Minutes of Meeting in Office of the Director, War Relocation Authority, 9:00 A. M., November 15, 1944

Mr. Wechsler, Department of Justice
Mr. Ennis, Department of Justice
Col. Ryan, War Department
Capt. Fisher, War Department
Mr. Myer, War Relocation Authority
Mr. Ferguson, War Relocation Authority


The opening discussion centered about General Wilbur's proposal that the Western Defense Command prepare its individual exclusion list of 4,000 to 5,000 excludees on the basis of (1) persons to be continued in detention, and (2) persons to be individually excluded from the evacuated area but not necessarily detained. Mr. Wechsler indicated that, in his judgment, the only possible basis for further detention of any citizen evacuee after revocation of the general exclusion orders would lie in the authority conferred upon the War Department under Executive Order 9066, and that detention of any citizen evacuee under the authority of that executive order was of very doubtful legal validity. Mr. Ennis agreed with Mr. Wechsler's comments, and further pointed out in his opinion it would be administratively undesirable for the Department of Justice to administer a center or program where determinations concerning detention of citizens involved lay in the War Department. He recommended that the War Department make no recommendations or orders concerning the detention of specific individuals, and that the War Department, if it believed that certain citizens were more potentially dangerous than others, merely so indicate.

Mr. Myer pointed out that the matter of detaining evacuees in centers after the general exclusion orders had been lifted was a policy primarily concerning the War Department and the Department of Justice. He pointed out three possible alternatives for handling a detention program if detention by order of the War Department was deemed necessary:
1. Army administration of the detention center, which would be the simplest in many respects and would vest responsibility in the agency making the policy decision.

2. Department of Justice administration of the detention center, which has been the recommendation of the War Relocation Authority.

3. Continued WRA administration for the time being, until further analysis could be made of the detainee group and the policies that should apply to them.
Captain Fisher raised the question of State Department concern over the administration of any civilian detention program by the Army. Mr. Ennis expressed the belief that there should be no great cause for concern on this score in view of the Hawaiian precedent and the fact that any detention involved would be in conjunction with an overall relaxation of restrictions against Japanese nationals generally.

It was agreed that the policy on detention should be discussed and determined jointly by the Department of Justice and the War Department. Mr. Ennis stated that he would discuss the matter with the Attorney General and take steps to arrange for expediting the policy determination.

Mr. Ennis further pointed out that it would be difficult for the Department of Justice to reach any definite conclusion on the position that it would take without knowing specifically when the Western Defense Command proposed to detain or exclude and where they were located. Colonel Ryan stated that the complete list of excludees would be completed and available by December 10. There was some discussion about the possibility of making a list available to the Department of Justice and the War Relocation Authority in installments, beginning as soon as possible, and Colonel Ryan stated that he would pursue this question further in the War Department. This would facilitate policy decisions on the question of detention and on the substantive provisions of the proclamation lifting the general exclusion. It would also facilitate the prompt furnishing by WRA to the Western Defense Command of the addresses of the persons listed for individual exclusion.


It was agreed that the Department of Justice and the War Relocation Authority would prepare any necessary executive order for the transfer of the segregation center and other responsibilities to the Department of Justice, in the event that such transfer is decided upon.


It was agreed that the proclamation lifting the general exclusion orders should be issued by the Commanding General of the Western Defense Command. Colonel Ryan believed that a draft of the proclamation could be completed by December 1, and that it would be available to the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior for discussion and comment. The importance of having a draft proclamation prepared as soon as possible in view of the matters of policy still to be ironed out was emphasized.

Captain Fisher stated that a letter was being prepared for the signature of the Secretary of War to the President formerly recommending the lifting of the general exclusion orders. The content of the letter and the advisability of attaching to it a draft of the proposed Western Defense Command proclamation were discussed.


