Salt Lake City, Utah
January 30, 1943
MEMORANDUM FOR M. E. GURNEA, INSPECTOR
Re: INTERVIEW WITH XXXXX
REGARDING RELOCATION CENTER
During the interview on January 28, 1943, XXXXX made the following observations regarding general Japanese conditions. He stated that in so far as the relocation centers were concerned, physical conditions were good. The people are now getting sufficient food. When the Japanese people were first placed in relocation centers they seemed to have a legitimate "gripe" because there was an insufficient quantity of food, however they are now getting enough food and the only complaint is an occasional statement that the food isn't prepared the way they like it.
XXXXX, however, that the psychological conditions were bad. He objected to the fact that there were fences around the Centers and he also objected to the fact that the family conditions have somewhat degenerated. XXXXX the families have been somewhat split up, they no longer eat together and because of this fact table manners are bad and, further, the control exercised by the parents seems to be diminishing. In addition, children are oftentimes earning more money than their parents. For this reason the children are in a position to disregard their parent's wishes and the children then are not obliged to obey their parents. XXXXX at present it seems that the Government is condoling the policy of stealing without punishment. He stated that in the past it had been a source of pride to the Japanese that no Japanese names should appear upon a police blotter, but now tho? this is another evidence of lack of parental authority.
Under the heading of "segregation", XXXXX he felt approximately five percent of the population of the Centers were the trouble makers. He stated that if this five percent could be removed that undoubtedly many of the problems which existed presently within the Centers would disappear or be ironed out. He then stated that he considered there were three dangerous elements: First, the migratory workers; second, the bachelors and third, the gamblers. XXXXX these people have no vested interest in the United States and because of that fact their loyalty is not attached to the United States as is the loyalty of those people who have families and property in this country. He then continued that the trouble at Manzanar was caused by bachelor groups.
The question arose as to the manner in which segregation should be accomplished. It was agreed that segregation should not be arbitrary, according to Issei, Nisei and Kibei classifications, but rather should be a horizontal segregation of the loyal from the disloyal. XXXXX stated that he had the following idea in regard to segregation: First, to get rid of the trouble makers. Second, to put trained Bureau Agents at administrative posts where they would be able to ferret out trouble makers. Third, put loyal Japanese trained in investigative work in each Center to get information which would not be available to the administrative officers and, fourth, to remove the expatriates. XXXXX continued that the expatriates, although they might not be active, were certainly detrimental to the welfare of the Centers. XXXXX classified the repatriates into three different groups: First, those that applied at the Assembly Centers because of a fear of the future; second, those that were loyal to Japan and, third, the group demanded of the State Department by the Japanese Government. In response to a direct question XXXXX he was listed on the latter group and that he thought the Japanese Government was trying to eliminate the leaders of the anti-Japanese.
XXXXX then brought out the arguments used by the pro-Japan groups to create issues. He continued that the great majority of the Nisei are now watchfully waiting in order that they may determine the turn of events. He explained that at the outbreak of the war the Issei leaders of the Japanese organizations such as the Japanese Association and other organizations were apprehended and interned. Because of this fact the Japanese lost leadership and it was then that the Japanese-American Citizens League came to the fore and attempted to furnish the leadership that had been lost because of the internment of the Issei leaders. In addition, second class Issei politicians came to the forefront. These Issei who were never capable of attaining prominent positions before, began agitation in sympathy with their own manner of thinking. XXXXX continued that these Issei are reverting to type, that is, they are forming Oriental gains, they believe in rule by force, et cetera. At the same time they are trying to blame the Japanese-American Citizens League for much of the trouble. It was then agreed that their purpose was creation of issues.
