NISEI AND ISSEI
Chapter 8: Ending the Exclusion
Historical writing about the exclusion, evacuation and detention of the ethnic Japanese has two great set piecesanalysis of events which led to Executive Order 9066, and life in the relocation camps.  In large measure, these events were accessible to historians from the moment they took place; equally important events have remained obscuremost significantly, the end of the exclusion from the West Coast. Examining how exclusion ended brings one full circle to a deeper understanding of the forces and ideas behind Executive Order 9066.
The ending of the exclusion should logically depend on its beginning: when the circumstances that justified exclusion no longer exist, exclusion itself should cease. Three separate justifications for exclusion suggested two distinct sets of circumstances in which it would end. Through the first six months of 1943, a long struggle was waged in the War Department to determine which of these theories and programs would prevail.
General DeWitt and the Western Defense Command embraced at one time or another two theories for exclusion. The first, which DeWitt relied on in his final recommendation to Stimson urging exclusion, was that loyalty was determined by ethnicity.  For that reason the ethnic Japanese would ultimately be loyal to Japan. The second theory employed the stereotype of the "inscrutable Oriental;" it was adopted by the Western Defense Command in its supplement to the Final Report, the fully developed apologia for evacuation. The ethnic Japanese were so alien to the patterns of American thought and behavior, this theory suggested, that it was impossible to distinguish the loyal from the disloyal.  For the Western Defense Command, both theories justified the exclusion of Nisei and Issei from the West Coast for the duration of the war; in the first case, because they were presumptively dangerous and ultimately enemies and, in the second, because no one could distinguish enemy from friend.
The third theory held that loyalty was a matter of individual choice and that the loyal could be distinguished from the disloyal, but urgency required exclusion because it was impossible to conduct individual loyalty reviews in early 1942, under imminent threat of Japanese raids or sabotage. The War Department in Washington, particularly McCloy and Stimson, held this view.  Its logical conclusion was that no good reason existed to exclude from the West Coast at least those Issei and Nisei who cleared a loyalty review. At root, this theory held that the ethnic Japanese were a greater threat to security than ethnic Germans and Italians, and it did not extend the presumption of loyalty to American citizens of Japanese descent; but it also saw limits to the danger they were believed to presentand made government responsible for reviewing loyalty and reassessing the military position so as to return people to normal life as soon as possible.
The intensity of the argument between the Western Defense Command and the War Department over how and when to end the exclusion demonstrated the truth of what the Tolan Committee suspected as early as March 1942: there had been no common understanding of the basis of the original decision to exclude nor of how to treat loyal ethnic Japanese after exclusion.  As McCloy told Bendetsen in April 1943: "We never thought about it."  In early 1943, debate over ending exclusion ranged over a number of issues: starting a loyalty review in connection with raising the volunteer combat unit (which the Western Defense Command recognized as logically leading to the end of exclusion for the loyal); the question of the conditions under which Nisei soldiers and other classes of ethnic Japanese who presented no obvious security risk could return to the West Coast; the language for General DeWitt's Final Report justifying the evacuation; and, finally, the conditions under which the War Department would revoke the exclusion orders.
The War Department recognized by early 1943 that military necessity could not justify the exclusion from the West Coast of loyal American citizens or resident aliens of Japanese ancestry, but it was unwilling to force a revision of the exclusion orders or to make public the opinions which Stimson, Marshall and McCloy then held. Only in May 1944 did Stimson recommend to President Roosevelt and the Cabinet the ending of exclusion, and only after the 1944 election did the President act on the recommendation. Just as the exclusion was born of political pressure, it was continued out of political considerations long after those who first believed it to be militarily justified had abandoned that position.
On January 14, 1943, the same day that McCloy received word that the project for raising the Nisei combat unit was launched, General DeWitt first became aware of the full dimensions of the project, including the plan for a review and determination of loyalty. His reaction was immediate and candid. DeWitt telephoned his old ally General Gullion, the Provost Marshal General, and expressed his concern, reminding him that "[t]here isn't such a thing as a loyal Japanese and it is just impossible to determine their loyalty by investigationit just can't be done."  DeWitt got the lay of the land at the War Department, then cabled General Marshall asking an opportunity to comment before the plan was put into operation. 
Between January 14 and 27, when DeWitt dispatched formal comments to Marshall, DeWitt and his aides (including Bendetsen) honed their arguments.* By the time the comments were prepared, they believed the loyalty review program would undermine total exclusionfirst, by adopting a rationale for exclusion which included individual review of loyalty and, second, by permitting the loyal to return to the West Coast. Both actions would expose the War Department and the Western Defense Command to bitter criticism. The first issue immediately drew everyone to reexamine the original decision to evacuate. It had always been DeWitt's view, expressed often and publicly, that the loyal could not be separated from the disloyal. The loyalty review program, established to do exactly that, was, by its very existence, a repudiation of DeWitt. As DeWitt described it to McCloy:
While DeWitt was unwavering in believing the evacuation decision sound, Bendetsen was sufficiently disturbed by the War Department's position that he apparently began to question the original decision. Discussing the issue with Captain John Hall, one of McCloy's assistants, Bendetsen remarked:
Both DeWitt and Bendetsen must have realized that their contention that loyal could not be separated from disloyal was unlikely to prevail at the War Department strictly on the merits; the loyalty program was too far along for that. Instead, they argued that the public would react badly to the Army's shift of position and the Department would look foolish for changing its mind. Bendetsen mentioned this several times in conversation with War Department staff:
DeWitt was somewhat more circumspect but raised essentially the same issues in his formal comments. 