General Wilbur's proposal that the Coast not be reopened for entry for a stated period after the issuance of the WDC proclamation was brought up. Mr. Myer pointed out that issuance of the proclamation or announcement in advance of the actual reopening date would be highly inadvisable because of the opportunity it would give West Coast pressure groups to work up hysteria, create organized resistance, and in other ways attempt to force upon the War Department a modification of its announcement. Mr. Myer also stated that there was no likelihood of a rush of evacuees back to the Coast upon issuance of the WDC proclamation, which General Wilbur's proposal was designed to prevent. A very large majority of the evacuees will wish to take advantage of transportation and other financial assistance furnished by WRA, and this assistance will not be provided for the first two or three weeks, and after that only to persons whose relocation plans are approved, under a schedule of movements. The contemplated WRA educational program in the centers and elsewhere, and the fact that the evacuees themselves are dubious about acceptance on the West Coast, provide further assurance that there will be no immediate stampede back to the Coast. Mr. Ennis concurred in this view. Colonel Ryan and Captain Fisher were unable to make any commitments for the War Department. It was agreed, however, that the subject should be further discussed between the War Department, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior at an early date so that a definite determination would be made. Mr. Ennis and Mr. Myer stated that they would bring the matter to the attention of Mr. Biddle and Mr. Fortas, respectively.


Mr. Myer then made the following recommendation:

A. That a few hours before the issuance of the proclamation lifting the exclusion orders the Secretary of War confer with the West Coast Congressional delegation, and inform the Congressmen of the military decision and the need for cooperative action on the part of the States and Federal Government in protecting the constitutional rights of the evacuees.

B. That immediately before issuance of the proclamation, the Commanding General of the Western Defense Command notify, by long distance telephone followed by letter, the governors of the four States affected by the change in policy. This notification should include the substance of the statement by the Secretary of War to the West Coast Congressional delegation. At the same time appropriate announcement should be made to the West Coast press.

C. That a few days after the issuance of the proclamation the Attorney General issue an announcement stating briefly the legal effect of revocation of the orders, describing the portion of the Japanese-American population which would then be free to enter the coastal zone, and including appropriate reference to the importance of protecting civil rights and a suggestion of the position the Federal Government will take in protecting civil rights. (It was also suggested that copies of this announcement be sent to FBI offices and to the four State Attorneys General, with a recommendation that it be distribution among local FBI offices concerned and local State law enforcement officials.)

D. That a few days after issuance of the proclamation the Secretary of the Interior issue a statement on the policy that will be followed by the WRA in facilitating the relocation of the evacuees remaining in relocation centers and in liquidating the program of the Authority.

E. That the Western Defense Command print posters setting forth the proclamation lifting the exclusion orders, and an additional paragraph requesting the cooperation of the public with respect to the military decision.

The group expressed concurrence in the desirability of the steps outlined above. Colonel Ryan stated that there might not be sufficient manpower available to the Western Defense Command to distribute and post the printed proclamations. Mr. Myer stated that they need not be posted in such large quantities or over such widespread areas as they were at the time of evacuation, and that perhaps five hundred or a thousand, posted mostly in the areas in which hostility to evacuees has been most evident, would be sufficient. He also offered to make WRA personnel available if necessary to complete the job of posting.

Captain Fisher agreed to transmit recommendations A, B, and E above for the consideration of the Secretary of War. Mr. Ennis agreed to transmit recommendation C to the Attorney General. Mr. Myer pointed out that considerable thought had been given by WRA to the content of the statements recommended for issuance by the Secretary of War, the Western Defense Command, and the Attorney General, and that he would be glad to cooperate in their preparation.


It was agreed that the public proclamations of the Western Defense Command and of the War Department, establishing the relocation centers as war relocation project areas (Public Proclamation No. W.D. 1, War Department; Public Proclamation No. 8, Western Defense Command) should not be revealed or modified upon issuances of the proclamation lifting the exclusion orders; they should remain in effect at all centers until replacement of military guards and other details can be arranged, and for a longer period at centers at which persons may be detained under any agreed upon detention policy. (Appropriate modification should be made in the proclamation in the latter event.)

Notes on Meeting in Mr. Wechsler’s Office, Department of Justice, 2:30 P. M., November 20, 1944

Mr. Wechsler, Department of Justice
Mr. Ennis, Department of Justice
Mr. Burling, Department of Justice
Colonel Ryan, War Department
Lieutenant-Colonel Rust, War Department
Captain Fisher, War Department
Mr. Myer, War Relocation Authority
Mr. Ferguson, War Relocation Authority

The meeting was called for the purpose of reviewing a proposed Western Defense Command Proclamation to lift the general exclusion orders, and a proposed Memorandum for the President from the Secretary of War informing him of the reasons for revocation of the orders and the proposed individual exclusion program.

