The Swedish Minister (Boström) to the Secretary of State 87

The Minister of Sweden in charge of the Japanese interests in the Territory of Hawaii presents his compliments to the Honorable, the Secretary of State, and has the honor to forward, herewith, copy of a cablegram from the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs concerning the complaints of the Japanese Government regarding the treatment of the personnel of the former Japanese Consulate General in Honolulu after the outbreak of the war on December 8, 1941.

The Swedish Minister asks the Secretary of State to be good enough to give this matter due consideration and to enable him to transmit the reply of the American Government.

The said cablegram also contains complaints concerning the treatment of Japanese from Hawaii after their transportation to the mainland. That part of the message has been sent, in copy, to the Spanish Embassy for consideration.

No. B–113.

Excerpt from a Cablegram Dated December 24, 1942, Addressed to the Swedish Legation, Washington, D.C., by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs B

(B 113) Japanese Government ask you transmit following to American Government:

“The Imperial Japanese Government have received from the former Japanese Consul General at Honolulu88 who recently returned by the exchange ship following report regarding the treatment accorded to him and members of his staff including their families by the United States authorities. According to this report the treatment was extremely cruel and inhuman, [and] a grave insult was inflicted upon the Japanese officials in utter disregard of the well established international usage concerning the treatment of consular officials. The Imperial Japanese Government are astonished at such outrageous measures indulged in by the American authorities to which they hereby [Page 1060] wish to draw the latter’s most serious attention with the request for adequate explanation.

Alinea I—A raid on the Japanese Consulate General at Honolulu at [and?] internment of its members.

Alinea (1)—At about 09.30 a.m. on the 7th of December 1941 about ten policemen belonging to the local special police force came to guard the premises of the Consulate General and its vicinity. About noon armed officials numbering about ten (two or three of them in uniform and the rest in plain clothes and armed with rifles and revolvers) suddenly rushed to the back entrance of the Consulate office and, pressing the Consul General and others who happened to be there forward, they broke into the room by the entrance. Then without explaining either their identities or reason for their visit they thrust the Consul General and others with violence into the adjoining office of the Consul General and after examining all pockets of their clothes seizing at the same time contents thereof compelled them to undress. They went to the length of searching rigorously shoes and socks. They knocked hard Mr. Morimura, Chancellor of the Consulate General, on back without provocation and even committed such an act of affront as to force the Consul General to take off his underpants. They searched desks, cabinets and everything in the room that they could lay hand on carrying away some articles. It was learned later that these officials were certain Benjamin van Kuren, Captain of Detectives of the Honolulu police station, his men and members of the FBI.

Alinea (2)—These officials then forced the Consul General and members of his staff to sit upright in another room forbidding them to talk except in English. During many hours that ensued they placed rifles on the table with muzzles towards the Japanese officials and made the latter wait until the arrival of Mr. Robert L. Shibers, Chief of local branch of the FBI. As the last mentioned did not appear even after dusk the police asked the Consul General to accompany them to the police station. This the Consul General naturally refused to do. When the total darkness began to prevail in the room, owing to the blackout, the Japanese officials were moved to the front porch. Later Mrs. Seki, wife of Mr. Seki, Chancellor, was also removed by the police from the official residence on the second floor of the Consulate to join the party and hence had to share the fate of long internment. In the meantime the families living at the official residences in the compound of the Consulate remained isolated not being allowed any contact with each other or with the interned members of the Consulate.

Alinea (3)—The Japanese officials had to stay all night through in the front porch under strict police supervision, permission not being granted to go either to their residences in the Consulate compound [Page 1061] for meal or to toilet in the office which was only a few yards away. They were told to do their needs by the front door and even Mrs. Seki was not allowed to use the toilet room despite her earnest pleading. They were forced to sleep that night on the chairs in the porch and on the hard narrow wooden bench fixed to the wall with blankets only to warm themselves with, which became available only after repeated requests. During night policemen would point their rifles at the consular officials sometimes even when they were standing in the garden to do their needs. To the repeated requests to return to the room made by the consular officials early in the morning of the 8th of December the police refused to listen, saying that they were under the order to watch them at the same position where they had found them, and it was late in the morning that they were allowed to reenter the house upon negotiations with the police who came to take their turn.

