Monday, February 9, 1942

Congressional Record Appendix, A457-458

Mr. COSTELLO. Mr. Speaker, the gravity of the Japanese problem in the Pacific Coast States cannot be overemphasized at the present time. It is a problem of genuine concern to the entire Nation, but of immediate concern to the people residing along the West Coast. Since the outbreak of the war, the entire problem has been under consideration by various agencies of the Government. Because of the lack of prompt action, Members of the Senate and House from the three Pacific Coast states have organized a committee to study the problem and to urge speedy and effective action on the part of the governmental agencies. It is a tremendous task to determine just how to handle not only the alien Japanese but also the American citizens of Japanese origin. Their removal from strategic areas, their relocation at places in the interior of the country, the providing of housing and means of livelihood and the effects upon the agricultural economy of the West must all be considered. A complete course of action will undoubtedly be determined upon by the congressional committee which is now studying this problem and appropriate recommendations will be made within the next few days. The War and Justice Departments have already taken the first steps and are planning additional moves to be made. The important thing in this problem is the necessity for speed in action.

To indicate the seriousness with which this problem is viewed in California as elsewhere along the coast, I am presenting herewith a radio address on this subject, which was delivered by the mayor of Los Angeles, the Honorable Fletcher Bowron. The address was broadcast in Los Angeles on Thursday, February 5, over radio station KECA, and follows:

Citizens of Los Angeles, the United States and Japan have been at war, now, for nearly 2 months, and there is still much confusion as to what to do with the Japanese in California. We in Los Angeles have been patiently waiting for the formulation of a Federal policy and have been somewhat impatiently waiting for some kind of action.

In this metropolitan area is located the largest concentration of Japanese population in America, and within the city limits of Los Angeles alone we have well over one-fourth of the California Japanese and approximately one-Fifth of all of the Japanese residents of America. We are naturally the most concerned.

If there is intrigue going on—and it is reasonably certain that there is—right here is the hotbed, the nerve center of the spy system, of planning for sabotage. Right here in our own city are those who may spring to action at an appointed time in accordance with a prearranged plan wherein each of our little Japanese friends will know his part in the event of any possible attempted invasion or air raid.

We in Los Angeles are most concerned, and yet we have not been let in on the secret if, in fact, anybody knows what the Federal Government is going to do about it. Those of us who are directing the affairs of local government and who are connected with the civilian defense program, and who are directly responsible to the people of this area for the protection of life and property, feel our responsibility very keenly. We want to cooperate with the Federal Government if we knew what to do, but it appears to us that no one in authority in the Federal Government knows what to do.

While there is no reason for hysteria, I feel that the local situation is much more serious than apparently those at Washington do. Only a few hundred Japanese aliens out of possibly 10,000 have been picked up and detained, and if all of the alien Japanese should be placed in concentration camps or evacuated from the coastal area, we would still have with us the more perplexing problem of the American-born Japanese, among whom unquestionably are a number of persons who are loyal to this country—and a number who are doubtless loyal to Japan, waiting probably, with full instructions as to what to do, to play their part when the time comes.

The question that undoubtedly never can be settled until it is too late is, How can it be determined which may be regarded as good American citizens and which will be loyal to Japan when put to the test? The answer is locked in the hearts of these Japanese Americans in our midst. Any known inquiry in advance of an attempted invasion or bombing cannot reveal the hidden answer. Certainly we cannot expect to receive the answer from their own lips by a declaration of loyalty to the land of their birth as against their race. By no seeming patriotic utterance, or even an offer to enlist in the United States Army, can we expect to receive the truth, if there is a mental reservation, a hidden purpose, on the part of one who intends to be most useful to the cause of the Mikado.

Common sense and reason dictate that if there are enemy agents in our midst who will be most useful in a plan as well worked out with such diabolic cunning and perfidy as characterized the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the destruction of American planes and military objectives in the Philippines at the first attack, then such persons, to be most valuable to Japan, would endeavor to mislead all of us—to avert suspicion by any means of their command. The most natural thing would be for the most dangerous of them to condemn the Japanese war clique, the Axis powers, to loudly declare a prejudice against Japan and proclaim a belief in American democracy with an emotional pledge of allegiance to the Stars and Stripes. Of course they would try to fool us. They did in Honolulu and in Manila, and we may expect it in California.

