|NOTE: The following was submitted by former Senator
Hayakawa as his Statement to the Japanese American Evacuation Redress
Hearing on July 27, 1983. His
statement begins from page 417 of the JAER record.
Excerpts from a speech that appeared in the Congressional Record, December 7, 1982
ADDITIONAL SUBMISSIONS FOR THE RECORD
PREPARED STATEMENT OF FORMER SENATOR S. I. HAYAKAWA
Mr. President, I should like to remind my friends and colleagues that today is December 7, the 41st anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Forty-one years ago today forces of the Empire of Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor. Less than 3 months later President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Executive order that led to the relocation and detention of some 120,000 Japanese-American citizens and noncitizens in relocation centers.
In the four decades since that "day of infamy" we have destroyed our powerful adversary and built her up to be a powerful friend -- so powerful that we now plead with her to restrict the export of her products.
In the four decades since the mutual hatreds of war, we have so healed ourselves that we now have a prosperous, thriving Japanese-American community which, despite its small population of about 600,000, includes not one, not two, but three U.S. Senators. The ancestors of these three men worshiped the Emperor. But these men stand in this Chamber, the heart of our democracy, and when the spirit moves them, freely criticize the President.
But one controversy has not subsided during the 41 years since Pearl Harbor. If anything, it has grown. That is the controversy over the relocation of Japanese-Americans.
In an effort to understand the issue, the Congress created a commission to investigate the events surrounding the relocation and to make any recommendations for redress. By law the commission must release its findings in a report by December 30, 1982. According to several newspaper reports, it will recommend compensation to those who were interned of up to $25,000 per person.
Whether or how we shall compensate those interned is a matter for future Congresses, of which I shall not be a Member. But as a U.S. Senator, a Japanese-American, and especially as an American, I must share my views on this most sensitive issue.
The wartime relocation of Japanese-Americans in 1942 can only be understood in the context of California history. As is well known, California has been the principal source of anti-Oriental propaganda in the United States of more than 100 years. During the Gold Rush days, by 1851, there were 25,000 Chinese in the State. It was a regular practice of miners, on a big Saturday night drunk, to raid the Chinese sections of mining towns to beat up or lynch a few Chinese just for the hell of it. Chinese were often the victims of mob violence. A mob of whites shot and hanged 20 Chinese one night in Los Angeles in 1871.
When the first transcontinental railroad, the Central Pacific, was completed, great ceremonies were held in connection with the hammering in of the Golden Spike to celebrate the occasion. Eloquent speeches were given praising the magnificent contributions of Englishmen, Irishmen, Germans, Frenchmen, and others who had contributed to the completion of the railroad. But no Chinese were invited to this event, although they above all -- 10,000 of them -- had done the most dangerous and demanding labor to make the completion possible. The Chinese were dismissed when their work was done and set adrift without severance pay.
Anti-Chinese legislation and the agitation were common throughout the latter half of the 19th century and well into the 20th. The workers discharged from the railroads drifted from town to town looking for work. In San Francisco they entered some of the skilled trades like hatmaking, cigarmaking, tailoring and so on. It is an interesting fact that the first union label was one placed on cigars to tell the customers that this cigar was made by white men and not by Chinese. That is the proud origin of the union label. In 1882 the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed after much agitation on the part of Californians.
The persecution of the Chinese continued into the 20th century. Chinese-American friends of mine who are now older professional men in San Francisco remember the days when, if they left the Chinese area they were beaten up by Irish and other toughs, so they had to stay within the limits of Chinatown. Throughout this period, pamphlets and books were published attacking Orientals as a menace to white society.
The Hearst newspapers continued to lead a crusade against the "Yellow Peril." The Sacramento Bee, Fresno Bee, Modesto Bee -- all of the McClatchy chain -- were notorious for their anti-Oriental propaganda. I remember as a high school student in Winnipeg in the early 1920's writing a term paper on anti-Oriental agitation in California, and it was then that I learned of the McClatchy newspapers, long before I knew where Sacramento, Modesto, and Fresno were.
The attacks upon Orientals were not limited to the popular press or to labor unions and "patriotic" societies. It was highly endorsed by many of the leading intellectuals of the time. There were such books as Lothrop Stoddard's "The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy" (1920). Other distinguished intellectuals who wrote warning books against the Orientals were people like Madison Grant, who wrote "Passing of the Great Race, or Racial Basis of European History" (1916). There was also the distinguished labor economist of the University of Wisconsin in the 1930's, Prof. E. A. Ross who was one of the leading advocates of exclusion of Orientals from the American labor force. He was regarded as a great liberal at the time.
