Santa Cruz County History - Executive Order 9066 and the Residents of Santa Cruz County


Full Text Newspaper ArticleWatsonville Register-Pajaronian. April 16, 1943. p. 1

DEWITT ATTITUDE ON JAPS UPSETS PLANS: MANY READY FOR RETURN TO COAST

by Fred Mullen

Washington (UP) - The attitude of Lt.-Gen. John L. DeWitt that "a Jap's a Jap," has upset for the present an administration plan to return to useful work on the Pacific coast a majority of the 110,000 Japanese evacuees in relocation camps, it was learned Friday.

As a result the administration is trying to transfer some American-born Japanese to eastern farms, homes and industry. Seven arrived Friday to work on the Maryland farms of Secretary of Interior Harold L. Ickes and Sam Rice, former Washington baseball player.

Responsible sources said that the war department had agreed to the plan to return them to the Pacific coast and that the War Relocation Authority was about to put it in operation when DeWitt, commander of the western defense command, publicly declared that "a Jap's a Jap". DeWitt was quoted earlier this week as saying that "it makes no difference whether he is an American citizen or not...the west coast is too vital and too vulnerable to take any chances."

It was understood that a high war department official is trying to get DeWitt to change his mind.

The evacuation was carried out shortly after Pearl Harbor, partly in response to a clamor by west coast citizens. But by last summer the trend of thought was changing due to the rising labor shortage, especially on large California farms.

Officials said that the attitude of DeWitt was expressed at a time when it appeared that the program was ready to be put into operation. His attitude, they said, will not affect the placement of Japanese elsewhere in the country where they can be used.

It was said that the Japanese themselves are reluctant to leave the camps for fear of ill-treatment because of their race. However, one official said that the effect of the clearance of the individual by the joint investigative board should be his acceptance as a loyal citizen or alien by the community to which he goes.

Copyrighted by the Watsonville Register-Pajaronian. Reproduced by permission.