Historic Resource Study/Special History Study
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Segregation Program (continued)

WRA Investigations of Evacuee Reaction to Segregation Program. Although the various review boards at Manzanar prepared little consistent analytic studies of the segregation program at the camp. Morris E. Opler, the Community Analyst who attended many of the hearings, prepared a number of detailed studies on the WRA's "loyalty registration" and segregation programs in the camp. While there had been disturbances in some relocation centers before the registration program in 1943, it was the evacuees' negative response and resistance to the "loyalty registration" that led to establishment of the WRA's Community Analysis Section and that group's subsequent concentration on the issues engendered in the registration and segregation programs. [88]

In his first report concerning the segregation program on July 16, 1943, Opler observed that the "two largest groups which will be affected by segregation are the repatriates and their families and those citizens (kibei and nisei) who either maintain their 'No' answer to the loyalty question or whose behavior or record do not convince the review board that they are interested in the United States rather than in Japan"

Opler also provided his personal opinion on the purpose of segregation. He stated:

. . . . I feel that the effect of the segregation program on the center, practically and psychologically, will depend in large measure upon whether the definition of segregation. . . . is actually observed. It makes all the difference in the world whether those segregated are persons who really, by trustworthy standards, have indicated their desire to be identified with Japan rather than with the United States or whether some mechanical and arbitrary means is adopted which throws people of various interests into this category.

In the report, Opler also addressed the rationale for the "No" answers given during the already concluded "Kibei hearings." He observed:

. . . . it is well known that many of these kibei, by giving their "no" answers in the first instance and by holding to it, are much more interested in avoiding the military service which they believe is in the offing for the technically 'loyal' than in demonstrating affection for Japan. Many of them came to this country during Japan's expansionist and military phase rather than serve in the Japanese army. A large number of them are cultural intermediates without the strongest ties to either country. That most of them lean toward Japan in their sympathies now is due to the harsh treatment and suspicion to which they have been subjected in this country since the war began. In other words, question 28 has not been answered on its merits by a considerable number of individuals of this group (and any others, incidently) but has been used as a counter with which to deal with the selective service machinery.

Opler foresaw some of the side issues that would affect the subsequent segregation and leave clearance hearings. In his discussion on the possibility of forced resettlement, which stemmed in large part from the registration program, Opler understood that

this anxiety over compulsory resettlement. . . . has begun to overshadow the basic issue of identification with the United States. Should this trend persist, and many citizens who are essentially American in viewpoint and background are influenced to remain in the 'no' column and so become subject to segregation, a peculiar and illogical condition will arise. Alien parents, who are almost without exception in the 'yes' column, will remain unsegregated and eligible for relocation. Their American-born children, in many instances, will be labelled disloyal', will fail to obtain leave clearance, and will be due to be segregated. [89]

In his studies Opler continued to explore the subject of loyally among the Kibei at Manzanar. On July 31, 1943, for instance, he interviewed a young, unmarried Kibei who informed him:

. . . . I think it should be understood that there are subgroups among the Kibei. There are not just two classes of people, loyal and disloyal. There are at least three groups; loyal, non-loyal, and disloyal. I consider myself in the non-loyal group. A good many of the 'No-No' people are in this group. They feel that they must go to Japan for personal reasons.

A similar tripartite division existed for the Issei and Nisei at Manzanar. Thus, while it appeared that the majority of the Kibei were among the "non-loyal" group, the majority of those involved in segregation could also be considered to be "non-loyal." [90]

On September 23, 1943, Opler prepared a report entitled, "A Preliminary Analysis of the Segregation Group at Manzanar." In the study, he observed that the segregation roster contained 2,242 individuals, of whom 630, or 28 percent, were 16 years of age or younger. These young people, according to Opler, must be considered "non-loyal," having had no chance to answer Question 28. This "non-loyal" group was augmented by those segregants who had answered "Yes" on Question 28 so that the "total number of persons who have never been confronted with Question 28 or who have answered it in the affirmative is . . . 1113, or almost exactly half of the designated segregants.

Of the remaining 1,129 segregants, 234 were repatriates and 170 were expatriates — two groups that fit the "disloyal" label. Yet Opler noted that in

97 of the 170 cases of expatriation we can say that the action was not self-initiated but arose from the acts and decisions of repatriate or expatriate elders.