There is no record of how Stimson and McCloy would have explained why they had waited so long to separate loyal from disloyal. It may be that with the other massive problems of fighting the war, this question had occupied little or none of their attention; there is no evidence that, when they addressed it, they believed that detention camps, at least for the loyal, could be justified. As Stimson said: "We have gone to the full limit in evacuating them." 
The second and more vexing problem for DeWitt was the possible effect of the loyalty program on the evacuated area. The plan itself was silent on this point, but a Nisei certified loyal by the government could hardly be considered too dangerous to return to the West Coast. If exclusion of the loyal were to end, DeWitt's judgment would be publicly reversed and, particularly on the West Coast, the War Department might look very foolish for spending millions of dollars on relocation camps and uprooting the lives of thousands of people. It would, as Bendetsen put it, be "confess[ing] an original mistake of terrifically horrible proportions." Bendetsen was not prepared to make the confession:
If, on the other hand, the exclusion policy were not ended, then the loyalty review plan would be logically inconsistent. Bendetsen discussed this with Captain Hall, McCloy's assistant:
In fact, in January, McCloy was not prepared to press this point with the Western Defense Command. When McCloy first discussed the loyalty program with DeWitt on January 14, he assured the General that it would not affect exclusion from the West Coast.  McCloy did not explain why he took this position. There are various possible explanations: he may have believed that continuing military necessity required the exclusion of the loyal; the War Department may not have wished or been able to overcome political opposition on the West Coast; or McCloy may not have wanted to invite charges that the Department had wasted money building relocation camps. Only military necessity would provide a defensible explanation and, a few months later, McCloy made clear that he could not find military reasons for excluding people the government found loyal.
McCloy's assistant, Captain Hall, in discussing the matter with Bendetsen, attempted to argue for such a course and merely succeeded in demonstrating how hopeless the task was:
For the moment, the debate on lifting the exclusion order did not move beyond McCloy's position of January 14; loyalty would be determined and loyal evacuees released, but exclusion would not be terminated. But the argument could not and did not end, simply shifting to other issues, first to the question of exceptions to the universal ban of ethnic Japanese from the West Coast.
During the early months of 1943 DeWitt fought an unrelenting war of attrition with McCloy, who tried to persuade the General to introduce some humane common sense by allowing some return to the West Coast. DeWitt opposed every such effort. For instance, at the WRA's urging,  McCloy suggested that loyalty to the United States would be a better standard than race for dealing with "mixed marriage" cases because, as part of the War Department's effort to solve the "Japanese problem," he wanted to recognize the loyalty of individuals rather than to presume the disloyalty of the entire group. DeWitt did not accept the suggestion. 
The breaking point came over the issue of letting Nisei soldiers on furlough into the excluded area. DeWitt fought for months to prevent or encumber such entries, but McCloy drew the line at this and was supported by Stimson and Marshall.  If a Jap was a Jap to DeWitt, a GI was a GI to McCloy. The War Department ordered that Nisei soldiers be allowed onto the West Coast with a minimum of interference and control.
This argument clarified the connection between loyalty and exclusion and forced a conscious reassessment of the military justification for exclusion. On April 8, 1943, McCloy set out the disagreements between the War Department and the Western Defense Command in a frank letter to General DeWitt. He first addressed the circumstances that had changed since early 1942:
McCloy next assailed the corrupt policy he believed the Army acceded to on the West Coast:
McCloy concluded by urging on DeWitt the policy of gradual resettlement onto the Pacific Coast that had been debated all that spring. McCloy suggested allowing the reentry of screened individuals in four broad categories: wives, parents, brothers and sisters of soldiers; wives of Caucasians; individuals whose employment on the coast would aid the war effort; and veterans of the First World War and their families.
On April 13, 1943, DeWitt appeared before a House Committee looking into the effect of large military facilities on local communities; he used the occasion to answer McCloy publicly. Asked whether he had any problems he would like to discuss, DeWitt fired both barrels:
DeWitt did resist pointing the finger directly at McCloy and Stimson in public. Asked whether "the element responsible for bringing them back [was] the same one that wants them put in the Army," the General replied that he didn't know what element the Congressman was referring to. Congressmen Izac, who had earlier claimed credit for getting the evacuation ordered, and Mott opposed any such change of policy and told the General they would watch the situation. 
The next day, for good measure, DeWitt once more aired his differences with the War Department over allowing Nisei soldiers on the West Coast. At an off-the-record news conference he told sympathetic reporters:
Of course, DeWitt mixed this with avowals of being a loyal soldier who did not oppose his superiors, but his conduct could not have been more clearly calculated to sabotage any War Department effort to achieve quiet, gradual resettlement of evacuees on the West Coast.
