Document 39: Excerpt from The Minidoka Irrigator

The Minidoka Irrigator Vol. 5, No. 12 (Saturday, May 19, 1945). Wing Luke Asian Museum Archives, Seattle.

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A Weekly Devoted to the Interests of the Residents of the Minidoka WRA Center, Published by the Minidoka Consumers' Cooperative at Hunt, Idaho.

EDITOR: Kimi Tambara
NEWS EDITOR: Calvin Ninomiya
SPORTS EDITOR: Shingo Inouye
EDITOR: Hideo Kitayama
PRINTER: Kanichi Iwami Printed at Jerome North Side News, Jerome, Idaho.


WASHINGTON, D.C.—Secretary of Interior Harold L. Ickes last Sunday night denounced "planned terrorism by hoodlums" against persons of Japanese descent in rural California, declaring that 15 shooting attacks had brought no suspects to trial, according to an Associated Press dispatch.

As evacuees return to their farms and homes, Ickes charged, the "hoodlums grow more desperate in their lawlessness."

"Some of them see that they will not be able to establish an economic beachhead on the property of the evacuees they vainly hoped would sell out or run out."

Besides the shooting attempts, Ickes reported on attempted dynamiting, three arson cases and five "threatening visits."

"In the absence of vigorous local law enforcement, a pattern of planned terrorism by hoodlums had developed," he stated.

"It is a matter of national concern because this lawless minority, whose actions are condemned by the decent citizens who make up an overwhelming majority of west coast residents, seems determined to employ its Nazi storm trooper tactics against loyal Japanese Americans and law-abiding Japanese aliens in spite of the state laws and constitutional safeguards designed to protect the lives and property of all of the people of this country."

"...Many of the evacuees' Nisei sons are fighting the Japanese enemy in the Philippines, at Okinawa and in other Pacific combat areas.

"They are far more in the American tradition than the race-baiters fighting a private war safely at home."

Shots have been fired into the homes of families with American service flag stars in the windows, Ickes said.

Ickes' statement was based on a report by the War Relocation Authority covering incidents of the last four months. The report covered only instances of violence, the interior secretary said, and did not include "economic boycotts and advertising campaigns conducted in Oregon, Washington and California against Japanese Americans, or vandalism and theft of their property."

"Persons of Japanese ancestry eligible to go back in the Pacific states, who have homes, farms and other legitimate reasons to return, will continue to do so and must be protected," Ickes declared.

The report cited instances of terrorism in various cities including San Francisco, Cressy and elsewhere, and said incidents had occurred in ten central and southern California counties....


To give advice and information concerning the Seattle-Portland and vicinity area, Harold Fistere, Northwest WRA area supervisor, arrived here last Tuesday. He left this morning for Seattle.

Fistere declared that in Portland the Federal Housing Authority has made it possible for those families with relatives in the Armed Services or who have received honorable discharges, to obtain housing from the FHA.

Job opportunities in Seattle are now being studied under the supervision of E. Price Steiding, Fistere said.

"However, the situation is different in Seattle than in the Midwest or East," Fistere explained. "In the eastern areas prospective employers contact the area relocation offices requesting evacuee workers, but the same isn't true on the West Coast, but efforts are being made to overcome this difficulty."

In regard to prejudices, Fistere declared that the fair and decent citizens are cognizant of the fact that persons of Japanese ancestry should be given a fair chance. He based his assumptions on the reception the Remember Pearl Harbor members received in Beacon Hill and in other cities and towns.


SEATTLE—Upon arriving in Seattle last week from Hunt, Mr. and Mrs. Shigeo Nagaishi and their three daughters, were greeted with messages scrawled in red paint along their front steps, the garage and the retaining wall which read:

"No Japs Wanted Here," "Beware" and "Death," according to the Seattle Times.

"It was that awful skeleton out there that sent a shudder all the way through me," said Mrs. Nagaishi. "I am afraid. We thought we were brave enough to come home and face things, but" and she shook her head sadly, "I don't know now."

The "skeleton" is a bright red skull and crossbones painted on the second step leading up to their house on Beacon Hill district. Under it is the word "death." The property was defaced and all the windows were broken in the garage. The family automobile also was put out of commission.

"We managed to buy some groceries from a Chinese store up the street," said Mrs. Nagaishi quietly, "but at another grocery store, when my husband tried to buy a mop, they wouldn't sell it to him. The clerk said, `Oh give it to him,' but the manager said `No!'"

"My husband is out now trying to get our luggage home, but he will have to find someone who will bring it."

Two of the children were born in Hunt. Before evacuation, the Nagaishis had occupied their present home two years. They operated a grocery and meat market on Main Street. Both Mr. and Mrs. Nagaishi attended schools in Auburn.