Thus, even in cases of expatriation and repatriation the issue of loyalty was affected significantly by personal and family pressures.

The final group of segregants reviewed by Opler in the report was composed of those who had answered "No" to Question 28. He observed that contrary to the "popular impression in many quarters" and the "generally voiced press opinion" that virtually all evacuees destined to Tule Lake had answered "No" to the loyalty question. "it is startling to realize that only 796 of those to be segregated or 35 percent of the 2242 total have maintained a 'no' answer." [91]

Later on January 22, 1944, Opler would submit a memorandum to Lucy Adams in which he reflected on the reasons for the "35 percent." Opler believed that there were four principal reasons that explained the answers of this group: community pressure, family pressure, citizenship protest, and miscellaneous. However, he believed that community pressure was the most significant reason, even though most evacuee respondents would not admit to the fact:

. . . . This is what might be expected. It would be considered too ignoble by the individual to ascribe his final negative decision to gossip, rumor or fear of personal safety. However, we know and we can assume that community attitudes exercised a background influence in a good many instances . In my judgement, though it is difficult to prove it, community pressure was most important in many of these cases and the individual now, because he is unwilling to change his stand, has rationalized the whole process in other terms. The influence of the Japanese tradition of 'not backing down' and 'not losing face' after avowing oneself on a subject, must not be underestimated. [92]

While Opler's suspicions about "community pressure" remained speculative, his interest in the causes of segregation continued. In Part One of a report, prepared on October 19, 1943 and entitled, "Studies of Segregants at Manzanar: The General Picture," Opler took particular interest in the citizen segregants:

It seems obvious. . . . that persons of widely different backgrounds and experiences, particularly in terms of their contacts with and relations to Japan, have become members of the group. At one extreme we have the . . . Kibei, many of them dual citizens. At the other extreme there are the . . . young Americans of Japanese ancestry who possess American citizenship only and who have never left these shores. These two polarities alone account for . . . more than 61 percent of the citizen segregants. . . . Despite the common belief that but one kind of person is going to Tule Lake, namely, a uniformly disloyal individual who has been subjected to much Japanese 'influence, who has some realistic knowledge of Japan and its culture and who has chosen 'to live the Japanese way', the evidence indicates the existence among the segregants of at least two major groups, each separated from the other by a wide gap in linguistic, educational and travel experiences. . . . [93]

In Part Two of the report, which was issued on December 14, 1943, and was entitled, "Studies of Segregants at Manzanar: United States Citizens Only With No Foreign Travel," Opler focused on citizen segregants who were United States citizens only and who had never undertaken foreign travel. Whatever this group knew

about Japan has been learned indirectly; it has come from the reading of books or from the lips of others. They are not dual citizens; they have no political claim upon Japan whatever. As the evidence introduced will indicate, a surprising number of these individuals admit that they do not speak Japanese particularly well. Many more freely confess that they read and write Japanese hardly at all. Yet these are people who presumably have indicated, by the maintenance of a 'no' answer to Question No. 28 that they 'prefer the Japanese way of life' and wish to live in Japan after the war! . . .

It may be assumed that if there are motivations other than preference for Japan which stimulated 'no' answers this is certainly the group in which they will be found, for loyalty to a land one has never seen and to which one is attached only through intermediaries is a somewhat artificial and unrealistic construct.

At Manzanar 155 evacuees fell into this category out of the 501 who had maintained "No" answers before the segregation hearing boards.

In his study of this group, Opler listed four categories of "causation" that led these individuals to opt for segregation. The categories were: protest against abridgement of citizenship rights, race discrimination, and property loss; fear of forced relocation; marriage to aliens or Kibei; and parental influence. Opler utilized a number of representative cases to illustrate each category, providing extensive verbatim excerpts from the segregation hearings accompanied by his professional analysis.

After reviewing ten representative cases illustrating "protest against abridgement of citizenship rights," Opler observed:

. . . . it is evident that the citizenship issue has been of considerable importance. And it should be apparent, moreover, that the loss of citizenship rights has been so keenly felt precisely because we are dealing with a group to whom American citizenship was precious and important. . . .