These episodes occurred while General DeWitt was preparing his Final Report on the Japanese evacuation. The document was to be both the Army's official explanation of the reasons for the exclusion and evacuation and its account of this massive movement of people. The Final Report was to be formally submitted to Secretary Stimson, but there was an understanding that a draft would be reviewed and discussed with McCloy beforehand. McCloy was surprised when it came to him in printed form in mid-April, and livid after reading the first few chapters. He found it "too self-glorifying and too self-serving for the type of document that I think should be perpetuated,"  but two statements particularly angered McCloy: first, that it was impossible to determine the loyalty of the ethnic Japanese and that this impossibility, not urgency, was the "military necessity" on which exclusion rested; second, that the ethnic Japanese should not be allowed to return to the West Coast until after the war, regardless of the improved military situation. 
McCloy plainly considered the printed report DeWitt's attempt to talk past his War Department superiors to politicians and the public. Because DeWitt's gambit put the War Department in a most uncomfortable political position, a major negotiation between DeWitt and McCloy over the Report's final language followed. First, Bendetsen McCloy over the Report's final language followed. First, Bendetsen was called to Washington to work on revisions and get McCloy's views and objections firsthand.  He was then sent to DeWitt, who was in Alaska, to discuss the changes McCloy wanted, though the General would not be compelled to make them.  At first the General was adamant in opposing any changes,  but after Bendetsen's visit to Alaska DeWitt not only accepted McCloy's suggestions but set out to destroy every copy of the April version.  One can only speculate on what persuaded DeWitt, but it may have been Bendetsen's memorandum on the War Department's position about excluding loyal ethnic Japanese from the West Coast:
McCloy told Bendetsen that these views were shared by Stimson and Marshall.  Persistence by DeWitt might have resulted in a public break with the War Department over exclusion. DeWitt was obviously unwilling to press this far, and McCloy seemed remarkably determined not to let their differences become a matter of public debate. This is demonstrated by three incidents. After DeWitt's appearance before the House subcommittee, Secretary Ickes wrote in sarcastic outrage about press reports of the General's testimony, but McCloy replied merely that DeWitt had been inaccurately quoted and did not disclose his disagreement with the General. *
Next, in late May, McCloy would not spread the public impression that DeWitt was being relieved of his command and kicked upstairs, as he was in Fall 1943, because of his stand on the exclusion policy. The Assistant Secretary urged that DeWitt be kept on the West Coast a short time longer to avoid this inference,  and later he vetoed a draft announcement by General Emmons, DeWitt's successor, identifying the exclusion policy as DeWitt's rather than the War Department's. 
Finally, McCloy and Stimson faced the problem of answering a long letter from Dillon Myer of the WRA about plans for getting evacuees out of the relocation centers. The letter fairly, though indirectly, asked the War Department's justification for continued exclusion from the West Coast.  Stimson, in a letter apparently drafted by McCloy,  commented only on the WRA's administrative problems and avoided discussing the military justification for continuing exclusion, a matter plainly within the War Department's competence. 
This was extraordinary: the War Department no longer believed that military necessity justified excluding loyal ethnic Japanese from the West Coast, but it was unwilling to reverse its orders. What is more, officials of the first rank consciously withheld their views from others both in and outside the government although the context fairly demanded some expression of opinion. Probably they feared a political firestormthe War Department was reluctant, or perhaps felt itself unable, to face down strong political objection to returning Issei and Nisei, regardless of loyalty, to the West Coast.
In the first half of 1943, anti-Japanese forces on the West Coast, reacting to the leave program and loyalty review, were stirring again. The first prominent group to act was the California American Legion which, in January, began to pass resolutions urging deportation of all ethnic Japanese, both citizens and aliens.  Soon grand juries, local governments, and state legislatures joined the crusade, while numerous civic groups were created expressly to voice anti-Japanese sentiment. 
The issue reached Washington in the form of a resolution to transfer the WRA to Army control, accompanied by allegations that evacuees were being "pampered" and "coddled."  The resolution was referred to a Senate subcommittee headed by Senator A. B. Chandler of Kentucky, who, seeing an opportunity for headlines, determined to hold hearings and visit four camps himself. His tour featured a number of sensational announcements. Chandler thought 60 percent of the residents at one center were disloyal, adding that "in my mind there is no question that thousands of these fellows were armed and prepared to help Japanese troops invade the West Coast right after Pearl Harbor."  In May the committee released its report, with conclusions that had little to do with the Senator's previous announcements but recommended that the draft be resumed, that disloyals be segregated, and that loyal ethnic Japanese be privately employed. 
The committee had nevertheless again aroused people around the country on the "Japanese problem." Seeing the agitation in California, other states and local governments began to consider restrictive legislation. Arizona passed a bill curtailing the liberties of released evacuees and Arkansas made it illegal for ethnic Japanese to own land there. 
