Historic Resource Study/Special History Study
NPS Logo



Middle Phase of Relocation Program (June 1943 — January 1945)

Factors That Influenced Relocation Program.

General — In the Final Report, Manzanar Heath discussed the general feelings of the evacuee population at Manzanar toward relocation efforts during the late spring of 1943 as the center began its second year of full-scale operation. Among other things, he observed:

More than a year after evacuation, the war, which the evacuees had expected would end within three to six months, showed less promise than ever of early completion. The honeymoon vacation feeling at Manzanar had been lost in the dust and heat of the preceding summer, and that chapter of life at the Center finally closed with the 'incident' on December 6, 1942.

When a man is in jail, his every hope and plan centers on his re-entry into the free world. The days that he spends in confinement are considered wasted days and his dreams are of the time when the doors of his prison will clang behind him.

On the surface there seemed to be a great similarity between the man in jail and the man in the relocation center. Many of the evacuees who came to Manzanar showed resentment at being detained. Among them were many who had completed plans for evacuation to the East and who were caught by the 'freeze order' of March 27, 1942 which had prohibited further voluntary evacuation.

Also in the Center were many who pointed to their peaceful compliance with evacuation orders as proof of their loyalty. Here was injured innocence personified. . . .

Into this setting had come the relocation program. It would appear that relocation would have been accepted as an unexpected pardon by a prisoner, a cause for rejoicing, an opening of bars. It was all of these things for some of the Manzanar evacuees. Yet, strangely enough, the great majority of Center residents did not react in this way at all. There were but few at the gates clamoring to get out, or breaking into a run every time an additional bar was lowered with the easing of the restrictive measures.

The reasons for this reaction to relocation, according to Heath, were "many and varied; each contributed toward a cumulative effect that was a result of an unreasoning and unreasonable distaste for relocation." For example, Heath noted:

. . . . One man would hesitate to relocate because of fear of prejudice. A friend might tell him that his fear was silly, but not to relocate because in the open area the climate was bad. A second friend would argue that one need not worry about either of these points, but that damages could be recovered from the Government by staying in the Center. Many agreed that relocation was undesirable and stayed in the Center.

Heath listed six issues that in his opinion formed the background to explain the evacuees' reaction to the relocation program at Manzanar. These issues were: (1) fear; (2) pro-Japanese influence; (3) uncertainty about the future; (4) roots in California; (5) group loyalties; and (6) climate.

Fear — Heath observed that sometimes it seemed "that there was only one reason for evacuees not relocating, and that was fear; the others were only rationalizations." While fear was "one of the greatest deterrents" to relocation, "it was not always voiced." The "gripping fear of physical violence towards one's self and particularly one's family can not be imagined by those who have not experienced it." Fears of social discrimination, discrimination in employment and of being laid off, illness and necessary hospitalization "all did their share in discouraging relocation." Particularly among the older people, many of whom spoke little or no English, these fears were "paramount."

Pro-Japanese Influence — Heath observed that an "underground element of increasing importance — active or inactive sympathy for Japan — was fostered largely by some of the Issei and Kibei." Since America needed manpower, they reasoned, "it would be a disservice to Japan to go outside." These people believed that it "would be a service to Japan to discourage relocation." In addition, there was "a larger group who did not identify their own future with that of America, because it was individually necessary for them to return to Japan on account of family responsibilities or property matters."

When the segregants were transferred to Tule Lake in late 1943, this pro-Japanese influence that had been "a continual damper on the [relocation] program" was lessened. However, because "of illness or pregnancy within the family, and because no decision had yet been made on leave clearance, at least 250 segregants did not go to Tule Lake with the main movement." Later there was "no space for them there and they remained in Manzanar to the detriment of the relocation program.

Uncertainty about the Future — Encouraged by the pro-Japanese elements at Manzanar, some evacuees developed a "belief in the uncertainty" of "a future" in "the United States." This uncertainty was abetted by west coast newspaper stories calling for deportation of all persons of Japanese ancestry and legislation to strip Nisei of citizenship. There was widespread fear among the evacuees "that they would be deported or economically and socially forced to give up life in America." While many fought "all the harder to win a place in this country," others were resigned to "lose fight" and "determined to do nothing that would make them unacceptable in Japan."

Roots in California — According to Heath, many evacuees at Manzanar were "deeply rooted" in the California communities from which most of them had been evacuated. They would say with emotion that Santa Monica was their 'second home.' They had made no choice between Japan and the United States. Their choice had been between Japan and Santa Monica or between Japan and Glendale. Later, during the days of Center closure, they refused employment and housing in any but the exact locality of their pre-evacuation residence. Only in the final weeks. . . . did they accept housing an hour's distance from their old homes. It then became clearer as to why it had been so difficult to relocate the evacuees in the East.

Group Loyalties — According to Heath, ties "of friendship and mutual assistance among certain groups" at Manzanar often strengthened "a desire to resettle in a body." An "outstanding example"

of this occurred with the Terminal Island group. They came from the same locality in Japan, worked together and lived together on Terminal Island, lived in the same blocks in Manzanar, and, for the most part, returned in the same motor caravan to a block of housing near Terminal Island. Later they went to work as a group in the same fish canneries.