. . . Those of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast have long been used as a political issue. They have learned that economic security depends for them on political security. The political security of the Nisei had been assumed until evacuation. This assumption has buckled under the impact of removal. Those who answered 'no' primarily on the grounds of opposition to the invasion of their citizenship rights now assume the opposite; they assume that the floodgates of prejudice and arbitrary treatment which their parents confronted are now to be loosed upon them. No matter how little they know of Japan or of the Japanese language, they have decided that any fate, anywhere, is preferable to this. Perhaps it is, ironically, a compliment to the American ideal that those who have been brought up to it will not accept less in the land of their birth. . . .

After reviewing two cases that illustrated "protest against race discrimination," Opler noted that Nisei who had "flourished" in the "democratic setting" of the prewar years "have in some cases failed to make peace with discriminatory measures." He continued:

. . . . Whether or not one agrees that the discriminatory measures were a military necessity, there remains the question of whether we who taught these young people to think of themselves as individuals and as Americans first are not in part responsible for the 'no' which is a protest against race discrimination, and whether we should not have some more constructive answer to this 'no' than a trip to Tule Lake and a threat of deportation to Japan.

Opler reviewed three cases to illustrate his "protest against property loss" category. Based on this survey, Opler commented that the property losses of the Nisei, while not "as severe on the average as those suffered" by the Issei "were nevertheless serious.' Not only were "present possessions lost but future prospects of gain through inheritance were destroyed." This development had "been especially disconcerting for the oldest child, for it has been the practice to inherit obligations toward parents and family and the means with which to discharge them together." "Now only the former" were "left."

After reviewing five cases for his "fear of forced relocation" category, Opler observed that this "fear has been particularly acute among the residents of Manzanar." He continued:

. . . In the first place Manzanar was established as the first assembly center. . . . at a time when the evacuation program was extremely fluid. The first-corners to Manzanar brought with them a conception of a place where they would stay only until investigations of possible subversives were completed and plans for resettlement elsewhere were consummated. Even after the project had officially become a [relocation] center the outcry against it in Owens Valley and in the Los Angeles Press led to the conviction that some day the authorities would yield to the pressure, close the place at short notice and expect the evacuees to make hurried plans for maintaining themselves elsewhere. After the riot there was an almost unanimous conviction that the Center would be closed as a reprisal.

The people who might be expected to react negatively to these rumors and alarms and who dread to attempt a new start now, are those who lost particularly heavily in evacuation, those who have large families, those who are in poor health, those who would find difficulty in making an occupational adjustment outside and those who have misgivings about public opinion in localities where they might settle.

Manzanar has a large number of residents who fall into one or another of these classification[s]. Since the Los Angeles district, which has been the center of anti-Japanese agitation, is the nearest metropolitan area, the Los Angeles papers are the ones which are read at the Center. Thus an exaggerated notion of the degree of public animosity which exists is generated. The two West Coast groups which suffered the most severe property losses during evacuation were probably the people from Terminal Island and the people from the Florin district. Both are particularly well represented at Manzanar. Also, because Manzanar houses a good many people who came from the Boyle Heights district or the business section of Little Tokyo [of Los Angeles], many of the residents do not feel that they have the occupational background for adjustment under present conditions. These persons were salesmen, managers of businesses or wholesale or retail dealers in produce. They understood conditions of a special nature in a circumscribed area. They are decidedly uneasy about the prospects of functioning well in a different environment, away from the advantages which a large settlement of persons of Japanese ancestry provided. The families which evidence the great panic at the rumors of the summary closing of Manzanar or the prospects of forced relocation are those with special health problems, however.

. . . in spite of the basic assumption of the segregation program, it is sobering to discover how small a part friendly feeling for Japan plays in the decisions reached. From my review of the data I conclude that because of the tremendous force of the fear of forced relocation, it is altogether likely that those segregated may on the whole represent the individuals weakest in health, wealth and future prospects, rather than those weakest in essential loyalty.

Opler used four cases to illustrate his "marriage to aliens or Kibei category. He noted that one of the "most tragic series of cases is that involving women who have never been abroad and who are nationals of the United States only but who have maintained a 'no' answer because of an alien husband or because of marriage to a kibei who has been 'previously interviewed' and is therefore being automatically segregated." He continued that there were

a substantial number of women, American citizens only with no foreign residence, who have answered 'no' in order to accommodate alien husbands or to record answers which agree with those given by kibei husbands. I have the record of at least a dozen such women, who, if these complications did not exist, would, I am certain, be more than happy to answer 'yes'. . . .

