WWII INCARCERATION TIMELINE
In a letter to President Roosevelt, Representative John Dingell
of Michigan suggests incarcerating 10,000 Hawaiian Japanese Americans
as hostages to ensure "good behavior" on the part of
November 12, 1941
Fifteen Japanese American businessmen and community leaders in
Los Angeles Little Tokyo are picked up in an F.B.I. raid. A spokesman
for the Central Japanese Association states: "We teach the
fundamental principles of America and the high ideals of American
democracy. We want to live here in peace and harmony. Our people
are 100% loyal to America."
December 7, 1941
The attack on Pearl Harbor. Local authorities and the F.B.I. begin to round up the leadership of the Japanese American communities. Within 48 hours, 1,291 Issei are in custody. These men are held under no formal charges and family members are forbidden from seeing them. Most would spend the war years in enemy alien prisoner camps run by the Justice Department.
February 19, 1942
President Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066 which allows military authorities
to exclude anyone from anywhere without trial or hearings. Though
the subject of only limited interest at the time, this order
set the stage for the entire forced removal and incarceration
of Japanese Americans.
February 25, 1942
The Navy informs Japanese American residents of Terminal Island
near Los Angeles Harbor that they must leave in 48 hours. They
are the first group to be removed en masse.
February 27, 1942.
Idaho Governor Chase Clark tells a congressional committee
in Seattle that Japanese would be welcome in Idaho only if they
were in "concentration camps under military guard."
Some credit Clark with the conception of what was to become a
March 2, 1942
Gen. John L. DeWitt issues Public Proclamation No. 1 which
creates Military Areas Nos. 1 and 2. Military Area No. 1 includes
the western portion of California, Oregon and Washington, and
part of Arizona while Military Area No. 2 includes the rest of
these states. The proclamation also hints that people might be
excluded from Military Area No. 1.
March 18, 1942
The president signs Executive Order 9102 establishing the
War Relocation Authority (WRA) with Milton Eisenhower as director.
It is allocated $5.5 million.
March 21, 1942
The first advance groups of Japanese American "volunteers"
arrive at Manzanar, CA. The WRA would take over on June 1 and
transform it into a "relocation center."
March 24, 1942
The first Civilian Exclusion Order issued by the Army is
issued for the Bainbridge Island area near Seattle. The forty-five
families there are given one week to prepare. By the end of October,
108 exclusion orders would be issued, and all Japanese Americans
in Military Area No. 1 and the California portion of No. 2 would
March 28, 1942
Minoru Yasui walks into a Portland police station at 11:20
p.m. to present himself for arrest in order to test the curfew
regulations in court.
May 1, 1942
Having "voluntarily resettled" in Denver, Nisei
journalist James Omura writes a letter to a Washington law firm
inquiring about retaining their services to seek legal action
against the government for violations of civil and constitutional
rights and seeking restitution for economic losses. He was unable
to afford the $3,500 fee required to begin proceedings.
May 13, 1942
Forty-five-year-old Ichiro Shimoda, a Los Angeles gardener, is shot to death by guards while trying to escape from Fort Still (Oklahoma) prison camp. The victim was seriously mentally ill, having attempted suicide twice since being picked up on December 7. He is shot despite the guards' knowledge of his mental state.
Takeuchi, a Nisei, is shot by a guard at Manzanar. The guard
claims that he shouted at Takeuchi and that Takeuchi began to
run away from him. Takeuchi claims he was collecting scrap lumber
and didn't hear the guard shout. His wounds indicate that he
was shot in the front. Though seriously injured, he eventually
May 29, 1942
Largely organized by Quaker leader Clarence E. Pickett, the
National Japanese-American Student Relocation Council is formed
in Philadelphia with University of Washington Dean Robert W.
O'Brien as director. By war's end, 4,300 Nisei would be in college.
The movie "Little Tokyo, U.S.A." is released by
Twentieth Century Fox. In it, the Japanese American community
is portrayed as a "vast army of volunteer spies" and
"blind worshippers of their Emperor, " as described
in the film's voice-over prologue.
June 17, 1942
Milton Eisenhower resigns as WRA director. Dillon Myer is
appointed to replace him.