Climate — Heath observed that never "did climate mean so much to any group as to the Manzanar evacuees." The climate in any place east of California was viewed by many evacuees as "unhealthy" and "bad." The "factor of climate kept large numbers of Manzanar people from bettering themselves immeasurably." Such considerations as "community acceptance, broad vocational opportunity, and social equality were of no importance to them compared to climate." [60]

Morris Opler, the community analyst at Manzanar, prepared a series of studies regarding the evacuees' reaction to the WRA relocation program in the camp in which he reiterated, as well as elaborated, on many of Heath's aforementioned issues. On October 16, 1943, for instance, he issued a report entitled, "The Present Situation In Respect to Relocation at Manzanar. Based on a series of interviews and preliminary studies, Opler summarized the factors that he believed were influencing the slow tempo of relocation at Manzanar during the fall of 1943:

  1. Age: Because Japanese immigration was a phenomenon of the two decades following the turn of the century and was cut off in 1924, the issei or family heads are now past their prime and have the misgivings that old people who have suffered serious financial reverses might be expected to show concerning a new start in unfamiliar surroundings.

  2. Previous Departures: A large percentage of the young, unattached, better-trained individuals have already left Manzanar on relocation, and as the total of these eligibles has shrunk, the rate of relocation has dropped.

  3. Occupational Specialization: The presence of large numbers of persons whose occupational background is intimately associated with the West Coast (Terminal Island fishermen) or who functioned in activities for which there is little call or in which it would be difficult to become established now (those who were engaged in professional or managerial activities) has been a check on relocation.

  4. Status Considerations: The reluctance of many, especially older persons who had considered themselves established and independent, to accept employment where they will be under supervision, particularly under the supervision of Caucasians, where linguistic difficulties and prejudice are likely to be operative.

  5. Immobility: The long term of residence of many of these people within a relatively circumscribed section of the country, their complete familiarity with the economic and climatic conditions of this particular region, their many misconceptions about other areas, and the consequent resistance to scattering, have likewise been of considerable moment.

  6. Fear and Uncertainty: These worries, material and psychological, cover a great range. Some of them seem naive and unrealistic until it is realized that the evacuees have been removed from the normal stream of American life during a period when the nation has made dramatic transition to war conditions. The adjustments to travel conditions, rationing, taxation, housing conditions, etc. which have come to the

    average citizen gradually, seem impossible barriers to those who must face their cumulative weight the day after they leave a Center.

    A number of basic fears have been noted on the economic side, moreover. There is the fear that the wages offered relocatees will not be sufficient to pay expenses and taxes at present costs and rates. There is the objection that W.R.A. assistance does not provide for the 'extras' which evacuation and relocation entail, such as the obtaining of household goods (if they can be obtained at all) to replace those sacrificed or lost at the time of removal, the provision for clothes suitable to the new life of a markedly different climate, etc. There are the fears that housing will be inadequate, found only in undesirable locations, will be too expensive, or will not be obtainable at all. Important, too, is the fear that any economic or occupational adjustment, no matter at what cost they are made, will not be permanent; that post-war shifts and problems arising from the absorption [sic] of returning soldiers will leave large numbers of Japanese and Japanese Americans far from their original bases, jobless and with few assets.

    Fears relating to social security are effective too. There is the concern about unpleasant incidents, insults and discrimination. There are just a sufficient number of such instances reported in the public press and their occurrence is evenly enough spaced to constitute a deterrent to relocation. . . . There is the fear of going to a region to which many relocatees have gone, lest the charge of 'Japanese colonization' arise again, and there is the contrary anxiety concerning professional opportunity, professional care, marriage and recreational possibilities if the community chosen does not contain persons of Japanese ancestry There is nervousness over. . . . the chance that future regulations may prevent reunion with relatives in Centers at a time of crisis, etc. Some of these misgivings seem strained and absurd, unless one appreciates how many unexpected shocks this segment of our population has received in the year and three-quarters since Pearl Harbor.

  7. Draft Status: The uncertain draft status of the male of military age has acted as a deterrent upon those in this category and all those who depend on them. If the young man has capital he fears to relocate and risk it, lest he be forced to liquidate his business hurriedly a second time if national policy on this issue changes. If he has dependents he dislikes to attempt to support them on the outside when he may be forced to leave them less well cared for than would be the case in a Center.

  8. Property interests: There are those who still have substantial property interests on the west coast. They intend, if it is at all possible, to stay as near to their holdings as they can and to return to them at the earliest possible moment. The recent statement of the President, and the relaxation of dimout [blackout] regulations along the Pacific coast have encouraged them to think of eventual return to their homes rather than in terms of relocation.

