WWII INTERNMENT TIMELINE
August 18, 1941
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 Japan.
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 internment
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 true scenario.
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
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) internment 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.
May 16, 1942
Hikoji 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 internment 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.
August 10, 1942 The first inmates arrive at Minidoka, Idaho.
August 12, 1942 The first 292 inmates arrive at Heart Mountain, Wyoming.
August 27, 1942 The first inmates arrive at Granada, or Amache, Colorado.
September 11, 1942 The first inmates arrive at Central Utah, or Topaz.
September 18, 1942 The first inmates arrive at Rohwer, Arkansas.
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 inmates.
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 Affairs
June 21, 1943
The United States Supreme Court rules on the Hirabayashi and Yasui
cases, upholding the constitutionality of the curfew and exclusion
September 13, 1943
The realignment of Tule Lake as a camp for "dissenters" begins.
After the loyalty questionnaire episode, "loyal" internees begin
to depart to other camps. Five days later, "disloyal" internees
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 resistance.
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 24,
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"
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
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 1944.
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 internees
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 the president.
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
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 interned. 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 internment of Japanese Americans during
Workd 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 interned 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
H.R. 442 is signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. It provides for
individual payments of $20,000 to each surviving internee 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.