Sunday, March 05, 2006

The search for historical accuracy isn't a panderer's game to curry favor; to seek the truth is no slander against anyone.

This has not been posted in its entirety, yet. I'll get the rest up asap.

The World War II Relocation Japanese-Americans
Dwight D. Murphey
The Wichita State University Journal of Social, Political and Economic Issues - Spring, 1993

In the war over American identity - the culture war - that has raged since the 1960s, it has been common for the Left, deeply entrenched in our media, schools and academic life, to paint the American mainstream as vicious and racist.

As I checked some books out of the Wichita State University library just before beginning this article, the young librarian noticed the subject of the books and offered the information that "there's an excellent book that arrived recently about the internment of the Japanese-Canadians in Canada. Canada did the same thing we did!"

He was surprised, though, when I said "there were substantial differences." The Canadians actually interned them - and didn't let them return to the west Coast of Canada until 1949. Did you know that in this country, we sent their college-age young peopleto hundreds of American universities?"

"After the war?," he asked."No, while the war was going on," I told him.

That was the end of the conversation since he lost relish for it. It was pretty obvious from the little that I had said that I wasn't repeating the politically correct view on the subject.

It's doubtful whether, in talking to the young librarian, I had happened upon anyone particularly radical. It's more likely that his perceptions reflect the well-nigh universal understanding among "the (properly) informed public" on such issues as the relocation of the Japanese-Americans.

Kent State, the Hollywood Blacklist, etc. - which is that Americans have shown their true colors by a series of bigoted, essentially vicious, acts. Among that "informed public," there is even a certain delight in it, as though it's a vindication of all they know. A large number of Americans think it is perfectly normal wo want to believe the worst about the United States.

What is important to a student of today's on-going but one-sided "war over American culture," is to realize that these perceptions are a result - one of the many legacies - of the sixties, which in turn had raised to a fever pitch the hostile cultural critique the Left had been making of 'bourgeois' society since the 1820s).

Dr. Ken Masugi, a resident Fellow at the Claremont Institute, stated the point succinctly when he testified before Congress in 1984 that the currently-accepted view is the product of "Japanese-Americans who were activists in the Sixties and then became lawyers and community organizers.

"The intent, he said, is to achieve "one of the goals of the Sixties protest movements: To show that America is a racist society, and that even in the case of World War II, America's noblest foreign war, America was corrupt, having its own 'concentration camps.'

Very little was heard about the World War II relocation of the Japanese-Americans before the New Left. According to the 1982 Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation, "those representing the interests of civil rights and civil liberties in Congress, the press and other public forums were silent or indeed supported exclusion ...

A poll of the Northern California Civil Liberties Union in the spring of 1942 showed a majority in favor of the evacuation orders." Nor was there any opposition in Congress. At the end of the war, the Japanese-Americans themselves who fought in Italy and France raised funds for a memorial to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. So we can see that although the evacuation raises issues all Americans will want to consider, it is largely an issue born out of more recent cultural alienation.

An interesting aspect is that the Cognoscenti's perception of American viciousness does not take as its target simply a certain 'redneck' portion of the American population. The New Left turned its anger every bit as much against 'liberals.' With regard to the Japanese-American issue, those who are alienated do not shrink from denouncing as guilty the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration and such personalities as Earl Warren and Milton Eisenhower.

As with all these things, the ideas become as common as the air we breathe. That is made especially evident when an idea appears in the "Dear Abby" newspaper feature. On April 13, 1992, Abigail Van Buren was so proud of something she'd written years ago that she repeated it:

"In 1980 I wrote: 'To our everlasting shame, approximately 100,000 loyal American citizens were held in concentration camps for the duration of World War II. Their "crime?" They were of Japanese descent."

It's time for an Honest Look in writing about subjects involved in the culture war, it is not my intention to do a series of pieces - white-washing American history, I much prefer to approach them as an objective scholar.

If Americans have done something-shameful, American in general and conservatives in particular should want to be among the first to know it; those who cherish our history would be poorly served by dishonest and partisan scholarship. When I started my study of the removal of the Japanese-Americans I knew virtually nothing about it, and I have remained ready to report whatever I found. It obviously should not be a disqualification, however, for a scholar to begin his study of any of these issues without an inbred animus against the United States.