Full and adequate protection for the safety of lives and property in this area undoubtedly would work an injustice on many Japanese, both aliens and American born, who are sincere, who really mean it in their hearts when they say it. But we are at war and our country comes first. We must win that war and to do it we must take all precautions.

If we can take our young men, millions of them, and put them before cannon and tanks and advancing hordes with gleaming bayonets and say that we have not done an injustice to them, it is nothing less than sickly sentimentality to say that we will do injustice to American-born Japanese to merely put them in a place of safety so that they can do no harm, even though they would not have done harm if the precaution had not been taken.

I do not look for isolated acts of violence on the part of Japanese in our midst, or even individual acts of sabotage. They are too smart for that. In such manner they could do little damage to us and be of only slight aid to the Japanese Government, and they would thereby bring action to guard against further acts if and when an invasion is ever attempted. The way they could serve the cause of Japan most effectively would be to lay low, appear docile, entirely harmless, so as to not be disturbed in this or any other important area, in order that they might go about freely, make observations as to war preparations, the presence and transportation of troops, the coming and going of warships or cargo vessels, in order that they might learn of the departure of armed forces, planes, and other munitions of war from our harbors, and assist in getting such valuable military information to the Japanese Government, possibly to lurking submarines off our coast. They would avoid suspicion in advance in order that if we should have a bombing they could assist in directing the bombs to military objectives or places where the bombing would most disturb the civilian morale. And, while it is difficult to imagine an attempted invasion, if such suicidal effort to land troops on our shore should ever come, then the Japanese in our midst would truly be effective.

Last week I explained something of the problem of dual citizenship. I quoted from the civil law of Japan which, in effect, makes everyone of Japanese blood, born of Japanese parents, a Japanese citizen, a subject of the Mikado, regardless of his place of birth, regardless of where he continues to reside throughout the world. Of course, under our Constitution one born on American soil has the right to claim American citizenship.

So we have the situation of many thousands of Japanese in the Los Angeles metropolitan area who may claim American citizenship or Japanese citizenship or both, and many have claimed both. We know of only their right to be regarded as American citizens by reason of the place of their birth, of the assertion of the exercise of their right of franchise, the right to own real property, and all of the other rights, privileges, and immunities of American citizenship. We do not know how many of these also feel that they are citizens of Japan, who are secretly loyal to the Mikado, who intend to serve him when the time comes. We only know that we are at war and that in time of war one may not serve two masters.

Assuming that in 1940 the census enumerators sought out and located all of the Japanese residents in the United States, there were then 126,000 of them, of which 93,000 were in California; most of the rest are scattered over the other Western States. The census reports revealed that approximately 39 percent resided in Los Angeles County and the several Japanese quarters of the city of Los Angeles harbored 23,321 Japanese. Leading Japanese residents, with whom I talked prior to the outbreak of war, told me that there were about 40,000 in Los Angeles, about half of the population of the State in this metropolitan area.

The next largest Japanese population is in San Francisco, where 5,300 reside. Smaller groups are located in other sections. So it may be readily seen that the Japanese problem is centered in Los Angeles, and we are the ones who will be the human sacrifices if the perfidy that characterized the attack on Pearl Harbor and the bombing of the innocent residents of Honolulu is ever duplicated on the American Continent.

Here, we have no less than 19 Shinto temples with inscriptions over the altars in Japanese characters which, in English, mean “Now let us worship the Emperor every morning.” Here in our junior high schools and high schools and in growing numbers in our industrial and agricultural districts, are bright young Japanese known as Kibei. A Kibei, literally translated, means “those who return.”

Those who are born in Japan and who have taken up their residence in this country, at a time when the immigration laws permitted, are known as Issei, first-generation Japanese. Those of second and third generation, born in this country, are the Nisei. Those born here and who have returned to Japan for education and to be steeped at a young age in Japanese philosophy, in the Japanese way of life, in Japanese hero worship, and who have then returned to take their places here among our citizens, are known as Kibei.

