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Pipes and Malkin are correct.

Reader comment on item: Why the Japanese Internment Still Matters

Submitted by Bob (United States), Jan 2, 2005 at 13:22

Pipes and Malkin are correct. The responses provided by reparations acitivists are bad history. Let me clear up a few things.

1. Hawaii

According to the 1940 census, ethnic Japanese made up 40% of the population of Hawaii. In California, the population was 1.6%. Military authorities had considered moving all ethnic Japanese to Molokai or the West Coast but moving 40% of the population was logistically and indeed financially impossible. That said, there was an internment camp in Hawaii and Sand Harbor. More importantly, Hawaii was under military martial law at the time.

If the authorities could have evacuated all ethnic Japanese from Hawaii they would have. They could not so they did not.

As an aside, Japan had a battle plan in place for the invasion of Hawaii that intended to utilize ethnic Japanese during the occupation. The plan was scrapped after Japan's defeat at Midway.

Ever hear of "The Grand Congress of Overseas Compatriots" celebrated in November 1940 to celebrate the 2,600 birthday of the Japanese Empire?

Of nineteen-hundred doho delegates from 27 countries at the Tokyo congress, 188 came from Hawaii (276 had applied but could not attend).

"Because the Japanese were seperated from the homeland, their patriotism burns all the more!" remarked the organizer Mannosuke Yamaoka.

At the conference at Hibiya Hall hung the banner, "TOTAL MOBILIZATION OF NATIONAL POWER". In attendance were various political and military leaders as well as Prince Higashikuni representing the emperor...

Ever read the Japanese-Hawaiin newspaper "Jitsugyo no Hawaii" where the one english page would take a neutral slant and the other Japanese language pages would print content such as...

"Fellow compatriots, let us with our hearts pray for our ancestral land in her trials. Should the war in the end be lost the Japanese in Hawaii, insulted and ridiculed by Kanakas (Hawaiians and part Hawaiians) and Pake (Chinese) would in the long run be unable to work!"

(This was after Japan's invasion of Manchuria and China, and a common tone throughout the 1930s.)

It is interesting how the "Jitsugyo no Hawaii" in the exact same paper will say "Japanese Army" and "Japanese planes" on the English page and "Our Army" and "Our planes" on the Japanese page!

How about Shiro Sogabe, a missionary in Hilo who in 1938 advised readers of "Jitsugyo no Hawaii": "Japanese press reports are the most reliable in the world. Do not be misled by the English language press. It is all right to read the English language press, but you must first read the Japanese language press and make a calm judgement."

2. The United States Government Swiped Land

This is a myth. As stated by Col. Karl Bendetsen in a 1972 interview long before this history became politicized...

"First, about their assets, their lands (Nisei could own land), their possessions, their bank accounts and other assets, their household goods, their growing crops--nothing was confiscated. Their accounts were left intact. Their household goods were inventoried and stored. Warehouse receipts were issued to the owners. Much of it was later shipped to them at Government expense, particularly in the case of those families who relocated themselves in the interior, accepted employment and established new homes.

Lands were farmed, crops harvested, accounts kept of sales at market and proceeds deposited to the respective accounts of the owners.

Whenever desired, Shinto and other religious shrines were moved to the centers.

Second, it was never intended by Executive Order 9066 and certainly not by the Army that the Japanese themselves be held in Relocation Centers. The sole objective was to bring relocation anywhere in the interior--east of the Cascades and Sierras Nevada and north of the southern halves of Arizona and New Mexico. Japanese were urged to relocate voluntarily on their own recognizance and extensive steps were taken to this end. The desire was to relocate them so that they could usefully and gainfully continue raising their families and educate their children while heads of families and young adults became gainfully employed. They were to be free to lease or buy land, raise and harvest crops, go into businesses. They were not to be restricted for the "duration" so long as they did not seek to remain or seek to return to the war "frontier" during hostilities.

In furtherance, from the very beginning I initiated diligent measures to urge the Japanese families to leave with the help and funding (whenever needed) of the WCCA (Wartime Civil Control Administration) on their own recognizance and resettle east of the mountains. To this end, I conferred with the Governors of the seven contiguous states east of the mountains. I called a Governors' Conference at Salt Lake City. I invited them to urge attendance by members of their cabinets, by members of their legislatures and by the mayors of their communities. It was a large and successful conference. I advised them in full, sought their full cooperation, asked them to inform their citizens and to welcome and help the evacuees to feel welcome without restrictions, to become members of their inland communities and schools and to help them find employment and housing. I told them that these people would become a most constructive segment of their respective populations. These who resettled certainly did. Where needed I told them that the WCCA would provide financial support for a limited period.

Further to this end, I conferred with the elders of each major Japanese community along the Pacific Coast, wherever they were and, as well, in Arizona and New Mexico. I carefully explained all this to them. I urged them to persuade their fellow Japanese to leave before the evacuation to assembly centers began and while it was proceeding. I assured them that the WCCA would provide escort, if requested, by those who felt insecure. We organized convoys and shipped to those, who had resettled, their stored possessions."

3. Why weren't Germans and Italians interned?

Answer: Germans and Italians were interned alongside Japanese. On they West Coast they were not removed to the extent ot the ethnic Japanese for reasons having nothing to do with race.