There was also the widely accepted doctrine of what was later to be known as "Social Darwinism," to the effect that the white race was the highest point of human evolution, and that yellow, brown, and black people represented lower stages. Indeed, white people themselves were divided into the "higher" North European -- "Nordic," "Aryan" -- and the "lower" South Europeans -- Slavs, Greeks, and Italians. The fact that these ideas were widely believed to be scientific is all too evident in the U.S. Immigration Act of 1924, which codified these ideas into law, and which gave high immigration quotas to British, Germans, and Scandinavians, lower quotas to Middle and South Europeans, and total exclusion to the Japanese. The Chinese had already been excluded in 1882.
Against this background of almost 100 years of successful anti-Oriental agitation throughout California, it is easy to understand that the attack on Pearl Harbor aroused in the people of California, as well as elsewhere, all the superstitious, racist fears that had been generated over the years, as well as the normal anxieties of wartime. The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was called "a stab in the back" -- a typical Oriental form of behavior.
It is difficult for people who did not live through that dreadful time to reconstruct the terror and the anxiety felt by people along the entire west coast. Disaster followed upon disaster after the attack on Pearl Harbor. On that same day, December 7, 1941, Japanese forces landed on the Malay Peninsula and began their drive toward Singapore. Guam fell on December 10, Wake on December 23. On December 8 Japanese planes destroyed half the aircraft on the airfields near Manila. As enemy troops closed in, General MacArthur withdrew his forces from the Philippines and retired to Australia. On Christmas day the British surrendered Hong Kong.
The Western World was scared stiff. The west coasts of the United States, rich with naval bases, shipyards, oil fields, and aircraft factories, seemed especially vulnerable to attack.
There was talk of evacuating not just the Japanese from the west coast but everybody. Who knew what was going to happen next?
How frightening were the nightly blackouts during that bleak winter of defeat. Would Japanese carriers come to bomb the cities -- San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles? Would submarines sneak through the Golden Gate to shell San Francisco? Would they actually mount an invasion? Who could tell?
I moved to San Francisco in 1955. You could see along the shores of Marin County the great remains of submarine nets that went across the Golden Gate to catch Japanese submarines ion case they started sneaking through the Golden Gate. That is how serious the fear was.
War of course breeds fear of enemies within -- spies, saboteurs. There were rumors that Japanese farmers in Hawaii had cut arrows in their fields to direct Japanese fighter pilots to targets at Pearl Harbor, and that west coast Japanese were equally organized to help the enemy. Such rumors were later found to be totally without foundation, but in the anxieties of the moment they were believed.
It was a field day for inflammatory journalists and newscasters: Westbrook Pegler, John B. Hughes -- even Damon Runyon -- on the radio every night, screaming these alarmist broadcasts about the dangers of Japanese attack.
The columnist Henry McLemore wrote:
"Herd 'em up, pack 'em off and give 'em the inside room in badlands... Let us have no patience with the enemy or with any whose veins carry his blood... Personally I hate the Japanese. That goes for all of them."
Again the popular hue and cry was backed up by reputable intellectuals. Walter Lippmann, the dean of American social commentators then and for decades thereafter, joined in the demand for mass evacuation. The idea was also supported at the time by such liberal intellectual journals as the Nation, the New Republic, and the extra-liberal but short-lived New York newspaper, PM.
On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which set in motion the evacuation program. It applied to all Japanese, citizens and noncitizens alike, in the three Western States and a portion of Arizona. Altogether some 110,000 were relocated, of whom more than 70,000 were American citizens by birth; the remainder were not able to become citizens under the laws then prevailing.
Of course the relocation was unjust. But under the stress of wartime anxieties and in the light of the long history of anti-Oriental agitation in California and the West, I find it difficult to imagine what else could have occurred that would not have been many times worse. If things had continued to go badly for American forces in the Pacific -- and they did -- what would Americans on the west coast have done to their Japanese and Japanese American neighbors as they learned of more American ships sunk, more American planes shot down, more American servicemen killed, including your husband, your boyfriend, your brothers? What would they have done? Would they have beaten their Japanese neighbors in the streets? Would they have ostracized and persecuted Japanese American children? Would mobs have descended on Little Tokyo in Los Angeles and Japan town in San Francisco to burn down shops and homes?
There was precedent for such behavior in California, especially directed against the Chinese. The Chinese started wearing lapel pins saying, "I am Chinese."