After reviewing 13 cases to illustrate his "parental influence" category, Opler observed that it was "difficult to measure precisely the influence of the aliens upon their citizen children" in regard to segregation. However, he found "certain statistics" to be "informative and revealing":

. . . .Seven hundred and thirty-five or approximately one-third of all persons listed on the segregation roster are aliens. Of this number only 238 are repatriates and but 28 are aliens who themselves have answered 'no' to the loyalty question. Four hundred and sixty-nine or 21% of all persons on the segregation roster, therefore, are aliens who are going to Tule Lake as the result of the maintenance of 'no' answers by citizen members of their families. In 86 cases one young citizen is responsible for taking alien parents and other members of the family to Tule Lake. Fifty-six of these young people are the sons of aliens and 30 are daughters. In 19 instances the fathers are the only aliens in the family. In 15 cases it is the alien mother who will accompany the child as a family member. In 52 cases both parents are living and present and are able to go to Tule Lake only as the result of the 'no' answer of one of their children. In other words 86 citizen children are making it possible for 138 aliens to go to Tule Lake.

When we come to examine the group characteristics of those on the basis of those 'no' answers aliens and other family members are going to Tule Lake we find that youth is the outstanding characteristic. Eighty-two percent of them are 29 years of age or younger. More of them (22) belong to the 18 year old group than fall into any other age classification. We might guess, even if the case records that have been introduced did not offer such conclusive evidence of it, that these youngsters, in spite of the theoretical positions in which their answers place them, are not the ones who have actually determined the destination and the future of the families. . . .

After sketching the struggles of the Issei in the United States prior to World War II, Opler turned to the impacts of evacuation on the Issei and their children. He observed that evacuation

happened not when the aliens were in the prime of life, capable of absorbing some severe buffeting as they had been in the past, but after they had spent 25 to 45 years of the most exacting labor in this country and were in average between 55 and 60 years old.

If the issei were old and toil-worn for the contemplation of fresh tasks and a new start, their children were too young and untried to face the aftermath of evacuation with confidence and realistic planning. The immigrants had married late. The age difference between the generations is unusually great. Evacuation found most of the nisei of school age, with the thoughts and dreams and dependency of school children.

Thus, Opler observed that the

stage was set for a confession on the part of many issei that their life work and mission in the New World had failed. They felt that they were too old to begin life over again in America. They knew that this time the cooperative methods by which they had surmounted past difficulties would not suffice. All sections of the population had been uprooted and dispossessed. The distress and the need were too uniform and widespread.

At Manzanar this feeling of hopelessness and grievance was especially marked. Here were the people of Terminal Island and of Florin whose economic losses were among the most severe suffered in evacuation. The people of the Venice district are well represented at Manzanar, too, and they, with the Terminal Islanders, were particularly plagued by internments.

The events preceding registration did not reconcile embittered issei to a post-war future in America. The section of the American Press which they saw was the most outspoken in its attacks upon them. They felt the impact of campaigns to force them to sell their remaining land holdings and agricultural machinery. The political air was thick with threats of deportation and further legal penalization.

At Manzanar, too, were the members of the Los Angeles branch of the Japanese American Citizen's League, who were accused of poor leadership and over-complacency during the evacuation crisis. As the issei counted their losses the murmur grew that these persons had led the evacuees to camp for a price and were acting as informers even while the people were in camp. Recrimination and strife broke out among the evacuees and culminated in the December riot and bloodshed.

It was in this charged atmosphere and while these many wounds still smarted that registration began in February. Issei, who were painfully and doubtfully considering how they might pick up the threads of their lives in America after the war, were appalled to see that the questionnaire submitted to them was for the purpose of leave clearance. They envisaged themselves forced Out of the Center at a time when they were poor and discouraged and in the face of hostile public opinion. Those who had depended upon a Japanese community economically and socially, were dismayed at the program for thin dispersal in unfamiliar regions.

But their most decided reaction was to Question 28, the 'loyalty' question submitted to them. It called upon them, in effect, to renounce their Japanese citizenship, something that enemy aliens, ineligible to American citizenship could hardly be expected to accept without protest. . . . Many of them resolved to anticipate their 'liquidation in America' and to cast the die without further delay. . . .