Alinea (4)—They were again forced to sit upright under the strict supervision of two policemen with steel helmets and revolvers who took away fruit knives from breakfast table and even disallowed them to use articles like pen and pencil. On the nights of the 8th and 9th they were forced to shape [share?] meager and uneasy sleep huddling together on blankets laid on the floor. Only after repeated requests they were permitted on the 10th to use two rooms for the Consular officials and one room for Mrs. Seki as their bedrooms. Still they were not free from disturbing intrusions by the police who inspected their faces by light of torch frequently during the night. Thus the Consul General, other officials, Mrs. Seki and Mr. Osaki, chauffeur, who joined the group later, eight in all, were forced to remain sitting upright in the Consulate office during the daytime taking their meals there and in the evening they went into the bedrooms on the second floor. They were not allowed to walk except to go to toilet for which they had to apply each time. This condition lasted until the middle of December when for the first time they were allowed to take a walk for an hour daily in one part of the compound of the Consulate and to take bath but they were not permitted to converse with their respective families who were allowed to have a walk in the compound at the same time nor to return to their homes situated within the compound. During this period the armed police—about 15 in number—who were on guard, some in the Consulate office some in the corridors, frequently examined the number of the consular officials and other internees, followed them each time they went to bedrooms and stood on guard at the entrance of bathroom both when they were preparing [apparent omission] to the 22nd of January 1942. It is specially to be observed that the United States authorities in raiding the Consulate General and forcefully detaining its members and also in taking such harsh measures as mentioned above never uttered a [Page 1062] word about the changed relations between Japan and America or about the outbreak of war between the two countries. They acted with violence as if they were arresting criminals or making raid on gambling men.

Alinea II—Search of the Consulate General and official residences of consular officials.

Alinea (1)—While the Consul General and his staff were under detention, the police searched freely every part of the office without obtaining permission of the Consul General or asking him to be present. There they not only smashed the door of the cable room completely but also broke open several steel cabinets in the Vice Consul’s room together with other locked cases.

Alinea (2)—The American authorities raided frequently the official residences of the Consul General and his staff and threatening helpless women and children with brute force, made through [thorough?] searches of the houses. The authorities moreover demanded them to hand over the keys and without asking them to be present wantonly opened trunks and chests searching and seizing articles. Consequently there was no way to ascertain what was being taken away nor [had] the police furnished any information. It was discovered later that radios, cameras and money had been taken away, but regarding other missing articles nothing is known yet as the police authorities when approached dodged questions in one way or another. It is true that the best part of money was recovered later but it was deposited with the Bishop National Bank where it still remains to this day. It is beyond doubt that cash amounting to 60 dollars, two baseball gloves, two rolls of bleached cotton (these being property of Mr. Tsukikawa, Chancellor) and cash amounting to 21 dollars and one set of Sheaffer fountain pen and Sharp pencil (these belonging to Mr. Seki, Chancellor) were stolen by searching policemen. The police authorities admitted probability of this theft on the part of policemen. These searches were made in such violent manner that many chests and [of] drawers suffered irreparable damages including the chest of drawers with mirror which was in the Consul General’s bedroom.

Alinea III—Unreasonable restrictions imposed upon the consular officials.

Alinea (1)—The Consul General, his staff and their families were not allowed to read any newspaper during the period from the 7th of December until they went on board the exchange ship on the 18th of June.

Alinea (2)—As their money was promptly seized and their communications with outside cut off and in addition they are allowed to purchase only limited quantities of a few daily necessaries, the consular officials experienced considerable inconveniences. They were [Page 1063] transferred to the continent. They requested permission to purchase overcoats, sweaters, socks, underwear, etc. for their families (these articles had not been necessary in such mild climate as in Honolulu) but Captain Van Kuren allowed them to buy only tooth paste, tooth brushes and one other article. At the time of departure for the continent the American officials, saying that they were examining plants, searched trunks and suitcases in the presence of the consular officials but apparently the plant examination was only an excuse, because the officials concerned were heard to discuss about articles which had nothing to do with plants, seizing at random photographs, memos and all other papers.

Alinea IV—Search of persons and internment during the voyage to the continent.

