740.00115 Pacific War/2257

The Secretary of State to the Swedish Minister (Boström)

The Secretary of State presents his compliments to the Honorable the Minister of Sweden in charge of Japanese interests in the Territory of Hawaii and refers to a note dated December 31, 1942,86 setting [Page 1107] forth certain complaints of the Japanese Government concerning the treatment alleged to have been accorded Japanese civilians interned in the Territory of Hawaii.

Investigation of these complaints has now been completed and there is transmitted herewith a statement embodying the findings of the investigation. The paragraphs of the enclosed statement are numbered to correspond with the numbered paragraphs of the communication from the Japanese Government which formed the enclosure to the Legation’s note under reference.


Statement Prepared in the Department of State

Alinea (1)—Regarding alleged handcuffing and overcrowding. A report from the military authorities in Hawaii indicates that in no instance was it found necessary to use handcuffs during the apprehension and transportation of Japanese internees to custody. The internees, once in custody, were afforded living quarters in compliance with basic United States Army Regulations covering the housing of soldiers which take into consideration elements of health, ventilation, and comfort. Suitable toilet facilities were furnished and exercise periods were allowed. The internees were fed in a roofed inclosure and were not subjected to the elements as alleged in Alinea (1).

With reference to the alleged overcrowding of civilian internees, it is believed that the communication from the Japanese Government refers to the arrival on the West Coast at one time of a group of 161 civilian internees. This group was temporarily held while awaiting processing in a bedroom with 192 beds and was fed in a new mess hall seating 250 persons.

Alinea (2)—Regarding compelling civilian internees to work. A full report on the treatment of Japanese internees at Sand Island Detention Camp, Territory of Hawaii, shows that within the first few weeks after December 7, 1941, a large number of aliens was taken into custody. Action had to be taken immediately to “tent” them adequately until permanent housing could be constructed. Japanese civilian internees were instructed to erect and align their tents. Similar instructions were given to other internees. No order was given, as far as is known, that Japanese should erect the tents of Germans and Italians. It was the policy of the Commanding Officer of the Sand Island Detention Camp never to order Japanese to perform labor for German or Italian internees, or vice versa.

[Page 1108]

Pursuant to a request made of the leaders of Japanese internees, a number of young Japanese willingly assisted in the construction of a fence around their inclosures.

The laundry was made available to Japanese internees in January 1942, for their use in laundering their own bed linen and clothing. They occasionally voluntarily assisted in doing the laundry of American Army personnel. Later, when the laundry was operated by the Quartermaster of the United States Army, internee labor, including Japanese, was employed at the rate of eighty cents per day. These work groups were selected by their own group leaders.

Permission to raise vegetables was given as a considerate gesture to enable the Japanese, who desired fresh vegetables, to supply themselves therewith. Implements and seeds were furnished. The internees furnished the labor and there was never any understanding or order that they were raising vegetables for American troops. Apparently on some occasions when crops of certain vegetables were greater than needed by the internees, the internees themselves offered the excess vegetables to the troops.

Before funds were available for the payment of internee labor, there may have been instances of gratuitous labor but such work was performed voluntarily and not under force or as the result of a direct order. However, when funds were available, payments were made for all work performed and a three dollars monthly allowance was granted each internee retroactively to the date of initial interment. In those cases in which internees were transferred to the Mainland prior to the inauguration of payments to internees, they were later credited with the amounts due up to the time of their departure from the Sand Island Detention Camp.

Alinea (3)—Concerning search of internees. Upon arrival at camp, the clothing and baggage of internees were completely searched. All valuables were taken from them, listed and a receipt given, signed by the internees and the receiving officer. Any article which might have been considered a possible lethal weapon was confiscated. When any group of Japanese was transferred to the Mainland, its members were searched again before leaving camp to assure that no forbidden articles were taken aboard ship. All personal valuables except money were returned upon departure of the internees for the Mainland.

Concerning Money. In Hawaii, funds received from internees or donations to internees, were deposited in a Hawaiian bank and books were set up to show the amounts credited to each internee. Upon transfer to the Mainland the money was forwarded to the Provost Marshal General, Washington, D.C., for credit to the internee’s account at the Mainland internment camp to which he was transferred. [Page 1109] It is reported that a total of $26,679.65 of internee funds was forwarded to Washington. It is possible that some internees were inconvenienced because of lack of funds upon arrival on the Mainland before their funds were received and made available.

Alinea (4)—Concerning alleged mistreatment during transfer to the Mainland. During the transfer of civilian Internees from Hawaii to the Mainland they were provided adequate accommodations and were not restricted by wire netting or any other similar device. Toilets, in all cases, were furnished within the rooms or were readily accessible. Accommodations given internees were superior to those furnished either the ship’s crew or transit troops. Within the West Coast area adequate facilities were afforded internees and no complaints were lodged during any transfer.

The report from the military authorities in Hawaii indicates that the treatment of Japanese and other persons held in custodial detention has, since the beginning of hostilities, been marked by scrupulous observance of treaty obligations and agreements. Throughout the process of investigation, apprehension and detention, Japanese civilians were treated humanely and were protected against violence, insults and public curiosity.