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

Closing the Relocation Centers

abandoned evacuee barracks, Tule Lake Center
Figure 3.20. Abandoned evacuee barracks at the Tule Lake Center.
(Bureau of Reclamation photograph, Mid-Pacific Regional Office, Sacramento)
During the war, the Japanese American evacuees had wondered what would be the ultimate fate of the relocation centers. Some expected them to close when the war ended, while others, particularly the elderly, felt the government owed them a place to stay, now that they had been forcibly removed from their own homes. Anticipating the Supreme Court decisions, on December 17,1944, the War Department announced the lifting of the West Coast exclusion orders, and the WRA simultaneously announced that the relocation centers would be closed within one year. Initial reactions of the evacuees varied: some immediately returned to the West Coast, some at the other end of the spectrum vowed never to leave the centers.

Some of the first to return to the West Coast encountered violence and hostility and difficulty finding housing and jobs. Others had more success and encouraged people to leave the camps and return. Many who feared returning to the West Coast found refuge in other parts of the country, especially Denver, Salt Lake City, and Chicago.

Evacuees had to relocate on their own. The WRA provided only minimum assistance: $25 per person, train fare, and meals on route for those with less than $500 in cash. Many left when ordered and by September over 15,000 evacuees a month were leaving the various centers. But many had no place to go, since they had lost their homes and businesses because of the relocation. In the end the WRA had to resort to forced evictions.

At the Minidoka Relocation Center, laundries, latrines, and mess halls were progressively closed until the few remaining people had to search for food to eat. Evacuees were given 2-week, 3-day, and 30-minute eviction notices. If they still did not leave on their own, the WRA packed their belongings and forced them onto trains (Sakoda 1989).

transporting building materials, Manzanar Relocation Center
Figure 3.21 Transporting building materials from the Manzanar Relocation Center.
(Los Angeles Times photograph)
Eventually the centers were emptied out, and all were finally closed by the end of 1945. The Tule Lake Segregation Center operated longer, until March 20, 1946, because many evacuees there had renounced their citizenship.

Enacted on July 1, 1944, Public Law 504 had allowed U.S. citizens to renounce their citizenship on U.S. soil during time of war. Of the 5,700 Japanese Americans requesting renunciation, 95 percent were from Tule Lake. A third of all those interned at Tule Lake applied for repatriation to Japan; 65 percent of those requesting repatriation were born in the U.S. (Daniels 1989:116). On February 23, 1946, the first 432 repatriates set sail for Japan. Over 4,000 would follow. However, over the next five years all but 357 would apply for a return of their U.S. citizenship (Smith 1995:444).

After the last internees were released, the Tule Lake facility was placed on standby use during the Cold War for potential McCarran Act detainees, but was never used (Roger Daniels, personal communication, 2000). All the other relocation centers lie abandoned. If the land had been privately owned, the original owners were generally given the option to re-purchase the land. Otherwise, the land reverted to the control of the previous land-managing agency (Table 3.6). Buildings were sold to veterans, auctioned off, or given to local schools and hospitals (Figures 3.20 and 3.21). On May 15 the last WRA field office was closed and on June 30, 1946, the WRA was officially disbanded.

Table 3.6.
Disposition of WRA Centers (Myer 1971:348).

Center date of
Agency designated
for Disposal

Gila River2/23/46Government Land Office
Granada1/26/46Farm Credit Administration
Heart Mtn.2/23/46Bureau of Reclamation
Jerome10/1/44War Department
Manzanar3/9/46Government Land Office
Minidoka10/1/44Bureau of Reclamation
Poston3/9/46U.S. Indian Service
Rohwer3/9/46Government Land Office
Topaz2/9/46Farm Credit Administration
Tule Lake5/4/46Bureau of Reclamation

Continued Continue


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

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