XXXXX advised that in his opinion resettlement must be pushed at the present time. He stated that it appeared to him that Italy and Germany are to be "knocked out of the war soon" and then the full force of the war and the hatred of the American people will be turned toward Japan. In addition, when the war ends several million soldiers will return and their sentiments will not be pro-Japanese, also they will have no employment. Because of this fact, XXXXX feels that unless the Japanese people are resettled prior to the time that the full force of the war effort is directed against Japan that the problem of resettlement will be much harder to solve.
The interview was then directed towards administration of the present relocation system. XXXXX that the WRA was too liberal and it tended to coddle trouble makers. XXXXX that he did not believe that offenders, either in misdemeanor or felony cases, should be tried by fellow Japanese. He stated that Japanese in general were afraid to take action against each other. He further advised he believed everything in so far as penal measures were concerned should be taken outside the camps. He then stated that the basis for the trouble at Manzanar might be attributed to the fact that the residents of that Center said that the offenders should not be tried from the outside. Again, in response to a direct question, XXXXX that if the estimated five percent of the trouble makers were removed, the people would feel free to try the misdemeanor cases. He also advised that if the trouble makers were segregated that many of the other problems would either disappear or be ironed out. He continued that in most cases the trouble makers were working out of culinary (kitchen) groups. He also advised that this group was undoubtedly the largest group within the Center.
Reverting again to the question concerning administration, XXXXX stated that the internal set-up of the camps was bad because the Caucasian administrators were inexperienced and, secondly, because these administrators have no authority. In regard to the internal security set-up, XXXXX that the law enforcement groups in general are not held in high regard by the Japanese. As a result of this only the Japanese rabids are attracted to the position. XXXXX in illustrating this statement that the police have no authority, advised that oftentimes an individual is arrested and sentenced by the community council, after which time some Caucasian administrator will release the offender without consulting with the internal security force and without regard to the nature of the offense. XXXXX that such action places a premium on disloyalty rather than upon loyalty. XXXXX however that if the idea that law enforcement work was honorable could be inculcated into the Japanese people and if perhaps the wage scale of the wardens should be raised to the level of the professional wage scale, that it would be possible to build up a Japanese internal security force . He stated that of course before such a force would be successful the trouble makers would have to be removed.
The question was then raised as to what should be expected in the way of self-government. XXXXX stated he felt that only citizens should hold elective office in the Centers. He then stated that to date there has been no free election in the Centers and that all elections have been dictated. He further stated that so far the community councils have only been figure heads and that as a matter of fact the project directors have all the authority so that the council is merely a body which makes suggestions to the project director. XXXXX he felt the ideal form of self-government would be somewhat as follows: First, there should be an elective community council composed entirely of Nisei. He stated that the Issei are enemy aliens and that as such they should not be allowed to hold elective office and, further, that they should not have the advantages of citizens, inasmuch as they have the advantage of being represented by the Spanish Council. He feels then they should not have both the advantages or American citizenship and of Japanese citizenship. In addition to the community council there would be an advisory board of Issei. The community council because of its youth would then be able to seek the advice of the Issei which could be offered because of experience.
XXXXX stated that the WRA had made many promises which had not been kept and he continued that if the American Government did not carry out its responsibilities and keep its promises, then a reactionary group would most likely arise. He stated that after the disturbances at Poston and Manzanar the formation of "goon squads" had been thought of to combat the subversive elements. He advised, however, that he had attempted to discourage such action, but that he felt that unless the Government afforded those loyal to this country adequate protection, that such a reaction would set in. He then advised in response to a direct question that Judo was the essence of skill and science, according to Japanese philosophy. XXXXX what seemed to him to be Japanese philosophy was simply that the Japanese people considered themselves and their Nation to be small and lacking in strength. Because of this lack of strength and power their philosophy is simply that they must rule through science and skill -- "deception, if you wish to call it that" or, in American slang, "brain against brawn".
