Tule Lake Unit, World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument

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Not to be confused with Tulelake camp.
Tule Lake Segregation Center
Tule Lake War Relocation Center.jpg
A view of the Tule Lake War Relocation Center which became the Tule Lake Segregation Center
Tule Lake Unit, World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument is located in California
Tule Lake Unit, World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument
Location Northeast side CA 139,
Newell, California
Coordinates 41°53′22″N 121°22′29″W / 41.88944°N 121.37472°W / 41.88944; -121.37472Coordinates: 41°53′22″N 121°22′29″W / 41.88944°N 121.37472°W / 41.88944; -121.37472
Governing body Federal
NRHP Reference # 06000210[1]
CHISL # 850-2[2]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP February 17, 2006
Designated NHL February 17, 2006[3]

The Tule Lake Unit of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument[4] in Modoc County, California, began as the Tule Lake War Relocation Center before it was renamed the Tule Lake Segregation Center in 1943, to communicate a fundamental shift that had taken place, distinguishing it from the rest of the American concentration camps for people of Japanese ancestry.

From 1943, Tule Lake Segregation Center operated primarily as the site designated to warehouse inmates who were deemed a threat to the authorities charged with maintaining order in the ten War Relocation Centers. The 'bad and disloyal' were duly removed from the 'bad but loyal' and segregated at Tule Lake.

Tule Lake Segregation Center was the largest (in terms of population) and most controversial[3] of the camps, and did not close until after the war, in March 1946.

Tule Lake was then registered as a California Historical Landmark.[2] In December 2008, the Tule Lake Unit was designated by President George W. Bush as one of nine sites—the only one in the contiguous 48 states—to be part of the new World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.[4]


History[edit]

Executive Order 9066, issued in early 1942 as a response to the attack on Pearl Harbor, authorized the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans living on the West Coast of the United States. Ten camps, referred to by War Relocation Authority (WRA) officials as "relocation centers," were constructed in remote rural areas in the interior of the country. Tule Lake opened on May 27, 1942 and initially held approximately 11,800 Japanese Americans primarily from Sacramento, King and Hood River counties in California, Washington and Oregon, respectively.[5]

In late 1943, the WRA began to administer a series of questions designed to determine the loyalty of imprisoned Japanese Americans. The "loyalty questionnaire," as it came to be known, was originally a form circulated among draft-age men the military hoped to conscript into service — after assessing their loyalty and "Americanness" — but it was soon made mandatory for all adults in camp.[6] Two questions stirred up confusion and unrest among camp inmates. Question 27 asked, "Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty, wherever ordered?" The final question, 28, asked, "Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, or any other foreign government, power or organization?"

The first question met resistance from young men who, while not opposed to military service outright, felt insulted that the government, having stripped them of their rights as citizens, would then ask them to risk their lives in combat. Many responded with qualified statements such as, "I'll serve in the Army when my family is freed," or refused to answer the questions altogether. Problems with the second question were more nuanced. Some, as with Question 27, felt the implied allegiance to a country they had either left behind or never visited in the first place was another insult. Others, especially the non-citizen Issei, were certain they would be deported to Japan no matter how they answered and feared that an affirmative answer would cause them to be seen as enemy aliens by the Japanese. Issei, and many Nisei and Kibei who held dual citizenship, worried they would lose their Japanese citizenship, leaving them stateless when they were inevitably expatriated from the United States. Many chose to answer "no" to both questions in protest of their imprisonment.[7] Issei and Kibei who spoke little or no English simply did not understand the questions or their implications.

