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

Full Text Newspaper ArticleWatsonville Register-Pajaronian. May 27, 1942. p. 9


Part II


While the Government was wrestling with the highly complicated problem of what to do with 112,000 people of Japanese blood, for the duration of the war, the rest of the people on the Pacific Coast were clamoring for immediate action.

Obviously, for perfectly good military reasons, the Army could not disclose the fact that it had the situation in hand, from the moment the problem was dumped into its lap. Had it been necessary - and this can now be disclosed - the entire 112,000 Japanese could have been moved into places of security almost overnight.

That is, had there been an invasion attempt or danger of widespread sabotage, or the threat of extensive anti-Japanese violence, the Army had train schedules and other facilities set to remove the entire western colony of Japanese into already established Army cantonments.

Fortunately, it never became necessary to invoke this emergency program. So the regular program for evacuation was begun and at this date has been almost completely carried out in orderly fashion.

On March 10, the Fourth Army created what is known as its Civil Affairs Division, and on the following day the Wartime Civil Control Administration was created as the operating agency to carry out the staff planning by the Civil Affairs Division.

Both of these new setups were put under the command of Colonel Karl R. Bendetsen, Assistant Chief of General DeWitt's staff. At the Army's request, Attorney General Biddle loaned one of his administrative men, Tom C. Clark of Los Angeles, to be Colonel Bendetsen's chief civilian assistant.

Job Had to be Thorough

As told in the opening article of this series, the first migration, a voluntary movement of Japanese inland from the Coast, was accepted by the Japanese in relatively limited numbers. In addition it raised perplexing resettlement problems.

Colonel Bendetsen realized that the only way the job could be done properly was by doing it completely. Thus emerged a carefully thought out program, the first phase of which called for removal of all Japanese in the western states to some 18 temporary assembly centers located at the following points:

Arizona: Cave Creek, Camp Mayer.

California: Fresno, Marysville, Merced, Pinedale, Pomona, Sacramento, Salinas, Arcadia, Stockton, Tanforan, Tulare, Turlock, Tulelake, Manzanar.

Oregon: Portland.

Washington: Puyallup.

The largest is at the Santa Anita race track in Arcadia, with a capacity of 17,000. Next come Manzanar and Tulelake with capacity of 10,000 each and Puyallup and Tanforan, each with 8,000.

Fresno, Merced, Pinedale, Pomona, Sacramento, Stockton and Tulare have capacities of 5,000 each, Salinas and Turlock 4,000 each. Marysville and Portland 3,000 each, and the more or less isolated Cave Creek and Camp Mayer, 250 each.

There were three primary considerations in the removal of the Japanese to these Assembly Centers. They were:

1) Speed, which could be accomplished only by utilizing fairgrounds, race tracks, and other public properties which already had water, electricity and convenient location;

2) The need to protect the evacuees' welfare and property; and

3) The military importance of using as few soldiers as possible for this essentially non-military operation.

To illustrate how successfully the Army achieved this third objective, it may be of interest or note that the planning and supervising of the construction of all buildings in the centers, the equipping and supplying of the centers and the entire evacuation procedure were all done by the diversion from other duties of only 35 Army officers. Substantially all of the operating personnel at the centers was enlisted from civilian agencies.

A Big Task, Quickly Done

From the standpoint of timing, the complete job of preparation and evacuation will have taken just about two months from the day the wheels started rolling. In that period all necessary buildings were erected on the 18 sites.

Under the heading of individual security, the entire removal of more than 100,000 people was accomplished without serious accident and was accompanied by only one untoward incident - this involving an emotionally unstrung Japanese youth who swallowed iodine when told he could not enlist in the Army. He recovered.

The handling of the operation, however, called for careful coordination of many government agencies. The physical setup in the Assembly Centers required living quarters for family units, adequate dining rooms (mess halls in Army parlance), shower bath accommodations, toilets, laundries, recreational facilities, and even a post exchange at each center where the Japanese could spend of their small monthly allowance for newspapers, magazines, candy bars, cigarettes and other little perquisites of a normal life.

Some idea of how much was involved may be seen in a brief resume of what had to be done before the Japanese could break up housekeeping and move into their new temporary quarters.

The Office of Emergency Management provided important help in getting the buildings erected at the centers.

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco helped dispose of store leases, transfer stocks of merchandise to new proprietors and handle problems relating to the disposition of such automobiles and household furnishings as the evacuees weren't taking with them.

Jap Farms Will Produce

The Department of Agriculture, through the Farm Security Administration, carried out a tremendous assignment in the resettlement of evacuated lands by getting neighboring farmers and others to take over, with the result that the Japanese will not sustain avoidable losses and the American people will not suffer through the loss of Japanese crops.

The Federal Security Agency handled personal welfare problems, and the United States Public Health Service assumed responsibility for safeguarding health and supervising sanitary provisions.

The Department of Justice handled knotty legal problems, and the Works Progress Administration provided competent civilian personnel to manage the centers and do all the work within the centers that is not done by the Japanese themselves.

The Treasury Department, the Department of Commerce through the Bureau of the Census, the Alien Property Custodian and other executives and departments contributed their share wherever their services and advice were needed.

The machinery for all this work was set up in the form of 64 civil control stations located within convenient distances from the various colonies of Japanese and of the Assembly Centers to which they were assigned. The representatives of the various government agencies participating were stationed at these civil control points, so that practically all problems attendant upon the removal of the Japanese could be handled at one time and at one central clearing house.

How Evacuees Are Paid

Funds due the Japanese as the result of sale or other disposal of property are put in escrow until after the war. During their occupancy of the Centers, however, the Japanese are being issued nominal allowances and compensations with all evacuees being supplied with food, housing, hospitalization, medical and dental care, and clothing when needed.

Also, upon application by the evacuees, the government will issue coupon books having cash value good for purchases of merchandise at the Center stores. These books will entitle a single adult to $2.50 worth of merchandise per month, a couple to $4.00, an individual under sixteen years old $1.00. Maximum allowance to any one family is $7.50. In addition, those Japanese evacuees who work in the Assembly Centers will receive extra compensation on the following basis: unskilled workers, $8.00 a month; skilled workers, $12.00 a month; professional and technical workers, $16.00 a month. As yet no wage scale has been fixed for those assigned to administrative and maintenance work. Wage schedules are based on a 44-hour week.

All the above, of course, is for work done in the Assembly Centers and in direct connection with the operation of those centers.

In connection with the handling of Japanese property, probably the most interest on the part of the public - next to the effect upon agricultural production - has had to do with what would happen to all the automobiles. In going to the Assembly Centers the Japanese were given their choice of transportation provided by the Army or going in their own cars. They were also given their choice as between keeping their cars and selling them. If they chose to keep them the cars would be parked in an enclosure connected with the center. If they chose to sell them the Government would buy them.

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