April 24, 1946

My dear Mr. Speaker:

Enclosed is a draft of proposed legislation to authorize the adjudication of claims of persons of Japanese ancestry against the United States for losses arising out of the evacuation or exclusion of such persons by the War Department from the West Coast, Alaska, and Hawaii during World War II.

In 1942, the War Department, acting under Executive Order No. 9066, ordered the exclusion of all persons of Japanese ancestry from the Pacific Coast of the continental United States, Alaska and a portion of Arizona. Most of them were removed to relocation centers administered by the War Relocation Authority. They were joined later by over 1000 persons evacuated from Hawaii. For approximately two and one-half years, these American citizens and their alien parents, more than 100,000 in number, were exiled from their homes. After January 2, 1945, the majority of them were allowed to return to the evacuated areas and to pick up the raveled ends of the life they knew before the forced evacuation. By the end of 1945, about half of these people had so returned. The remainder have been scattered throughout the country or, in the case of the thousands who are in the Armed Forces of the United States, are serving with the Army of Occupation in Europe or Asia. It is too early as yet to make a final estimate of factual financial and property losses sustained by the Japanese-Americans because of the evacuation, but it is well established that the losses have been heavy. Some lost everything they had, many lost most of what they had.

The chief military justification for the removal of those 110,000 persons was the possibility of the existence of a disloyal element in their midst, the critical military situation in the Pacific which increased uneasiness over the possibility of espionage or sabotage, and the lack of time and facilities for individual loyalty screening. The persons evacuated were not individually charged with any crime or with disloyalty, and subsequent experience has clearly demonstrated that the vast majority of them were and are good Americans. This is convincingly indicated by the outstanding record of our 23,000 Japanese-Americans who served in the armed forces in both the European and Pacific theatres, and by the fact that the records of the intelligence agencies show no case of sabotage or espionage by Americans of Japanese ancestry during the entire war.

The evacuation orders gave the persons affected desperately little time in which to settle their affairs. The governmental safeguards that were designed to prevent undue loss in these circumstances were somewhat tardily instituted, were not at once effectively publicized among the evacuees, and were never entirely successful. Merchants had to dispose of their stocks and businesses at sacrifice prices. In a setting of confusion and hysteria, many evacuees sold personal possessions for a small fraction of their value. A large number had to accept totally inadequate arrangements for protection and management of property. Valuable lease-held interests had to be abandoned.
Market, Florin, 1942
"View on main street of this little agriculture town in the center of the strawberry
and grape-producing area occupied mostly by residents of Japanese ancestry. Evacuation is due in two days of people of Japanese descent from this community." (Florin, Calif., 05/11/1942)

Continued exclusion increased the losses. Private buildings in which evacuees stored property were broken into and vandalized. Mysterious fires destroyed vacant buildings. Property left with "friends" unaccountably disappeared; goods stored with the Government sometimes were damaged or lost. Persons entrusted with the management of evacuee real property mulcted the owners in diverse ways. Tenants failed to pay rent, converted property to their own use, and committed waste. Prohibited from returning to the evacuated areas even temporarily to handle property matters, the evacuees were unable to protect themselves adequately. Property management assistance given by the War Relocation Authority on the West Coast, although it often mitigated and sometimes prevented loss, could not completely solve the problem there, complicated as it was by difficulties in communication with absent owners and local prejudice.

In relocation centers the only income opportunities for evacuees lay in center employment at wage rates of $12 to $19 per month, plus small clothing allowances. Many felt compelled to discontinue payment of life insurance premiums. Some found themselves unable to make mortgage or tax payments and lost substantial equities.

All of the foregoing examples of tangible loss to the evacuees are directly attributable to the evacuation and continued exclusion of these persons from their homes. Unlike our fighting men and their families, who also made financial and personal sacrifices in this war, this group was given no statutory right to ameliorating benefits. These persons have had to bear the losses occasioned by the evacuation in addition to the war-time deprivations they have shared with the rest of the American people. For the first time in our history, persons of Japanese ancestry are appearing in substantial numbers on the relief rolls. The least that this country can do, in simple justice, is to afford some degree of compensation for the measurable special losses that the evacuees have suffered.