Neither Germany nor Italy had a navy that could sufficiently project enough power to invade the East Coast of the United States. Japan had developed such a force that had succeeded in developing the largest empire in the history of mankind in a matter of months. One reason for the lack of preparedness that led to Pearl Harbor was the belief Japan could not project forces so far to the east.

You may recall when the Japanese Imperial Army arrived in the city of Davao in the Phillipines on December 23, 1941 the colony of 18,000 ethnic Japanese living there (as long as ethnic Japanese in the West Coast) welcomed them with open arms. Many volunteered their services as scouts and translators for the invading forces.

If Japanese-Filipinos with a history in the Philippines as long that of Japanese-Americans in America could so quickly side with the invading forces in Davao, who's to say the same thing wouldn't have happened on the West Coast?

4. Tim McVeigh, why not round up all White guys?

As far as I know, Tim McVeigh was never in a position to affect national security in a time of war the way West Coast ethnic Japanese were. Besides, McVeigh's actions were a part of a small groups of extremists so the comparison is weak with orgainized ethnic Japanese nationalist movements. And where is McVeigh now? Dead.

5. Evacuation was unconstitutional

False. The Supreme Court Rulings stand to this day as good law.

Here's a quote from Korematsu that sums it up…

"It is said that we are dealing with the case of imprisonment of a citizen in a concentration camp soley because of his ancestory, without evidence or inquiry concerning his loyalty and good disposition towards the United States. Our task would be simple, our duty clear, were this a case involving the imprisonment of a loyal citizen in a concentration camp because of racial prejudice.

Regardless of the true nature of the assembly and relocation centers - AND WE DEEM IT UNJUSTIFIABLE TO CALL THEM CONCENTRATION CAMPS WITH ALL THE UGLY CONNOTATIONS THAT TERM IMPLIES - we are dealing with nothing but an exclusion order. To cast this case in outlines of racial prejudice, without reference to the real military dangers which were presented, merely confuses the issue. KOREMATSU WAS NOT EXCLUDED FROM THE MILITARY AREA BECAUSE OF HIS RACE. HE WAS EXCLUDED BECAUSE WE ARE AT WAR WITH THE JAPANESE EMPIRE."

Supreme Court Decision, Korematsu vs. USA
(323 US 214-248) October 1944

Chief Justice Horace Stone in Hirabayashi vs. USA...


Article 1, Section 9, United States Consitution says your civil rights can be temporarily suspended in times of peril.

6. DeWitt was a racist

""Once a Jap, always a Jap! You can't any more regenerate a Jap than you can reverse the laws of nature!"

-John Elliot Rankin (D)
Mississippi Congressman 1921-1953

Congressional Record, December 15, 1941

You probably didn't know DeWitt wasn't the first to make the comment word for word.

Dewitt's Final Report was entirely for public consumption...

DeWitt's report was entirely for public consumption and in fact justified many of the fears that existed in the general populace. The comment was also for the consumption of the Empire of Japan, for the Americans had to justify the mass evacuation of 120,000 people without letting the enemy no their diplomatic and military codes had been compromised.

The plan worked flawlessly. The Empire of Japan immediately used the evacuation for propoganda purposes (like today's reparations movment), but knowledge of Japan's codes being broken was never revieled.

Unfortunatley, DeWitt's comments are now bandied about and taken entirely out of historical context.

The reality is Japan's knowledge that Japanese were held in America saved the lives of Allied civilians held by the Japanese under much harsher conditionns.

Lastly, I would be curious to know of your knowledge of the doctrines of Japanese militarism, a belief system similar and equally as insidious as Nazism?

Any knowledge of the kokutai? Hakko Ichiu? Any reading of Kokutai no Hongi? Shimin to Michi? The role of Nichiren Buddhism and Japanese "Language Schools" in teaching these doctines of Japanese racial superiorty to ethnic Japanese colonies throughout the word prior to Pearl Harbor?

The accurate historical truth is many ethnic Japanese throughout the world fully agreed with the racial doctrines of a militarist Japan.

This included ethnic Japanese living in the United States.

"By the eve of all-out war with China, Japanese Public schools, under orders from the Ministry of Education, were inculcating Shinto mythology as if it were historical fact: emporer ideology had become fused with anti-western sentiment: and a coceptual ground had been prepared for the transformation of Hirohito into a benevolent pan-Asian monarch defending not only Japan, but all of Asia from Western encroachment."

-Bix, Hirohito, p. 283

The Japanese Ministry of Education was controlled by the militarists who, "To deliver the lectures and teach new courses, they enlisted specialists in Japanese racial thought, academic opponents of liberalism and advocates of Nazi theories of law".

-Masuda Tomoko, "Tenno kikansetsu haigeki jiken to kokutai meicho undo" p. 173

"Japan's Longest Day" p. 76 at Imperial Army Headquarters, Ichigaya, Tokyo....

"Anami left his Ministry to try to get some sleep, but the ministry itself remained awake. SEVERAL ENGLISH SPEAKING JAPANESE BORN IN AMERICA WERE BUSY IN THE INFORMATION DEPARTMENT MONITORING ALLIED BROADCASTS AND TRANSLATING THEM INTO JAPANESE. Into their midst swept a cyclone call Colonel Tomomi Oyadomori, who had fought and seen many of his fellow officers die at Guadalcanal. The sight of these NISEI TRANSLATORS tearlessly receiving word of continued Japanese defeat was too much for Colonal Oyadomori.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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