Those children who are sent back to Japan for education are carefully selected. Generally, they include children of greatest promise who, it is expected, will become leaders. How many of these can ever be counted on to be loyal American citizens, through and through, no one can tell. Probably few of them. They are spread through the local Japanese population. Most all Japanese aliens and American born have been members of various Japanese organizations, many of which have had close relationship with, and direction from, the Japanese consul.

Such, in a general way, is the picture as it exists in Los Angeles and the metropolitan area. And what is the Federal Government doing about it? The Department of Justice has arrested a few hundred alien Japanese, and there have been prescribed certain zones that aliens may not enter, and the Japanese and the Japanese problem are still with us.

Ever since December 7 I have been studying the local Japanese situation. I have been doing my very best to bring the facts to the attention of various Federal officials and agencies, and have urged greater cooperation in attacking the problem, in exchanging information, in going about the solution intelligently. I hope that my efforts may have some effect.

The appointment of Thomas C. Clarke, of the Department of Justice, as coordinator of the enemy alien program in the 11 Western States is indeed a step in the right direction. From my several contacts with Mr. Clarke, I feel that he is going about the great task in a very intelligent way, but I fear that no one is going to go far enough.

I advocate the securing of land by the Federal Government in locations removed at least several hundred miles from the coast, the transporting of the Japanese population to such locations where they may be put to work raising food or other products of the soil that may be most needed in the present emergency. Let them raise beans for our soldiers and sailors; let them raise soybeans or other products that may be used for plastics. Possibly they could be put to raising a substitute far the rubber that will, in a small measure, take the place of the rubber supply from the Malay Peninsula that the Japanese hordes have seized.

Certainly, some way should be devised for keeping the native-born Japanese out of mischief. I feel that this could be handled on the theory that the burden is upon every American-born Japanese to demonstrate his loyalty to this country, to show that he really intends for all time, in good faith, to claim and enjoy one citizenship rather than dual citizenship. Since the question to be determined is whether there is a mental reservation in his declaration, it would, of course, take considerable time to make the necessary investigation, possibly as long as the war would last, and during the period of such inquiry, while the question of loyalty may be in doubt, so long as there may be a possibility of an American-born Japanese having hidden in the secret of his mind an intention to serve the Mikado as a loyal subject of Japan, when and if such occasion should arise during all of this period the American-born Japanese might be well engaged in raising soy beans for the Government.

We take our own boys to fight. Let us take the native-born Japanese to serve the Government in another way. If they are loyal to this country they could not object; if they are loyal to Japan it would be the best and safest place for them.

So long as the local Japanese population is not disturbed there will be many questions arise. Every person of Japanese blood, wherever he be residing in this country, should be made to understand that one single act of sabotage, the discovery of the work of Japanese spies securing and transmitting information—anything that might assist the Japanese Government in time of war—will brand the entire Japanese population, not only during the existence of a state of war, but at least for a generation. California Japanese should be warned that those who want to live in America, those who want to raise their children here and have the advantage of our educational system and secure the blessings of liberty must take every precaution to guard themselves against menacing activities, the plannings and plottings of their own race. By their deeds and conduct only can they demonstrate their right to be regarded as American citizens and treated as such.

All of this may sound harsh and drastic, but we are at war. We here in Los Angeles are the ones who will get the bombs if they ever be directed by Japanese residing in America. We should take no chances. This is not a time for sentimentality or for our people to be so actuated by a mistaken sense of brotherly love. We may lose the very thing we are fighting for—a right to demonstrate brotherly love and to be nice to everybody in time of peace.