Those of Japanese ancestry who protested or resisted the unjust WWII detention were segregated and imprisoned at Tule Lake. More than 24,000 men, women and children were confined here.[citation needed]

Tule Lake Segregation Center[edit]

The Tule Lake Segregation Center was designated when the Tule Lake Relocation Center was renamed in 1943.[8] The new maximum security facility quickly became the most repressive of the government's 10 concentration camps.[3] Those who gave unqualified "yes" answers to the loyalty questionnaire were given the option of leaving Tule Lake for another WRA camp. Approximately 6,500 "loyal" Tule Lake inmates were transferred to six camps in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and Arkansas, and the over 12,000 imprisoned Japanese Americans who had been defined as "disloyal" because of their responses to the ambiguously worded, misguided loyalty questions arrived to take their place over the remainder of 1943.[5][9] Unsanitary, squalid living conditions, inadequate medical care, poor food, and unsafe or underpaid working conditions had prompted protests at Tule Lake and several other camps. On November 14, after a series of meetings and demonstrations over poor living conditions at the overpopulated camp, the army imposed martial law in Tule Lake.[5][9] Additional barracks were constructed early in 1944 to accommodate a second influx of segregated inmates, pushing the already swollen population to 18,700.[9]

Inmates transplanting celery at Tule Lake.

Martial law in Tule Lake ended January 15, 1944, but many remained bitter after months of living with a curfew, unannounced barracks searches, and restrictions that put a stop to recreational activities and most employment in camp.[5] On July 1, the Renunciation Act of 1944, drafted by Attorney General Francis Biddle, was passed into law; U.S. citizens could, during time of war, renounce their citizenship without first leaving the country — and once they did, the government could treat them as enemy aliens, and detain or deport them without impunity. 5,589 Nisei and Kibei,[9] angry at the abuses of their apparently useless U.S. citizenship, convinced there was nothing left for them in the country of their birth, or coerced by WRA authorities and pro-Japan groups in camp, chose to renounce their citizenship.[10][11] Ninety-eight percent of these renunciants were Tule Lake inmates.[12]

The other nine WRA camps closed over the course of 1945, but Tule Lake remained open to hold those who had renounced their citizenship and Issei who had requested repatriation to Japan. Most no longer wished to leave the United States (and many had never truly wanted to leave in the first place). Through the efforts of civil rights attorney Wayne M. Collins, 3,000 of the 4,327 Japanese Americans originally slated for deportation were able to remain in the United States.[12] They remained confined in Tule Lake while they waited for the hearings where their fate would be determined, and after the last cases were decided, the camp closed in March 1946. Although they were released from camp and allowed to stay in the U.S., the citizenship of Nisei and Kibei renunciants was not restored. Collins filed a class action suit on their behalf and the presiding judge voided the renunciations, finding they had been given under duress, but ruling was overturned by the Department of Justice.[9] After a 20-year legal battle, Collins finally succeeded in restoring their citizenship.[13][14]

Victory for Tule Lake Draft Resisters[edit]

Mr. Masaaki Kuwabara (1913-1993)

United States v. Masaaki Kuwabara,[15] was the only World War II era Japanese-American draft resistance case to be dismissed out of court based on a due process violation of the U.S. Constitution; and a forerunner of the Korematsu and Endo cases argued before the Supreme Court, later in December that year.

Judge Louis E. Goodman went out of his way to help fellow native Californian and lead defendant Masaaki Kuwabara by hand-picking his defense attorney, Mr. Blaine McGowan, who entered a Motion to Quash Proceedings based on the government's abrogation of his client's due process rights, guaranteed to every American citizen by the U.S. Constitution.

Without explicitly describing Mr. Kuwabara as a victim of federal anti-Japanese racism, Judge Goodman viewed the plight of Mr. Kuwabara in this light, and ruled against the United States, which incarcerated the defendant in a U.S. concentration camp; categorized him as a Class 4-C Enemy Alien; and then drafted him into military service. Mr. Kuwabara refused to obey the draft until his rights as an American citizen were restored to him.

Recent events[edit]

Pilgrimages[edit]

Starting in 1974, Tule Lake was the site of several pilgrimages by activists calling for an official apology from the U.S. government. This Redress Movement culminated in the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. The pilgrimages (every even year, around the 4th of July), serving educational purposes, continue to this day.