In the meantime, government officials had recognized the doubtful legality of the original alien question 28. Those who were in charge at Manzanar understood that they were authorized to offer a substitute question. However, in their desire to stay reasonably close to the Washington version and because of a misunderstanding that arose in translating a word from English into Japanese (where the nearest Japanese equivalent has a much stronger and more military connotation) the Manzanar revision was still not acceptable to many issei. Besides, by this time, a negative attitude had swept the camp which would have made a receptive state of mind toward any question impossible at that time.

It was at this time that the aliens turned to counsel and instruct their children. Those who had decided that there was no longer a place for them in America were determined that this country would not 'rob' them of their children as it had taken their possessions. There began a campaign to prevail upon the children 17 years of age and over to say 'no' to their loyalty question. The friction that was generated in homes over this issue is almost unbelievable. The scenes of argument and tears which marked the period are indescribable. In order to persuade children to answer 'no,' parents had to constantly remind them that they were being treated as aliens, that America had rejected them, that their citizenship had not served to protect them. . . .

Moreover, the nisei had many complaints of their own. They were anything but pleased with the Question 28 submitted to citizens. This was especially true of those who did not possess dual citizenship, for the question called upon them to forswear allegiance to the Japanese emperor. It read more like a naturalization oath than something prepared for American citizens. Question 27, the answers to which were to be used as the basis for organizing a volunteer nisei army combat team, was viewed with great suspicion, too. It was whispered about that the announcement of the formation of the combat team had coincided mysteriously with the arrival from Salt Lake City of the Manzanar delegates from the convention of the Japanese American Citizens League and that this was the work of the 'dogs' who were more interested in sacrificing citizens of Japanese ancestry in battle than in protecting their rights. As a result all the bitterness and factionalism born of the December incident was injected into the issue.

Out of the turmoil and confusion came family decisions. Though there were some families that split on the issue, in the main the problem was threshed out in the family circle and parents and children answered in much the same vein. In view of the rumors and fears, the suspicion and irritation, the setting and the intimidation, it is remarkable that so many did hold to a 'yes' answer. . . .

When the machinery for segregation was set up, it was assumed that persons who had answered question 28 in the affirmative were undoubtedly loyal to the United States and eager to continue residence in this country, and that one of the best ways to discover those of contrary opinion and mind would be to review the cases of individuals whose answers had been 'no.' Allowances were not made for the peculiar sequences of events at Manzanar whereby those with 'no' answers finally turned out to be, in the majority of instances, individuals who had been persuaded and influenced to take their stand by family members who had since passed over into the 'yes' category. And with the ruling that persons with 'yes' answers could not be segregated except as members of families of those who maintained a 'no,' the gate was opened for every alien who had made up his mind to go to Tule Lake or to Japan to bring pressure upon his child to retain the 'no' answer and they make it possible for him to realize his desires. . . .

The influence of the issei on the answers of the citizens, then, is actually an index of the total disillusionment and dispossession of the aliens. That it has become such an important factor is a sign that a chapter in American history is closed. . . .

There is evidence now that for the first time in our history, a substantial group of people who have lived here for a life's span, who have seen children and grandchildren born on American soil, have come to believe that existence in the United States is untenable for them. While the 'no' answers of the niseis is a barometer of this to some extent, the full story is not yet told. I know of many issei, who, though they do not intend to make themselves and their children the targets of anti-Japanese elements by entering a segregation Center, nevertheless have made up their minds to return to Japan at the earliest possible moment. There are more than a few others who have adopted a 'wait and see' policy. If restitution for losses incurred in evacuation is not forthcoming, if prejudice and discrimination persist into the post-war period, they too, will leave this country. Then there are those who await the outcome of the war. What they do will depend on economic and social conditions in Japan and in this country after the war. [94]

In addition to his analytic studies of the results of the segregation hearings at Manzanar, Opler interviewed a number of camp residents regarding their individual viewpoints concerning the factors that led some evacuees to segregate to Tule Lake. On December 15, 1943, for instance, he prepared a report based on discussions with an embittered Nisei from Terminal Island. Opler noted:

After he and his family arrived in Manzanar, most of the Terminal Island people were housed in the same blocks, therefore they were in constant touch with each other. He lived in the environment of bitterness for which the Terminal Islanders were noted. They nursed their bitterness along, never forgetting, always remembering what they had and how much they lost. Naturally if one is constantly reminded of his troubles and injustices, they will always stay with him. The younger people went around in 'gangs' and generally stuck with their own crowd.