Nor should proving the scholar's "objectivity" require him to find reason for America to be ashamed when that isn't called for. With that in mind, I will state right now the conclusion I have reached and that will emerge from this article. It is that the United States did not act shamefully in its treatment of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II. In fact, a better case could be made for a diametrically opposite criticism: that the treatment was so tender-hearted that it actually jeopardized the security of the United States during a desperate war.

In the intolerant context of today's ideological arguments, it is predictable that a conclusion favorable to the United States will be presented as "offensive" to the many splendid people of Japanese ancestry who now form a part of the American people.

But, of course, that would be nonsense. The search for historical accuracy isn't a panderer's game to curry favor; to seek the truth is no slander against anyone.

I was among those who were thrilled when Kristi Yamaguchi received her Olympic gold medal in skating at Albertsville, France, to the strains of the national anthem. She has represented this country beautifully with her world championship in Munich in 1991 and her U.S. national title in Orlando early in 1992. And there is no question but that America lost an excellent citizen last year with the death of S.I. Hayakawa. In a more normal climate it would go without saying that no insult is intended to the likes of Yamaguchi or Hayakawa by an honest study of the World War II removal issue.

The Topics We Will Examine

There is so much to the subject that, like a good debater, it is well to start by telling them what you are going to tell them": Most of what follows will relate to two large questions.

First, what exactly was done regarding the persons of Japanese ancestry? And, second, why was it done; i.e., what was its necessity?

Each of these involves a good many facets. When we have furnished them, we will review the U.S. Supreme Court decisions relating to the issue, and tell of the various follow-ups in the form of Congressional inquiries, a Presidential commission, and the payment of damages on two occasions.

Some Terms to know

Anyone dealing with this issue soon gets to know the names that have been given in Japanese to the various groups that have come to this country. The generic name that applies to all those in the United States who are of Japanese origin is "Kikkei." Of these, the "Issei" are those who came to this country as immigrants, the "Nisei" are the first generation born in the United States, and the "Sansei" the second. There is a separate word - "Kibei" - for those who returned to Japan for their education.

Although I include these names for their informative value, I will use them sparingly in this article, since I think that for most readers they may prove more confusing than helpful.

The First Main Question: What Was Done?
Presence of Japanese-Americans on the West Coast

Japan had followed a policy of strict separation from the world From 1638 until Commodore Matthew C. Perry broke its isolation in 1854. The Japanese government placed strict limits on emigration until in 1884 it granted the right to emigrate freely. A few Japanese came to the United States before the turn of the century.

Between 1901 and 1908, however, both the United States and Japan allowed unrestricted migration from Japan - and 127,000 Japanese came to this country. This immigration was severely restricted in 1908, and a "Gentleman's Agreement" was entered into with Japan limiting the flow, after which Japanese continued to enter in lesser numbers. Immigration from Japan was barred totally beginning in 1924. American law did not provide for citizenship for those who had come, but those who were born in the United States automatically became citizens, and had duel citizenship with Japan. The 1940 Census showed 126,975 persons of Japanese origin in the United States; of these, 79,642 had been born here.

Immediate arrest of 'Dangerous Aliens' After Pearl Harbor

Within days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, approximately 3,000 Japanese aliens classified as dangerous were arrested and incarcerated by the Department of Justice. These were individuals under suspicion by American intelligence, which beginning in 1939 had begun to compile lists of persons considered dangerous in case of war.

Declaration of West Coast as a Military Zone; Exclusion of Persons of Japanese Origin

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. This authorized the establishment of military areas from which people of all kinds could be excluded. Lt. General John L. Dewitt was appointed the military commander to carry out the Executive Order. In March, Gen. Dewitt declared large parts of the Pacific Coast states military areas in which no one of Japanese descent would be allowed to remain. The exclusion order affected Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast by forcing them to move inland. Its only effect upon those who already lived inland was to bar them from going to the quarantined areas on the West Coast.

Col. Karl R. Bendetsen was named Director of the Wartime Civil Control Administration to handle the evacuation. Also in March, Roosevelt created a civilian agency, the War Relocation Authority (WRA), to assist the evacuees. Milton Eisenhower, brother of later president Dwight Eisenhower, was named Director.

Congress ratified the evacuation by enacting legislation that made it a federal offense for anyone to violate the exclusion order.

