NOTE: Sections blacked out in the original are noted by X's, with number of lines where applicable.
February 2, 1942
MEMORANDUM FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
With reference to the conference of yesterday held in your office between representatives of the War Department and the Department of Justice concerning the evacuation of Japanese from the West Coast area, I communicated with our several offices upon the Pacific Coast following this conference, and checked with them as to the various aspects of this rather intricate and certainly difficult problem.
The following pertinent items have been advanced for consideration in connection with any mass evacuation of Japanese from the Pacific Coast. Both pro and con items are considered in an effort to present a broad picture of the situation.
The necessity for mass evacuation is based primarily upon public and political pressure rather than on factual data. Public hysteria and in some instances, the comments of the press and radio announcers, have resulted in a tremendous amount of pressure being brought to bear on Governor Olson and Earl Warren, Attorney General of the State, and on the military authorities. It is interesting to observe that little mention has been made of the mass evacuation of enemy aliens.
It is believed by many that the mass evacuation will be a cure-all and will eliminate the danger of Japanese espionage and sabotage. It would, of course, eliminate the possibility of the Japanese physically committing sabotage on the coast. However, experience has taught that the Japanese often rely on Occidentals to obtain physically their information for them. Bureau cases substantiate this.
If only the Japanese aliens are excluded from restricted areas, the problem of enforcement becomes extremely difficult. The necessity for challenging every Japanese observed within these areas is obvious. Then there must follow a close interrogation to establish citizenship. There also remains the fact that a large portion of the aliens have immediate or close relatives who are citizens and who would have access to the restricted areas. It is recognized that the second generation Japanese are, as a whole, more inclined to be loyal to this country than their alien elders. Irrespective of this, aliens and citizens being in the same families would tend to nullify effectiveness of the exclusion of aliens and not citizens from restricted areas. The advisability of excluding aliens and not citizens is therefore highly controversial.
In the event of an attempted invasion, an altogether different problem presents itself. The Japanese as a race, although extremely law-abiding, are very loyal to their native land. This is attributed largely to the close relationship between their religion and their government. The are taught that their emperor has divine rights and power and that their reward in the hereafter depends upon their service to him. Although usually law-abiding while under the control of the Occidental, little doubt remains that they would assist a Japanese army having apparent local successes. No one can say definitely what the local Japanese would do during an invasion as it would be a matter of individual decision.
The possibility of race riots continues to exist. There is a large Filipino population in California that presents a constant threat to widespread violence. Stories of Japanese atrocities in the Philippines, either true or magnified, could quickly bring about a serious condition in the Sacramento Valley where there are large Japanese and Filipino populations. This is presently of major concern in the Hawaiian Islands. The unrest there, as well as in California, has, however, resulted only in individual assaults. If widespread conflicts do occur, the Filipinos will be the aggressors.
Naturalized citizens who were, until recently, Axis nationals present a problem equal to that of the Japanese aliens. Many of the Japanese aliens would have become citizens, if permitted, either because of their appreciation of this country or for selfish or ulterior reasons. The subjects of a great number of our internal security cases involving Axis powers are naturalized citizens. They have, in many instances, considered their American citizenship as a license and a protective cloak instead of a privilege to be appreciated. Thus their American citizenship is being used to protect and to facilitate their un-American activities.
The following is the information obtained from the Coastal Offices which sets out their individual conditions:
United States census of 1940 lists 93,717 Japanese in the State of California, 33,569 being aliens. In Los Angeles County, there are 36,866 Japanese of which 13,391 are aliens. Within 15 California counties covered by the Los Angeles Field Division, there are 18,741 alien Japanese and 33,151 citizens of Japanese ancestry. Because of their great number, it is impossible to keep any appreciable number under surveillance so as to prevent espionage and sabotage. The Japanese Central Association of Los Angeles has twenty member branches in the Los Angeles Division, almost every branch having a membership running into several hundreds. The Japanese Central Association has acted as agents for the Japanese consuls in matters such as recording births, preparation of business and personal census receiving receiving money from the Consulate for so doing. The Japanese Central Association acted as a medium through which collections for the Japanese Army and Navy were transmitted to Japan. Influence of Japanese Central Association is extensive and widespread. Except in rare instances, all alien Japanese belong to some prefectural organization, there being 70 of these groups in the Los Angeles area. The prefectural organizations are branches of the various prefectures or states in Japan and are admittedly part of the Japanese overseas expansion program. These organizations have in the past received a monthly magazine from the government offices in Tokio and their officers are elected by local branches receiving certificates notifying them of their election from the foreign office in Tokio.