I recall a friend of mine, a Japanese American now living in Marin County, who was 11 years old when the war broke out. She and her parents were vastly relieved when they learned of their evacuation from the west coast. Most of her generation and her parent's generation welcomed the evacuation as a guarantee of their personal safety.
The question is often asked why Germans and Italians were not interned and why the Japanese in Hawaii were left alone. The answer is simple. Germans and Italians were persecuted during World War I, when they were fairly recent immigrants, but there were too many of them to intern. However, "patriots" dumped garbage on the lawns of German homes, and in some east coast cities, all the German books in the public libraries were burned and courses in German language offered in colleges and high school stopped. By the time of World War II, both Germans and Italians were a well-established and familiar part of American life. The same was true of the Japanese in Hawaii, who were more than 20 percent of the population there and well known and trusted. Besides, there were not enough ships to transport the huge Japanese populations out of the major islands.
On the west coast of the American mainland, the situation was different. The Japanese were a small fraction of the population of California, Washington, and Oregon. The immigration of Japanese was principally between the years 1900 to 1924; then it was stopped by law. Japanese males, who constituted the first immigrants, married late in life because they felt that they had to have a steady job before they could send for a bride from Japan. Hence the typical Japanese American family consisted of a father 20 years older than the mother, and the average age of the Nisei, as the American-born Japanese were called, at the time of Pearl Harbor, was 16.
This last statistic is of great importance in accounting for the evacuation and internment.
If the average age of the American-born Japanese is 16, it means that the average white adult official in California knew little or nothing about the Japanese. He had not gone to school with Japanese children nor visited their homes. He had not had Japanese friends on baseball or debate teams. Furthermore, the Japanese parent generation spoke little English or none at all. So the ruling classes, the people in the city councils, the State assemblies, and so on, did not know who the Japanese were. They did not know anything about them. So whatever Westbrook Pegler said about them was likely to be true.
For most white Americans, especially those old enough to sit in positions of authority, the Japanese were a strange and foreign element, so almost anything could be believed about them.
For example, it was widely believed -- Japanese used to send their children, after public school, to Japanese language schools -- it was widely believed that the Japanese children going to Japanese language schools were being taught reverence for the Emperor of Japan, that they were being indoctrinated with Japanese patriotism.
This happened to be true. That is, many of the teachers who came over in the 1930's were products of the superheated patriotism in Japan that made it possible for Pearl Harbor to happen. However, it was not possible at that time to predict that this indoctrination in emperor worship would prove to be totally ineffective.
Incidentally, our distinguished colleague Daniel Inouye, as a pupil in a Japanese language school in Hawaii before World War II, kicked up a strenuous protest against the use of these schools to preach Japanese nationalism -- and look what happened to him. He got elected to the U.S. Senate.
The relocation centers in desert areas to which the Japanese were assigned were, indeed, dreary places. However, the governing body of the centers, the War Relocation Authority, was headed by the wise and humane Dillon Myer, a midwesterner who, before his appointment, had known almost nothing about the Japanese.
Being a firm believer in democracy and justice and knowing the people in the camps had done nothing to deserve their internment, Mr. Myer did everything possible to make life tolerable for the internees. He encouraged camp self-government, hired teachers from outside to continue the education of the children, sent WRA staff around the East and Middle West to seek college admittance for Nisei who had graduated from the camp high schools. One result was that many Nisei students who, without enforced evacuation from the west coast, might have stopped with a high school education to work in their father's shops or farms, instead went on to college, including prestigious and private institutions such as Antioch, Oberlin, and Mount Holyoke, as well as to such great public institutions as Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Purdue.
A large number of young people -- middle-aged people by this time -- from very modest families got a college education which they otherwise would never have if they had not been sent to relocation camp.
The officials of the staff of the WRA, with a few exceptions, were deeply concerned about the injustice of the relocation program, eager to restore the Japanese Americans, especially Nisei, to normal American lives. They fanned out over the United States east of the Rockies to seek employment for them. You must understand that the Japanese Americans that were put into camps were only those who lived west of the Rockies. If you lived east of the Rockies -- Salt Lake City, Denver, Chicago -- they left you alone, because you were not considered to be a military danger. I was living in Chicago, thank goodness.
They fanned out over the United States east of the Rockies to seek employment for the internees. Everywhere the Japanese Americans went, they impressed their employers by their industry and loyalty, so that more were summoned from the camps -- scientists, teachers, mechanics, food processors, agricultural workers. By the time the order excluding Japanese from the west coast was rescinded on January 2, 1945, half the internees had found new jobs and homes in mid-America and the East.