The only clear recourse which the evacuees now have, through the passage of private relief bills, is totally impracticable. The potential volume of evacuee claims, if added to the load under which the Congressional claims committees are already laboring, might well produce a virtually unmanageable burden. The obvious result would be to postpone the settlement of most evacuee claims for an indefinitely protracted period. To provide for adjudication of the claims by the Court of Claims would be an imposition on that Court, because of the small individual amounts involved and the potential volume of claims, and unfair to the claimants, because of the expense of prosecuting a claim before the Court of Claims and the probable delay in adjudication. The most economical and practical solution -- one which Congress has adopted on numerous occasions in the past for the handling of case claims arising out of a special subject matter -- is the creation of a special tribunal to hear and determine the claims.

The enclosed bill would establish an Evacuation Claims Commission as such a tribunal. In order to avoid increasing the number of independent agencies and to benefit by the experience which this Department has had with the entire evacuation and relocation problem, the bill would establish the Commission within this Department rather than as a separate Federal agency.

The Commission would have jurisdiction to adjudicate claims by persons of Japanese ancestry for damage to or loss of real or personal property, or other impairment of assets, that arose from or as a natural and reasonable consequence of the evacuation and exclusion program. This standard is sufficiently flexible to permit the Commission to consider claims involving "property" losses only in the broad sense, such as the impairment of going-concern values. At the same time the standard excludee claims that are largely speculative and less definitely appreciable, such as claims for anticipated wages or profits that might have accrued had not the evacuation occurred, for deterioration of skill and earning capacity, and for physical hardships or mental suffering.

In determining the amount of relief to be granted, the Commission would be required to consider other existing or intervening factors that affected the loss. Thus some losses, as in the case of businesses specializing in import or sale of Japanese goods, would have occurred even if there had been no evacuation. Likewise, damage may have been aggravated in some cases by failure of the evacuees to take steps which they reasonably should have taken, even in the abnormal circumstances, to protect themselves. On the other hand, there are numerous instances in which intervening factors immediately causing the loss, such as arson, theft, mortgage foreclosure, loss of goods while in Government possession, or breach of trust, should not affect recovery, because the situation giving rise to the loss would not have occurred had the owners been permitted to remain in possession.

Among the types of claims excluded by the bill from consideration by the Commission are claims of persons who were voluntarily or involuntarily deported to Japan after December 7, 1941, or who are resident in a foreign country. Several hundred evacuees voluntarily repatriated to Japan during the war. Since termination of hostilities approximately 7500 persons, most of them evacuees, have at Government expense voluntarily gone to Japan, chiefly from internment camps and the Tule Lake Segregation Center. In addition, the Department of Justice has been determining who among the aliens (including persons who renounced their American citizenship) should be deported to Japan. This processing is the culmination of the loyalty screening procedures to which the evacuees have been subjected since the evacuation. I do not believe that those repatriates and deportees have any moral claim upon this Government. Similarly, I believe that persons who before the war went to Japan or elsewhere to establish residence have no claim for compensation that we need recognize.

The remaining provisions of the bill are largely self-explanatory and I shall merely mention the more important. All claims would have to be filed within 18 months following enactment, and the Commission would be required to complete its work within three and one-half years thereafter. The Commission would have broad investigatory authority, including the power of subpoena, and each claimant would be entitled to a hearing. Assistance in preparing claims for filing could be extended by the Commission to needy claimants. The Commission's adjudications would be conclusive and a bar to further recovery. Awards would be paid in the same manner as are final judgments of the Court of Claims, except that the Commission would be authorized to pay small awards, not exceeding $2500 in amount, in order to afford more expeditious relief to those whose need may be acute.

As a matter of fairness and good conscience, and because those particular American citizens and law-abiding aliens have borne with patience and undefeated loyalty the unique burdens which this Government has thrown upon them, I strongly urge that the proposed legislation be enacted into law.

