal to Japan that they could be expected to act as saboteurs or enemy agents, and a somewhat larger minority might be passively disloyal, if given the opportunity.113  On similar grounds the War Relocation Authority concluded that "a selective evacuation of people of Japanese descent from the west coast military area was justified and administratively feasible in the spring of 1942," although it concluded also that a mass evacuation such as was actually carried out was never justified.114  But no military estimate after December 1941 forecast even the possibility of an invasion of the west coast by the Japanese in strength, and all disloyalty among the Japanese remained passive until after their removal to relocation centers.

Although little support for the argument that military necessity required a mass evacuation of the Japanese can be found in contemporary evidence, it might be contended that the co-operation of the white population of the Pacific states in the national defense effort could not have been otherwise assured. By March 1942 a large segment of that population along the coast was determined to be rid of the Japanese, at least for the duration of the war. Prewar antipathies combined with wartime fears into a formidable pressure for removal. Writing in June, Mr. McCloy explained that the nature of the


attack on Pearl Harbor and the apparent exposure of the west coast to enemy action left its "American populations . . . in a condition of great excitement and apprehension," which "tended greatly to inflame our people against all persons of Japanese ancestry." 115  Shortly after the evacuation had been completed, the Assistant Secretary commented to General Drum:

As you know, the Japanese were removed from the West Coast, first, because of the proximity of the West Coast to the Japanese theater of operations and, second, because of the very large number of Japanese concentrated in that area, and thirdly, because of the fear that direct action might be taken against the Japanese as a result of the rather antagonistic attitude of the local population.116

Yet in Hawaii, with a considerably greater concentration of Japanese much closer to the arena of operations, no similar removal occurred despite very similar evacuation planning after Oahu's baptism of fire in December 1941.117


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