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

Full Text Newspaper ArticleWatsonville Register-Pajaronian. June 5, 1945. p. 3


by PETER EDSON NEA Service Staff Correspondent

SAN FRANCISCO - War Relocation authority, the war-time guardian of over 100,000 alien and native-born Japanese-Americans, is planning to go out of business not later than Jan. 2, 1946, says W.R. Cozzens, WRA's deputy director in charge of its western operations.

There will be some 20,000 aliens and undesirable "detainees" and "excludees" left in the big relocation center at Tulelake, Cal., on the Oregon line, but by the end of the year they will all be turned over to the department of justice for detention until such time as they can be shipped back to Japan where, for some strange reason, they have expressed a desire to go. By and large these "deportees" are the older Japs and their wives plus their oldest children and families who own or will inherit property in Japan.

Of the American citizens of Japanese ancestry who are electing to remain in the United States, nearly 45,000 have already been cleared from the three eight western camps or assembly centers, as they are now called. They have been leaving the camps at the rate of over (unreadable) a week, but with the closing of the camp schools this month there will be an augmented evacuation, permitting WRA to go out of business by the end of the year.

If the pattern set thus far holds good, less than 50 per cent of the Japanese-Americans will return to the west coast areas where they lived before the war. Half of those cleared from the WRA centers up to June 1 have sought to make new homes in other parts of the country. They have settled in every state in the union, South Carolina being the last one to receive a WRA evacuee. While they have scattered widely, biggest concentrations are in Denver, St. Louis, Milwaukee, St. Paul, Chicago, Cleveland and New York. Many of those going to the Manhattan area are California farmers who expect to hoe out new existences on the many truck farms supplying the metropolis.

Before clearing any of its charges, War Relocation authority has tried to do a job of giving information as to what conditions will be in every part of the country, says Cozzens. Then it is up to the individual to decide where he wants to go to make his new home.

WRA provides railroad transportation to destination, plus a three dollar a day allowance for means enroute and a stake of $25 for each individual up to a maximum of $100 for each family on which to begin the new life.

Many of the Japanese-Americans have some money of their own. Purchases in relocation center cooperative stores show that, because average individual spending was usually 50 per cent greater than camp earnings during the period of detention.

Some 8000 Japanese families owned property - farms, stores, homes, barber shops, machinery or house furnishings which were kept in storage by WRA. This property was largely held in California and the owners have had a natural desire to come back and claim it after their clearance from the camps, if only to dispose of it before moving on to new locations. But to many who were born in California and have lived here all their lives, the urge to come back and pick up where they left off is strong.

The problems of wartime living have been too much for some. Getting gas rations, food ration books, overcoming the opposition of other Americans who view all people of Jap extraction as enemies even though they are native born citizens, is more than they can cope with. They try to get back into the camps to be taken care of for the duration, but the WRA is having none of them. It impresses on every departing detainee the fact that once he leaves camp, he's on his own.

WRA officials have of course taken a terrific beating on the whole program, but it was admittedly one of the toughest jobs of the home front war effort. The three to four year detention of these Japanese-Americans, for their own protection, will have cost the United States between 175 and 200 million dollars by the time the WRA winds up its operations.

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