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


Full Text Newspaper ArticleWatsonville Register-Pajaronian. July 6, 1943. p. 6

JAP-AMERICAN ARMY PRIVATE WANTS 'CHINAMAN'S CHANCE' TO PROVE LOYALTY TO THE US

Washington (UP) - A U. S. Army private of Japanese ancestry begged a Dies subcommittee to give him "a Chinaman's chance" to prove his loyalty to the United States and desire for the defeat of Japan.

The man is Mike Masaoka, former executive secretary of the Japanese American Citizens' League. He told the subcommittee, which is investigating the relocation of Japanese in this country, that most members of his organization believe the attack on Pearl Harbor was a "dastardly deed."

"We are going to do everything possible," he said, "to make them (the Japs) eat their act."

He told the committee that the League, which he said had 20,000 members before the West Coast evacuation and 5000 paid members in May, 1943, is "composed of loyal Americans of Japanese ancestry 18 years old or over." An oath of allegiance to the United States, he said, is a requisite of membership.

"Most of us believe in the United States," he said. "We are utterly foreign to Japan. We grew up and were educated as Americans. We would be foreigners and enemies of Japan. We could not tolerate their conditions of living and systems of thinking and government."

Masaoka, however, admitted being author of a suggested anti-curfew strike last September in California and Idaho areas.

A letter read by committee investigators quoted Masaoka as saying:

"As a matter of strategy, it seems to me that all of you Japanese-Americans and Japanese nationals in your section ought to get together and work out some scheme whereby you would be able to get all the evacuee-labor in both the labor camps and relocation centers to agree not to work unless these curbs (curfew) are done away with. It is my guess that their aid will be greatly needed during coming harvest season. If the sugar beet interests need helpers bad enough, they will see to it that local community pressure is suppressed."

Masaoka said that no action was taken on the suggestion because the Japanese could not get together.

He said he paid "a courtesy call" on CIO official Monroe Sweetland just prior to his induction June 4, 1943, but had not discussed Japanese cooperation in labor strikes.

Masaoka said he had frequent discussions with Dillon S. Myer, director of the War Relocation Authority, about WRA policies, but denied that he had ever "dictated" those policies.

He said that he had also personally discussed the problems of Japanese-Americans with Mrs. Roosevelt and Chief Justice Harian Stone, and "indirectly" with Attorney General Francis Biddle, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, and Assistant Secretary of State Sumner Welles. He told the committee these officials had been sympathetic, but "didn't want publicity."

Masaoka said that he thought the Relocation Authority "is doing a job very well under the difficulties under which they labor," and that, "generally speaking, supervision and government of relocation centers has been remarkable."

He told the committee, however, that he advocated that the Relocation Authority release more loyal internees, and take a "firmer step in presenting [...illegible] Japanese to the American people.

He said that resettlement now was "only a rich man's chance," because WRA did not furnish sufficient funds on release.

The Japanese American Citizens' League, Masaoka said, has rendered tremendous service to the United States," and resented being considered a "hyphen group."

"I believe," he said, "there has never been any evidence of a tie with Japan or a desire (by the League) to see Japan win. There has never been to my knowledge any indication that JACL was ever subversive or un-American."

He said he and many other members had volunteered in the Army "to prove we are loyal."

"We are asking a Chinaman's chance to prove we want America to win this war against Japan."

Capt. John M. Hall, from the office of the Assistant Secretary of War, interrupted a public hearing of a Dies subcommittee investigating Japanese relocation to deny emphatically that there was any rift between civilian and military authorities in the War Department on the question of removal of Japanese from the West Coast.

"So far as I was concerned - and I was in a position to know - no such rift did arise," Hall told the subcommittee.

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