While Opler believed that these eight issues explained the current evacuees' attitudes toward relocation, he noted that the "primary reason why the rate of relocation has lagged in recent months is simply that so many of the residents of Manzanar do not at present have the leave clearance which will permit them to resettle." Commenting further, he observed that the segregation program had resulted in tensions and restlessness "in the community which favors a contemplation of relocation for those for whom it is possible." Little advantage could be taken of these developments, however,

as long as 1000 members of the community are denied leave clearance, for a rough count indicates that 4500 persons, or well over half of those not bound for Tule Lake, are concerned in the fate of this block of 1000. It is unlikely that many of these 4500 will make any important move until they have a clear conception of what may be expected from the leave clearance hearings now in progress. It is important to realize that the family tie, always close in Japanese and Japanese-American communities, has been still more greatly solidified by evacuation. Even where it was weakening, it has now been reaffirmed. The financial losses suffered by the parents have given the children a still further sense of obligation to the old people. The humiliation and suffering brought by evacuation has made it a point of honor not to desert a close relative, particularly a parent or child. Property losses, rebuffs to status, uncertainties in nearly every other sphere, have made the personal and family tie more precious. As long as there remains the threat that one member of a family may be denied leave clearance and may ultimately be sent to Tule Lake, it may be accepted that the vast majority of other family members will take little initiate [sic] toward relocation. [61]

WRA and Evacuee Staff Interpretation — To convince evacuees at Manzanar of the desirability of relocating, the WRA appointed personnel in the camp's relocation office believed that their primary job "was one of promotion and selling." They believed that "this could be done best by a sales agency that protected the interests of its clients" and did not engage in "high-pressure methods."

To promote relocation, the staff at Manzanar searched for a Japanese word that "would combine with relocation a feeling of hope and anticipation." The Japanese word tenju that was ordinarily used for "relocation" was commonly translated "emigration." After lengthy conferences, the evacuee counseling staff determined that the Japanese expression shin seikatsu — translated "new living" — was superior to use of the word tenju and thereafter it was used in Japanese translations. Thus, the relocation office became known in Japanese by the English equivalent of "place to talk about new living." In English, the words "resettlement" and "re-establishment" were frequently substituted for "relocation." [62]

Obstacles Posed by WRA Policies

  1. Induction Policy: The WRA policy prohibiting reinduction of relocated persons back into centers, unless residence on the outside was proven to be impossible, discouraged relocation. Manzanar residents generally had little confidence in the "government" and felt they themselves should be the final judge of whether or not they could live satisfactorily on the outside. According to Heath, the strict project interpretation and the disposition of the first reinduction request at Manzanar "did much to convince residents that relocation was a one-way proposition and that they would not be allowed to re-enter a center no matter what adversity faced them." "It took a long time," according to Heath, "to break down this attitude." The first applicant for reinduction made his request about two weeks after his relocation "without making an effort to get adjusted outside." Six months later he was still attempting to regain admission to Manzanar "without having made conscientious effort at adjustment." He was finally readmitted, and subsequently "more liberal reinduction interpretations were made." Heath noted that "this restrictive policy on reinduction prepared people to make a real effort on the outside and was undoubtedly a stabilizing influence on relocated persons." However, the policy was "a two-edged sword that cut both ways.

  2. Age and Dependency: By December 31, 1944, only 364 males, between the ages of 20 and 40, remained at Manzanar. Of these men, a number had recently received leave clearance, but some were still not eligible to relocate. Others had property in California to which they wished to return. Some had such large families and so little money that it was difficult for them to relocate with the limited financial assistance available.According to Heath, many evacuees "had understandable reasons for not going out," and age and health were "handicaps for a considerable number." Manzanar, "in its scenic setting, with its grounds becoming more and more pleasant, was an ideal old men's home."

  3. Feelings of Insecurity and Fear: Relocation centers, such as Manzanar, "did make good on their promises of security for those to whom they offered haven." Thus, according to Heath, the Manzanar resident "had only one insecurity — his future." He "would decide that issue when he saw 'how things come out." Until then he "would refuse to let himself think about it." [63]

WRA Organizational Relationships — Much of the relocation program at Manzanar depended upon the Washington office for policy formulation, technical advice and assistance, and leave clearance approval for individual evacuees. While the relationship between Washington and Manzanar was generally satisfactory, according to Heath, it left "something to be desired" and "coordination with the Central office was always lacking."

An active Washington liaison person served Manzanar for less than six months during the relocation program. At other times monthly reports and correspondence were the "sole means of communication." During the nearly four years of the center's operation, "only one conference was held for relocation program officers."

The leave clearance program, in particular, presented serious difficulties at Manzanar. As originally established, the program required "tremendous effort by Project personnel in order to meet deadlines." In Washington, however, the program was "never adequately implemented." It was customary "to wait an average of four months, and sometimes longer, for a decision on leave clearance applications which required perhaps an hour of actual work." These delays were "exceedingly harmful to the relocation program and to evacuees. Finally, personnel from the various relocation centers, including Heath, were detailed to Washington "to complete the job."

With few exceptions, the relationship between the Relocation Division at Manzanar and the WRA field offices "remained excellent." Considering the handicaps under which they worked, the relocation officers in the field offices, according to Heath, "remained dependable, patient, and tireless in their efforts for evacuees." [64]

Initiatives to Promote Relocation Program.

Influence of Relocated Evacuees —One of the most significant single aids to relocation at Manzanar, according to Heath, was the "comeback" from those who had relocated from the camp. Many of their first letters commented on the fine treatment they were receiving "even from servicemen." Eventually their letters were concerned "more and more on wartime problems of living and less on discriminations, real or fancied." According to Heath, the "fact remained that they were outside, had no thought of coming back, were making fair to good wages, and were gaining valuable experience." These "things could not go altogether unnoticed." Since "early relocatees were young people, their success was important to the Nisei group." The Issei, however, "saw in this but little indication for an 'enemy alien' to expect as much."