I emphasize this last point because the relocation centers were not "concentration camps." The younger generation of Japanese Americans love to call them concentration camps. Unlike the Nazis, who made the term "concentration camp" a symbol of the ultimate in man's inhumanity to man, the WRA officials worked hard to release their internees, not to be sent to gas chambers, but to freedom, to useful jobs on the outside world and to get their B.A. at Oberlin College.
By 1945, there were almost 2,500 Nisei and Issei in Chicago, a city that was most hospitable to Japanese, and I myself found relatives I did not know existed. Other Midwest and Eastern cities acquired Japanese populations they did not know before the war: Minneapolis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, New York, Madison, Wis., Des Moines, St. Louis, and so on. And those who remained in camp in most cases did so voluntarily. These were the older people, afraid of the outside world, with the Nation still at war with Japan.
I point out these facts to emphasize the point that to call relocation centers concentration camps, as is all too commonly done, is semantic inflation of the most dishonest kind, an attempt to equate the actions of the U.S. Government with the genocidal actions of the Nazis against the Jews during the Hitler regime. As an American I protest this calumny against the Nation I am proud to have served as an educator and even prouder to serve as a legislator.
Now, the relocation center at Tule Lake, Calif., was different from the others. It was there that those who resisted the evacuation and internment, including a Japanese veteran of the U.S. Army in World War I, a Nisei who renounced American citizenship in protest against the relocation, and other angry people were sent to isolate them from those who patiently accepted their internment. There were frequent disturbances at Tule Lake.
The trouble-free lives at all the relocation centers other than Tule Lake can be attributed to a cultural trait of the Japanese, clearly seen in the Issei, that is, the older generation of immigrants, but almost unheard of in their American-born grandchildren, and that is the concept of gaman, which means endurance. Gaman is to endure with patience and dignity -- especially dignity -- hardships, misfortunes or injustices, especially those about which nothing can be done.
I am sure there are some Americans who will be enraged at the suggestion that anyone was happy in a relocation camp. But with the concept of gaman, you learn to make the best of a tough situation, endure with patience and dignity the situation you are in and make the best of it.
The people in the relocation camps were shopkeepers, market gardeners, farmers, laborers, all in relatively humble occupations, finding themselves with 3 years of leisure on their hands.
As one elderly gentleman said recently, "That was the first time in my life that I didn't have to get up at 4 o'clock in the morning to milk the cows."
Finding themselves with some leisure in their lives, they took up art. There was a tremendous artistic output. They turned out little masterpieces of sculpture, flower arrangements, and ceramics and painting, later memorialized in a scholarly volume entitled "Beauty Behind Barbed Wire" by Allen Hendershott Eaton, 1952.
How else can one account for the elderly Japanese farmers and grocers who gathered around a bridge table to go over the nagauta, a traditional, long narrative song, and the music from the kabuki, which is the Japanese equivalent of opera?
For many older Japanese, the relocation turned out to be a 3-year release from unremitting work on farms and vegetable markets and fishing boats, and they used this leisure to recover and relive the glories of their traditional culture.
Now I come to the most important part of the story. It is the story of the Nisei, the children of the older generation I have just been talking about.
It was a great humiliation for the Nisei of the 100th Battalion of the Hawaii National Guard to be sent to Camp McCoy, Wis., where they were trained with wooden guns.
Spark Matsunaga, now a U.S. Senator from Hawaii, was in that unit. He writes:
"We wrote home of our great desire for combat duty to prove our loyalty to the United States. It was not known to us then that our letters were being censored by higher authority. We learned subsequently that because of the tenor of our letters, the War Department decided to give us our chance. Our guns were returned to us, and we were told that we were going to be prepared for combat duty... Grown men leaped with joy."On January 28, 1943, the War Department announced that Nisei would be accepted as a special combat unit. They volunteered in the thousands, both from Hawaii and from the relocation camps. They were united with the 100th Battalion as the 442d Regimental Combat Team at Camp Shelby, Miss.
The 100th Battalion first saw action at Salerno, Italy, in September 1943, and took heavy casualties. The 442d landed in Italy in June 1944, at once gained a reputation as an assault force, and accomplished the famous rescue of the "lost battalion" of the 36th (Texas) Division at an enormous cost in blood. Fighting in seven major campaigns, the men of the 442d suffered 9,486 casualties and won more than 18,000 individual decorations for valor.