The question regarding the Hawaiian Japanese and their effect upon the Centers was then raised. XXXXX the Hawaiian group has had little effect upon the Center except in a financial way. He advised that this group had no money. In general, he stated that the Hawaiian group is antagonistic toward the Japanese. The Hawaiians seem to be more arrogant and they feel they are Hawaiians rather than Japanese. They are blamed to a certain extent for the acts of rape which have been committed in the Arkansas Centers. XXXXX however, that there was no proof that the Hawaiian Japanese were responsible for those acts. The only basis for the statement was that the rapes did not start until after the Hawaiians came.
When questioned as to the attitude of the Japanese people toward national defense projects, XXXXX the Japanese parents who have sons in the American army have an intense pride in their children and are proud of the fact that they are doing their bit. In addition, he stated the people who have fixed interest in the United States are behind the United States war effort as are also those people who have lived in the United States for many years and who have family interests in this country. These people are in favor of working on the national defense projects. XXXXX brought out the statements issued by Mr. EISENHAUER and also the joint statement of DILLON MYER and Secretary of War STIMSON after the Manzanar incident that the majority of Japanese were loyal to the United States. XXXXX he was trying to take a purely occidental stance. He continued that the office of war information wanted him to broadcast propaganda statements to Japan and also that they had tried to get him to broadcast a statement to Japan asking the Japanese people to over-throw the military caste and restore the Emperor. He then advised that this was not in accord with his policy because he and the members of his organization were American citizens and their interests were in the United States and not in the form of Government which existed in Japan.
During the interview a call came to XXXXX from the Japanese-American Citizens League, after which XXXXX advised that Secretary of War STIMSON had just issued the statement there would be a Nisei combat unit which would go to the fighting front. This battalion would not be compelled to do menial tasks, but would be in actual combat zones.
JOHN EDGAR HOOVER
Federal Bureau of InvestigationIML:JDR
United States Department of Justice
Washington, D. C.
February 10, 1943
Call 1:10 PM
Typed 1:45 PM
MEMORANDUM FOR THE DIRECTOR
Re: SURVEY OF WAR RELOCATION AUTHORITY CAMPS
Mr. Gurnea called from Denver to report on the status of the above matter commenting that he is securing a full and complete picture. He said the personnel of the War Relocation Authority is good, the men have experience and their educational background is very good. They are split into two schools of thought, one made up of the economists who want to administer the camps on an economic basis, and the other made up of social service workers who are always concerned about the welfare of the Japanese. Mr. Gurnea stated that in some of the centers this division of thought has led almost to strife in the administration. He said the administration generally is loosely knit, with an utter lack of conformity throughout the various centers, and each center has a tendency to be a little kingdom of its own, having no close supervision from Washington; the police organizations also are rather loosely organized; there is no uniformity in filing; there is a reluctance on the part of this administration to crack down on violations because of the fear of further mass demonstrations.
Mr. Gurnea stated that in the northern camps there have been some minor violations consisting mostly of small thefts and an occasional assault, and there have been some threatened strikes although none of them have amounted to anything. There is some gambling, but it is not serious at the present time.
Mr. Gurnea said that the Japanese have a tendency to organize, and associations are now cropping up such as the cooks' association, the carpenters' association, and various other organizations for the purpose of bringing pressure to bear in their own behalf in collective bargaining with the administration.
Mr. Gurnea stated that in going through the camps, he is interviewing not only the project director but also all of the division heads in order to secure all of the administrative detail and problems so when the survey is completed, there will be a full and complete picture of the entire problem from one camp to another.
Mr. Gurnea will leave Denver this evening to go to Granada where he will remain about three days, after which he will go to Arkansas.
He advised that Phillip J. Webster, Regional Office of WRA in San Francisco, who has been accompanying him, has been very helpful, laying the foundations so Mr. Gurnea can get all the information he wants, he knows the background of a lot of the individuals who are in the camps, he is very level headed and knows all the ins and outs of WRA. Mr. Gurnea said that since he and Mr. Webster will be entering new territory upon leaving Granada, Mr. Webster does not know whether he has the authority to accompany Mr. Gurnea farther. He suggested that possibly if Mr. Gurnea contacted Mr. Myer in Washington, Mr. Myer would instruct him to go. Mr. Gurnea thinks it would be beneficial to the entire survey if Mr. Webster goes along. I advised him I would get in touch with the War Relocation people here on this matter.