Occasionally, there "was a misfit who did not adjust himself well on the outside and who wrote discouraging letters." According to Heath, such instances, however, were "remarkably few" at Manzanar. At first their influence was felt, but it "came to be realized generally that some persons are doomed to failure wherever they are. During the entire operation of Manzanar, there were only 109 re-inductions, of which only 16 were readmitted because "of maladjustment." Other reasons included impending service in the Army pregnancy of a serviceman's wife, and ill health.

According to Heath, it was rarely possible to uncover "unfavorable relocation letters written to Manzanar residents." Favorable letters, however, were frequently published in the Manzanar Free Press, but residents "soon began to look on such letters with suspicion."

An effort was undertaken to get relocating people to write letters back to Manzanar. To encourage residents to write to resettlers, a large wall directory of relocated block residents was placed in each block office.

During the spring and summer of 1944 increased efforts were undertaken for solicitation of information from those who had resettled. WRA administrators felt that a better response would be gained from an invitation from Town Hall than from project appointed personnel and that center residents would place more credence in information gained and released by their own representatives. Accordingly, a list was prepared noting the names of older and more responsible people who had relocated. A letter and questionnaire was drawn up which attempted to solicit information regarding conditions and reception on the outside. Because the WRA refused to pay for mailing expenses and all efforts to obtain money for postage from Town Hall and other organizations ended in failure, the letter and questionnaire were sent out over the signature of Heath. As a result, only six blanks were completed and returned.

Visits of relocated persons to Manzanar were "extremely effective" in encouraging relocation. According to Heath, most returning persons "obtained satisfaction from telling of their own successes on the outside," and nearly all urged their friends to join them.

The WRA administration at Manzanar discouraged relocated persons from visiting the center until they had been outside the center for six months. This decision was implemented because of transportation difficulties as well as the belief that "early maladjustments were usually remedied within this prolonged period."

Considerable effort was expended by the project administration to get persons "conveniently in and out of the Center" after the six months' period. During the last six months of 1944, for example, the daily average number of visitors in the center was 34.

On several occasions, the Relocation Division attempted to make formal use of visitors, but usually without much success. Some visitors were asked to speak at high school assemblies, current event classes for adults, and Block Managers' meetings. Selected persons were used as part-time advisers in the relocation office, but they attracted little interest. Issei would not rely on these young people, and Nisei often wanted more information than these people were able to provide. [65]

Short-term, Trial and Seasonal Leaves — WRA administrators at Manzanar adopted seasonal and short term leave and ultimately indefinite leave (trial period) policies to permit evacuees "to taste of the pudding without committing himself to eat the entire dish." According to Heath, most evacuees liked "the sample," and some "stayed out" while many more relocated after returning to the Center and resting for a while.

Seasonal leave permitted departure from the center for several months to engage in seasonal work (usually agricultural or cannery factory employment). At the expiration of seasonal leave, either return to the center or conversion to indefinite leave was compulsory. Travel expenses were ordinarily paid by the companies contracting for evacuee labor or by the War Food Administration.

Indefinite leave for a trial period permitted return to the center during the fifth and sixth months of residence outside. At the end of the trial period persons who remained on the outside were eligible for reimbursement of train fare, meals en route, and, if necessary, a $25 stipend for subsistence expenses. Movement of persons on trial leave was subject to approval by Heath.

  1. Seasonal Leave: According to Heath, many frustrated persons "were able to arrange family permission for seasonal leave, and on the strength of this experience, to convert later to indefinite leave at a later time." Some refused to take indefinite leave status because of high earnings possible on seasonal leave, but these cases were offset by those who were financially able to relocate because of their previous high earnings while on seasonal leave. During 1944, seasonal workers averaged $12 to $16 per day, sums that approximated the average monthly salary of an evacuee in the camp.

    All told, 2,654 seasonal and furlough leaves were issued before this type of leave was terminated during the center's closure program in 1945. Of this number, 1,589 were for agricultural work in Idaho, while 457 were for seasonal labor in Montana and 371 in Oregon. As aforementioned, 1,148 seasonal leaves were issued in 1942. In 1943 and 1944, leaves were issued to 282 and 529 workers, respectively, who had not been outside the center previously. During these years, 258 evacuees converted to indefinite leave without returning to the center. On May 1, 1945, only 518 individuals remained in the center who had received seasonal or furlough leave.

    A comparatively small group of "repeaters" took seasonal leave whenever the opportunity was offered. During Manzanar's operation, 1,322 evacuees took one seasonal leave, while 390 took two leaves, 137 took three, 24 took four, and one took five. Some of these evacuees were prevented by family influence from relocating, while others enjoyed the high wages while on leave and the "winter vacations" in the center. A few had always been casual workers prior to evacuation, and thus were simply following previous life patterns. According to Heath the evacuees "appeared to build good reputations for themselves as workers in the agricultural districts." Farmers "claimed to prefer them to workers of other national origins." As a result, many job offers came from agricultural areas, and a large number of relocations to those areas resulted.