General DeWitt's remarks before the House Naval Affairs Committee in April had set the newspapers to editorializing against the ethnic Japanese once again. The San Francisco Chronicle put its view simply in the caption, "DeWitt Is Right," and, waving aside "the ethical factors, the constitutional factors, the question of the Bill of Rights," went on to announce that the return of ethnic Japanese cleared by the loyalty review would mean riots. The Los Angeles Times summarized its view of the possible end of exclusion in three words, "Stupid and Dangerous, and concluded its lengthy editorial by underscoring the political consequences:
In April 1943, when the Western Defense Command announced that Nisei soldiers on furlough would be allowed to return to the coast and rumors circulated that General DeWitt might be relieved,  anti-Japanese forces renewed their assault by urging the Dies Committee on Un-American Activities to investigate. Even before the Committee began its work, Representative J. Parnell Thomas visited Los Angeles and, without touring a single camp, began to issue press releases about the evacuees. He accused the WRA of pampering and overfeeding them and declared that there had been an organized division of the Japanese Army on the West Coast before Pearl Harbor. He called for halting the "WRA policy of releasing disloyal Japs" until the Dies Committee had completed its report. 
Even the Pacific Coast Committee on American Principles and Fair Play, a group of prominent citizens under honorary chairman Dr. Robert Gordon Sproul, President of the University of California, expressly took no position on the issue of whether persons of Japanese ancestry should return to the Pacific Coast at that time, even though the group had issued a statement in June favoring an "opportunity for loyal Americans of Japanese ancestry to resettle in the manner, which, in the judgment of the federal government, is best designed to meet the manpower shortage." 
Dies Committee hearings began on June 8, starting with the anti-evacuee group. The most sensational witness was H. H. Townshend, a former WRA employee who claimed, among other things, that evacuees cached food in the desert and that over 1,000 Japanese soldiers lived in the Poston Center.  Throughout the hearings, committee staff made other observations to the press, for example, that WRA was releasing spies and saboteurs. 
This time the WRA decided to fight back. Demanding to testify, the agency prepared a strong statement in which the Committee was accused of seeking publicity by making and soliciting "sensational statements based on half-truths, exaggerations, and falsehoods."  One WRA document rebutted the Townshend testimony, pinpointing 42 lies or misleading statements. In his autobiography, Myer recounts the reaction of Committee Chairman Costello to this document. After reviewing it, the Chairman opened the session:
Myer agreed to "settle for 39." 
Once again, the final committee report of September 1943 was extremely mild, advocating segregation, a new board to investigate evacuees to be released, and an "Americanization" program in the camps. For the first time the government had taken on the anti-Japanese groups, and it had won. Not only were the Committee's recommendations consistent with WRA policy and planning, but, every bit as important, the Committee was denounced by the national press for its prejudice and procedure. 
The tide had turned. The rest of the country no longer shared the West Coast view. A Washington Post editorial responding to General DeWitt's succinct analysis that "a Jap is a Jap," put the matter in simple terms:
President Roosevelt may have helped a little during the summer by responding to a Senate request for Administration views on returning ethnic Japanese to the West Coast; the President announced that while there were no present plans to end exclusion, its continuation depended only on military considerations.  It is unknown whether Roosevelt had in hand the War Department's opinion at that time on the military necessity for continuing exclusion, but the President's statement certainly suggested that the government did not foresee exclusion for the rest of the war.
As his support at the top of the government ebbed, General DeWitt did not stop trying to maintain complete exclusion. Alerted in early July by Governor Warren that two ethnic Japanese were reported to be on a fishing trip near Dinuba, California, DeWitt not only mounted a thorough investigation but also wrote the Governor about his fears of the future:
Given such constant effort to defeat any humane, orderly return of ethnic Japanese to the West Coast, it was a palpable relief to McCloy when, in Fall 1943, DeWitt and Bendetsen left the Western Defense Command and General Delos Emmons took command at the Presidio.  Emmons did not immediately urge that the exclusion be revoked, but he began to review individual hardship cases more leniently, and cautiously prepared for ending exclusion before the war was over. 
At the end of 1943, Attorney General Biddle returned to the fray. He wrote the President about a group of Californians and the Hearst press, who continued to make trouble for people of Japanese ancestry, stressing that:
Biddle, aware of the political problems from public hostility to resettlement on the West Coast, recommended that the WRA be made part of a permanent cabinet agency, most likely the Interior Department, to give it a more effective voice with the public and within the government. "Care should be taken to make it clear that any change of administration is not a reflection upon the WRA relocation policy or administration. . . ." 
On January 5, 1944, President Roosevelt directed that an Executive Order be prepared placing "the whole of WRA under the Interior,"  and on February 16, the President signed Executive Order 9423, transferring authority over WRA to the Department of the Interior; the authority of the Director went to the Secretary of the Interior, who retained Dillon Myer as operating head of the program.  Harold Ickes, already a champion of the evacuees, was now their spokesman.
In the spring of 1944, the War Department finally proposed to the President that the exclusion be ended. Secretary Stimson took the issue to the Cabinet on May 26, 1944. Attorney General Biddle noted:
The fact that "military necessity" no longer justified exclusion was repeated often during the following months. In June, Secretary Ickes bluntly urged the President to decide the issue:
Edward Stettinius, Jr., the Under Secretary of State, summarized the matter for the President: "The question appears to be largely a political one, the reaction in California, on which I am sure you will probably wish to reach your own decision." 