The Bureau of Budget has advised me that there is no objection to the presentation of this proposed legislation to the Congress.

Sincerely yours,

/s/ J. A. Krug
Secretary of the Interior

Hon. Sam Rayburn,
Speaker of the
House of Representatives.

Enclosure 506

{An identical letter has been sent to the President Pro Tempore of the Senate.}

A  B I L L

To Create an Evacuation Claims Commission under the General Supervision of the Secretary of the Interior, and to Provide for the Powers, Duties and Functions Thereof, and for Other Purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress Assembled, That there is hereby established in the Department of the Interior, under the general supervision of the Secretary of the Interior, the Evacuation Claims Commission, with authority hereinafter defined to adjudicate claims arising out of the evacuation and exclusion of persons of Japanese ancestry from West Coast military areas, Alaska, and Hawaii subsequent to December 7, 1941. The Commission shall consist of a chairman and two other members who shall be appointed by the Secretary of the Interior. Two members shall constitute a quorum and the agreement of two members shall be sufficient for the transaction of any business of the Commission.


Sec. 2. The Commission shall have jurisdiction to adjudicate any claim by a person of Japanese ancestry against the United States arising on or after December 7, 1941, when such a claim is not compensated for by insurance or otherwise and is substantial in such manner as the Commission prescribe, for damage to or loss or destruction of real or personal property (including without limitation damage to or loss or destruction of personal property bailed to or in the custody of the Government or any agent thereof), or other impairment of assets, that fairly arises out of or is a reasonable and natural consequence of the evacuation or exclusion of such person by the appropriate military commander from a military area in Arizona, California, Oregon or Washington or from Alaska or Hawaii, under authority of Executive Order No. 9066 dated February 19, 1942 (3 CFR, Cum. Supp., 1092), Section 67 of the Act of April 30, 1900 (48 U.S.C. 532), or Executive Order No. 9489 dated October 18, 1944 (3 CFR, 1944 Supp., 45). As used herein "evacuation" shall include voluntary departure from a military area prior to but in anticipation of an order of exclusion therefrom. Existence or intervention of other causes affecting the damage or loss, including action or non-action by the claimant or his representative, shall be considered by the Commission in determining the amount of relief that will be fair and equitable according to the facts as they appear in each case.

Limitations; Claims Not to be Considered

Sec. 3. (a) The Commission shall receive claims for a period of 18 months from the date of approval of this Act. All claims not presented within that time shall be forever barred.
(b) The Commission shall not consider any claim:
(1) by of on behalf of any person who after December 7, 1941 was voluntarily or involuntarily deported from the United States to Japan or who is otherwise resident in a foreign country.

(2) for damage or loss arising out of action taken by any Federal agency pursuant to sections 4067, 4068, 4069 and 4070 (relating to alien enemies) of the Revised Statutes, as amended (50 U.S.C. 21-24), or pursuant to the Trading with the Enemy Act, as amended (50 U.S.C. App., and Supp., 1-31, 616).

(3) for damage or loss to any property, or interest therein, vested in the United States pursuant to said Trading with the Enemy Act, as amended.

(4) for damage or loss on account of death or personal injury, personal inconvenience, physical hardship, or mental suffering.
Hearing; Evidence; Records

Sec. 4. (a) The Commission shall give reasonable notice to the interested parties and an opportunity for them to be heard and to present evidence before making a final determination upon any claim.
(b) Any relevant evidence having probative value shall be considered by the Commission in its inquiries. For the purpose of any hearing or investigation authorized under this Act, the provisions of sections 9 and 10 (relating to examination of documentary evidence, attendance of witnesses, and production of books, papers and documents) of the Federal Trade Commission Act of September 26, 1914, as amended (15 U.S.C. 49, 50) are hereby made applicable to the jurisdiction, powers and duties of the Commission. Any person appointed to examine witnesses may be authorized by the Commission to issue subpoenas to procure attendance of witnesses or production of documents and to appoint an officer to serve the same. Subpoenas may be served personally, by registered mail, by telegraph, or by leaving a copy thereof at the residence or principal place of business of the person required to be served. A verified return by the individual so serving the same, setting forth the manner of service, shall be proof of service, as shall be the return receipt or telegraph receipt when service is by registered mail or telegraph respectively. On request the United States Marshals or their deputies shall serve such process in their respective districts.

