Nidoto Nai Yoni Memorial
National Archives and Records Administration
After the attack on Pearl Harbor by Imperial Japanese naval forces, President Roosevelt, citing concern over the security of military areas on the West Coast’s Western Defense Command, signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942. This Executive Order gave authority to the War Department to proscribe military areas from which people could be excluded.
In response, the War Department created exclusion zones from which Nikkei would be excluded. The zones included western portions of Washington, Oregon, California (later all of California was included), the southern portion of Arizona and all of Alaska.
Because of the military importance of Bainbridge Island and the relatively small number of Japanese Americans families residing there, it became the first location where Nikkei families were forcibly removed from their homes under Executive Order 9066 and sent to remote areas of the United States.
On the 30th of March 1942, 227 Bainbridge Island Nikkei were assembled at the Eagledale Ferry Dock and transported to Seattle where they were placed on a train that sent them to the Owens Valley Reception Center, which was then an assembly center, located at Manzanar, California. From Manzanar, now Manzanar National Historic Site, many of the Bainbridge Island Nikkei requested transfers to the Minidoka War Relocation Center to join other Nikkei being sent from Seattle and other Pacific Northwest areas.
Manzanar records indicate the Bainbridge Island internees left for the Minidoka War Relocation Center on February 24, 1943, where most remained until the end of the war.
During the incarceration, island residents kept in touch with their Nikkei friends in the camps through the local paper, the Bainbridge Review, whose co-publishers, Walt and Milly Woodward, were unique among West Coast newspaper publishers, as they openly opposed the internment and incarceration of Japanese American citizens from their community.
After the war, about half of the Bainbridge Island Japanese Americans returned to the island to resume their lives, raise families, and again become contributing members of the community.
The remainder, concerned about trying to pick up their lives again, finding employment, acquiring farmland, and facing possible racial prejudice, elected not to return to the island.
As the Nikkei returned to Bainbridge Island they tried to restore their lives, pick up where they had left off before leaving, and raise their families. But burning in their collective conscience was the Japanese phrase Nidoto Nai Yoni that translates in English to "Let It Not Happen Again," and they vowed to honor and recognize those islanders who spent part of their lives in the internment camps because of their heritage.
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Did You Know?
Minidoka Relocation Center was a 33,000-acre site with more than 600 buildings. It was in operation from August 1942 until October 1945.