Recent themes
  • 2000 – 'Honoring our Living Treasures, Forging New Links' (7/1-4)
  • 2002 – 'As We Revisit the Meaning of Patriotism and Loyalty' (7/4-7)
  • 2004 – 'Citizens Betrayed' (7/2-5)
  • 2006 – 'Dignity and Survival in a Divided Community'
  • 2009 – 'Shared Remebrances' (7/2-5)
  • 2010 – 'Untold Stories of Tule Lake' (7/2-5)
  • 2012 – 'Understanding No-No and Renunciation' (6/30-7/3)

Federal grant program[edit]

On December 21, 2006 U.S. President George W. Bush signed H.R. 1492 into law, creating the Japanese American Confinement Sites grant program that authorized the appropriation of $38,000,000 in federal grant money to preserve and interpret the system of Japanese American incarceration sites, including the temporary WCCA sites, the ten WRA concentration camps and the Department of Justice internment camps.[16]

Notable inmates[edit]

  • Violet Kazue de Cristoforo (1917–2007), a Japanese American poet. Also interned at Jerome.
  • Yamato Ichihashi (1878–1963), one of the first academics of Asian ancestry in the United States.
  • Harvey Itano (1920–2010), American biochemist best known for his work on the molecular basis of sickle cell anemia and other diseases.
  • Hiroshi Kashiwagi (born 1922), a poet, playwright and actor.
  • Taky Kimura (born 1924), a martial arts practitioner and instructor. Also interned at Minidoka.
  • Mary Koga (née Mary Hisako Ishii, 1920–2001), a Japanese-American photographer and social worker.
  • Tommy Kono (born 1930), a gold medalist weightlifter and world record holder.
  • Joseph Kurihara (1895–1965), a renunciant. Also interned at Manzanar.
  • Masaaki Kuwabara (1913–1993), lead defendant in United States v. Masaaki Kuwabara,[17] the only Japanese-American draft resistance case to be dismissed out of court on the basis of a due process violation of the U.S. Constitution.
  • Bob Matsui (1941–2005), a 13-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Tsutomu "Jimmy" Mirikitani (born 1920, Sacramento, California), artist and subject of "The Cats of Mirikitani," an award winning documentary film.
  • Pat Morita (1932–2005), an American actor best known for his role in the Karate Kid films. Also interned at Gila River.
  • Jimmy Murakami (1933–2014), a Japanese American animator and director.
  • George Nakano (born 1935), a former California State Assemblyman
  • Alan Nakanishi (born 1940), a California politician
  • James K. Okubo (1920–1967), a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the Medal of Honor.
  • James Otsuka (1921–1984), a conscientious objector during World War II and a war tax resister.
  • Yuki Shimoda (1921–1981), an actor.
  • Sab Shimono (born 1943), an actor. Also interned at Granada.
  • Robert Mitsuhiro Takasugi (1930–2009), first Japanese-American appointed to the federal bench.
  • George Takei (born 1937), an American actor best known for his role in Star Trek. Also interned at Rohwer.
  • George T. Tamura (1927–2010), an artist.
  • Jimi Yamaichi member of the 27 draft resisters of conscience,[18] a Tule Lake survivor who shares his memories at the biennial pilgrimages, and promotes preservation of the site.
  • Takuji Yamashita (1874–1959), an early 20th-century civil rights pioneer. Also interned at Minidoka.
  • Kenneth Yasuda (1914–2002), a Japanese-American scholar and translator.

Terminology[edit]

Since the end of World War II, there has been debate over the terminology used to refer to Tule Lake, and the other camps in which Americans of Japanese ancestry were imprisoned by the United States Government during the war.[19][20][21] Tule Lake has been referred to as a "relocation camp," "relocation center," "internment camp", "concentration camp", and "segregation center," and the controversy over which term is the most accurate and appropriate continues to the present day.[22][23]

Dr. James Hirabayashi, Professor Emeritus and former Dean of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University, wrote an article in 1994 in which he stated that he wonders why euphemistic terms used to describe camps such as Tule Lake are still being used.