  2. Short-Term Leave: Because there were no relocation areas within easy travel distance of Manzanar, short-term leave was "not appreciably used until after relocation was possible within the State of California." Thus, prior to January 1945, short-term leave was used mainly by older and financially secure persons. During 1943 and 1944, 186 and 467 short-term leaves were issued, respectively. At one point, it was found that 80 percent of those who went on short-term leave (excluding visitors to other centers) soon took indefinite leave.

  3. Indefinite Leave for Trial Period: As Implemented at Manzanar from May to December 1944, Indefinite leave for a trial period was a "forerunner and a guarantee of successful relocation." As with seasonal leave, it was also a "practical first step in obtaining parental consent." Unlike ordinary indefinite leave, trial leave did not provide assistance with travel and subsistence expense until the individual decided to remain outside the center. Thus, people with family responsibilities and in financial need profited little from this type of leave.

    During the period when indefinite leave (trial period) was afforded to evacuees at Manzanar, 270 such leaves were issued. Of this number, 93 returned to the center, but the rest relocated immediately. [66]

Use of the Manzanar Free Press — The Manzanar Free Press staff was cooperative in publishing news about relocation undertakings. Selected job offers were reported as direct news releases from the relocation office, and efforts were made to find additional stories that quoted resettled evacuees concerning living conditions outside the center. In addition, Heath was "on the alert constantly" for letters from resettlers to staff members and center residents, and he interviewed many of the resettlers who visited the camp. Efforts were undertaken to obtain many "short stories" rather than "a few long stories" so that "almost every reader would at least get a portion of the educational material even though many preferred to pass over easily recognized relocation stories" in the newspaper.

The camp newspaper was "a good approach to the younger people who read English easily." As time went on, however, most of those persons relocated, and the English language increasingly "had less and less value for educational work."

Although the mimeographed Japanese language section of the newspaper offered the only "real approach" to those who knew little or no English. this "avenue was never satisfactorily opened." According to Heath, the Japanese section, under its own evacuee editor, reprinted translations of some of the English newspaper's stories. In addition, it carried many other stories and a fairly good summary of war news. The editor, "a man of good Japanese education, but with little ability to speak English," had a "fine recognition of the type of news that the Japanese-reading public wanted, but this was not Relocation news." Heath never succeeded in gaining the cooperation of the Japanese editor to translate articles on relocation. [67]

Visual Advertising — The Relocation Division at Manzanar placed considerable emphasis on many types of visual advertising to promote relocation at Manzanar, including: (1) bulletin boards; (2) handbills, posters, and throw sheets; (3) displays and exhibits; (4) motion pictures; and (5) pamphlets and field bulletins.

  1. Bulletin Boards: During the early period, a large bulletin board was placed outside the relocation office on which was posted a short summary of virtually every relocation offer received by the camp. As time went on, however, and relocation opportunities became more numerous, this posting became more selective. During the final months of the camp's operation, only outstanding offers were exhibited, but "another board inside the office displayed domestic offers in California." In time, the large bulletin board was supplemented by a small, three-faced, glass-covered display board in front of the office which contained war maps, pictures of evacuees and employing companies, and reprints of favorable stories about evacuees. The success of bulletin board advertising, however, was somewhat limited by a general lack of evacuee interest in reading the displays.

  2. Handbills, Posters, and Throw Sheets: During the spring of 1943, a weekly or bi weekly sheet of job offer summaries was issued and posted in each block. The attractive sheets, featuring appropriate sketches and the use of two or more colors, were prepared by an artist in the Adult Education unit.

    Large individually-painted posters were used to promote "general ideas" rather than advertise specific jobs offered. For example, one poster aimed "at driving home the idea" of the futility of waiting for military permission to return to California consisted of a picture of two black boys playing dice under a street sign reading "Little Tokyo" in Los Angeles. This district, formerly occupied by evacuees at Manzanar, had been taken over by blacks who came to the city to participate in war-related industrial work after evacuation.

    Small posters ordinarily advertised specific relocation opportunities, frequently in both English and Japanese, were reproduced on the hectograph. The posters were widely displayed throughout the center's offices and living areas, and even in the latrines. Sometimes an entire series of posters was released for a single group opportunity that seemed to offer promise.

    Throw sheets, generally detailed, mimeographed write-ups of job and living opportunities, were sometimes used to promote group resettlement opportunities or new relocation areas or simply to encourage relocation. They were handed out in the relocation office and distributed to evacuees attending meetings, returning seasonal workers, and apartments in the barracks.

    One mimeographed throw sheet prepared by the relocation office on March 28, 1944, to promote relocation was entitled, "Relocation Made Easy." The sheet stated:

    Relocation is not hard. For almost everyone, relocation can be arranged within just a few weeks. Unless you are one of the few people who are not yet eligible to go out, you are remaining in Manzanar only because you yourself choose to do so.