A short-lived plan originally was to assist the Japanese-Americans in a process by which they would move inland "on their own recognizance" as individuals and families. Bendetsen says that "funds were provided for them [and] we informed them...where there were safe motels in which they could stay overnight." This was ended almost immediately, by late March, however. The need for a more organized system became apparent, Bendetsen says, when most of the Japanese-Americans were not able to make arrangements to relocate quickly even with some help. A second reason was that the governors of Western states (reflecting public opinion in their states) objected strongly to thousands of people of Japanese origin moving into their States without oversight. These objections were reiterated at a Governors' Conference for ten western governors on April 7.

(There was a continuing tension, lessening over time, between the desire to let the evacuees relocate freely and the desire that much of the public had to have them monitored closely.)

This led to the "assembly center phase," during which the evacuees were moved to improvised centers such as race tracks and Fairgrounds along the West Coast pending the construction of ten "relocation centers" in eastern California, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and as far east as Arkansas. During this phase, federal officials made extensive efforts to lessen public hostility. As those feelings subsided, approximately 4,000 families went ahead to move inland "on their own recognizance" to communities of their choice before the assembly center' phase was over at the end of the summer of 1942. Bendetsen says that all of the Japanese-Americans could have moved on their own at any time if they had seen their way clear to do it.

The assembly centers are criticized as having had "barbed wire and searchlights," overcrowding, lack of privacy, and inadequate medical care. But Bendetsen disputes much of this, as we will see in my later discussion of whether the evacuees can properly be said to have been "interned."

Hastily improvised and purely temporary quarters for thousands of people who have been uprooted from their homes on short notice could not have been pleasant. There is no incongruity, however, between this and the fact, also true, that the government worked with the evacuees themselves to take extraordinary measures to make the centers as comfortable as possible. In the short time they existed, some centers opened libraries; movies were shown regularly; there were Scout troops, arts and crafts classes, musical groups, and leagues for basketball and baseball. Three hundred and fifty people signed up for calisthenics class at Stockton. All had playgrounds for children, and one even had a pitch-and-putt golf course. The centers were run almost entirely by the Japanese-Americans themselves.

As the ten relocation centers became ready, the evacuees were moved to them from the assembly centers. These were under the jurisdiction of the War Relocation Authority. Dillon S. Myer became the Director of the WRA in June when Milton Eisenhower resigned to become the deputy director of the Office of War Information. The relocation centers' highest population, of 106,770, was attained on November 1, 1942. The construction of the camps was of the type used for housing American soldiers overseas - which is to say, the centers were Spartan but functional. Senator S. I. Hayakawa later described them as "dreary places: long rows of tarpaper-covered wooden barracks ... Each room had a stove, a drop light, an iron cot and mattress... But the WRA," he said, "headed by the wise and humane Dillon Myer, ... made life as comfortable as possible for them." It's worth noting that no families were ever separated during the process.

As with the assembly centers, the critics found fault with much about the relocation centers. For example, the level of health care has been the subject of continuing dispute. Dillon Myer, however, says that "the professional care was excellent (and) was free."There were messhalls for meals, and a large number of community enterprises, which included stores, theaters, hairdressers, community theaters, and newspapers. There was ping-pong, judo, boxing, badminton, and sumo wresting. Again, there were basketball and baseball leagues (along with some touch football). The Santa Fe center had "gardens, two softball diamonds, two tennis courts, a miniature nine-hole golf course, a fenced forty-acre hiking area, ... classes in calligraphy, Chinese and Japanese poetry ...." The Massachusetts Quakers sponsored art competitions. Libraries featured Japanese-language sections. There were chapters of the American Red Cross, YMCA, YWCA, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts. State Shinto, with its emperor - worship, was barred, but otherwise the evacuees worshipped as they pleased.

The government paid a salary equal to a soldier's pay ($21 per month) to those who worked in the centers.

Each of the camps (except Tule Lake, which came to be quite different from the others for reasons we will see later, had fully accredited schools through the High school level. There were nursery schools, kindergarten, the teaching of instrumental music, school choruses, achievement testing, high school newspapers and annuals, dances, active Parent-Teacher Associations, student councils and class officers. When graduation was held at the Topaz camp, the University of Utah lent the necessary caps and gowns. Present-day critics such as Lane Ryo Hirabayashi, however, reflecting today's 'multiculturalist' ideology, object to the assimilationist objectives of the instruction, which sought to Americanize the students. (This is inconsistent with the criticism that is also made, with bitter charges of 'racism,' that during the 192Os and 193Os Americans hadn't welcomed an assimilation of Japanese immigrants, and had enacted laws to prevent it.)

