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

Full Text Newspaper ArticleSanta Cruz Sentinel-News. Dec. 18, 1941. p. 1



For a long time alarmists on the Pacific coast have speculated wildly on what to expect of Japanese-Americans in the event of war, and so today more than 100,000 members of the western states were on the spot.

Of the 150,000 Japanese in this country some 100,000 are Nisei, second generation - or sons and daughters of the "old folks" who came across the Pacific in the early years of this century, to work in railroad construction gangs and on farms. While the "old folks" remain aliens on our soil, excluded by law from American citizenship, the boys and girls of the second generation or full-fledged Americans by right of birth. Actually, there is no legal barrier to keep a Nissei from becoming President of the United States.

The December issue of American Mercury, in an article entitled "America's 150,000 Japanese", points out that in some of California's 218 Japanese language schools the Japanese teachers have tried to indoctrinate their Nisei pupils with the spirit of Nippon. "while most of these schools today place an increasing emphasis on Americanism, some are still on the fence," says the American Mercury article, which was written by Ernest O. Hauser. "in several instances the original textbooks which had been approved by the California Board of Education, have been withdrawn quietly and replaced by the textbooks used in Japan. And American school children of Japanese ancestry will solemnly worm their way through a chapter on 'Spring', which reads: 'it is now spring....Step by step, we are on the way up and our growing power, which is, like the sunrise, now has the youthfulness of spring...You, young people, must realize the fact that the future of the Japanese Empire rests on your shoulders.' Their teacher is a Japanese; often, especially in the remote Japanese communities up-country, he is the local Buddhist minister. Is it surprising that he tells those young Americans to sing Japan's national anthem, to worship the Emperor, and, on festive occasions, even to bow to his picture?"

This, understand, is not representative of all the schools.

The legal situation is this: Until 1924, children of Japanese race were born as Japanese citizens, according to Japan's law, no matter where they were born. Then, Japan changed her citizenship law, and claimed only those children as her citizens who were registered by their parents with the Japanese consul.

Any one who holds dual citizenship can go to the Japanese consulate and "expatriate", but this is a long, tricky, and arduous procedure. To go through with it, the Japanese must have a lawyer, and the lawyer must attack a mountain of red tape. Many hundreds of dollars are spent before the Nisei is declared a "dead person" as far as the land of the Rising Sun is concerned.

Some of the Nisei boys, who went to Japan to study or to look for jobs, actually were drafted into the Japanese army. Although such enlistment now automatically cancels their American citizenship, this was not so in 1937, when Japan invaded China.

Ernest Hauser writes "...There are some five hundred American rookies of Japanese blood serving under the Stars and Stripes...Their American superiors are full of praise, for the boys make excellent soldiers, and their Japanese parents are dizzy with pride. Wasn't it the highest honor for a thousand years in Japan to have a boy in the army? The send-off parties for Nisei draftees are memorable affairs."

Hauser goes on to express the opinion that for the most part the Nisei - the American born Japanese - can be depended upon to stand by the United States. He feels that the Kibei - the American born Japanese who were sent to Japan in childhood for training and who have returned to this country - are the crux of the whole problem.

"These Kibei, returning to this country with American passports, are, to all intents and purposes, Japanese. They have spent their childhood and adolescence in Japan. They think in Japanese and they speak Japanese. They are imbued with the spirit of Nippon, with its strong elements of loyalty to the Emperor and to the Rising Sun. What would be easier for Japan's military and naval authorities than to send some of the over here with appropriate instructions?"

Taken as a whole, the Americans are fair-minded people. None of us wants to hurt a Japanese-American who sincerely loves this country. Yes, the Japanese in America are on the spot. But they can be sure that we will judge them in the long run by their deeds - not by the color of their skin.

Copyrighted by the Santa Cruz Sentinel-News. Reproduced by permission.