Before the War Department representatives arrived, Mr. Wechsler stated that there was some question in his mind whether the 4,000 to 5,000 individual excludees referred to by General Wilbur included aliens. Mr. Myer stated it was his definite understanding from conversations with General Wilbur the 4,000 to 5,000 excludees included every one to whom individual exclusion orders would be issued except the Hawaiian contingent. It was pointed out that the Department of Justice had adequate supervisory controls over aliens; and that alien parolees should be permitted to return to the West Coast under sponsorship arrangements approved by the Department of Justice, because many of them were leaders among the Japanese population before evacuation, temporarily interned on suspicion because they were prominent in Japanese community life, who could do much to stabilize the situation on the West Coast during the flow back.

The remainder of the meeting was devoted to an analysis and discussion of the draft of Western Defense Command Proclamation and the proposed Memorandum for the President that were prepared in the War Department.

The Proclamation

1. Mr. Myer raised a question about the necessity for the second Whereas clause (which states that there is a reasonable possibility of minor hostile acts on the West Coast requiring adequate measures to prevent aid and comfort to the enemy and to prevent sabotage or espionage). It was pointed out that some such statement was necessary to lay the basis for the individual exclusion program outlined later in the Proclamation. Mr. Ennis suggested that the clause "to prevent aid and comfort to such enemies" be deleted, in view of the fact that Executive Order 9066, under which the Proclamation would be issued, refers to prevention of sabotage or espionage and does not refer to prevention of aid and comfort to the enemy.

2. It was suggested that the word "exclusion" be substituted for the words "adequate control" in the third Whereas clause, particularly if it is decided by the War Department and the Department of Justice that there will be no control over the movements of excludees outside the excluded areas.

3. There was an extended discussion about paragraph 3 of the Proclamation, which would retain Public Proclamation No. 8 in effect temporarily and regulate departure from centers on the basis of published schedules. Mr. Myer suggested the deletion of the sentence providing for the regulation of departures by published schedules. He pointed out that the controls contemplated by the War Relocation Authority were on an individual basis. Captain Fisher stated that they War Department did not contemplate exercising control over the flow of movement out of relocation centers, and that the sentence in question was not designed to that end. Deletion of sentence was recommended.

Mr. Wechsler stated that he was opposed to leaving Public Proclamation No. 8 in effect, as to non-excludees, after the lifting of the ban. He stated that the control over the movements in and out of centers contemplated by that Proclamation would be invalid. Captain Fisher indicated that the Army's chief reason for leaving Public Proclamation No. 8 in effect was to insure a basis for controlling the flow out of the centers back to the Coast. Mr. Myer, on the other hand, stated that WRA wanted Public Proclamation No. 8 to remain in effect for a temporary period in order to provide a basis for keeping the military guards at the centers until they could be replaced by civilian guards, and to provide assurances to both the appointed personnel and evacuees in the centers during the initial period following announcement of reopening of the West Coast.

There was then some discussion, in which Mr. Fahy participated, about the need for any actual restrictions over movement out of relocation centers. The following factors indicating that no such restrictions were necessary were brought out by Mr. Myer, Mr. Wechsler, Mr. Fahy, and Mr. Ennis:

(1) Movement of aliens could, if necessary, be regulated through the enemy alien travel controls of the Department of Justice;

(2) Most of the single persons remaining in relocation centers are members of families including aliens;

(3) The bulk of the young aggressive persons who might return to the West Coast immediately have already relocated;

(4) WRA does not contemplate giving financial assistance or assistance in transporting property to any persons desiring to return to the West Coast, whether now residing in centers or elsewhere, unless their return is approved by WRA and such approval will be given sparingly during the initial period;

(5) There is a great psychological deterrent to immediate return in the fact that evacuees are by no means certain of the reception they will receive on return;

(6) The record of the evacuees amply indicates that they will cooperate in maintaining an orderly flow back.

All these factors point, it was argued, to a very slow rate of return in the initial period.

There was further discussion concerning Mr. Wechsler's proposal that Public Proclamation No. 8 be revised effective on the date that the West Coast is reopened, to apply only to individual excludees living in the centers. It was agreed that the removal of all restrictions on movement out of centers by non-excludees would have the effect of mooting the Endo case. It was pointed out, however, that revision in Public Proclamation No. 8 would not necessarily remove all restrictions on the movement of non-excludees in and out of centers, since WRA's leave regulations, promulgated under Executive Order 9102, also prohibited movement in and out except in compliance with those regulations. Mr. Myer stated that he was unable to say, without checking with Mr. Fortas, whether the leave regulations would be revoked at the time the West Coast ban is lifted.