Much of the credit for the livability of the centers goes to the Japanese-Americans themselves, whose energy and intelligence immediately made the best of the situation. This was accomplished in an active relationship with the WRA.

Subject to a veto that the WRA could exercise, each relocation center (as had been the assembly centers) was governed internally by the Japanese-Americans themselves, who elected representatives from each block.Even before the relocation centers became filled, collegeage students began to leave to attend American universities. At the beginning of the Fall semester in 1942, approximately 250 students had left for school, attending 143 colleges and universities. By the time the war was over, 4,3OO college-age students were attending more than 3OO universities around the country (though not on the West Coast). Scholarships were granted based on financial ability. Foundations and churches funded a 'National Japanese-American Student Relocation Council' to help with college attendance.

The centers were intended, as their name suggests, to be places in which the evacuees could stay while they were being relocated around the country. Myer says "never was there any policy of confinement for the duration." "As early as September 1942," S. 1. Hayakawa tells us, "hundreds of Issei railroad workers were restored to their jobs in eastern Oregon." At one point, $4 million was appropriated to help those who wanted to start businesses away from the centers. In 1943, 16,000 people left the centers on indefinite leave; and 18,000 more followed in 1944. Others left the centers on a seasonal basis, such as the 5,000 who helped harvest the sugar beet crop in several western states. Field offices were maintained by the WRA in Midwestern and eastern cities to find jobs for those willing to go out on their own. Churches maintained hostels in four cities to provide short-term quarters for those who wanted to leave the centers to look for jobs. It is for all these reasons that those who were in charge say that relocation, not internment, was the goal.

Many of the evacuees, however, remained in the centers for the duration of the war. Critics attribute this to a lack of alternatives, as though the evacuees were trapped, but Bendetsen credits the fact that life was acceptable within the centers. "Many elected to stay in the relocation centers while being gainfully employed in nearby pursuits in the general economy ...The climate of hostility which presented intractable problems in the very early phases had long since subsided."

Beginning in early 1944, with still a year and a half of war to go, "certificates of exemption" began to be issued to those who, having passed security investigations, wanted to return to the West Coast. Then in November 1944 the cabinet decided to lift the exclusion. This was announced by the War Department on December 18 and took effect on January 2. With that, the process of disassembling the centers got underway. The war with Japan ended in August 1945, and the last of the centers, except Tule Lake, was closed on December 1, 1945.The Tule Lake Center Used for InternmentThe center at Tule Lake, California, started out as a relocation center but before long was turned into an actual internment camp - a "segregation center" - for those Japanese-Americans who were hostile to the United States. It housed those who applied to be repatriated to Japan, if they had not withdrawn the application by the middle of 1943; those who answered "no" to a loyalty questionnaire and didn't clear up the problem in special hearings held for the purpose; those against whom the government had evidence of disloyalty; and the family members of those in the first three groups.

Were the Relocation Centers an 'Internment'?

There is no question but that the evacuees were forced by law to leave their homes on the West Coast and to either stay in the centers or relocate elsewhere in the United States by receiving leaves for the purpose. Their exclusion from the West Coast was not voluntary, and after the short-lived initial phase their relocation had to be done through the centers, which granted leave, temporary or indefinite, for the purpose. But, except for those arrested as 'dangerous aliens' right after Pearl Harbor and those who were later segregated at Tule Lake, were the Japanese-Americans 'interned' in the centers? And were the centers, as is often charged, 'concentration camps'?

What is important to realize is that these questions are largely issues of characterization. Those who seem to place the evacuation in the worst light stress the 'humiliation' and' affront to our loyalty' inherent in being made to relocate. They especially like to refer to the centers as 'concentration camps,' thereby evoking images akin to Nazi death camps. (One of the many books on the subject speaks of "the parallel experience of the German Jews.") Even Senator Hayakawa; who certainly felt no alienation toward the United States, later spoke of the evacuation as an affront that said in effect that "we doubt your loyalty." (I have a hard time accepting even Hayakawa's notion about this, since the evacuation was premised not on a doubt about the loyalty of all Japanese-Americans but rather on an inability rapidly to sort out who was loyal to the United States and who to Japan. The officials of the Roosevelt administration always acknowledged that a great many of the Japanese-Americans were loyal.)

The substance of the charge of 'internment' is contradicted by the fact that resettlement outside the centers was diligently pursued throughout the process. Hayakawa says that by January 2, 1945, half of those evacuated had "found new jobs and homes in mid-America and the East.