Roosevelt expressed his views to Ickes and Stettinius on June 12, 1944:
Whatever the military, legal or moral virtues of the evacuees' cause, the President would not do anything precipitous to upset the West Coast. There would be an election in November.
In 1942 political pressures for exclusion came from the West Coast and, somewhat transformed, wound through the War Department to the President. In 1944 the President was plainly leading his subordinates by responding to political demands for which they could no longer find military justification. Even the Western Defense Command was prepared to abandon the military rationale. The new Commanding General, C. H. Bonesteel, wrote McCloy on July 3, 1944:
Moreover, after a July courtesy visit to Roosevelt in San Diego, Bonesteel reported to McCloy that the President's plans for scattering the Nikkei population lacked realism:
Now that sobriety and sympathetic common sense were the order of the day at the Presidio, the hollowness of the existing policy was discussed more openly. McCloy began one meeting with the old Justice Department adversaries of exclusion by remarking to J. L. Burling that
Finally, and importantly, in September 1944 even the Navy came around. Admiral E. J. King, the Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet, concurred that "the military situation no longer justifies the mass exclusion of persons of Japanese ancestry from the Western Defense Command." 
Through 1944, the new guard at Western Defense Command had been reexamining the mass exclusion orders. During the spring, General Emmons suggested that the size of the prohibited area be reduced, and that the War Department end the exclusion of individuals not actually or potentially dangerous.  This position reversed DeWitt and brought the WDC into line with the War Department. Despite the lack of movement on this broad proposition, Emmons began issuing Certificates of Exemption from the exclusion orders; these allowed people who had passed security investigations to return permanently to the West Coast. Other individual exemptions were granted as well: for travel and temporary residence on business; for a serious illness within the immediate family; for travel to relocation centers and public institutions inside the exclusion zone (at WRA's request); or for induction into the armed forces. Applications were extremely low at first; by April 1, 1944, 40 had been filed; by August 1 there were 235 and 515 by September 15. By the end of 1944, 1,485 ethnic Japanese were residing in the Western Defense Command by special exemption. Most were spouses of Caucasian residents.  In a very quiet way, General Emmons had begun the return of the Nikkei to the West Coast.
Emmons and Bonesteel were also concerned about lawsuits brought by the ethnic Japanese.  Three cases were central: Shiramizu v. Bonesteel, Ochikubo v. Bonesteel, and Ex parte Endo. In Shiramizu, the Nisei widow of a sergeant in the 100th Battalion who had died of combat wounds and against whom there was no evidence of disloyalty, challenged the continued exclusion of such Japanese from the Western Defense Command, and sought to restrain interference with her return to California.  Ochikubo, a dentist, sought similar relief.  In Endo, pending for some time in the courts and under review in the Supreme Court, Mitsuye Endo, a concededly loyal American citizen, had been granted leave clearance by the WRA, but was not permitted to reenter the Western Defense Command. 
The government's lawyers, including the Judge Advocate of the Western Defense Command, no longer believed that the exclusion policy could be justified to a judge.  They knew it would be difficult to prevail on the two available grounds: the present possibility of espionage and sabotage, and the unrest which resettlement would cause-the so-called "social resistance defense."  To avoid a court ruling on these questions, the government considered granting special exemptions to the plaintiffs. But exemptions might signal that anyone who sued would receive an exemption, thereby forcing a flood of uncontrolled reentries.
When the government offered Mrs. Shiramizu an exemption, more than a personal interest was at stake; "she had brought legal action in order to restore the rights of her race which she felt had been improperly taken away."  Nevertheless, the Department of Justice recommended that the exemptions be granted and that the cases of Mrs. Shiramizu and Dr. Ochikubo be rendered moot. The government needed time to develop some administrative method for dealing with its increasingly untenable position.  In Ochikubo's case an exemption was not granted because he had been denied leave clearance by the Japanese American Joint Board,  but the government was still able to prevail because the court determined that Dr. Ochikubo was unlikely to face immediate use of force if he returned; therefore an injunction against the use of force was not appropriate.  These cases showed the government that it had to develop promptly a plan for orderly return to the West Coast or the courts might well permit a less controlled return.
The War Department now assumed that the exclusion would end soon, and the Western Defense Command focused on maintaining the power to exclude individuals and assure an orderly return. On August 8, 1944, General Bonesteel sent General Marshall a long, detailed memorandum outlining reasons to terminate mass exclusion and institute an individual exclusion program. Recognizing that public opinion against the ethnic Japanese might lead to unrest, Bonesteel thought it could be confined if dangerous individuals were excluded. A number of important groups stood ready to assist the returning Nisei, he noted, because they "feel strongly that the Japanese who are citizens are entitled to their rights as such."  The memorandum brought no response.