D. M. Ladd
ADDENDUM (mm) 2/10/43
cc: Mr. E. A. Tamm
I called Mr. Provinse, Counselor of the War Relocation Authority and advised him of the above information. He stated that he would telegraphically contact Mr. Webster.
WAR RELOCATION AUTHORITY
OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR
February 13, 1943
Mr. J. Edgar Hoover
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Department of Justice
Washington, D. C.
Dear Mr. Hoover:
This will acknowledge receipt of your letter of January 30, 1943, outlining some of the more important conditions your representative found existing in the centers in Arizona and at Manzanar, California.
We have known for some time about the condition outlined in paragraph 2 of your letter, and the necessity for the segregation of certain elements hostile to the administration. This situation is the foremost reason for asking that a representative from your office be assigned to make a study of the centers, in the hope that we might jointly work out sound procedures for accomplishing this program.
We are also conversant with the police situation at the centers visited, as well as at other centers. One of our major reasons for asking your representative to visit the centers was to assist us in working out a sound internal security program, hoping that suggestions would be made regarding the type of police records to be developed and maintained in the centers.
We have been constantly in touch with developments concerning the camouflage net factory at each of the centers, and the fact that the Manzanar factory has been closed for some time. There are at the moment approximately 500 working in the plant at Gila River, producing a very large volume of camouflage nets. There has been at these centers as well as certain other centers, a feeling on the part of the older Japanese that they would be forced to go back to Japan after the war is over and, consequently, that anything they did in the centers to assist in the war effort might be considered as a black mark against them. As a result, some of them have discouraged work on camouflage nets and other war industries.
Manzanar Relocation Center,Manzanar, California.
Making camouflage nets for the War Department. (1942)
This feeling has been engendered by certain agitators who utilize the press clippings and letters to the press indicating that legislation has been introduced to deprive them of citizenship or letters from the public that they should be shipped back to Japan. All such newspaper publicity, of course, which results from unthinking action on the part of people who do not understand the problem in relocation centers, leads to very definite problems of morale resulting from the many frustrations that have confronted the evacuees during the last several months. I am sure you realize that many of these people who have not collaborated wholeheartedly are not saboteurs in the real sense, but are simply frustrated individuals who feel that their opportunities in America might be very limited.
Reference is made to the fact that center police forces are unable to cope with the existing situation and if a riot occurs, the police of Japanese extraction under no circumstances can be relied upon. We have had an agreement with the military police from the beginning that their services may be utilized in connection with riots and in at least one case their services have been utilized. We have not felt it necessary or sound procedure to build a police force within the centers to cope with every emergency in view of the reasonably large guard of military police established at each one of the centers. We have felt it important that we have a small staff of well trained people to set up our internal security program, and to assist in the training of evacuee police, and be available at all times to meet emergencies. We feel the major functions of this small administrative police force are (1) to train evacuees, (2) to develop a record system, and (3) to assist in working out a program for collaborating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies of the Government, in order to develop sound relationships between our own police force and the intelligence agencies, just as is desirable in any city, keeping in mind, of course, the special conditions that exist at each one of the centers.
I am sincerely hoping that when Mr. Gurnea completes his trip to the ten centers, we may expedite the formulation of a procedure between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the War Relocation Authority, to assist us in ironing out the many problems encountered in the development of the internal security program, which will tie in with the Federal Bureau of Investigation much more effectively than in the past, and develop understandings that will satisfy the peculiar conditions existing at relocation centers.
I very much appreciate your sending forward comments regarding Mr. Gurnea's visit to the centers.
(signed D. S. Myer)
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