"What is most often pointed to in support of the charge of 'internment' and even of the centers being 'concentration camps' is that there were "fences and guards." Even Hayakawa speaks of the centers as being "behind barbed wire, guarded by armed sentries." The role of fences and guards, though, seems to depend largely upon perception.

In 1984 a House subcommittee asked Bendetsen about earlier testimony that there had been barbed wire and watchtowers, and he testified that "that is 100 percent false ... Because of the actions of outraged U.S. citizens, of which I do not approve, it was necessary in some of the assembly centers, particularly Santa Anita,... to protect the evacuees ... and that is the only place where guards were used. [As to] relocation centers... there was not a guard at all at any of them. That would not be true of Tule Lake [after it became a segregation center].

"I have scrutinized the follow-up questioning by the subcommittee's counsel to see whether any effort was made to shake Bendetsen's testimony by confronting him with specifics that would contradict it. He had testified to the same effect in 1981, and the subcommittee staff could easily have been prepared with specifics to ask him about if they existed.

I have given the same scrutiny to the questioning at the time he testified before the Commission on Wartime Relocation in 1981. In neither case were specific follow-up questions asked, despite many allegations to the subcommittee and earlier to the Commission that the centers were guarded. Although I don't feel that the conflict in reports is definitively resolved in my mind, I assign considerable weight to this failure to-cross-examine Bendetsen about specifics, which were supposedly known to the subcommittee and the Commission, when there was plenty of opportunity to do so.

In 1981; Senator Brooke had asked him in general terms about "the voluminous testimony we have had describe (sic) these camps quite differently from the way you've described them."

Bendetsen replied: "A great part of the testimony was given by people who were not yet born then ... You had testimony available from many people who were not given an opportunity to present it, some of whom were physically intimidated by the people who were in attendance day after day ... I have received a barrage of mail...

There were many people who in good faith wanted to testify that they thought the conditions were nowhere close to some of the testimony which you heard."Photographs are provided in some of the literature showing watchtowers and guards. It is important as to each photograph to know the specific date and location. The persons at Tule Lake, for example, were under guard to keep them in; and photographs from early 1942 would relate to the assembly center phase.

As we will see in my discussion of the military situation, there were strong reasons for an actual internment, which is what Earl Warren, who was then the attorney general of California, wanted. But that is not what the Roosevelt administration did. It chose to steer a middle course between those who wanted no evacuation at all and those who, like Warren, wanted the Japanese-American population closely monitored. To call it an "internment" is at most a half-truth.

Economic Losses; Care of Property

A number of unscrupulous persons took advantage of the situation in which the Japanese-Americans found themselves between the time of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and early March of next year. But once the Army took charge of the evacuation, extensive efforts were made to safeguard the evacuees' property.

Col. Bendetsen testified:"When you are told that the household goods of the evacuees after I took over were dissipated, that is totally false. The truth is that all of the household goods of those who were evacuated or who left voluntarily were indexed, stored, and wharehouse receipts were given. And those who settled in the interior on their own told us, and we shipped it to them free of charge. As far as their crops were concerned, the allegations are totally false. I used the Agriculture Department to arrange harvesting after they left and to sell the crops at auction, and the Federal Reserve System, at my request, handled the proceeds. The proceeds were carefully deposited in their bank accounts in the West to each individual owner. And many of these farms were farmed the whole time - not sold a bargain prices, but leased - and the proceeds were based on the market value of the harvest."

As we will see later, Congress passed a "Claims Act" in 1948 under which approximately $38 million was paid to the evacuees for property losses.

The critics assert that additional compensation should have been granted for mental suffering, but that is a different issue than whether there was a wanton taking of their property. Many millions of people, including Americans of all origins and by no means limited to the Japanese-Americans, experienced uncompensated mental suffering in World War II.

The Second Main Question: Why Was it Done?
The Nature of the Military Emergency

A state of severe military vulnerability existed in December 1941 and early 1942. The American Pacific Fleet, our first line of defense in the Pacific, was destroyed by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7. The Japanese at the same time attacked Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Wake and Midway Islands. The next day, they invaded Thailand. Within less than a week, Guam fell. By Christmas, they had taken Wake Island and had occupied Hong Kong.