July, 27 1942
Two Issei -- Brawley, CA farmer Toshiro Kobata and San Pedro fisherman Hirota Isomura -- are shot to death by camp guards at Lourdsburg, New Mexico enemy alien prison camp. The men had allegedly been trying to escape. It would later be reported, however, that upon their arrival to the camp, the men had been too ill to walk from the train station to the camp gate.
August 4, 1942
A routine search for contraband at the Santa Anita "Assembly
Center" turns into a "riot." Eager military personnel
had become overzealous and abusive which, along with the failure
of several attempts to reach the camp's internal security chief,
triggers mass unrest, crowd formation, and the harassing of the
searchers. Military police with tanks and machine guns quickly
end the incident. The "overzealous" military personnel
are later replaced.
The first inmates arrive at Minidoka, Idaho.
August 12, 1942 The first 292 inmates arrive at Heart
August 27, 1942 The first inmates arrive at Granada, or
September 11, 1942 The first inmates arrive at Central
Utah, or Topaz.
September 18, 1942 The first inmates arrive at Rohwer,
October 20, 1942
President Roosevelt calls the "relocation centers"
"concentration camps" at a press conference. The WRA
had consistently denied that the term "concentration camps"
accurately described the camps.
November 14, 1942
An attack on a man widely perceived as an informer results
in the arrest of two popular inmates at Poston. This incident
soon mushrooms into a mass strike.
December 5, 1942
Fred Tayama is attacked and seriously injured by a group
of inmates at Manzanar. The arrest of the popular Harry Ueno
for the crime triggers a mass uprising.
December 10, 1942
The WRA establishes a prison at Moab, Utah for recalcitrant
February 1, 1943
The 442nd Regimental Combat Team is activated, made up entirely
of Japanese Americans.
April 11, 1943
James Hatsuki Wakasa, a sixty-three-year-old chef, is shot
to death by a sentry at Heart Mountain camp while allegedly trying
to escape through a fence. It is later determined that Wakasa
had been inside the fence and facing the sentry when shot. The
sentry would stand a general court-martial on April 28 at Fort
Douglas, Utah and be found "not guilty."
April 13, 1943
"A Jap's a Jap. There is no way to determine their loyalty..
This coast is too vulnerable. No Jap should come back to this
coast except on a permit from my office." Gereral John L.
DeWitt, head, Western Defense Command; before the House Naval
June 21, 1943
The United States Supreme Court rules on the Hirabayashi
and Yasui cases, upholding the constitutionality of the curfew
and exclusion orders.
September 13, 1943
The realignment of Tule Lake as a camp for "dissenters" begins. After the loyalty questionnaire episode, "loyal" prisoners begin to depart to other camps. Five days later, "disloyal" prisoners from other camps begin to arrive at Tule Lake.
November 4, 1943
The Tule Lake uprising caps a month of strife. Tension had
been high since the administration had fired 43 coal workers
involved in a labor dispute on October 7.
January 14, 1944
Nisei eligibility for the draft is restored. The reaction
to this announcement in the camps would be mixed.
January 26, 1944
Spurred by the announcement of the draft a few days before,
300 people attend a public meeting at Heart Mountain camp. Here,
the Fair Play Committee is formally organized to support draft
March 20, 1944
Forty-three Japanese American soldiers are arrested for refusing
to participate in combat training at Fort McClellan, Alabama,
as a protest of treatment of their families in U.S. camps. Eventually,
106 are arrested for their refusal. Twenty-one are convicted
and serve prison time before being paroled in 1946.
May 10, 1944
A Federal Grand Jury issues indictments abgainst 63 Heart
Mountain draft resistors. The 63 are found guilty and sentenced
to jail terms on June 26. They would be granted a pardon on December
May 24, 1944
Shoichi James Okamoto is shot to death at Tule Lake by a
guard after stopping a construction truck at the main gate for
permission to pass. Private Bernard Goe, the guard, would be
acquitted after being fined a dollar for "unauthorized use
of government property" --a bullet.
June 30, 1944
Jerome becomes the first camp to close when the last inmates
are transferred to Rohwer.