When groups were allowed to go out on furlough to the sugar beet fields of Montana and Idaho, this boy went too. Suddenly his father was taken ill, and sent to the Center's hospital. After a month or so he died. This happened while the boy was still out on a furlough and he didn't even know his Dad was sick. Before he left his father was 'perfectly healthy, or else I wouldn't have gone.' When he got home (he wasn't even notified his dad was in the hospital), he found his father dying, and soon after — dead. Maybe it's harsh of the boy to blame the evacuation, and his father's previous internment in the concentration camps of the Alien Japanese rounded up by the F.B.I. 'My Dad couldn't stand this life, and if he had had better attention, he might be alive today.'

All this time he was in constant touch with his grandfather. (I forgot to mention that his father was released and sent to Manzanar to join his family, but the grandfather was kept interned, because of his business 'connections.') His grandfather was in a Federal Internment camp. Almost every day this boy would write a letter to him, telling how they were getting along and encouraging him.

Then he heard that his grandfather was going to be sent to Japan on the exchange ship. The grandfather was given practically no notice of his sailing, so by the time he was able to notify his grandson, he had only a week or so left. The boy made frantic effort[s] to obtain permission to visit his grandfather, and to get power of attorney so that he would dispose of his grandfather's holdings here. His request was denied, on the grounds that he was a 'no' answer, therefore not entitled to any special privileges. One cannot imagine the boy's feelings at this time. He was so confused and all the things he had done previously, in his confused state, were backfiring on him. His one thought was to get to his grandfather, so that maybe for the last time, he could see him, because, in his own words, 'My grandfather is so old, maybe he won't last the trip out to Japan. If I could only see him!'

Then to top it all, he was fired from his evacuee job, because the Caucasian head thought he was not paying enough attention to his work, because he had used office time to send the telegrams, see the Project Director, and all the other things necessary in order to try to get a permit to visit his grandfather. But by then, I don't think he cared much, as his grandfather had sailed without them having a chance to see each other. Here was another thing to be held against the government, in the boy's mind. He had been willing to pay his own way to see his grandfather, but now nothing seemed to matter. So when the rehearings came up, and his name was called, he said he was going to say, 'No, no, no. No to anything he was asked. To h___ with it. To h__ with everything.' It was unfortunate that his rehearing came so soon after his grandfather sailed and after he had been denied permission to see him. The wound was too raw for him to do anything but say 'No, I want to go to Japan.' What he meant was, he wanted to go see his grandfather. . . .

I saw him only the other day, and he said, 'Gosh. I wish I could go out [relocate in the United States], but I can't. Who's going to take care of the family? My old man's dead, and my grandfather is in Japan. The only thing we can do is to go to Tule Lake, and later join my grandfather. But I still wish I could go out.' [95]

On January 24, 1944, Opler prepared a report based on an interview with a "well-educated man of professional background" from Santa Monica. This evacuee, although generally optimistic about his future in America, offered some perceptive insights as to the reasons why many persons from the Florin area near Sacramento had opted for segregation to Tule Lake. The evacuee observed:

I think you'll find that the real reason back of most of the 'no' answers have to do with economics rather than nationalism. The property losses are just too much to take. The government didn't do a thing for us. One agency passed the buck to another. If they had left some the farmers stay to harvest the crops or if they had some arrangements so that money could have been borrowed to save property on which payments were due, it would have helped. Even those who seem to have salvaged something are discouraged. Take the Sacramento Valley farmers, for instance. People who own vineyards around Florin feel that these vineyards are ruined. These people put in a tremendous amount of hand labor to keep these vines in shape. Those who took them over simply won't put in the labor. Vines that are not properly cared for for two years are ruined. It takes years to bring them back. It has been two years already, The whole thing is a vicious circle. The whole area is run down Farms are not in operation and the value of the crops is less. As a result, business in the area slumps and land values go down. The people see nothing to look forward to there, even if they do go back after this is all over. So they get disgusted, say 'no' and go to Tule Lake. You will notice that a good many 'noes' are from this district. [96]

Opler devoted considerable attention to the residents at Manzanar who had been evacuated from the Venice area of Los Angeles County. Most of these evacuees had been farmers prior to evacuation, and the majority opted for segregation to Tule Lake. On January 20, 1944, Opler prepared a report based on conversations with a young Nisei farmer from Venice. This man

said that he and his family would not be Tule Lake bound now if they still had their farming equipment. It seems that most of the Venice farmers were emphatically told to sell their farming equipment prior to evacuation.