Manila fell on January 2, and Singapore on February 10. The Battle of the Java Sea on February 27 resulted in a major naval victory for Japan. By early March, Japan had control over Rangoon, Burma and the Netherlands East Indies. The struggle at Bataan and Corregidor marked the end of the Japanese conquest of the Philippines.The Hawaiian Islands and the West Coast of the United States were open to attack. On February 23, a Japanese submarine shelled an oil field along the California coast. Two days later, five unidentified planes were spotted and Los Angeles underwent a black-out. The United States hastily made preparations for war.

The extent of its unpreparedness is illustrated by the draftees' use of wooden guns in their maneuvers in Louisiana in early 1942.

Japanese Exploitation of West Coast Vulnerability

The critics of the evacuation often argue that there was no demonstrated military necessity for it. 'The Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation speaks of "the clamor" by California officials for protective action, and says that "these opinions were not informed by any knowledge of actual military risks." The extensive critical literature mocks the perception of danger, suggesting it was a figment of hysterical imaginations.But this is nonsense. The danger was palpable - and apparent to anyone who considered the situation. Earl Warren, as attorney general of California, testified before a select committee of Congress (the Tolan Committee") on February 2I, 1942, and submitted letters from a number of local officials. Some pointed out to the vulnerability of the water supply and of the large-scale irrigation systems: "It would be absolutely humanly impossible," one of them wrote, "for the small force now available in the sheriffs office to make even a pretense of guarding this tremendous farm territory and the irrigation system." Another pointed that "a systematic campaign of incendiarism would cause terrific disaster" during the California dry season from May until October. The city manager of Alameda observed that "we have the naval air' station at one end the island...There are five major shipyards along the northern edge and there is the Oakland Airport at the eastern end of the island." Warren provided maps showing that the Japanese-American population lived in close proximity to virtually all strategic locations.Many scenarios suggest themselves.

Espionage, sabotage, and aid to an invading army are obvious possibilities. To appreciate the danger, we need to have a very real sense of what a terrible toll could have been taken if even another Pearl Harbor had been replicated. The potential was for much more than that, however.In addition to the civilian population, there was much that was important militarily and economically along the West Coast; it was clearly exposed; and there were few means to defend it. In my opinion, this was enough in itself to create a critical emergency, to be met as humanely but as effectively as possible.

It should not be necessary for the America government to have known specifically of plans for espionage and sabotage.Nevertheless, there was definitive evidence of Japan's intent to exploit the situation. On December 4, 1941, the Office of Naval Intelligence reported a Japanese "intelligence machine geared for war, in operation, and utilizing west coast Japanese."

On January 21, 1942 a bulletin Army Intelligence "stated flat out that the Japanese government's espionage net containing Japanese aliens, first and second generation Japanese and other nationals is now thoroughly organized and working underground," according to the testimony of David D. Lowman, a retired career intelligence officer who has written extensively on declassifiedintelligence from World War II.

The Commission on Wartime Relocation contradicted this in its 1982 Report when it said that "not a single documented act of espionage, sabotage or fifth column activity was committed by an American citizen of Japanese ancestry or by a resident Japanese alien on the West Coast."

This claim is often repeated in the critical literature, but is blatantly false.

Amazingly, the Commission ignored the most important source of information about espionage, which is the dispatches sent by the Japanese government to its own people before and during the war. U. S. Navy codebreakers had broken the Japanese diplomatic code in 1938, and the decoded messages were distributed, on a basis "higher than Top Secret," to a small handful of top American officials under the codename "MAGIC."

Lowman testified in 1984 that "included among the diplomatic communications were hundreds of reports dealing with espionage activities in the United States and it's possessions ... In recruiting Japanese second generation and resident nationals, Tokyo warned to use the utmost caution ... In April 1941, Tokyo instructed all the consulates to wire home lists of first- and second-generation Japanese according to specified categories."

The result, he said, was that "in May 1941, Japanese consulates on the west coast reported to Tokyo that first and second generation Japanese had been successfully recruited and were now spying on shipments of airplanes and war material in the San Diego and San Pedro areas. They were reporting on activities within aircraft plants in Seattle and Los Angeles. Local Japanese... were reporting on shipping activities at the Bremerton Naval Yard...The Los Angeles consulate reported: "We shall maintain connections with our second generation who are at present in the Army to keep us informed"... Seattle followed with a similar dispatch."

A number of officials within the Roosevelt administration opposed the evacuation of the Japanese-Americans from the west coast, but Lowman makes a telling point: that the President, the Secretary of War, the Army Chief of Staff, the Director of Military Intelligence, the Secretary of the Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations, the Director of Naval Intelligence, and the Chiefs of Army and Navy Plans - all of whom received MAGIC - favored evacuation. It was those who did not have knowledge of the Japanese dispatches who found it possible, somewhat incongruously, to entertain doubts.