Let us review the main points of the debate. Over 120,000 residents of the U.S.A., two thirds of whom were American citizens, were incarcerated under armed guard. There were no crimes committed, no trials, and no convictions: the Japanese Americans were political prisoners. To detain American citizens in a site under armed guard surely constitutes a "concentration camp." But what were the terms used by the government officials who were involved in the process and who had to justify these actions? Raymond Okamura provides us with a detailed list of terms. Let's consider three such euphemisms: "evacuation," "relocation," and "non-aliens." Earthquake and flood victims are evacuated and relocated. The words refer to moving people in order to rescue and protect them from danger. The official government policy makers consistently used "evacuation" to refer to the forced removal of the Japanese Americans and the sites were called "relocation centers." These are euphemisms (Webster: "the substitution of an inoffensive term for one considered offensively explicit") as the terms do not imply forced removal nor incarceration in enclosures patrolled by armed guards. The masking was intentional.[24]

Hirabayashi went on to describe the harm done by the use of such euphemisms and also addressed the issue of whether or not only the Nazi camps can be called "concentration camps."

The harm in continuing to use the government's euphemisms is that it disguises or softens the reality which subsequently has been legally recognized as a grave error. The actions abrogated some fundamental principles underlying the Constitution, the very document under which we govern ourselves. This erosion of fundamental rights has consequences for all citizens of our society and we must see that it is never repeated. Some have argued that the Nazi Germany camps during the Holocaust were concentration camps and to refer to the Japanese American camps likewise would be an affront to the Jews. It is certainly true that the Japanese Americans did not suffer the harsh fate of the Jews in the terrible concentration camps or death camps where Nazi Germany practiced a policy of genocide. Although the loss of life was minimal in America's concentration camps, it does not negate the reality of the unconstitutional incarceration of Japanese American citizens. Michi and Walter Weglyn's research concerning Nazi Germany's euphemisms for their concentration camps revealed such phrases as "protective custody camps," "reception centers," and "transit camps." Ironically, two Nazi euphemisms were identical to our government's usage: "assembly centers" and "relocation centers." It might be well to point out, also, that the Nazis were not operating under the U.S. Constitution. Comparisons usually neglect to point out that Hitler was operating under the rules of the Third Reich. In America all three branches of the U.S. government, ostensibly operating under the U.S. Constitution, ignored the Bill of Rights in order to incarcerate Japanese Americans.[24]

In 1998, use of the term "concentration camps" gained greater credibility prior to the opening of an exhibit about the American camps at Ellis Island. Initially, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the National Park Service, which manages Ellis Island, objected to the use of the term in the exhibit.[25] However, during a subsequent meeting held at the offices of the AJC in New York City, leaders representing Japanese Americans and Jewish Americans reached an understanding about the use of the term.[26] After the meeting, the Japanese American National Museum and the AJC issued a joint statement (which was included in the exhibit) that read in part:

A concentration camp is a place where people are imprisoned not because of any crimes they have committed, but simply because of who they are. Although many groups have been singled out for such persecution throughout history, the term 'concentration camp' was first used at the turn of the century in the Spanish American and Boer Wars. During World War II, America's concentration camps were clearly distinguishable from Nazi Germany's. Nazi camps were places of torture, barbarous medical experiments and summary executions; some were extermination centers with gas chambers. Six million Jews were slaughtered in the Holocaust. Many others, including Gypsies, Poles, homosexuals and political dissidents were also victims of the Nazi concentration camps. In recent years, concentration camps have existed in the former Soviet Union, Cambodia and Bosnia. Despite differences, all had one thing in common: the people in power removed a minority group from the general population and the rest of society let it happen.[27][28]

The New York Times published an unsigned editorial supporting the use of "concentration camp" in the exhibit.[29] An article quoted Jonathan Mark, a columnist for The Jewish Week, who wrote, "Can no one else speak of slavery, gas, trains, camps? It's Jewish malpractice to monopolize pain and minimize victims."[30] AJC Executive Director David A. Harris stated during the controversy, "We have not claimed Jewish exclusivity for the term 'concentration camps.'"[31]

On July 7, 2012, at their annual convention, the National Council of the Japanese American Citizens League unanimously ratified the Power of Words Handbook, calling for the use of "...truthful and accurate terms, and retiring the misleading euphemisms created by the government to cover up the denial of Constitutional and human rights, the force, oppressive conditions, and racism against 120,000 innocent people of Japanese ancestry locked up in America’s World War II concentration camps." [32]