On September 19, 1944, Bonesteel wrote a rather alarmed followup memorandum. More requests for travel and residence permits in the prohibited area, and more publicity about changes in the exclusion program suggested by the settlement of suits such as Shiramizu, led Bonesteel to fear forced change by the courts if mass exclusion were not lifted.  Two days later another Bonesteel memorandum repeated that prompt action was essential and outlined the West Coast publicity given to Shiramizu and Ochikubo; again he insisted "[i]t would be most unfortunate if the return of Japanese Americans should be accomplished abruptly and without adequate controls." 
Bonesteel wrote again on October 24, this time to McCloy, whom he asked for a personal meeting. A week later McCloy at last began to address the matter, revealing why the Department had been lethargic:
The presidential election brought matters to a head. At the first Cabinet meeting after the election, on November 10, it was decided to lift the exclusion. On November 13, a meeting in the Attorney General's office discussed how to implement that decision, talking of plans and a tentative date for lifting the order.  Clearly, impending decisions in the Supreme Court cases, which would address the legality of exclusion and detention, were spectres harrying the decision makers.
On November 20, 1944, Attorney General Biddle wrote McCloy that rumors of the proposed releases are "about the West Coast" and he emphasized "utmost secrecy."  The President didn't drop his guard on the subject. At a press conference on November 21 he was directly asked about ending the exclusion:
Thus, the government entered December with the decision made but not publicly announced.
By December 9, the government was establishing policies and procedures for the "final phase of the program" and preparing press statements to be issued when exclusion was lifted. The statement noted that the WRA would extend its relocation program to cover the entire country, but lifting the order did not mean that a hasty mass movement would return all evacuees to the West Coast. "One of the major WRA aims, from the beginning, has been to encourage the widest possible dispersal of evacuees throughout the Nation, and this will continue as a prime objective during the final phase of the program." By December 1944, 35,000 of the 110,000 persons originally evacuated had relocated outside the Western Defense Command area. The statement also noted that WRA would work toward early shutdown of the relocation centers, with all to be closed within a year. 
As an essential part of ending exclusion, the Departments of War and Justice began to develop lists of individual evacuees. Separately enumerated were Japanese aliens under segregation parole orders prohibiting them from leaving Tule Lake Segregation Center; ordinary parolees at Tule Lake who might be excluded from military areas; Japanese aliens paroled under Immigration Service safeguards that forbade their return to the Coast; and individuals under ordinary parole outside Tule Lake who might be excluded from the West Coast. The Justice Department believed that being on parole was not a sufficient basis for exclusion.  On December 9 the Western Defense Command delivered to the Chief of Staff a list of persons it thought had to be excluded from critical areas of the WDC and detained in a camp similar to Tule Lake.  The list consisted of 4,963 persons, of whom 3,066 were in the Tule Lake Segregation Center; others were in a number of other camps; 510 were unaccounted for.  The Army suggested to Dillon Myer that the number might grow to approximately 5,500.  The standards by which excludees were selected were:
Finally, after extensive preparation, the termination plan was presented to Roosevelt for concurrence. On December 13, 1944, Secretary Stimson told the President, yet again, that continued mass exclusion was no longer a matter of military necessitythe loyal had been separated from the disloyal and the morale of Japanese American soldiers was suffering because of continued exclusion. Stimson worried about sabotage and espionage, but was persuaded that return of most Japanese to the West Coast should nonetheless be carried out. He set forth safeguards to assure that return would be gradual and that efforts would continue to relocate those of Japanese descent in other parts of the country. An individual exclusion program would be instituted. The Department of Justice would ultimately take responsibility for detention and for determining who should be released. Because it would be announced that only persons cleared by the military authorities would be permitted to return, Stimson was confident that any civil unrest could be handled. Finally, Stimson noted that a system to permit orderly return was much preferable to an unfavorable court decision that might require sudden, unplanned return.  In a cover memorandum to Roosevelt's secretary, Stimson noted that he wanted to be sure the President had no objection, but that he was not asking Roosevelt to make the decision.  The President did not object to the announcement. 
Implementation remained. On December 15, Colonel William Ryan of the Western Defense Command sent Dillon Myer the so-called "white list" of 95,975 names of those who would not be excluded. He noted that an additional 19,956 persons under age 14 were in the same category (totaling over 115,000).  On December 16, 1944, the Solicitor General sent copies of correspondence about the rescission of exclusion and a copy of Public Proclamation Number 21 to Chief Justice Stone, presumably in the hope of mooting any decision in the Endo case. 
Finally, on December 17, 1944, Public Proclamation Number 21 was issued. General DeWitt's mass exclusion orders were rescinded, and individual exclusions from "sensitive" areas of the Western Defense Command took their place. Even in the proclamation the federal government worked to protect its political position on the West Coast by stressing the care it took before restoring the ethnic Japanese to their full rights:
An accompanying press release rehearsed the history of the exclusion order, then stated that persons of Japanese ancestry had their loyalty investigated "probably more thoroughly than any other segment of our population."  Another press release stressed that "[t]hose persons who will be permitted to return have been cleared by Army authorities." 
