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

Full Text Newspaper ArticleWatsonville Register-Pajaronian. April 13, 1944. p. 3


LOS ANGELES, (UP) - California authorities Thursday took the first step in a campaign to wrest thousands of acres of valuable agricultural land from ownership of all Japanese now held through "dummies."

District Attorney Fred N. Howser filed an action under the alien land law against seven persons, two of them Japanese aliens to return to the state a four and one half acre truck garden tract in Los Angeles valued at $40,000.

Howser said the action was the first of a series of similar petitions to be filed on behalf of the state after a year's investigation of Japanese holdings in the county.

He explained that under the 1914 Alien Land law, aliens who were ineligible for citizenship were prohibited from owning property but if they managed to do so illegally and then transferred it to one legally capable of owning it the state had no recourse.

"Under the 1920 revisions the law holds that an automatic escheat to the state occurs as of the date the alien acquired the land," he said.

The action named Yukichi Yamaguchi, alien Japanese, who returned to Japan in 1935; Hideo Suyenaga, American-born Japanese who admittedly held the property as a "dummy" for five years, receiving only $20 and a necktie for his trouble; Hiroshi Yamaguchi, alien-born nephew of Y. Yamaguchi, his wife, Tokiye Akuma Yamaguchi, American-born, to whose hand the property was transferred from 1935 until they were evacuated to a relocation center in 1942, and three other persons who have claimed interest in the property.

They are: Misu Kayashima, who once had a contract to buy the land; Herman Appel and Stanley C. Mellier, harbor district banker who now holds the property in trust.

Howser said investigations revealed that at the time of Pearl Harbor, Japanese had moved into the Ft. MacArthur and harbor areas to the extent that almost every highway, power plant and other strategic point had an alien neighbor.

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