U.S. Government Newsreel: Japanese Relocation

Uploaded by DenshoProject on 22.09.2009

Milton Eisenhower (narrator)
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, our west coast became a potential combat zone.
Living in that zone were more than 100,000 persons of Japanese ancestry. Two-thirds of
them American citizens. One-third aliens. We knew that some among them were potentially
dangerous. No one knew what would happen among this concentrated population if Japanese forces
should try to invade our shores. Military authorities therefore determined
that all of them, citizens and aliens alike, would have to move.
This picture tells how the mass migration was accomplished. Neither the Army nor the
War Relocation Authority relish the idea of taking men, women and children from their
homes, their shops and their farms. So the military and civilian agencies alike determined
to do the job as a democracy should – with real consideration for the people involved.
First attention was given to the problems of sabotage and espionage. Now, here at San
Francisco for example, convoys were being made up within sight of possible Axis agents.
There were more Japanese in Los Angeles than in any other area. In nearby San Pedro, houses
and hotels occupied almost exclusively by Japanese were within a stone’s throw of
a Naval airbase, shipyards, oil wells. Japanese fishermen had every opportunity to watch the
movement of our ships. Japanese farmers were living close to vital aircraft plants.
So, in the first step, all Japanese were required to move from critical areas such as these.
But of course, this limited evacuation was a solution to only part of the problem.
The larger problem – the uncertainty of what would happen among these people in case of
a Japanese invasion – still remained. That is why the commanding general of the Western
Defense Command determined that all Japanese within the coastal area should move inland.
Immediately, the Army began mapping evacuation areas and, for a time, encouraged the Japanese
to leave voluntarily. The trouble for the voluntary evacuees soon threatened in their
new locations. So the program was quickly put on a planned and protected basis. Thereafter,
the American citizen Japanese and Japanese aliens made plans in accordance with Army orders.
Notices were posted. All persons of Japanese descent were required to register. They gathered
in their own churches and schools, and the Japanese themselves cheerfully handled the
enormous paperwork involved in the migration. Civilian physicians made preliminary medical
examinations. Government agencies helped in a hundred ways. They helped the evacuees find
tenants for their farms. They helped businessmen lease, sell, or store their property.
Now this aid was financed by the government, but quick disposal of property often involved
financial sacrifice for the evacuees.
Now the actual migration got underway. The Army provided fleets of vans to transport
household belongings, and buses to move the people to assembly centers. The evacuees cooperated
whole-heartedly. The many loyal among them felt that this was a sacrifice they could
make in behalf of America’s war effort.
In small towns as well as large, up and down the coast, the moving continued.
Behind them they left shops and homes they had occupied for many years.
[background music]
Their fishing fleets were impounded and left under guard.
Now they were taken to race tracks and fairgrounds where the Army almost overnight had built
assembly centers. They lived here until new pioneer communities could be completed on
federally owned lands in the interior. Santa Anita racetrack, for example, suddenly became
a community of about 17,000 persons. The Army provided housing and plenty of healthful nourishing
food for all. The residents of the new community set about
developing a way of life as nearly normal as possible. They held church services -
Protestant, Catholic, and Buddhist. They issued their own newspaper, organized
nursery schools, and some made camouflage nets for the United States Army.
Meanwhile, in Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and elsewhere, quarters were being built where
they would have an opportunity to work and more space in which to live. When word came
that these new homes were ready, the final movement began.
[background music]
At each relocation center, the evacuees were met by an advance contingent of Japanese who
had arrived some days earlier and who now acted as guides. Naturally the newcomers looked
about with some curiosity. They were in a new area, on land that was raw, untamed,
but full of opportunity. Here they would build schools, educate their children, reclaim the desert.
Their own physicians took precautions to guard against epidemics. They opened advanced Americanization
classes for college students, who in turn would instruct other groups.
They made a rough beginning at self government. For awhile the Army would guard the outer
limits of each area. Community life and security within were largely up to the Japanese themselves.
They immediately saw the need for developing civic leaders. At weekly community meetings
citations were given to the block leaders who had worked most diligently.
Special emphasis was put on the health and care of these American children of Japanese descent.
[background music]
Their parents, most of whom are American citizens and their grandparents, who are aliens, immediately
wanted to go to work. At Manzanar they built a lathe house and began rooting guayle cuttings.
The plants, when mature, will add to our rubber supply.
At Parker, they undertook the irrigation of fertile desert lands.
Meanwhile, in areas away from the coast and under appropriate safeguards, many were permitted
to enter private employment, particularly to work in sugar beet fields where labor was
badly needed.
Now, this brief picture is actually the prologue to a story that has yet to be told. The full
story will begin to unfold when the raw lands of the desert turn green, when all adult hands
are at productive work on public lands or in private employment. It will be fully told
only when circumstances permit the loyal American citizens once again to enjoy the freedom we
in this country cherish, and when the disloyal, we hope, have left this country for good.
In the mean time, we are setting a standard for the rest of the world in the treatment
of people who may have loyalties to an enemy nation. We are protecting ourselves without
violating the principles of Christian decency. And we won’t change this fundamental decency
no matter what our enemies do. But of course, we hope most earnestly that our example will
influence the Axis powers in their treatment of Americans who fall into their hands.