Secretary Ickes marked the occasion by sending appropriate thanks to the entire staff of the War Relocation Authority:
Immediately after the announcement the Supreme Court handed down opinions in both Korematsu and Ex parte Endo.  In Korematsu, a divided court upheld the criminal conviction of Fred Korematsu for failing to report to an assembly center in May 1942 pursuant to the plan through which he would be excluded from California and sent to a relocation center. Justice Hugo Black wrote a short opinion for the majority which is remarkable in its treatment of both the facts and the law. The Court did not undertake any careful review of the facts of the situation on the West Coast in early 1942. It avoided this task by choosing to give great deference to the military judgment on which the decision was based. This approach of deferring to the military judgment rather than looking closely at the record which the government had been able to pull together was the only plausible course for the Court to follow if it were to conclude that exclusion was constitutionally permissible. If the Court had looked hard, it would have found that there was nothing thereno facts particularly within military competence which could be rationally related to the extraordinary action taken. Justice Murphy's vehement dissent made that plain as he dissected and destroyed General DeWitt's Final Report. It is the inevitable conclusion which the Commission has also reached after extensive study of a very substantial body of facts. It was also the conclusion of those who carefully studied the opinion, the briefs and the record immediately after Korematsu was decided. Eugene Rostow wrote the seminal article about the cases in 1945 and dealt pointedly with the issue of factual proof of "military necessity." Rostow believed a convincing and substantial factual case had to be made before civil rights could be permissibly invaded as they were here, but he concluded that one did not have to insist upon that rule of proof to conclude that the Japanese American cases were wrongly decided:
We have already analyzed the conclusory beliefs about ethnicity determining loyalty which are central to DeWitt's final recommendation, and have pointed out the weakness of the government's case when it was put to its proof on the facts in cases such as Ebel and Schueller.
No one reading the Supreme Court's opinion today with knowledge of the exclusion, evacuation and detention can conclude that the majority opinion displays any close knowledge of the reasoning used by the government in the momentous historical events under review. The only concrete item pointed out to show disloyalty among evacuees was the fact that approximately 5,000 American citizens in the relocation camps had refused to swear unqualified allegiance to the United States, a fact that is meaningless without understanding conditions within the camps.
What of the law on which the case was based? There are two principles in contention in the majority opinion; the presumption against invidious racial discrimination which requires that racial classifications be given strict scrutiny, and the deference to military judgment in wartime based on the war powers of the Constitution and expressed in the banal aphorism that the power to wage war is the power to wage war successfully. In this case, of course, the Court found that military interests prevailed over the presumption against racial discrimination.
Today the decision in Korematsu lies overruled in the court of history. First, the Supreme Court, a little more than a year later in Duncan v. Kahanamoku, reviewed the imposition of martial law in Hawaii and struck it down, making adamantly clear that the principles and practices of American government are permeated by the belief that loyal citizens in loyal territory are to be governed by civil rather than military authority, and that when the military assumes civil functions in such circumstances it will receive no deference from the courts in reviewing its actions.  Korematsu fits the Duncan patternthe exclusion of the Nikkei not only invaded the recognized province of civil government, it was based on cultural and social facts in which the military had no training or expertise. General DeWitt had assumed the role of omniscient sociologist and anthropologist. Duncan makes clear that no deference will be given to military judgments of that nature.
The other legal leg of the opinion, the failure to strike down an invidious racial discrimination, stands isolated in the lawthe Japanese American cases have never been followed and are routinely cited as the only modern examples of invidious racial discrimination which the Supreme Court has not stricken down. Typically, Justice Powell wrote in 1980:
Moreover, the law has evolved in the last forty years and the equal protection of the laws, once applicable only to the states by the language of the Fourteenth Amendment, has now been applied through the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment to actions of the federal government.  Thus the constitutional protection against federal discrimination has been strengthened. Korematsu is a curiosity, not a precedent on questions of racial discrimination.
Finally, insofar as Korematsu relied on the inherent authority of an executive order from the Commander in Chief and not on a program articulated and defined by statute, that precedent has been overruled by the decision of the Court in the steel seizure case. 
Korematsu has not been overruledwe have not been so unfortunate that a repetition of the facts has occurred to give the Court that opportunitybut each part of the decision, questions of both factual review and legal principles, has been discredited or abandoned.
The result in the companion case of Ex parte Endo was very different. The Court unanimously reversed Endo and ruled that an admittedly loyal American citizen could not be held in a relocation camp against her will. But even this ruling was on the narrow ground that no statute or even an explicit executive order supported this course of conduct. The Supreme Court does not reach constitutional issues unnecessarily, but the tone of Justice Douglas's writing in Endo was nonetheless crabbed and confined. Even this very substantial and important victory for the evacuees did not come with an air of generosity or largeness of spirit. 