Mr. Speaker, because of numerous questions that were asked the following day as a result of the above broadcast, the mayor, Fletcher Bowron, further clarified his radio address by releasing a statement to the press. The statement follows closely the suggestions which have been considered by our congressional committee in consultation with the Department of Justice, the War Department, the Federal Security Agency; and the Department of Agriculture. Only by the close cooperation of all of these agencies can a workable solution be found, but that solution must not only be found now, but it must also be put into effect at once unless we are to find that we have moved too slowly and that the hour of destruction has already come. Possibly we credit the Japanese Government with too elaborate a program of attack upon this country, from within as well as from without, but it will be better to err on the side of precaution than to have failed to take sufficient steps with appropriate speed. For the benefit of the Members, all of whom must necessarily be concerned in this grave situation, I am also inserting the statement released by Mayor Bowron on Friday, February 6, as follows:

STATEMENT BY MAYOR FL ETCHER BOWRON There has been some misunderstanding as to my proposal for dealing with the Japanese residents in California and I therefore deem it advisable to explain my plan in greater detail. I have not advocated the mass internment of all Japanese within the usual meaning of the term.

I suggest that the Japanese be put to work doing something that would be beneficial to this Government in the interest of winning the war.

Since approximately 80 percent of the California Japanese, both aliens and American born, are connected directly or indirectly with agricultural pursuits, I suggest that the Fed­eral Government secure land in some loca­tion removed sufficiently from the Pacific coast so that their movements could be re­stricted and where it would be impossible for them to secure and transmit any information of military importance, that a project be de­veloped for the growing and harvesting of such products of the soil as are most needed, either as food for the United States Army and Navy, or products that are needed in the industries in connection with the manufac­ture of war materials. Possibly other projects might be thought of.

For the alien Japanese residents, it would, in a sense, be a form of internment, but with­out the necessity of closely confined incar­ceration, there should be no need for breaking up families. Whole families could be placed in suitable living quarters and all those who work on the project would receive reasonable compensation.

With respect to American-born Japanese, most of whom claim American citizenship, but who, with probably few exceptions, enjoy dual citizenship, that is to say, they are also citizens of Japan, though born in this coun­try—these could be conscripted just as we conscript our American boys for service in the Army. These American-borne Japanese would be inducted into Government service and set to work doing anything that they should be directed to do that would be most helpful in the war program, something con­nected with the production effort. They also might be set to raising beans or working at any other project. They, too, would be paid a reasonable amount and provided with suit­able living quarters, but none of the Japanese should, certainly, receive more or be treated better than an American soldier of the rank of private.

If the American-born Japanese feel that they are loyal American citizens, they would have no cause for complaint; they should willingly do their part in the service of the United States Government in time of war. Those who retain a deep-seated loyalty for the Japanese Government would be in a place where they could do no harm.

In the case of American-born Japanese, the same practice could be followed in having families kept together, including children of all ages. Unmarried women could be put to work as well as the men, although different projects might be developed for them.

I see nothing that could be considered in­humane in connection with this plan. I can­not conceive that Japanese residents are en­titled to any more consideration than young American men on the threshold of a career, taken from colleges or places of employment, given $21 a month, placed in uniform, trained, and sent to face danger and death.

The plan I have outlined for dealing with Japanese residing in California and in other Pacific Coast States might require an act of Congress, and thereafter it would take a little time for the Government to secure suitable land and develop projects, but in the mean­time we have a place to put them.

On March 15, 200 Civilian Conservation Corps camps will be vacated. Some of these camps could be vacated at once, and all of them could serve as suitable places for the temporary detention of a considerable portion of Japanese residents far removed from air­plane factories and other war industries and where no one could observe troop movements or secure other information of military importance.

The slowness and apparent indecision on the part of the Federal Government is due to several causes. First, there is no single office or agency that is able to deal with the problem in its entirety; and, second, because those at Washington apparently are unable to distinguish between Japanese and other enemy aliens.

The Japanese, because they are nonassimilable, because the aliens have been denied the right to own real property in California, be­cause of the Alien Exclusion Act, because of the marked difference in appearance between Japanese and Caucasians, because of the gen­erations of training and philosophy that make them Japanese and nothing else—all of these contributing factors set the Japanese apart as a race, regardless of how many generations may have been born in America.

Undoubtedly many of them intend to be loyal, but only each individual can know his own intentions, and when the final test comes, who can say but that “blood will tell”? We cannot run the risk of another Pearl Harbor episode in southern California.