On-line Book
Book Cover
Cover Page


Table of Contents





Brief History

Gila River


Heart Mountain







Tule Lake

Isolation Centers

Add'l Facilities

Assembly Centers

DoJ and US Army Facilities



Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

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

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

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

Preparing for War with Japan

While the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor came as a shock to most Americans, the U.S. government had already investigated possible actions to take in case of war with Japan. Japanese Americans also had speculated on what would happen to them , fearing as early as 1937 that they would be "herded into prison camps — perhaps we would be slaughtered on the spot" (Daniels 1989). Some Nisei emphasized their loyalty and Americanism, which led to generational conflict with their Issei parents. The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), an influential all-Nisei organization, represented this pro-American attitude in their creed. The JACL creed, an optimistic, patriotic expression written by Mike Masaoka in 1940, was published in the Congressional Record for May 9, 1941 (Daniels 1989:24-25):

I am proud that I am an American citizen of Japanese ancestry, for my very background makes me appreciate more fully the wonderful advantages of this nation. I believe in her institutions, ideals and traditions; I glory in her heritage; I boast of her history; I trust in her future. She has granted me liberties and opportunities such as no individual enjoys in this world today. She has given me an education befitting kings. She has entrusted me with the responsibilities of the franchise. She has permitted me to build a home, to earn a livelihood, to worship, think, speak and act as I please — as a free man equal to every other man.

Although some individuals may discriminate against me, I shall never become bitter or lose faith, for I know that such persons are not representative of the majority of the American people. True, I shall do all in my power to discourage such practices, but I shall do it in the American way — above board, in the open, through courts of law, by education, by proving myself to be worthy of equal treatment and consideration. I am firm in my belief that American sportsmanship and attitude of fair play will judge citizenship and patriotism on the basis of action and achievement, and not on the basis of physical characteristics. Because I believe in America, and I trust she believes in me, and because I have received innumerable benefits from her, I pledge myself to do honor to her at all times and all places; to support her constitution; to obey her laws; to respect her flag; to defend her against all enemies, foreign and domestic; to actively assume my duties and obligations as a citizen, cheerfully and without any reservations whatsoever, in the hope that I may become a better American in a greater America.

At the same time as the JACL creed was written, the United States government was preparing for war. The Alien Registration Act of 1940 required the registration and fingerprinting of all aliens over fourteen years of age. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) compiled a list of dangerous or subversive German, Italian, and Japanese aliens who were to be arrested or interned at the outbreak of war with their country. In November 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt received a secret report on the West Coast Japanese Americans by Curtis B. Munson, a well-to-do Chicago businessman who gathered intelligence under the guise of being a government official (CWRIC 1982:52). In his report Munson concluded that most of the Japanese Americans were loyal to the United States and that many would have become citizens if they had been allowed to do so. Moreover, the report stated that most of the few disloyal Japanese Americans hoped that "by remaining quiet they [could] avoid concentration camps or irresponsible mobs." However, Munson also noted that the West Coast was vulnerable to sabotage, since dams, bridges, harbors, and power stations were unguarded; Munson wrote "There are still Japanese in the United States who will tie dynamite around their waist and make a human bomb out of themselves. We grant this, but today they are few." Response to the report by Army Intelligence, although never sent to Roosevelt after the confusion following Pearl Harbor, argued that "widespread sabotage by Japanese is not expected ... identification of dangerous Japanese on the West Coast is reasonably complete" (Daniels 1989:28).

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

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