    Concluding with the question, "Why do you choose to remain behind barbed wires?," the sheet stated:

    There is a job for you on the outside, and in most instances the job will pay you more than you made before evacuation. There is a community in which you can live and be well received. There is a community that will treat your children better than they were ever treated in California. There is a community that will give your children educational and occupational opportunities that previously were closed to persons of Japanese ancestry Those are the opportunities of today; perhaps before another spring, they will be considerably lesser, because the European war may end at any time, and jobs will immediately become harder to obtain. [68]

  3. Displays and Exhibits: On two occasions, "Relocation" was the "subject of an exhibit at the Visual Education Museum operated by the Adult Education unit." Relocation and museum staff combined to display pictures, maps, pamphlets, and letters from relocated evacuees. Evacuee attendance, however, was "not large" at either event.

    On several other occasions, displays, featuring photographs and accompanying text, were developed around an idea, such as a desirable farming area or a favorable group relocation opportunity. The theme of one large display was "Family Security in America — Where Shall I find It?" This material, slightly expanded, was later incorporated in a pamphlet in both English and Japanese for general distribution in the center.Large captioned WRA photographs of relocated evacuees were mounted "in series" and used in similar fashion. Such exhibits were moved from mess hall to mess hall by the Reports Officer Robert Brown.

  4. Motion Pictures: The Adult Education unit, and later the Reports Officer, obtained a number of short motion pictures and arranged to have them included as part of regular center motion picture shows in the camp. Such movie shorts were usually concerned with the attractions offered by specific sections of the United States in which there were relocation opportunities. The films, according to Heath, were "good crowd getters" when shown by recruiters.

  5. Pamphlets and Field Bulletins: WRA field bulletins and pamphlets, issued by area relocation supervisors, provided details of job opportunities and living conditions in the cities, communities, and areas for which they were responsible. The field bulletins and informational pamphlets were distributed in various center and block offices, and occasionally block mangers were requested to pass such materials from apartment to apartment in their respective blocks. For a considerable period this literature was displayed under large titles with other visual types of relocation material on the walls of the block mess halls under the general heading "Resettlement News." According to Heath, however, it was never possible to get evacuees to "go one step out of their way to read these releases." [69]

The Relocation Committee — In April 1943 Heath and the Assistant Project Director in charge of Community Management called a meeting of selected WRA staff members to consider ways of stimulating relocation at Manzanar. Those attending the meeting included three Japanese-speaking people, a supervising teacher, the head welfare counselor, a missionary serving the center, and the head of adult education. The attendees concluded that the basic obstacle to relocation was fear, physical and emotional, and that these fears stemmed from a doubt that persons of Japanese ancestry were welcome in America.

The attendees determined to form a "relocation committee" and decided that the best approach for promoting relocation in the camp was through speakers qualified to address evacuee audiences in Japanese. A sub-committee prepared a skeleton outline for a speech to sell the idea that persons of Japanese ancestry were welcome in American society outside the center. Heath was directed to collect and supply fresh information for the effort, and the existence of a "speaker's pool" was widely publicized in the camp. Individual committee members endeavored to develop interest among the evacuee population to attend meetings featuring the selected speakers. The sentiment against relocation was sufficiently strong in the camp, however, so that "not a single speaking engagement was found." The "relocation committee," as it became known, was thus expanded to include other interested persons, such as the personnel officer, Superintendent of Education, and principals of the elementary and high schools. During the summer of 1943, the committee was expanded further to include a number of prominent evacuees, such as the head of the Visual Education Museum, chairman of the block managers, and director of the Parent-Teacher Association, as well as several influential block managers. Under the chairmanship of the Assistant Director in charge of Community Management, the total committee membership was about 30.

Despite considerable effort, the accomplishments of this committee, until its demise in December 1944, were few. It sponsored a relocation exhibit and prepared a number of recommendations for national WRA relocation policy formulation. Beyond that, the members, according to Heath, "only talked." In his opinion, the education of its individual members, "to a degree, was its greatest contribution."

Heath analyzed the reasons for the ineffectiveness of the "relocation committee." As established, the committee was given no voice in development of camp policies. Thus, evacuee members were expected to risk their community reputations in support of unpopular policies. While making attempts to bring about policy changes that would aid the relocation program and allow them as individuals to give public support to the committee, the policy recommendations were not accepted by the WRA administrators, and the evacuee members sometimes felt that the WRA "was closing its eyes to reality."

Occasionally, the project administration adopted, in principle, proposals made by the committee, and in the final analysis the new policies were similar to the committee's proposals. Trial leave, temporary financial assistance, and government housing to meet the immediate housing needs of resettlers were examples of committee proposals resulting in camp policy revision. In each of these cases, however, the project administration denied that the need existed at the time the proposal was made, and final action generally came months later with no credit given to the committee. [70]

Zadan Kai — In June 1944 Project Director Merritt and Heath met with a small group of evacuee leaders to interest them in a field trip that Heath intended to undertake. The evacuee leaders requested that Heath investigate agricultural resettlement opportunities in the nation's midwestern and southern states. After a six-week trip, which included routine work assistance in the St. Louis relocation area office and inspection of farm lands in Nebraska and Louisiana, Heath reported his findings to the evacuee leaders. After lengthy discussion, the evacuees decided to meet again to discuss relocation in general and resettlement in the two farming areas in particular. They suggested that they could conduct more productive discussions without WRA staff assistance or presence. Although they were interested in these opportunities, they feared that differences in climate and agricultural methods, when compared with their pre-evacuation situations, negated their positive aspects.