Another 3,700 Nisei served in combat areas in the Pacific as translators and interpreters. The Japanese military, believing their language to be too difficult for foreigners to master, were careless about security. They did not count on Nisei on every battlefront reading captured documents and passing information on to Allied commanders. Kibei, Nisei born in America but educated in Japan and originally the object of special distrust, turned out to be especially helpful in this respect.
They were born in America. They were American citizens, but they were educated in Japan. They could read Japanese very well, so they were very, very good for intelligence work.
In short, the Nisei covered themselves with honor and made life in America better for themselves, their parents, who a few years after the war won the right to be naturalized, and their children. I remember vividly the returning Nisei veterans I saw in Chicago soon after V-E Day. Short of stature as they were, they walked proudly, infantry combat citations on their chests, conscious that they were home -- in their own country. Chicago, known throughout the war for its hospitality to servicemen, outdid itself when the Nisei returned. They had earned that welcome.
The relocation was a heart-breaking experience for Japanese Americans as well as a serious economic loss for those who had spent decades of labor on their farms and businesses. But most seriously it was an affront. America was saying to them, "You are not to be trusted. You are Japs. We doubt your loyalty."
The Nisei, although very much Americanized, are in some respects profoundly Japanese. An imputation of disloyalty, being an affront, was also a challenge. A powerful Japanese motivation is "giri to one's name" -- the duty to keep one's reputation -- and one's family's -- unblemished. Giri is also duty to one's community, one's employers, to one's nation. The Nisei's nation was the United States. One accused of disloyalty is dutybound to remove that disgrace by demonstrating himself to be loyal beyond all expectation.
This is a basic reason the Nisei volunteered in such numbers and fought so well. More than 33,000 Nisei served in the war -- a remarkable number out of a total Japanese American population -- Hawaii and mainland combined -- of little more than 200,000. They had a fierce pride in their reputation as a group.
The Nisei were also motivated by "giri to one's name." Those who found jobs outside the camps were exemplary workers, as if to prove something not only about themselves but about their entire group. Japanese Americans, young and old alike, accepted mass relocation with dignity and maturity, making the best of a humiliating situation. In so doing, they exhibited the finest resources of their ancient background culture.
The prewar theory of white supremacy was completely discredited by the crushing defeat of Hitler and Hitlerism. The prejudice against Japanese in America was all but wiped out by the courage and the sacrifice of Nisei service men in Italy and the Pacific. Then in the 1960's came the civil rights movement, which further discredited doctrines of racial superiority and inferiority. We live today in a totally different era.
The Nisei, with their courage, and their parents, by their industry, have won for Japanese Americans the admiration and respect of all Americans. Japanese Americans have an average level of education higher than any other ethnic group, including whites. They have a higher representation in the learned professions -- medicine, law, engineering, computer science -- than any other ethnic groups -- and in this respect they are doing as well as another group famous for their respect for learning -- namely, the Jews. The per capita income of Japanese Americans is $500 a year above the national average. And they have, with a population of little more than half a million, three representatives in the U.S. Senate, while the blacks, with a population approaching 23 million, have none. What more can Japanese Americans want? We are living today at a time when Japanese Americans are almost a privileged class, with their notorious scholastic aptitude, their industriousness, and their team spirit in whatever occupation they find themselves.
Mr. President, I am proud to be a Japanese American. But when a small but vocal group of Japanese Americans calling themselves a redress committee demand a cash indemnity of $25,000 for all those who went to relocation camps during World War II, including those who were infants at the time and those who are now dead, a total of some two and three-quarters of a billion dollars -- we have been seeing this in a series of articles being published in the Washington Post -- my flesh crawls with shame and embarrassment.
Let me remind the Japanese American Redress Committee that we also live in a time when American industry is seriously threatened by Japanese competition -- in automobiles, steel, cameras, television, and radio sets, tape recorders, and watches. I warn the Japanese Americans who demand about $3 billion of financial redress for events of 41 years ago from which nobody is suffering today, that their efforts can only result in a backlash against both Japanese Americans and Japan. And to make such a demand at a time of the budget stringencies of the Reagan administration is unwise enough, but to make this demand against the background of their own record as America's most successful minority is simply to invite ridicule.
Let me remind the Japanese Americans that we are, as we say repeatedly in our Pledge of Allegiance, "one nation," striving to achieve "liberty and justice for all."
This means -- and I say this to black Americans and Mexican Americans and all other ethnic political groups -- let us stop playing ethnic politics to gain something for our own group at the expense of all others. Let us continue to think of America as "one nation, under God, indivisible" and let us act accordingly.
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