This young farmer did not divulge the figures in the transaction but he intimated that the family lost a great deal of money in selling this equipment.

At the time of evacuation to Manzanar, the farmer had about 12 acres of celery ready for harvest. A white "friend" had taken care of the harvest for him, but as a result the Nisei had received less than half the market value for his crop. Opler continued:

No wonder this young farmer is bitter! He is not so bitter about the under handed deal as about the selling of the farm equipment so cheaply because he sees no way of establishing himself again without the equipment. This man told me that if he had his farming equipment now he would go out and farm instead of going to Tule Lake. [97]

In another report on February 11, 1944, Opler interviewed an evacuee who offered his perspectives on the reasons why so many of the Venice people were segregating to Tule Lake. This evacuee observed:

There are 93 people, I understand, going to Tule Lake from our block. All you see is packing and all your hear is hammering these days. Sixteen families are involved. This means that more than one—third of those in the block are going.

I think it can be explained in this way. These are farmers from around the Venice district. The children were used to working on the farm for their parents and minding their parents. They are less independent than the city children and influence the parents less. The children were used to taking orders from the parents without any protest. Consequently there are almost no family splits; if the family goes, it goes as a unit. And since these are country people the families are pretty large. Also, since they are country people they are pretty conservative. Add to this that the people of the Venice region lost particularly heavily in evacuation and you get your picture. [98]

Five days later, on February 16, 1944, Opler issued a report on the background of "No" answers by evacuees from Venice. The report featured the observations of an embittered Nisei:

Yes, I'm going. It's no sudden decision with me. I've been 'no' from the beginning. Everyone of the children in our family who was of age said 'no'. I'm from Venice. Lots of the people who lived around Venice said 'no' and are going to Tule. It's on account of the dirty deal we got. We haven't asked for repatriation or expatriation. We are just going on 'no' answers.... It was bad enough without registration and question 28 but when that came along it turned the minds of about half of the nisei. Up to that time we had some hope. But we took the stand that the government had no right to ask us such a question; it showed that they were regarding us as aliens. If you had left us outside you could have asked us anything you wanted. Even if some of us had been attacked, even if a few had been killed, it would have been better. It would have been up to us. If we wanted to stay we would have been taking our own chances. Even if the aliens had been made to move, the citizens should have been allowed to remain. It would have showed that this government was treating its citizens alike, regardless of ancestry. I grew up in this country. I can speak Japanese pretty well but I can't read or write it. I've never been to Japan. But if citizenship and hard work and a good record don't bring you any consideration; if they can still do this to you, there's no use talking about loyalty. A man's got to go where there is some security and chance for him and where his face won't be against him. [99]

On August 24, 1944, an evacuee research assistant under Opler prepared a report based on an interview with a successful Nisei farmer from Venice who had married a Kibei. Commenting on the large number of Venice evacuees who opted for Tule Lake, the Nisei stated:

There were about eighty-eight Japanese families in Venice. Today the majority of them have gone to Tule Lake. The departure of so many for that Center is due to reasons such as these: they see no future in this country for them since they suffered tremendous losses materially and financially; they believe that Tule Lake will be the only Center that will stay open for the duration; the old people simply wish to go back to their native land; some fear another evacuation if Japan and America should have a war in another decade or two; others feel a summons to take care of their parents in Japan; young people have complied with the wishes of the older folks to accompany them to Tule Lake.

The Nisei farmer had also wanted to go to Tule Lake, but his Kibei wife had "argued tirelessly that he would be making a mistake." She knew the "economic system in Japan," and that "a person as out-spoken as her husband would never be happy there." She argued successfully that 'since he must start from scratch, he would be wiser to begin in America, even though he had been humiliated and depressed." [100]

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Last Updated: 01-Jan-2002