In view of the fact that the continuance of Public Proclamation No. 8 in effect is related to the general problem of detaining excludees, a problem not yet resolved between the War Department and the Justice Department -- there was no further discussion on this point. Mr. Myer suggested that the next meeting of the group be held at 2:30 P.M. November 22, and that in the meantime the War Department and the Department of Justice come to a decision on the matter of detaining excludees at Tule Lake and elsewhere. This suggestion was concurred in by the group.

4. With respect to paragraph 6 of the Proclamation, Mr. Myer asked whether any redefinition of the boundaries of the excluded area was contemplated. Colonel Ryan stated that a separate proclamation, to be issued on the same date as the Proclamation under discussion, would redefine the boundaries of the excluded area to include only the area west of the Cascades and the Sierras. Mr. Myer pointed out that both the Tule Lake and Manzanar centers would be outside the excluded area as redefined, and that Central Valley and other productive agricultural areas would still lie within the excluded area. Colonel Ryan stated that the excluded area still included the agricultural areas mentioned because of railroad lines and other defense installations in them.

5. Paragraph 7 of the proposed Proclamation contemplates the issuance of one exclusion order listing all the persons to be individually excluded from the West Coast. Mr. Myer raised objection to the publication of the exclusion order in view of the fact that the publicity given to the names of these 4,000 or 5,000 persons would inevitably create future difficulties and work to the detriment of the excludees for a long time to come, despite any subsequent action taken with respect to them by the Army. He suggested that the list of excludees be sent to WRA; that WRA obtain the addresses from its locator file, and that individual notices then be sent. He assured the War Department representatives that WRA could furnish these addresses within three days if given certain identifying data. Colonel Ryan pointed out the undesirability of requiring General Bonesteel to sign 4,000 or 5,000 individual exclusion orders. Mr. Myer then suggested that the General sign the one order, that the order not be published, and that the list of persons in the order be referred to WRA, which would notify all excludees in WRA centers and transmit all addresses in its files on other excludees to WDC. Colonel Ryan also pointed out that publication of the comprehensive exclusion order was designed to meet the need for proof of notice. A question then arose about the need for publication in the Federal Register in this regard, and Mr. Ennis agreed to check the applicable statutes.

6. With respect to paragraph 8 of the Proclamation, it was agreed that the words "as American citizens" in the clause "their full rights as American citizens to enter and remain in the military areas of the Western Defense Command" should be deleted, since aliens are also involved. Mr. Wechsler then suggested that the procedure under which an individual excludee can appeal for a hearing and revocation of the order as it affects him be referred to in the Proclamation, and not merely in the exclusion order, so that the public at large will know that the procedure exists. Mr. Myer agreed that this was desirable.

The Memorandum for the President

The following tentative changes in the Memorandum were agreed upon:

Page 1. Revise the sentence concerning the non-assimilation of the evacuees to indicate their assimilation was retarded rather than prevented.

In the next sentence state that "there was reason to believe" instead of "it was known" that there was a disloyal group.

Page 2. Revise the first full sentence to indicate a division of the Japanese population into two groups of (1) those who the military authorities have determined are not dangerous, and (2) those who may be loyal to Japan.

Insert the number of Japanese-Americans (13,000) who are now in the armed forces.

Page 3. Revise the references to the important war plants located on the West Coast and the prevention of sabotage.

Remove the implication in the first sentence of the last paragraph that there will be control over return to the West Coast.

Page 4. Revise the next to the last sentence of the first paragraph to remove the implication that there are two categories of excludees -- "those who show strong pro-Japanese tendencies" and "those against whom positive information is available".

Page 5. Delete the word "serious" in the first sentence of the first full paragraph.

It was agreed that the substance of the paragraph beginning at the bottom of page 4, relating to detention of "militant group" of evacuees at Tule Lake, might need to be revised after the Department of Justice and the War Department have agreed upon the policy that should be followed with respect to detaining excludees.

It was agreed upon that it would be advisable to submit the memorandum to the President a few days before the issuance of the Proclamation.

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