Most alien Japanese belong to the Buddhist or Shinto churches. Buddhist churches here have always been branches of the mother church in Japan. The priests are appointed with the approval of the Japanese government and then sent to this country. The Shinto religion is ancestor worship, the Japanese Emperor being the supreme being. Shinto is a national religion of Japan. There are 13 Shinto priests in the Los Angeles area, 6,000 Japanese farmers in Southern California, and 2,500 in Los Angeles County. All of the above groups have close ties to Japan. There has been a definite non-compliance with the proclamation relating to travel, firearms and signalling devices on the part of the above Japanese.
Local officials, press and citizens have started widespread movement demanding complete evacuation of all Japanese, citizen and alien alike. These citizens are claiming that the Federal agencies are too lax in this regard. This movement is gaining great support and in the event of any sabotage, espionage or any other subversive activity on the part of the Japanese, the Bureau and the Federal government will be subjected to great criticism. A reliable informant of Japanese descent reports that all Japanese nationals entering the United States in the past few years were required to take an oath to support the Japanese government. The Kibei group, those American-born Japanese who received their education in Japan, are reported to be strongly in favor of Japan. Their monthly publication, now in the possession of the Los Angeles Office, definitely shows a strong pro-Japanese tendency. Japanese language schools in the Los Angeles area have used texts printed in Japan. A set of these texts was secured by the Los Angeles Office and forwarded to the Bureau show them to contain articles and illustrations definitely of a propaganda nature. Language schools number over 100 teachers and almost without exception are alien Japanese.
Nisei, American-born Japanese, show natural reluctance to act as informants. The Japanese constitution states anyone born of Japanese parents is a Japanese. Location of these Japanese, both citizens and aliens, is near oil fields, ship yards, airplane factories and national defense factories, which gives them a splendid opportunity for "fifth column" activity on their part if so inclined.
So long as there is no necessity of evacuating or restricting the movements of civilians in this area in order to facilitate the movement of troops, it is not believed that there is a legitimate reason for the mass evacuation of the Japanese aliens.
Since the outbreak of the war there have been no uprisings whatsoever among the Japanese and there has been no trouble between the Japanese and individuals of other nationalities other than three or four incidents of trouble among the Japanese and Filipinos immediately following the outbreak of the war. These incidents concerned only individuals of the two nationalities and groups were not involved. There has been no evidence of recurring clashes recently.
All Japanese in northern California, including both citizens and aliens, are now apparently being controlled, guided and advised by officials of the Japanese American Citizens' League. Although politically rotten the League so far as it is known to this office is composed of a membership who are all citizens of the United States. The activities of the League would indicate that it is definitely pro-American.
At the outbreak of the war all individuals who were leaders and influential in the Japanese colony were apprehended. This caused an obvious and admitted paralyzing of the Japanese community, disrupting business, and social and religious life. The Japanese are at the present time very disorganized and lacking in leadership. The "Big Five" Japanese firms which were reported to be the most logical centers of espionage are closed and the officials thereof are in custody.
In regard to sabotage activities it is not believed that the Japanese are in a position to do material damage. They are greatly handicapped in that they are most conspicuous and are not generally accepted for employment in our vital defense industries.
The travel and obtaining of funds by the Japanese aliens is definitely curbed and causes a material handicap.
It is true that there have been numerous reports that Japanese are in possession of firearms, short-wave radios and other contraband; however, investigation has proved that many of these reports are unfounded and in some instances only low frequency short-wave radios have been found. Where firearms were discovered they have turned out to be either small caliber rifles, shot guns, such as any person might have in his possession, especially a farmer.
It should also be considered that at the present time the morale of the Japanese seems to indicate that they feel they have been well treated by the American people and there are no manifested hard feelings. It should further be considered that any serious action taken against the Japanese alien parents will undoubtedly alienate the second generation Japanese who are American citizens. Even in the most severe cases of pro-Japanese subjects where they admit that they are Japanese, they still insist that this is also their country and they would do nothing to harm it. The almost unanimous attitude is that they desire to stay in this country and that they feel they are at the mercy of the United States government.
With respect to the Japanese who are citizens of this country there have been some entirely unfounded rumors that these Japanese are assisting aliens in obtaining vital defense information.