Despite their rejection of these group relocation opportunities, however, the evacuee leaders continued to meet under the guidance of the chairman of the block managers. They drew other evacuee leaders into their group, and on several occasions asked Heath and visiting relocation officers and recruiters to speak to them. Nevertheless, they resisted tentative efforts for a formal organization to promote relocation, and simply called themselves the Zadan Kai discussion group. The group consulted with returning evacuees about conditions on the outside, and at least one of the Issei on the relocation staff attended all meetings of this informal group. This "overlapping of membership," however, was the only direct connection with the Relocation Division Although no definite relocation moves resulted from the group's deliberations, the group, according to Heath, "made a worthwhile contribution to relocation" as a result of educating evacuee leadership to resettlement possibilities. [71]

Block Managers Involvement — Block managers met weekly at Town Hall. Heath or the evacuee relocation coordination assistant or both attended nearly every meeting and discussed relocation policy changes and resettlement opportunities. They also made numerous "personal" contacts with the ever-changing block managers to "win friends" for relocation. According to Heath, some block managers were "sincerely friendly," had "an intelligent desire to help," and made "a real contribution." Unfriendly block managers, however, went so far as "to fail to post relocation material and 'forget' to read notices in their mess halls." While some individual block managers and the chairman of the Block Managers' Assembly "gave important assistance," they "resisted continuous efforts to give formal organized aid through the Block Managers Assembly or in other organized ways.

Despite this lack of enthusiasm, an ambitious series of eight panel discussions was sponsored by the project administration and Town Hall during the spring of 1944. The subjects discussed by mixed panels of evacuee leaders and staff members were as follows: "Who are Americans?"; "What does America stand for?"; "American Citizenship"; "Some American Problems"; "Problems of Residents of Japanese Ancestry in America"; "Japanese Adjustment to America"; "Future of People of Japanese Ancestry in America"; and "America At War."

According to Heath, the panel discussions and other meetings arranged by the administration and Town Hall had "one thing in common." A speaker, visiting recruiter, or relocation officer, (with interpreter for non-English speaking evacuees) who commanded great respect could draw a fair crowd if no similar event had been offered in the camp for a "considerable time." When those conditions were not met, "not more than six or eight people attended." [72]

Relocation Counseling Program.

Staff Counseling — According to Heath, evacuees approached relocation "with great timidity, and were always ready to abandon their efforts at the slightest excuse." Thus, evacuee and appointive staff members engaged in counseling and advising "were called upon for the greatest of patience, understanding, and skill." "High pressure methods in relocation were definitely out of order." Obvious problems "of a social nature were referred to the Welfare Section." No actual case work was conducted in the relocation office, but relocation counselors were "in reality, discussing personal evacuee problems and finding solutions." The counselors conducted considerable correspondence "in locating suitable opportunities, in obtaining acceptance of Manzanar applicants, and in giving to Relocation Officers information about persons going to their areas." [73]

Promotion of Individual Employment Offers — Most successful promotion of relocation efforts at Manzanar, according to Heath, "appeared to be through the medium of specific job offers." Prospective relocating evacuees were interested in knowing "exactly what hobs and what wages they could expect in the community of their choice." Selected job offers were publicized in the center via numerous aforementioned ways. In addition, while discussing relocation with interested evacuees, the relocation advisers would "continuously consult job-offer files and field bulletins and give pertinent information during the interview."

When group offers were received they were analyzed by the camp's relocation staff. Those that seemed to have little appeal were given only routine publicity, but those that showed promise "were given a great deal of publicity" because the staff believed that "successful promotion of popular offers did much to increase the faith and confidence of Center residents." While numerous campaigns to relocate groups of evacuees from Manzanar failed for a variety of reasons, one effort was notably successful.

During the spring of 1944, a group offer to work in the cannery and dehydration plant at Seabrook Farms in northern New Jersey was given extensive circulation at Manzanar. Soon, however, a much publicized anti-Japanese incident took place near Seabrook, and reports reached Manzanar that the first arrivals at Seabrook were not properly housed. Thus, further publicity of the Seabrook relocation opportunity was temporarily suspended at Manzanar.

By August 1944, however, a considerable number of evacuees from other relocation centers had relocated to Seabrook, and most of them "appeared well satisfied" with their work and social acceptance as well as the community's public schools. English was not required for employment at Seabrook, thus enhancing its attractiveness for some Issei evacuees. Relocation officials at Manzanar thus contacted recruiters from Seabrook and developed a recruiting plan to promote the resettlement effort.

