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Prejudice, Fear, Anger, Stupidity and Hysteria
I am responding to the letter “We Did What We Had to Do to Win.” In light of what we now know concerning acts of terror committed by Al-Qaeda, the Islamic extremist organization, I would like Mr. Jolley, or anyone else for that matter, to answer all of the who, what, where, when, how and why questions (the discovery phase) that arise in connection with the 120,000 Japanese Americans who were transported to relocation camps because they were potential subversives or terrorists who might engage in sabotage against the United States of America.

Let us assume that the Japanese government planted sleeper cells in the United States before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Who were the leaders of the organization in Japan that directed these terrorist activities? What was the name of the organization? Where were the terrorist training camps located in Japan? How did the leaders in Japan communicate with Japanese American support and operations agents in the United States? What intelligence was gathered about potential targets in the United States by these sleeper cells? What supplies and equipment, like explosives, were purchased by Japanese American terrorists inside the United States? What practice sessions were held in the United States to perfect the terrorist attacks and where and when did the practice sessions occur? What role did Japanese American children play in these terrorist activities?

Now, let us assume that the Japanese government did not plant sleeper cells in the United States. Let us assume that the Japanese Americans themselves spontaneously created a terrorist organization after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Who were the leaders of the organization in the United States that directed these terrorist activities and where was their headquarters? What was the name of the organization? What was the source of their funding? Where were the Japanese American terrorist training camps located in the United States? How did the leaders in the United States communicate with Japanese American support and operations agents throughout the West Coast? What intelligence was gathered about potential targets in the United States by Japanese Americans? What supplies and equipment, like explosives, were purchased by Japanese American terrorists inside the United States? What practice sessions were held in the United States to perfect the terrorist attacks and where and when did the practice sessions occur? What role did Japanese American children play in these terrorist activities?

Are there any records in the files of the local police, the state patrol, the F.B.I. or American military intelligence groups that contain any facts or evidence that address these questions?

I am 67 years old and I have never read any newspaper or magazine article, never seen any television show, never watched any documentary film, and never spoken to any person in the United States that reported that there were facts or evidence of Japanese American terrorist activities in the United States. Then why were Japanese American men, women and children ordered to go to relocation camps?

They were sent to relocation camps because of prejudice, discrimination, ignorance, fear, anger, stupidity and hysteria.

I am currently reading Imperfect Justice—Looted Assets, Slave Labor, and the Unfinished Business of World War II by Stuart E. Eisenstat. This book deals with the subject of restitution. In the forward, Elie Wiesel writes: “Those books I purchased with my pocket money in my childhood are lying in dust. Who can give them back to me? Who will give me back the tephilin of my father and grandfather? I remember a little girl, a beautiful innocent little girl with golden hair and blue eyes, who had taken her most cherished possession with her, a beautiful scarf she had received as a Passover gift. Are there enough funds in the world to compensate her brother for that stolen scarf?”

For Japanese Americans there is unfinished business from World War II in the United States. Who, when, where, what, why, and how will that business be finished?

Paul Nutkowitz, ’67
Lawrenceville, N.J.

An Insult to Those Who Persevered
I have never written a letter to the editor before. I received the March 2006 issue of Columns and am compelled to write this in response to Carl T. Kostol’s letter. [Kostol said that Japanese Americans were free to move out of the West Coast restricted zone and only those who refused were sent to “relocation centers.”]

I am a fourth-generation Japanese American who was born and raised in Seattle. I am very proud of the fact that my grandfather and my great-uncle volunteered for the U.S. Army and served in the 442nd Regiment while they, and their families, were being “merely relocated” to camps, as Kostol so poorly put it. I feel that the sacrifice that this generation of Japanese Americans made, and many did so with their lives, paved the path for my generation and enabled us to assimilate in this great country of ours.

My mother is turning 75 this year and remains in the Seattle area. She, along with my father, both sets of grandparents and extended family were all sent to the internment camps. Homes, businesses and other property were basically lost by this group of American citizens because of the hysteria that ran rampant. More importantly, lives were changed forever.

Kostol states that Columns is doing its readers a disservice, and I quote, “when you do not differentiate between the internees and the Japanese Americans who merely had to relocate.” I believe that Kostol is caught up in the semantics of this issue, and it is he who is guilty of the disservice. Looking at this as if it were a mere inconvenience to be relocated to the internment camps is an insult to all of those who persevered during this shameful period in our history.

Scott T. Koizumi ’85
Fairfield, Calif.

Relocation or Internment?
I was more than mildly disappointed in the shallowness of your research in “The Stolen Years” series. The “litmus test” for writing on this subject is whether the author knows the difference between internment camps and relocation camps and there is a world of difference between them. Apparently you don’t pass.

The principle of “internment” is a centuries-old doctrine going back, at least, to the Revolutionary War and probably earlier. The people who were sent to internment camps had to meet two criteria: be an alien (non-citizen) and be considered subversive. The usual practice was to “intern” them until the end of hostilities and then deport them. In the case of World War II, there were only four internment camps (Missoula, Mont.; Bismarck, N.D.; Santa Fé, N.M.; and Crystal City, Texas). German, Italian and Japanese “internees” were, indeed, “incarcerated” in those camps. Crystal City was the only camp that housed whole, alien families.

The relocation-camp concept did originate with the DeWitt Proclamation and, as Carl Kostol pointed out [“Letters,” March 2006], only applied to Japanese residents west of Highway 97 (in Washington and Oregon). The “restricted zone” also included the whole state of California and the southern portion of Arizona. If the residents (both non-subversive Issei aliens and Nisei citizens) in the restricted zone chose not to relocate voluntarily, they were forced to move to relocation camps (10 total). The biggest difference from the internment camps was they could leave the camp anytime they wanted as long as they had a sponsor (family member or friend) who would confirm that they were not relocating back inside the restricted zone. Read Monica Itoi Sone’s Nisei Daughter for an account of a Seattle Nisei girl who did exactly that, leaving the Minidoka Relocation Camp to go back to the Midwest and finish up her schooling.

Burt Pierard,’68
Richland

Editor’s Note: As noted in “Prelude” in the Dec. 2005 Columns, the use of the terms “internment” and “imprisonment” to describe the treatment of Japanese Americans follows mainstream historical scholarship. The “relocation camps” were surrounded by barbed wire and had guards in watchtowers with rifles. Japanese Americans could not leave without a pass, and if they wanted to move permanently out of the camps, they had to find a sponsor on the outside and pass a security screening that could take months to complete.