In regard to the cooperation of United States citizens of Japanese ancestry with this office they have without doubt failed to fully cooperate and have in practically all instances been uncooperative in furnishing information as to their alien parents. The perfect example is the case of the highest ranking officers of the Japanese-American Citizens League. These officers have reputedly stated that they would cooperate with this office and have tried to impress us of their full cooperation; however, they have yet to furnish us with any specific information of value and further, they have never furnished us with enough information concerning any one subject to open a case.
With regard to moving these individuals from the vital defense areas such as along the waterfront, it is felt that they should be placed in the same category as the Japanese aliens.
This office has since the declaration of war attempted to develop confidential informants, sources of information and contacts among the Japanese colony in San Francisco through mass contact; example, by contacting all professional Japanese such as doctors, dentists, lawyers, barbers, beauty salon operators, pool halls, et cetera. These individuals were contacted with a view of getting coverage on all places where Japanese might congregate or frequent and engage in gossip and general conversation. In this project there was no distinction made as to whether the individual was alien or citizen. The results of these contacts have been nil almost without exception. Out of approximately fifty contacts, only four or five appeared to be cooperative enough to consider as possible informants. None of these individuals has yet furnished any information of value.
XXX-2 lines-XXX have repeatedly promised their full cooperation to this office and have been contacted on numerous occasions by agents of the Japanese Squad. However, these men have never furnished any information which would warrant the opening of a case. XXXXX refused to answer specific questions by stating that he has disposition to consider and must stay in the favor of the alien Japanese here. XXXXX present at a meeting of the Japanese-American Citizens League when XXXXX stated that he had been contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation but that he had no intention of becoming a "stool-pigeon" for us and that he did not like the FBI. This matter was never reported by XXXXX. It should be noted that XXX-1 line-XXX the Japanese-American Citizens League, an organization composed entirely of United States citizens, of Japanese ancestry. The younger Japanese depend upon them for advice and instructions.
As a further example of the attitude of these two men, a meeting XXXXX stated that the FBI did not know what they were doing, that the Japanese-American Citizens League knew how to handle "uppity" FBI agents who called on him for information, and further, that the FBI is getting just like the Gestapo.
As of further interest the Japanese-American Citizens League has twenty-six chapters in northern California as well as other chapters in southern California and in other western states where there is a concentration of Japanese.
It is believed that the mass evacuation of Japanese from the San Diego area is highly desirable for the following reasons:
All records secured before hostilities and particularly those seized in apprehension of Japanese aliens reflect extremely ardent nationalistic tendencies. Contributions to Japanese patriotic and war funds have been widespread. All Japanese societies have been in touch from time to time with Japanese Consular officials. Nationalistic propaganda is inculcated and spread by Japanese schools. Japanese family ties are extremely close. Practically all Japanese have relatives in Japan. Their education there has inculcated in them an ineradicable nationalistic principle. Their loyalty to Japan is emotional rather than reason. They are tied to the Japanese cause by blood, family, education, language, and in many instances religion. It has been impossible for them to merge with our citizens and naturally there exists an elemental bitterness on this account. A number of them have had military training in Japan. Some of them hold reserve commissions. Socially they have nothing to hope for in this country. The presence of individuals so constituted in close proximity to the coast and adjacent to most important military and naval establishments must necessarily constitute a menace. Under these circumstances it is practically impossible to keep information as to troop and ship movements from them. There are a number of locations in and around San Diego and along the coast where ship movements are plainly visible to large numbers of inhabitants.
With regard to evacuation of citizens from restricted areas the same general situation in slightly modified form exists. These Japanese, too, have strong family ties. Some of them, owing to representations of their parents or otherwise, possess dual citizenship. Some of these have deferment from Japanese military service, thus acknowledging Japanese allegiance. A number of them have been sent abroad for several years of education which must have been highly nationalistic in character. The vast majority have relatives and social ties in Japan.
About the strongest reason, however, is that which considers the protection of the Japanese themselves, including citizens. The sentiment on the coast is strong and is growing stronger. It only requires a little foresight to realize that at the first bomb dropped or shell fired, the coast will immediately develop an anti-Japanese feeling of hysteria which it would be practically impossible to suppress. It would be too late then to take effective protective measures. In the event steps along these lines were taken, arrangements should be made in exceptional cases where individual Japanese have acted as informants and have been of value to the Bureau. [PHOTO: "Strawberry truck farmer who came to the United States from Japan in 1902 and who now owns his own farm. He has six American born children, with one son serving in the United States Army at Camp Robinson. He says, 'If bad Jap do something, I know evacuation is protection.'" (Florin, Calif., 05/11/1942)]
One hundred and sixty-five Japanese aliens living in Hood River County adjacent to and in the near vicinity of Bonneville Dam, which is the most important source of power in the state of Oregon. Twenty-five Japanese aliens are living in or near Astoria, Oregon, where vital and the only naval base at Tonkue Point is located.