Alinea (1)—At about 8 p.m. on the 8th of February 1942 the Consul General and his party went on board a steamer at Pearl Harbor to be transported to the continent. They were not informed of their destination. Certain Captain Kirkgiss led them to a room adjoining the engineroom and told them to wait until all necessary arrangements were made. The room was unbearably hot. After half an hour the same captain led the Consul General and his staff into another room and with the help of his men searched their persons in the most strict manner. They also examined cabin trunks and seized several hundred articles. It lasted as long as until 3 o’clock next morning. On this occasion the Consul General and his staff were forced to become almost naked, infant children of the consular officials were mercilessly separated from their mothers, for whom they were crying, and their persons were searched in the same manner. Above all wife of one of the consular officials was subjected to such insulting examination that she was forced to take off clothes and stockings and was left with only a chemise on. Then the inspecting officials pulling off the chemise from bottom and opening pants peeped into from behind and touched her hips. They even ransacked hair of ladies in order to ascertain whether nothing was hidden there. All iron shutters of cabin windows being closely shut and armed soldiers being posted outside the cabin the Consul General and his party remained confined all the time in a narrow stifling cabin from the 8th of February when they went on board the steamer until their disembarkation on the continent on the 17th of February, except their mealtime visits to the dining room (which was next to the engineroom and seemed to be a room assigned for plain sailors). During this period they did not have chance to get single ray of sunshine. Fearing that this would impair tender health of five children in the party they entreated the captain to allow the children to go out into sunshine for a short time daily. The captain promised to consider the matter but nothing was done. In the meantime all their belongings [Page 1064] were being subjected to examinations. The captain asked the Consul General and Mr. Okuda, Vice Consul, to surrender their keys. Apparently trunks and suitcases in the baggage room were also examined with those keys. On the occasion of their disembarkation they asked the captain to return them the seized articles as promised but the captain refused to do so saying that they would be returned after examination by the naval authorities. These articles were sent to Arizona later on. The seized articles, including all sorts of books, note books, toys, cakes, toilet articles, soap, knives, lighters, cards, albums, etc. were of more than fifty kinds and several hundreds in number. The examination was extremely severe not neglecting a hinge of jewel box. Examiners even tore off eyes of teddy bears and cut body open to examine the inside. Moreover considerable number of the seized articles have not been returned. Clothes, shoes and other articles seem to have been stolen altogether.

Alinea V—Treatment at Arizona Plateau.

Alinea (1)—The party, numbering 23 in all, got out of the train somewhere in Arizona Plateau on the 19th of February and were given accommodation at four bungalows suitable only for temporary shelter. It was several days after their arrival that it was ascertained that the place was the Triangle T Ranch near Dragoon. The American authorities only mentioned the name of Arizona while en route not informing them on the ultimate destination and even after their arrival at the destination they tried to conceal the names of the place and of hotels they were staying at.

Alinea (2)—In April a member of the FBI of Honolulu, Tilman by name, visited them at Arizona and on the pretext of making “daily talks” subjected all the consular officials and their families to very severe cross examinations for 6 days from the 17th to the 22nd of the same month. Especially he subjected Mr. Okuda, Vice Consul, to a cross examination lasting many hours using threatening language.

Alinea VI—Delay of embarkation of the exchange ship at New York.

The party left Arizona on the 8th of June to go on board the exchange ship which was due to sail on the 11th of June and arrived at New York at 11 a.m. on the 11th of June and went immediately to the Pennsylvania Hotel. However they were not allowed to embark the ship on the pretext that her departure was postponed and they were kept imprisoned at the same hotel for a week under strict surveillances. On the evening of the 18th they were allowed to embark on the exchange ship just about 3 hours prior to her departure. The American authorities interned the Consul General and members of his staff separately from the members of the Embassy and other Consulates and despite the fact that the embarkation on the exchange ship of other Japanese officials took place on the 11th of June they did not [Page 1065] allow the members of Honolulu Consulate to get on board the steamer until just immediately before her departure. Moreover in spite of the repeated inquiries made by Admiral K. Nomura, Japanese Ambassador in Washington, since several months before, the American authorities did not give any information concerning the whereabouts of the members of Honolulu Consulate and moreover they evaded the question regarding their whereabouts and the time of their embarkation even after they had arrived at New York. They also dodged inquiries made by the Consul General concerning the whereabouts of other Japanese officials. These measures towards the members of the Japanese Consulate General at Honolulu were it must be admitted unnecessarily strict and severe contrary to the international usage and utterly incomprehensible.”

Cable text reply from American Government.

  1. Handed on January 4, 1943, to Assistant Secretary Long by the Swedish Minister; acknowledged by the Secretary of State on January 26.
  2. Nagao Kita.