Resettlement now moved forward, although the government continued to develop lists of individual excludees, with the WRA and the War Department disputing how many were on the lists and whether new persons could be added. For example, Dillon Myer was concerned that the Western Defense Command continued to exclude those who had been granted leave clearance by WRA, most Buddhist priests, and other previously unlisted persons.  The Eastern Defense Command was anxious about accepting people of Japanese descent excluded from the West Coast.  Governor Wallgren, newly-elected in the State of Washington, continued to favor mass exclusion; he was "extremely antagonistic toward the Japanese and . . . positive in his assertion that a mistake had been made, from the point of view of the war effort, in allowing any to return and that this mistake should be remedied."  But generally the Army was pleased with the course of events on the West Coast. General Pratt, now in charge of the WDC, wrote, "The first reactions to the change in the policy with reference to control of Japanese Americans has been even more favorable than I hoped. While I anticipate that this favorable reaction will continue and will be a strong factor in preventing the development of unfavorable agitation, we should be prepared in case any untoward incident occurs." 
Whether and how quickly to close the relocation centers was another concern. Proclamation No. 21 indicated that the centers would be closed within a year. WRA believed that such an announcement was essential to assure that people in the centers would move out, and that evacuees in the camps would not become a dependent group like the American Indians. The public and some government officials, however, expressed concern that some persons of Japanese ancestry would be left homeless and without livelihoods if the centers were permanently closed.  On the other side, Congressman May suggested introducing legislation to have the centers closed by June 30, 1945. Secretary Ickes, sensitive to the need to provide for relocatees, opposed the bill.  Indeed, all centers but Tule Lake were closed by January 1946. Tule Lake was kept open to permit the Justice Department to complete its hearings on detainees there. 
The end of mass exclusion did not spell the end of hardship for the evacuees. Throughout 1945, evacuees returned to the West Coast, not only from the camps but also from interior states where they had been resettled. For many, leaving the camps was as traumatic as entering them. However unpleasant their lives in camp, it was preferable to an unknown, possibly hostile reception on the West Coast. By January 1945, only one of every six Issei had left.  Now they would have to be persuaded to leave.  Suicides, especially among elderly bachelors, were reported.  Many were frightened, particularly of reintegrating with whites after the segregated life of the camps.  Some came to resettlement lacking self-esteem, and perhaps identifying with the stereotypes that had been projected upon them.  Some felt shame when they were let out of camp.  A great many felt the burden of starting over, at an older age and for a second time.  After encouraging everyone to leave and scheduling closing dates for each camp, the WRA finally gave the remaining evacuees train fare to the point of their evacuation, and made them leave. 
They returned by the trainload to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. Often elderly and infirm or burdened with heavy family responsibility, the last evacuees to leave "piled into temporary shelters, hotels, converted Army barracks, and public housing."  Each person was given an allowance of $25.  Very few could come back to their prewar holdings. Only about 25 percent of the prewar farm operators, for example, retained property. 
Many testified that their stored possessions had been lost or stolen.  Sometimes taxes had not been paid, and special measures to keep property from tax sales were required.  Others found their homes or farms ill-cared-for, overgrown with weeds, badly tended or destroyed.  Furnishings, farm equipment and machinery were lost or stolen.  One person reported finding strangers living in his former home. 
Almost uniformly, those who did not return to homes they owned testified that housing was extremely hard to find because of postwar shortages and discrimination against Japanese Americans. The WRA concluded that "no other problem has provided so widespread an obstacle to satisfactory adjustment."  Families lived in a single room, sometimes with a common bathroom or kitchen down the hall, or they lived in hotels or churches.  Some, particularly women, took room-and-board jobslow-skilled and low-paying workin order to have a place to live.  Indeed, it was not uncommon that almost every family member had to work in order to make ends meet.  John Saito's experience typifies much of the testimony:
Housing was not the only problemduring the first six months of 1945, violence was relatively common. One of the first incidents occurred on January 8, when someone tried to dynamite and burn an evacuee's fruit packing shed. About thirty incidents followed, mostly shots fired into evacuee homes.  Boycotts of evacuee produce were threatened.  General harassment, such as signs announcing "No Japs allowed, no Japs welcome," was widespread. 
Although jobs on the West Coast were relatively plentiful, much employment discrimination blocked evacuees,  and many had to take menial jobs.  Although they had little difficulty finding work as farm laborers,  the number who ran their own establishments was much lower than it had been before the war. Only a fourth as many were farming now, which meant severely curtailed opportunities for wholesale and retail operations.  So the majority moved into other fields, scattered among many different jobs. Others were compelled to take welfare payments.  Almost all worked long and hard to restore their former status. The Issei were particularly burdened, for many would otherwise have retired; but now they had to work. 
Another matter of great concern during this period was reuniting families. In many cases the younger, more employable members had relocated to the east during 1943 and 1944. Their parents were likely to return to the West Coast on leaving the camps. Thus the resettlement process was marked by much second-time resettling, as children came from the east to join their parents or vice versa. 
Despite the many problems faced by the returning evacuees, most were successful in rebuilding their lives. The political leadership, both federal and state, was working to expedite their return. The West Coast was experiencing tremendous postwar growth and the ethnic Japanese were becoming just one of many minority groups. Equally important were the groups working for justice for the ethnic Japanese. Many were church people, particularly Quakers and liberals, who worked with the Army and WRA. They offered temporary shelter, provided moral support, sponsored public talks about the Nisei military record and tried to counteract anti-Japanese movements.  At long last the Nikkei captivity was over; the arduous task of creating new lives had begun.