"While things weren't too bad in the camp, we had looked forward to coming home, she said. "We were living in only one room there, and thought it would be nice when the children could really have a home. But it looks like we will have to look around for another place."

According to a radio broadcast, several Quaker members voluntarily cleaned up the signs painted on the Nagaishi home.


FRESNO, Calif.—A charge that returning Japanese evacuees are grabbing off choice agricultural land and business sites is contained in a resolution adopted at closing sessions of the California State Junior Chamber of Commerce conference, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Junior Chamber delegates adopted a resolution calling for a delay in the return of the Japanese until all of the nation's fighting forces have been returned to this country.

A committee headed by Harold Haley of Visalia reported its investigation disclosed that the Japanese are taking over choice properties in absence of the fighting men.


Next of kin of war heroes should guard against fraudulent schemes based on published casualty lists, the War Department recently warned.

Varying forms of such swindles by individuals and groups have come to the attention of Army officials. One of the commonest is to write the next of kin, as taken from newspaper casualty lists seeking further information on the soldier listed as a casualty. The next of kin is advised that the deceased soldier is to be given a special niche in a so-called "hall of fame," a "hero's memorial book" or photographic layout.

Deposits in advance or other cash requirements are set forth. As soon as the remittance is received from the next of kin the transactions is closed and another American fighting man's family has been victimized....


I wish to make a correction to your recent article of May 5, under headlines "Exclusion League Files Corporation Articles."

It concludes: "Dale currently engaged in legal proceedings challenging the right of a Japanese to repossess the farm which Bergh has been operating during the wartime period..."

I am engaged in a lawsuit with Bergh.... Bergh rents only the completely furnished dwelling house; neither does he rent farm land from another other person of Japanese ancestry. Incidentally, Bergh is supported in this lawsuit by the Gresham Anti-Japanese organization. Bergh has tried to create the impression that he is operating the complete farm and has conveyed this idea to the major newspapers.

In the last two issues of the IRRIGATOR there is an outstandingly large number of our boys from this community that have been killed or wounded in action. Is there anything that you can do to forward this information to the Gresham Outlook? I am impressed by the fair-mindedness of the editor, Mr. Purcell. The last issue carried articles about Ray Naemura and Jack Asakawa but there are so many others.... In spite of all the "loud talk" we have many, many sincere and interested friends here and others who are either indifferent or uninformed.

Sincerely yours
Boring, Oregon


The following two letters were received by the editor of the Portland Oregonian in regard to the recent editorial, which appeared in that paper, attacking the Japanese Exclusion League....

To the Editor: Who are these people who are organizing against our Japanese American citizens? Are they people who were recently naturalized themselves? Or are they American-born children of foreign parents?

Have they ever "pledged allegiance" to our flag? If so, do they know what the phrase "with liberty and justice for all" means?

Would they like some other group of citizens to do to them what they are trying to do to the Nisei?

Do they know that whatever they sow, peas or beans, justice or injustice, kindness and unkindness, or anything else, they will have to reap it?

Do they realize that the moral law, although perhaps slower and less evident than the physical, is just as sure and impartial?

Can they look at what is happening to the world as a result of race prejudice and greed and not be impressed by it?

Can they answer the above questions honestly and sincerely and not change their viewpoint?


To the Editor:

Please accept my hearty congratulations for your fine editorial of April 30. "Malignant Transition," in which you defend our Japanese citizens and residents.

It is a courageous stand for American ideals -- for decency and fair play. I am grateful to you, first as an American citizens, and secondly, as a subscriber for many years to the Oregonian.

Medford, Oregon


Back home at their house at 1511 East Fir St., Seattle, Wash., Mr. and Mrs. K. Taniguchi can certainly look upon their war careers as one filled with many travels to various parts of this country. However, now back in their real "home-town," they confess that it is the best place in the world.

Formerly residents of Minidoka, they left that project two years ago and have lived in Billings, Montana and Chicago, Illinois.

"I'm so glad I came back" said Mrs. Taniguchi, "it is so good to be home! The people in Chicago were wonderful to us, but we have so many friends here and they were glad to see us -- after all this is home."

The Taniguchis have lived in Seattle for 12 years, and operated the "Evergreen Tavern" at 514 Jackson St. prior to evacuation.

They have three children; Lucy, doing secretarial work in Chicago; Ethel, about to graduate from high school at Billings; and Roy, a freshman in high school in Chicago.


The recent visit to the Fellowship House at Philadelphia of Frank Sinatra to speak on the subject, "Racial Tolerance," was especially exciting for the Kaneda family, formerly of the Rohwer center, who have been making their home in a top-floor apartment at the Fellowship House since coming to Philadelphia a year ago.