(c) The Commission shall have a seal, which shall be judicially noticed.

(d) A written record shall be kept of all hearings and proceedings of the Commission and shall be open to public inspection.
Adjudications; Payment of Awards; Effect of Adjudications.

Sec. 5. (a) The Commission shall dispose of all claims filed with it by award or order of dismissal, as the case may be, upon written findings of fact and reasons for the decision. A copy of each such adjudication shall be mailed to the claimant or his attorney.
(b) The Commission may make payment of any award not exceeding $2500 in amount out of such funds as may be made available for this purpose by Congress.

(c) On the first day of each regular session of Congress the Secretary of the Interior shall transmit to Congress a full and complete statement of all adjudications rendered by the Commission during the previous year, stating the name of each claimant, the amount claimed, the amount awarded, the amount paid, and a brief synopsis of the facts in the case. All awards not paid by the Commission under subsection (b) hereof shall be paid in like manner as are final judgments of the Court of Claims.

(d) The payment of an award shall be final and conclusive for all purposes, notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, and shall be a full discharge of the United States and all its officers, agents, servants, and employees with respect to all claims arising out of the same subject matter. An order of dismissal against a claimant, unless set aside by the Commission, shall thereafter bar any further claim against the United States or any officer, agent, servant, or employee thereof arising out of the same subject matter.
Attorneys Fees

Sec. 6. The Commission, in rendering an award in favor of any claimant, may as a part of the award determine and allow reasonable attorneys' fees, which shall not exceed twenty percentum of the amount allowed, to be paid directly to the attorneys representing the claimant out of, but not in addition to, the amount of such award.

Any attorney who charges, demands, receives, or collects for services rendered in connection with such claim any amount in excess of that allowed under this section, if recovery be had, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall upon conviction thereof be subject to a fine or not more than $2000, or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.

No former Member or Employee to Practice before Commission

Sec. 7. No member of the Commission or employee thereof shall, after termination of his appointment to or services with the Commission, be permitted directly or indirectly to represent any claimant before the Commission.

Sec. 8. For the purpose of this Act the Commission may ---
(a) Appoint a Clerk and such attorneys, examiners, interpreters, appraisers, and other employees as may be necessary to conduct the business of the Commission.
(b) Call upon any Federal department or agency for any information or records necessary in the prosecution of the Commission's business.

(c) Secure the cooperation of State and local agencies, governmental or otherwise, and reimburse such agencies for service rendered.

(d) Utilize such voluntary and uncompensated services as may from time to time be needed and available.

(e) Assist needy claimants in the preparation of claims for filing with the Commission.

(f) Make such investigations as may be necessary for the performance of its functions.

(g) Exercise any and all of its powers at any place within the continental United States, Alaska, and Hawaii.

(h) Make expenditures for personal services and rent in the District of Columbia and elsewhere, for the purchase of law books and books of reference, for printing and binding, for the purchase, exchange, and maintenance of passenger-carrying vehicles, for supplies and equipment, for traveling expenses, (including per diem in lieu of subsistence), for witness fees and mileage, for other administrative expenses, and for the payment of awards under section 5 (b) of this Act.

(i) Prescribe such rules and regulations, perform such acts not inconsistent with law, and delegate such authority as the Commission may deem proper in carrying out the provisions of this Act.

Sec. 9. The existence of the Commission shall terminate at the end of five years from the date of approval of this Act: Provided, however, that if the Commission shall have earlier finished its business its existence shall be terminated forthwith by direction of the Secretary of the Interior.


Sec. 10. There are hereby authorized to be appropriated for the purposes of this Act such sums as Congress may from time to time determine to be necessary.

-- Table of Contents --