Before the recruiters arrived at Manzanar, the Free Press carried reports about Seabrook, A series of ten hectographed posters, extolling the advantages of work and residence at Seabrook written in both English and Japanese was prepared and posted one by one at intervals of two or three days. Two Caucasian and two Japanese recruiters arrived from Seabrook and told their stories to the Manzanar block managers. Friendly block managers invited the Japanese recruiters to various mess halls for meals and informal discussions about Seabrook, One entire issue of the camp newspaper was devoted almost exclusively to Seabrook, and a mass meeting was planned and widely publicized. As the day of the mass meeting approached, several of the more influential evacuees were "individually prevailed upon to sign up as lead-off people" for the relocation venture. Their names were announced at the mass meeting, and dates were set for the movement of special railroad cars to Seabrook. After a few evacuees subsequently signed up, other camp residents began to apply, and all names were prominently displayed outside the relocation office. As a result, more than 200 evacuees left for Seabrook within a month's time. Upon their arrival at Seabrook, they sent back detailed positive reports that were printed in the Manzanar Free Press. Subsequent promotional campaigns sent approximately 300 additional people to Seabrook in March 1945. [74]

Relocation Library — The first efforts to supply a reading room and relocation library at Manzanar were undertaken during the summer of 1943. A collection of informational material — much of it colorful Chamber of Commerce pamphlets — and a collection of WPA Writers' Project State Guides were displayed in the entrance to the main library at Manzanar. Later, when space permitted, literature was moved to the relocation office reception room and additional reference works were added. The relocation library included large numbers of Japanese language pamphlets, numerous WPA pamphlets containing information on states and localities, and current WRA field bulletins. Despite these efforts, however, Heath noted that the evacuees "depended more upon first-hand reports from friends for their information on relocation." [75]

Use of Evacuee Counselors — During the early days at Manzanar, "mature Nisei counselors or interviewers," particularly women, were employed in the relocation office. Such persons, however, were the "first to relocate." Qualified male counselors became particularly "difficult to replace." The feelings against relocation that developed following the "Manzanar incident" and the registration program "deterred many capable persons from associating themselves with relocation." In addition, an evacuee "who himself did not plan relocation was unsuitable" as counselor.

As relocation "moved through the younger generation and into the alien group," the need for an older male alien staff member became "acute." A knowledge of Japanese was essential if one was to talk with older evacuees. Older Japanese men traditionally looked only to other men for assistance and advice. Authority and decision-making in the Japanese family reposed in the father, and later in the eldest son.

During the late summer of 1943, Heath succeeded in convincing a 60-year-old Issei to join the relocation staff. He was respected in the community and his oral English was fairly good, but he could not write letters in English or fill out anything but the most simple forms. This man thus was used mostly as liaison between the relocation office and the camp Issei and Town Hall. He contributed much to the dialogue between the Issei and the relocation center staff before he relocated to Seabrook Farms in November 1944.

During the winter of 1943-44, a 35-year-old Kibei, who had been successful in the produce field in Los Angeles prior to evacuation, became a relocation counselor. Although relatively young and highly Americanized, he had been selected by Manzanar residents to be a block manager and later to be Executive Secretary of Town Hall. According to Heath, the "promotional ability and understanding of Japanese psychology" of this Kibei" were valuable.

During the spring of 1944, a "large part of the progressive alien group left the Project on seasonal leave" to obtain "a sample of outside living conditions." Upon their return in the fall, several of the men, who had previously been block managers, planned to relocate, and had an adequate knowledge of English, were hired as relocation counselors. One of these counselors, however, was threatened with physical harm if he continued to advocate relocation. Despite the continuing opposition, these men held periodic evening meetings in the camp, securing good results by "emphasizing good wages and personal security." [76]

Centerwide Relocation Counseling Program — In June 1944 a centerwide relocation counseling program was commenced at Manzanar to help stimulate resettlement. The program was conducted by the Welfare Section and was designed to interview every Manzanar family head in order "to learn his feeling toward relocation, to discover common obstacles to relocation, and to stimulate relocation through proposed family planning." In addition, purpose of the counseling program was "to locate and refer to proper sections for assistance, whatever problems of health, law, property and social adjustment appeared to be retarding relocation." The extensive interviewing program took nine months to complete. [77]

Evaluation — As a result of the relocation counseling program, evacuee attitudes toward relocation at Manzanar changed significantly during the fall of 1944. Although many were initially apprehensive or hostile to the program, evacuees generally became more positive toward WRA resettlement efforts. Some, however, would continue to remain embittered or fearful, and others would accuse the government of attempting to shift the burden of their maintenance entirely and unfairly upon their shoulders after uprooting them from their established communities following Pearl Harbor. [78] Manzanar had the lowest relocation rate of all the centers in proportion to total population during the months of February, March, June, and July, and its rate fell below average in January, April, May, and September. In October, November, and December, however, Manzanar's rate was higher than that of any other relocation center.

The increased rate of relocation during late 1944 showed the changing character of time resettlement program at Manzanar, On June 30, 1942, the camp had 9,744 residents, while on June 30, 1944, it had only 5,472. On June 30, 1942, the camp had 1,557 males from ages 21 to 39 and 1,263 males 50 years of age and older, On June 30, 1944, there were only 345 males in the lower age bracket, while 962 were in the upper bracket. Thus, in 1942 there had been approximately 1.2 "young men" for each "older man," while in 1944 there about 2.8 "older men" for each "young man." Thus, relocation had been for the young and unencumbered during the early days. By June 1944, however, a higher rate for relocation was maintained by the older and encumbered evacuees. [79]

<<< Previous <<< Contents >>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 01-Jan-2002