In speaking of her "wonderful" experience, Grayce Kaneda, who is presently working as a secretary at the Family Society of Philadelphia, stated --

"The night before Sinatra's visit we were told by Miss Marjorie Penney, director of the Fellowship House, an inter-racial and inter-faith organization, that `The Voice' would be the surprise speaker at the meeting of the high school fellowship group the next day.

"The meeting was arranged quite secretly through one of the board members, who knows Sinatra's manager. Over 200 school editors and student council members from 67 public, private, and parochial schools in Philadelphia heard him speak, but only the teachers who accompanied them, our family, and a few others knew beforehand that he would be present. Negroes, Irish, Italians, Chinese, Japanese, Jews, Catholics, and Protestants, etc., were all there together. The surprising element was that Sinatra came to speak on `Racial Tolerance' rather than to sing as `The Voice.'

"I got the afternoon off from my work to join the bobby-sox brigade and got a choice seat by the aisle where Sinatra would pass to get to the front. My brother Ben (a freshman at Temple U.) helped with the admittance of students and teachers.

"Ten cameramen and reporters were at Fellowship House when Sinatra arrived. Some pictures were taken in front of the House, and my brother was picked along with a few lucky girls to pose with Sinatra. Later other pictures were taken while Sinatra was speaking, and these include my sister and her friend Irene Tomino (a Philadelphia-born Nisei friend of the Kanedas). Were they thrilled!....

"During his talk Sinatra said that `Fellowship House is one of the most wonderful things I have seen in my life.' He said that more should be done for the House and its cause. He added that after he returns from his overseas trip to the armed forces in May, he would organize a rally to raise funds for the House to carry on its inter-racial and inter-faith work on the greater scale. He indicated that he would interest other talents from the West and East Coasts in carrying forward this type of work for, he said `dis-unity only helps the enemy.'....


"GUADALCANAL DIARY," starring Preston Foster, Lloyd Nolan, William Bendix and Richard Conte. Yes, there's laughter in this cockeyed world and you'll find it in the hearts of our fighting boys on Guadalcanal.


WITH THE FIFTH ARMY, Italy—The 12-man patrol was pinned down in an open field and subjected to mortar fire. Six of the men had been hit.

At his observation spot, Staff Sgt. George K. Sato, formerly of Seattle and Hunt [Minidoka], observed the patrol's critical situation.

Two enemy machine guns opened fire and kept the patrol pinned down. The patrol could neither advance on the enemy held houses in the clearing nor withdraw to the comparative safety of the forest behind it. German mortar fire began to range in on the patrol, and enemy rifle fire added to the danger. The patrol was in danger of being wiped out to the last man.

Sato realized that if he could silence the German machine guns firing into the left flank of the patrol, he could enable the party to withdraw. Though he was aware that to fire effectively at the enemy machine guns he would have to move his weapon into the edge of the woods, where he would be under enemy observation and certain enemy fire, he brought his machine gun into position. He fired three or four long bursts at the enemy machine gun positions, killing three men manning one of the guns. Enemy rifle fire from two houses 200 yards to Sato's front turned on him as he had expected. This enemy fire came so close to him that the left front leg of the tripod of his gun and the ammunition chest at his side were hit.

Unshaken by the close fire, Sato calmly opened fire on the two houses, setting them on fire and killing two of the enemy within them. Under his accurate protective fire, the patrol was able to withdraw intact to the safety of the woods.

Sato, son of T. Sato, formerly of Hunt and now located in Cincinnati, Ohio, volunteered from this center for the 442nd Combat Team. He has one brother, Cpl. Yonetaro Sato, also fighting with the 442nd.


FOR SALE—Japanese silk pajamas, kimonos, scarfs, Furoshikis, Japanese prints. Children's kimonos, pajamas. Lacquer bowl, novelties. Sakai, 15-9-B, Hunt, Idaho.

INEXPERIENCED or experienced worker in dry cleaning establishment. Good wages. Write all qualifications to George H. Hakata, Sr., 511 Railroad Street, Elko, Nevada.

FOR SALE—Auto-radio. Good condition. Contact Mr. Omori, 41-2-G.

WANTED—Home to rent or buy in Seattle, Washington. Write details to me at 703 Marion Street, Seattle. Ken Nogaki.

WANTED TO SELL—5-room house in Seattle, near Beacon Hill. Owner relocating in East. Contact 28-6-E for further details.


May we wish to express our sincere thanks to our friends and neighbors for the courtesies accorded us during our residence here. We are going back to Portland Oregon.

Mr. and Mrs. Eichi Saito
Mrs. Nobuko Saito

Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest