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Taken: Oregonians Arrested after Pearl Harbor

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The Authority for the Arrests: Umata Matsushima

Umata Matsushima ran his adoptive father's dry goods store, Teikoku Company, located in Portland's Japantown. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, the store was shut down, its business license suspended, and a marshal posted outside the door. Umata Matsushima was arrested.

Umata was not only a very successful businessman but had also been a well-known and respected community leader. Although not allowed to become a U.S. citizen, he was a member of the Portland Chamber of Commerce, the Japanese Association of Oregon, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. One can only speculate on his disillusionment with his treatment by the U.S. government — records show that he made several attempts to repatriate to Japan.

Umata and his family were eventually sent to the DoJ family camp in Crystal City, Texas (the family had previously been incarcerated at Minidoka, Idaho). As an experienced merchant, Umata was in charge of the canteen purchasing, supplying both the Japanese and German canteens. Crystal City had a large population of Germans and Italians, as well as Japanese.

Released from Crystal City in 1946, the family returned to Portland. With banks unwilling to loan money, Umata Matsushima borrowed $500 to reestablish his store. He was distrustful of the government, worrying he could again lose his business, so a friend acted as the official owner of the store until 1956, signing all checks and documents.

Based on this original

Wooden folding chair from camp
uploaded by Oregon_Nikkei
Handmade wooden folding chair, made in either Minidoka or Crystal City in 1944. Umata Matsushima did most of the carpentry, as well as the sanding and varnishing. 2007.115.01, gift of ... More »


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