Political motivation to keep the camps open until end of 1944 election

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I knew that there was a very strong political reason for keeping the camps open beyond November of ‘44, which was the presidential election. I put my head together with Donna Komure, who was the young lawyer on the Commission [staff] and we both decided to hand over to Mr. Brooke a few of the documents that specifically said, “Don’t close the camps until after the election is over,” meaning we might lose votes on the West Coast if we do that [close the camps]; that the anti-Japanese group will be so angry at us. And we were able to give to Mr. Brooke two or three documents from different high-level people—the attorney general, the Chief of Staff [General] George C. Marshall, and McCloy himself—that [these papers] confirmed that there was this other reason for not closing the camps; and it was totally political [advantage].

They wanted to wait [to announce camp closings] until Mr. Roosevelt was re-elected. Then, of course, in December [1944], they announced the closing of the camps [after the president was successfully re-elected to his fourth term and after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Endo]. Mr. Brooke was very happy to have actual proof, directly from the Archives, to show that there was this political motivation to keep the camps open until such time [after the presidential election].

Date: August 26, 1998
Location: Virginia, US
Interviewer: Darcie Iki, Mitchell Maki
Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

election incarceration internment politics World War II

Nikkei Roots: Digging into Our Cultural Heritage

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