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Santa Cruz County History - Executive Order 9066 and the Residents of Santa Cruz County
Watsonville Register-Pajaronian. Dec. 21, 1944. p. 1
ICKES SAYS MOST JAPANESE EVACUEES 'CHOOSE TO REMAIN' WHERE THEY ARE
Secretary of Interior Harold L. Ickes said Thursday in Washington he believed that most Japanese-Americans and Japanese aliens who were evacuated from the west coast and subsequently relocated "will choose of their own accord to remain in their present locations," the United Press reported.
In connection with the recent war department order which permits loyal and law-abiding evacuees to return to the west coast or move to other parts of the country, Ickes said: "They will want to stay on their war jobs and to make the most of their new opportunities among friends and neighbors."
Many Japanese have indicated they will not return to their former homes in Southern California, and 100,000 pounds of personal belongings are being shipped monthly to Japanese evacuees who plan to locate elsewhere, War Relocation Authority officials revealed.
Earl W. Barton, area supervisor for the WRA said thousands of the 36,866 Japanese evacuated from Los Angeles by military order in 1942 have had their goods shipped to the east or midwest where they have located.
Meanwhile, warning that any civil disturbances resulting from the return of loyal Japanese and Japanese-Americans to the Pacific coast may have an unfavorable effect on the treatment of American soldiers in Japanese prison camps, a committee of California law enforcement officers called for "cheerful cooperation" with the army when the evacuation is revoked Jan. 2.
At the same time War Relocation authority officials said returnees will not be allowed back unless they have assurance of a means of support and a place to live.
Sheriffs, district attorney, police chiefs and justices of the peace headed by Police Chief Dullea and constituting the law enforcement committee of the State War council met with Governor Warren in Sacramento to consider problems which may arise with the return of the evacuees.
In a statement issued after the conference the committee said its members considered themselves sworn to cooperate fully with army authorities in the program.
"There should be no difficulty involved in this transition unless incidents are provoked by intemperate words and thoughtlessness," the statement added.
"It is our belief that any mistreatment of Japanese within our state will not improve the conditions which must be faced by our American boys now in prison camps.
"It is our belief that cheerful cooperation with the army program will be in furtherance of our war effort and in keeping with our purposes and our duty as American citizens...
"During this period of adjustment the reputation of each of our California communities will be at stake. We have faith in the good judgment of the people of California. We confidently expect all citizens to join with us in furthering full respect of the individual rights involved."
The committee will meet again in January to consider new developments.
WRA officials said a requirement that returning evacuees must have their resettlement plans approved by that agency would prevent any mass influx to the west coast.
"With the housing crisis what it is, together with the problem of obtaining employment, we are not going to just dump the Japanese back to forage for themselves." a WRA spokesman said.
He said that although some of the loyal Japanese and Japanese-Americans may have friends who would shelter them, the majority did not have much money and many either had lost their homes or their businesses and have no immediate prospects."
They will apply for work at the U.E. Employment service office or agricultural employment office nearest their relocation center.
Many evacuees will not return to their former places of residence, according to reports from relocation centers in the west. Some at Poston, Ariz. said they had to dispose of their belongings when they were evacuated and would require help.
L.T. Hoffman, project director at Topaz, Utah, said those at the center there realize the difficulty of finding housing and jobs on the coast and many had sold their property or leased it for the duration.
"Some property owners are planning to relocate in the east for a couple of years and others expect to 'scout' the west coast before returning their families," he said.
In Sacramento deputies of the California State Grange representing various areas in California issued a statement opposing the return of Japanese to California as "extremely dangerous and ill-advised."
The statement declared that if Japanese are permitted to return it will mean farmers will have to move out of houses they now are occupying and "with the extreme housing shortage, these people will find it very difficult, if not impossible, to find places to which they can move."
The statement continued, "as the war in the Pacific increases in tempo, it is only natural the feeling against Japanese will materially increase. It is neither reasonable nor just to expect that our men in uniform will accept the situation of the return of the Japanese, who will be occupying homes and farms now being operated by families and friends. The assumption that opposition to the return of the Japanese may result in retaliation against American prisoners of war is neither reasonable nor logical.
"We all know that nearly every Japanese child born in California was registered with the Japanese consul, thereby becoming a subject of the Emperor of Japan, at the same time claiming American citizenship.
The statement said rural California is almost unanimous in its opposition and that the grange "will use all peaceable, but vigorous means to prevent the return of the Japanese."
In Merced, assurances to Atty.-Gen. Robert Kenny that every effort would be made to seize land in that county held by Japanese in violation of the California Alien Land law, were made by Dist.-Atty. Claude H. Adams. He said, however, that legislative action and a constitutional amendment possibly would be necessary to deal with the Japanese ownership problem.
In Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Catholic Interracial council termed a "disgrace to the community" Mayor Fletcher E. Bowron's "ridiculous reception" of the army order returning evacuated Japanese to California.
Daniel G. Marshall, council chairman, said the mayor's "feverish imagination, inflamed by ghost stories, has hypnotized him into using very dangerous language." The mayor had said he thought army aid would be necessary to protect life and property on the return of the Japanese.
Copyrighted by the Watsonville Register-Pajaronian. Reproduced by permission.