740.00115 PW/8–645

The Department of State to the Swiss Legation


The Department of State transmits for the information of the Swiss Legation in charge of Japanese interests in the continental United States a statement, with enclosures, prepared by the War Relocation Authority of the United States Department of the Interior, concerning the present situation of Japanese nationals residing in War Relocation Centers. Reference is made in connection with the enclosed statement to a recent telephone conversation between Mr. Weingartner of the Legation of Switzerland and Mr. Marcy of the Department of State during the course of which Mr. Weingartner requested information regarding War Relocation Centers in the United States.

If the Legation of Switzerland desires further information regarding War Relocation Centers the Department of State will be pleased to endeavor to obtain such information.

It is suggested that for the present the Legation of Switzerland send communications destined for the War Relocation Authority or Japanese evacuees in War Relocation Centers through the special War Problems Division of the Department of State which will promptly forward them.

The information contained in the attached statement with its enclosures is for the information of the Swiss Legation and it is requested that it not be communicated to the Japanese Government.


Statement Prepared by the War Relocation Authority

The following observations are submitted for the information of the Swiss Legation which may find them of interest:

[Page 437]

In the first place, following the evacuation it was necessary for the War Relocation Authority to give major attention to providing food, clothing, housing, medical care, and other necessities to the persons whose evacuation from the West Coast was ordered by the military authorities. To this end relocation centers were established as places of temporary residence pending relocation. Almost immediately, however, provision was made for the relocation of some of the evacuees. In 1943 nearly 17,000 left centers on indefinite leave, and a considerable number left centers for temporary periods to engage in various types of work or to take care of miscellaneous personal business outside of centers. In 1944 an additional 18,500 left the centers on a permanent basis and several thousand left the centers temporarily to work or to take care of personal business.

In 1943 it became evident that there was a sharp cleavage between certain groups of evacuees. A majority adhered to the American way of life. Their sons enlisted in, or were drafted into, the American Army, and in various ways they lent their support to the American war effort and programs. Another group, on the other hand, by refusal to accept induction into the armed services through Selective Service procedure (applicable only to citizens), by requesting exchange to Japan, and by various other means, indicated their adherence to Japanese ideology and nationalistic aims. In the interest of maintenance of order in the Centers, and for the good of the great mass of evacuees, it became necessary, therefore, to designate one of the centers as a segregation center to which a majority of the pro-Japanese group were transferred. This was the period of “Segregation.”

The program of the Authority, up to this time, including Segregation, is summarized in Senate Document No. 9623 entitled “Segregation of Loyal and Disloyal Japanese in Relocation Centers,” two copies of which are enclosed herewith, as Enclosure 1.

In December of 1944 an entirely new development occurred, consistent with the progress of the war, namely, the rescinding of the exclusion orders by the Commanding General of the Western Defense Command of the U.S. Army. This development permitted a renewed emphasis upon relocation and required the reshaping of a number of our policies in order that the evacuees might take their places as promptly as possible in the main currents of American life.

The principal policy change involved was a decision to close all relocation centers, other than Tule Lake, within six months to one year after revocation of the mass exclusion orders. With the great majority of the evacuees free to return to their former homes or resettle anywhere else in the United States, the Authority felt that it [Page 438] was neither necessary nor desirable to operate the centers beyond a period which would make reasonable allowance for resettlement of the remaining population. Three years of experience in managing the centers had indicated clearly that they could not and should not be more than temporary shelters. Isolated as they have unavoidably been from the main currents of American life, the centers have always been abnormal communities, destructive of initiative, self-respect, and personal dignity. Their effect on the people living in them, and particularly on the young people of school age, has been to retard rather than accelerate both their personal development and their adjustment to American social and economic life. Moreover, the acute manpower shortage and the plentiful employment opportunities for evacuees throughout the nation made it doubly desirable to complete the relocation job and liquidate the centers at the earliest practicable date. Accordingly, the Authority enlarged its relocation staff and now maintains 57 offices serving the principal cities, States, and production areas in the United States. The field offices expedite relocation, assist in locating housing, and provide for the various types of assistance evacuees need in regaining their position as self-reliant, self-supporting members of American society.

These changes and announcements are documented and explained by enclosures numbered 2, 3, 4, and 5.24

At the present time certain persons are precluded from returning to their homes or from relocating in the United States generally. The War Department, through the Western Defense Command, has excluded certain individuals from the West Coast Areas and has required that certain others be detained. Most of those ordered detained are already at Tule Lake and the remainder are to be transferred there in the very near future. The result will be that as soon as this transfer has been accomplished, every person at any of the other centers will be free to leave and will not in any sense be detained. Consequently, visits by the representatives of the Protecting Power to Centers other than Tule Lake should no longer be necessary.

As indicated above, we are convinced that the welfare of the evacuees requires their absorption into American life as soon as possible. Quite recently we have worked out a definite schedule for closing the centers on a gradual basis between October 15 and December 15 of the current year. Our reasons for taking this action have already been indicated briefly and are set forth in some detail in enclosures 6 (see pages 12 and 13 especially) and 7. Our field staff is prepared to meet the many and varied problems involved in assisting individual families to accomplish their individual relocation.

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The original evacuation affected approximately 110,000 persons of Japanese ancestry, two-thirds American citizens, and one-third alien. As of March 31, 1945, there were approximately 74,800 residents of centers, of whom 58 per cent were citizens and 42 per cent were aliens. Enclosure 8 presents these data by Centers. Enclosure 9 is the most recent report, “Net Absences on Leave by Center,” and presents the current picture on relocation, which in recent weeks has averaged in the neighborhood of 1,000 per week.

  1. 78th Cong., 1st sess.
  2. See documents itemized in the memorandum of February 5 to the Spanish Embassy, p. 431, and footnote 15, p. 432.