Critics who damn the United States for the evacuation have sought to minimize the significance of MAGIC. John J. McCloy, who was Assistant Secretary of War during the war, testified in 1984 that "word has gone out now from the lobbyists to 'laugh off the revelations of MAGIC."The Commission on Wartime Relocation, established by Congress in 1980 and composed of such prominent figures as Arthur E. Goldberg, Arthur S. Flemming, Senator Edward Brooke, and Robert F. Drinan, didn't bother to laugh MAGIC off - it simply ignored it. McCloy testified in 1984 that "proof that the Commission did not conduct an investigation worthy of the name is demonstrated by the fact that it never identified the existence of MAGIC ...This should have been presented at the outset of any objective investigation." He pointed out that "though the existence of MAGIC was a closely guarded secret at the time of the attack, by the time [of] the Commission's investigation the existence of MAGIC known by all knowledgeable military and intelligence sources in this country, and Japan, as well."

The Unassimilated Nature of the World War II Japanese-American Community

The nature of the Japanese-American community on the West Coast at the time of World War II posed a dual problem. Because it was tightly--knit and unassimilated, it was attractive to Japan as a field for cultivation; at the same time, it was virtually impenetrable to efforts of the American government to sort out those whose loyalties were with Japan.In one of the Supreme Court opinions, Justice Stone wrote that "there is support for the view that social, economic and political conditions which have prevailed since the close of the last century ... have intensified their solidarity and have in large measure prevented their assimilation." Stone estimated that as many as 10,000 of those born in the United States had "been sent to Japan for all or part of their education." He observed that even those who stayed in the United States to go to school "are sent to Japanese language schools outside the regular hours of public schools in the locality." S.I.. Hayakawa wrote that it was true that "reverence for the emperor was taught in the Japanese-language schools." (He added that what was not known was that the children had nevertheless grown up to be loyal Americans. But, as we will see later, that is not sustainable as so sweeping a generalization, since not all did.)

The critics blame American Caucasians For this lack of assimilation, pointing to the hostility that had been shown toward Asian immigrants by labor unions and others on the West Coast during the prior decades. That, though, is another issue, one that asks whether it is wrong for the citizens of a country to oppose large-scale immigration by people who are considerably different from themselves. What is relevant to the question of the military emergency during World War II is not who was at fault for the Japanese-American community's lack of assimilation, but the uncontradicted fact that they were not assimilated.

An odd thing about the critical literature, now quite voluminous, is that it never speaks to an obvious question: What precisely was going months prior to and immediately after Pearl Harbor? I would think that those who argue that there were virtually no pro-Japanese loyalists among the Japanese-Americans would devote considerable attention to showing just how the internal dynamic of that community worked to assure that. We are expected to believe, as though it's a given, that a "racist" America's attractions were so obvious that no one would look back longingly to Japan, despite strong continuing ties with the mother country. The literature is strangely silent about this aspect, which could provide important information.

How Loyal Were the Japanese-Americans?

We now come to the most sensitive part of the study, since the "politically correct" thing to say is that all of the second-generation Japanese-Americans (the Nisei, who were the first born here) were pro-American. I have already referred to Senator Hayakawa's sweeping generalization, which is bound to be appealing: "they had grown up loyal Americans."

Accordingly, it is important to note again that it is no refection on today's American's of Japanese ancestry to take an honest look at what the situation was fifty years ago during World War II.

Many did strongly identify with the American side, and even distinguished themselves in combat on behalf of this country. An all-Nisei National Guard unit from Hawaii, the lOOth Battalion, fought in Italy, winning much distinction, and was later merged into a newly-formed group, the 442nd Combat Team, which went on to fight in both Italy and France. In all, close to 9,000Japanese-Americans served with these units. They were honored by President Truman in 1946 after a parade down Constitution Avenue, and in turn raised money for a memorial to President Roosevelt. An additional 3,700 Nisei served as translators and interpreters in the Pacific Theater. In all, out of the combined mainland and Hawaiian Japanese-American populations, a total of more than 33,000 served in some capacity during the war.To focus exclusively on this, however, obscures the truth, which taken as a whole was much more complex.

Here are some aspects of that complexity:

(To be continued...)


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