According to the Power Of Words Handbook:

From government documents and propaganda, to public discourse and newspapers, many euphemisms have been used to describe the experiences of Japanese Americans who were forced from their homes and communities during World War II. Words like evacuation, relocation, and assembly centers imply that the United States Government was trying to rescue Japanese Americans from a disastrous environment on the West Coast and simply help them move to a new gathering place. These terms strategically mask the fact that thousands of Japanese Americans were denied their rights as US citizens, and forcibly ordered to live in poorly constructed barracks on sites that were surrounded by barbed wire and guard towers. Although the use of euphemisms was commonplace during World War II, and in many subsequent years, we realize that the continued use of these inaccurate terms is highly problematic.[33]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  2. ^ a b "California Historical Landmarks: Modoc County". Office of Historical Preservation, California State Parks. Retrieved 2012-10-10. 
  3. ^ a b c "National Historic Landmarks Program: Tule Lake Segregation Center". National Park Service. 2006-02-17. Retrieved 2012-10-06. 
  4. ^ a b "Tule Lake Unit". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-10-06. 
  5. ^ a b c d Barbara Takei. "Tule Lake," Densho Encyclopedia (accessed 18 Mar 2014).
  6. ^ Cherstin M. Lyon. "Loyalty questionnaire," Densho Encyclopedia (accessed 18 Mar 2014).
  7. ^ Hatamiya, Leslie (1993). Righting A Wrong: Japanese Americans and the Passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. Stanford University Press. p. 20. 
  8. ^ Memorandum of Agreement Between the War Department and the War Relocation Authority (webpage image of dept/authority document), JAvadc.org, 5 August 1943, retrieved 2014-05-26 
  9. ^ a b c d e Tule Lake Committee, "History" (accessed 17 Mar 2014).
  10. ^ Turnbull, Lornett (June 30, 2004). "WWII brought hard choice for some Japanese-Americans internees". The Seattle Times. 
  11. ^ "Japanese Americans, the Civil Rights Movement and Beyond" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-04-10. 
  12. ^ a b Chersin M. Lyon. "Segregation," Densho Encyclopedia (accessed 18 Mar 2014).
  13. ^ Christgau, John (February 1985). "Collins versus the World: The Fight to Restore Citizenship to Japanese American Renunciants of World War II". Pacific Historical Review (University of California Press) 54 (1): 1–31. JSTOR 3638863. 
  14. ^ Kennedy, Ellen Clare (October 2006). "The Japanese-American Renunciants: Due Process and the Danger of Making Laws During Times of Fear". 
  15. ^ 56 F. Supp. 716 (N.D. Cal 1944)
  16. ^ "H.R. 1492". georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov. 
  17. ^ United States v. Masaaki Kuwabara, 56 Federal Supplement 716 (Northern District, California), July 22, 1944.
  18. ^ United States v. Masaaki Kuwabara, 56 F. Supp. 716 (N.D. Cal 1944)
  19. ^ "The Manzanar Controversy". Public Broadcasting System. Retrieved July 18, 2007. 
  20. ^ Daniels, Roger (May 2002). "Incarceration of the Japanese Americans: A Sixty-Year Perspective". The History Teacher 35 (3): 4–6. doi:10.2307/3054440. JSTOR 3054440. Retrieved July 18, 2007. 
  21. ^ Ito, Robert (September 15, 1998). "Concentration Camp Or Summer Camp?". Mother Jones. Retrieved November 18, 2010. 
  22. ^ "CLPEF Resolution Regarding Terminology". Civil Liberties Public Education Fund. 1996. Retrieved July 20, 2007. 
  23. ^ "Densho: Terminology & Glossary: A Note On Terminology". Densho. 1997. Retrieved July 15, 2007. 
  24. ^ a b Hirabayashi, Ph.D., James (1994). ""Concentration Camp" or "Relocation Center" – What's in a Name?". Japanese American National Museum Quarterly 9 (3). Retrieved November 18, 2010. 
  25. ^ Sengupta, Somini (March 8, 1998). "What Is a Concentration Camp? Ellis Island Exhibit Prompts a Debate". New York Times. Retrieved July 11, 2011. 
  26. ^ McCarthy, Sheryl (July–August 1999). "Suffering Isn't One Group's Exclusive Privilege". HumanQuest. 
  27. ^ "American Jewish Committee, Japanese American National Museum Issue Joint Statement About Ellis Island Exhibit Set To Open April 3" (Press release). Japanese American National Museum and American Jewish Committee. March 13, 1998. Retrieved December 30, 2007. 
  28. ^ Sengupta, Somini (March 10, 1998). "Accord On Term "Concentration Camp"". New York Times. Retrieved June 13, 2010. 
  29. ^ "Words for Suffering". New York Times. March 10, 1998. Retrieved December 31, 2007. 
  30. ^ Haberman, Clyde (March 13, 1998). "NYC; Defending Jews' Lexicon Of Anguish". New York Times. Retrieved July 11, 2011. 
  31. ^ Harris, David A (March 13, 1998). "Exhibition on Camps". New York Times. Retrieved July 11, 2011. 
  32. ^ Noguchi, Andy (2012-07-15). "JACL Ratifies Power Of Words Handbook: What Are The Next Steps?". Japanese American Citizens League via the Manzanar Committee. Retrieved 2012-07-22. 
  33. ^ "Power Of Words Handbook" (PDF). Japanese American Citizens League. 2012-06-22. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 