July 21, 1944
Seven members of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee are
arrested, along with journalist James Omura. Their trial for
"unlawful conspiracy to counsel, aid and abet violators
of the draft" begins on October 23. All but Omura would
eventually be found guilty.
October 27-30, 1944
The 442nd Regimental Combat Team rescues an American battalion
which had been cut off and surrounded by the enemy. Eight hundred
casualties are suffered by the 442nd to rescue 211 men. After
this rescue, the 442nd is ordered to keep advancing in the forest;
they would push ahead without relief or rest until November 9.
December 18, 1944
The Supreme Court decides that Fred Toyosaburo Korematsu
was indeed guilty of remaining in a military area contrary to
the exclusion order. This case challenged the constitutionality
of the entire exclusion process.
January 2, 1945
Restrictions preventing resettlement on the West Coast are
removed, although many exceptions continue to exist. A few carefully
screened Japanese Americans had returned to the coast in late
January 8, 1945
The packing shed of the Doi family is burned and dynamited
and shots are fired into their home. The family had been the
first to return to California from Amache and the first to return
to Placer County, having arrived three days earlier. Although
several men are arrested and confess to the acts, all would be
acquitted. Some 30 similar incidents would greet other Japanese
Americans returning to the West Coast between January and June.
May 7, 1945
The surrender of Germany ends the war in Europe.
August 6, 1945
The atomic bomb is dropped on Hiroshima. Three days later,
a second bomb is dropped on Nagasaki. The war in the Pacific
would end on August 14.
March 20, 1946
Tule Lake closes, culminating "an incrediblle mass evacuation in reverse." In the month prior to the closing, some 5,000 prisoners had to be moved, many of whom were elderly, impoverished, or mentally ill and with no place to go.
July 15, 1946
The 442nd Regimental Combat Team is received on the White
House lawn by President Truman. "You fought not only the
enemy but you fought prejudice -- and you have won," remarks
June 30, 1947
U.S. District Judge Louis E. Goodman orders that the petitioners
in Wayne Collins' suit of December 13, 1945 be released; native-born
American citizens could not be converted to enemy aliens and
could not be imprisoned or sent to Japan on the basis of renunciation.
Three hundred and two persons are finally released from Crystal
City, Texas and Seabrook Farms, New Jersey on September 6, 1947.
July 2, 1948
President Truman signs the Japanese American Evacuation Claims
Act, a measure to compensate Japanese Americans for certain economic
losses attributable to their forced evacuation. Although some
$28 million was to be paid out through provision of the act,
it would be largely ineffective even on the limited scope in
which it operated.
July 10, 1970
A resolution is announced by the Japanese American Citizen
League's Northern California-Western Nevada District Council
calling for reparations for the World War II incarceration of
Japanese Americans. This resolution would have the JACL seek
a bill in Congress awarding individual compensation on a per
diem basis, tax-free.
November 28, 1979
Representative Mike Lowry (D-WA) introduces the World War II Japanese-American Human Rights Violations Act (H.R. 5977) into Congress. This NCJAR-sponsored bill is largely based on research done by ex-members of the Seattle JACL chapter. It proposes direct payments of $15,000 per victim plus an addtional $15 per day imprisoned. Given the choice between this bill and the JACL-supported study commission bill introduced two months earlier, Congress opts for the latter.
July 14, 1981
The Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) holds a public hearing in Washington, D.C. as part of its investigation into the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Similar hearings would be held in many other cities throughout the rest of 1981. The emotional testimony by more than 750 Japanese American witnesses about their wartime experiences would prove cathartic for the community and a turning point in the redress movement.
June 16, 1983
The CWRIC issues its formal recommendations to Congress concerning redress for Japanese Americans imprisoned during World War II. They include the call for individual payments of $20,000 to each of those who spent time in the concentration camps and are still alive.
August 10, 1988
442 is signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. It provides for individual payments of $20,000 to each surviving prisoner and a $1.25 billion education fund among other provisions.
October 9, 1990
The first nine redress payments are made at a Washington,
D.C. ceremony. One-hundred-seven-year-old Rev. Mamoru Eto of
Los Angeles is the first to receive his check.