Practically all of the Japanese aliens in Oregon live in the coast area or near Portland with the exception of Hood River mentioned above. A majority of Japanese aliens in Oregon live near Portland where practically all of the defense producing companies and agencies are located. There are approximately about 60 Japanese aliens living within two miles of the Army Airport at Portland.
The following reasons are advanced as to why all Japanese individuals should be evacuated from any restricted areas now existing or contemplated.
1. In the Seattle Field Division, there are in excess of 5,000 Japanese aliens who, under no circumstances, can become American citizens. Many of these individuals have families residing in Japan.
2. Dual citizenship on the part of American-born Japanese couples with the fact that they are not assimilated with the white American creates a sincere doubt as to whether they can be regarded as true Americans. It is estimated that there are some 10,000 to 12,000 of such individuals in the state of Washington.
3. Japanese individuals either alien or American, do not volunteer information. It is believed that since December 7th, at best, there have been less than 10 Japanese individuals who called at the Seattle Field Office for the purpose of offering information.
4. Their presence creates brief concern among those charged with the protection of critical facilities and their presence in any critical area has required the presence of additional armed forces or guards.
5. Most recently the President of the Japanese League, Seattle, Washington, offered and suggested to an army official that the American-born Japanese would take into protective custody the aliens and would guarantee them. This was later retracted for the reason it would indicate that the Japanese worked as a homogeneous unit which is believed to be true.
6. In the event of parachute invasion, the existence of large numbers of Japanese individuals, regardless of their citizenship, would make it almost impossible to ferret out a Japanese parachute trooper who could readily mix with the local Japanese population.
7. The Japanese as individuals in the Seattle area have long sponsored Japanese language schools and through their various associations and churches have constantly kept the country of Japan before all types of Japanese individuals. In this connection it is estimated that not more than 65% of all Japanese individuals in this area are Christians. The balance almost entirely are Buddhists, a typical Oriental religion.
8. The organizations with which Japanese are affiliated are all typically racial in character and no known white persons are known to be members of any Japanese organizations of any description, which further reflects that they have not and cannot be assimilated and that they are closely bound together by racial ties.
9. The state of Washington has many critical areas, among which the more prominent lie in the Puget Sound area, which is one of the outstanding harbors on the West Coast. In the Puget Sound area, large numbers of army and naval installations are located, which include air fields, a navy yard, naval air station, district offices of Coast Guard, and many industrial plants, such as a Boeing Aircraft Factory, six shipyards, railroad terminals, army warehouses, and debarkation centers. The Pacific Coast area of the state of Washington is vulnerable because it is thinly settled. Inland lie many outstanding power developments, such as the Coulee Dam and the Bonneville Dam Projects and numerous others on various streams within the State of Washington, and communication is highly vulnerable because of the existence of tunnels for railroads in the Cascade Mountain Range and the necessity for super-bridges to cross the Columbia River. In winter months, the Cascade Mountain passes, with one exception, are usually blocked. This information is furnished with the thought that it indicates the extreme vulnerability of the defense effort because of the highly concentrated critical installations.
There are no suspected espionage agents in the present Japanese population not incarcerated and there have been no sabotage cases which have been indicated to be perpetrated by Japanese individuals. Yet the Japanese individuals are highly concentrated at Seattle, Washington, where most of the vital industries are centered and at which point most of the communications lines to the East converge, making sabotage and espionage most possible events.
10. The use of Japanese language in speaking, printing, and in writing makes it most difficult for the proper handling of such individuals for the reason that reliable interpreters and translators from a practical standpoint are most difficult to obtain and use during the inquiry concerning the activities of Japanese individuals. The length of time that it takes to interpret and translate in connection with Japanese investigations causes a great delay which in itself can be dangerous. There has been indicated race rioting for the reason that American white persons do not desire particularly at the present time to work with or hear Japanese individuals. The railroads within the state of Washington have in their employ a large number of Japanese and this is also true of logging and saw mill industries and in some unions, such as the saw mill and lumber workers, and in the railroad units there have been constant threats to discontinue work unless the Japanese are removed from their positions.
As related at the outset of this memorandum, both pro and con items have been included so as to reflect a rather broad view of the conditions as they exist on the West Coast.
John Edgar Hoover
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