Further reading[edit]

Articles[edit]

  • 'A request to be honored as patriots: World War II internees vote for recognition', by Lee Juillerat H&N Regional Editor, Herald and News (July 3, 2012).
  • 'At Internment Camp, Exploring Choices of the Past', Tulelake Journal, by Norimitsu Onishi, New York Times (July 8, 2012).
  • 'Former Tule Lake segregation camp prisoners make pilgrimage, recall lost years', by Alex Powers, Herald and News (July 4, 2012).
  • 'Interest in Tule Lake Unit goes beyond Basin: Concerned public seeks monument's conservation', by Lee Juillerat H&N Regional Editor, Herald and News (8/19/2012).
  • 'Photographer finds dignity in a dark time', by Ayako Mie, Staff writer for The Japan Times (8/16/2012).

Books[edit]

Nisei Draft Resisters[edit]

  • Free to Die for their Country: The Story of the Japanese American Draft Resisters in World War II, 2001, by Eric Muller.

Renunciants[edit]

  • "Native American Aliens: Disloyalty and the Renunciation of Citizenship by Japanese Americans during World War II," 1985, Donald E. Collins.

Tule Lake[edit]

Fiction[edit]
  • Tule Lake, 2006, a novel by Edward T. Miyakawa.
Non-Fiction[edit]
  • Kinenhi: Reflections on Tule Lake, by the Tule Lake Committee (1980).
  • Tule Lake Revisited: A Brief History and Guide to the Tule Lake Concentration Camp Site, Second edition, 2012, by Barbara Takei and Judy Tachibana.

U.S. Concentration Camps[edit]

  • Concentration Camps U.S.A: The Japanese Americans and World War II, 1971, by Roger Daniels.
  • Keeper of Concentration Camps: Dillon S. Myer and American Racism, 1987, by Richard T. Drinnon.
  • Years of Infamy: The Untold Story of America's Concentration Camps, 1976, by Michi Weglyn.

Dissertations[edit]

  • "Bitter Sweet Home," 2005 dissertation on the Japanese language literature of the wartime incarceration by Junko Kobayashi.

Documentaries[edit]

  • The Cats of Mirikitani Documentary about artist and Tule Lake renunciant, Jimmy Mirikitani, 2006, produced and directed by Linda Hattendorf.

Film[edit]

  • "From a Silk Cocoon" (A film about Itaru and Shizuko Ina and segregation at Tule Lake), 2004, produced and directed by Satsuki Ina.

Journals[edit]

  • "A Question of Loyalty: Internment at Tule Lake," Journal of the Shaw Historical Library, Vol. 19, 2005, Klamath Falls, OR

External links[edit]