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May 10, 1942: Civilian Exclusion Orders 60 and 61

The day everyone had been both waiting for and dreading was finally here. Civilian Exclusion Order No. 60 and No. 61 were published on May 10, 1942. Within 24 to 48 hours, every individual or family with full or partial Japanese ancestry—both those classified as “alien” and those who were U.S.-born citizens—was required to register at a Civil Control Station.

Civilian Exclusion Order No. 61 applied to anyone with Japanese ancestry living south of Westminster Boulevard, east of Bolsa Chica to Highway 101, and south to the city limits of Laguna Beach. Civilian Exclusion Order No. 60 was released on the same day, May 10, 1942, for norhern Orange County. The orders were posetd on telephone poles and in post offices. In south Orange County, Japanese Americans were directed to register in "Little Tokyo' north of Oceanside" at the Japanese school house. The school house was the Japanese Language School building supported by the Wintersburg Japanese Mission, now Cottage #34 at Crystal Cove State Park.

The words “exclusion” and “control” made one’s status in the situation clear: there was no choice, no free will, no civil liberty. The entirety of one’s life would now be under the control of the Army and the War Relocation Authority. Ancestry was the sole reason for the registry and confinement at what President Franklin Roosevelt himself called “concentration camps.”.

Decades later, by unanimous consensus in the 1982 Congressional report, Personal Justice Denied: Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, it was concluded a “grave personal injustice was done” and that “the broad historical causes that shaped these decisions were race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.”

Civilian Exclusion Orders were posted on telephone poles around Orange County. The Civil Control Station in Huntington Beach was at the Memorial Hall at Sixth and Magnolia streets, near where the Main Street Branch Library and Triangle Park are today. Rumors and statements to the media hinted that the Japanease American community would be taken to a camp under construction near the Parker Dam in Arizona. (Image: Civilian Exclusion Order No. 60 posted in north Orange County, Santa Ana Register, May 11, 1942)

The Civilian Exclusion Orders applied to anyone with a percentage of Japanese ancestry. By 1942—four to six decades after many had arrived in the United States—there were descendants of mixed ancestry and mixed marriages. The first clergy to live in the manse (parsonage) at the Wintersburg Japanese Mission in 1910—Reverend Joseph K. Inazawa and Kate Alice Goodman—were an interracial couple, having eloped to New Mexico since their marriage was considered illegal in California.

Spouses without Japanese ancestry would have to make a decision: separation, or join their spouse and children in confinement.

By September 1942, the Wartime Civilian Control Administration allowed some spouses or mixed-marriage couples to be released, although there were different requirements depending on if the husband was white or Japanese American. The Associated Press reported in 1942, “a Japanese husband and a white wife with their children may be released from relocation centers under Army approval, but may not remain within the Western Defense Command. However, a Japanese woman and white husband (if he is not an enemy alien) and their children may remain inside this military zone, if approved.”

The Santa Ana Register reported on one couple granted permission to reunite in Orange County: Lewis Dischner and Ruth Kikuchi Dischner. Ruth and their child, Bette Mae, had been confined at Poston. There were a reported 39 “mixed” couples at Poston who applied for release, two in Orange County, a handful in Riverside County, and more from Los Angeles county.

Lewis Dischner, three-year-old Bette, and 23-year-old Ruth Dischner were reunited at their Santa Ana ranch, after Ruth and Bette received permission to return home from the Colorado River Relocation Center (Poston) Arizona. After receiving "numerous telephone calls" about the presence of Ruth at the ranch., an Orange County sheriff and FBI agent were dispatched to the Dischner property to investigate. Ruth was a California-born U.S. citizen who had grown up in Orange County. (Santa Ana Register, September 4, 1942)

Some families were already separated from loved ones arrested by the FBI after having been identified as potential community leaders. These were the civic leaders, teachers, Buddhist and Christian clergy, older men who had served their mandatory military service in Japan years before coming to America, and martial arts instructors. Remarkably, Reverend Sohei Kowta of the Wintersburg Japanese Mission convinced the FBI he should stay with the women and children—many of whose husbands had been arrested and incarcerated—until all were directed to leave California in May, 1942.

(“Evacuation of Japanese Here Begins Friday”, Santa Ana Register, May 11, 1942)

The Civil Control Stations in Orange County were at 249 East Center Street, Anaheim, the Huntington Beach Memorial Hall, and “at the Japanese school house in ‘Little Tokyo’ north of Oceanside”. (See right)

Japanese farmers had begun moving to south Orange County in the early 1920s. By the 1930s, a group of families from the Kumamoto Prefecture were farming north of Oceanside. Wintersburg Japanese Mission congregant Clarence Nishizu described a population of approximately 100 people in an area referred to as Kumamoto Mura, or Kumamoto Village. Some geological survey maps continue to include a reference to “Japanese mesa” and an SDG&E facility on the land (now part of Camp Pendleton) retains the name “Japanese Mesa Sub Station.”

A group of about ten families from the San Onofre area were provided an opportunity to live in southern Utah in March, 1942—prior to the mandatory removal from California in May 1942—by the founder of Honeyville Food Products, Inc. at the Page Ranch west of Cedar City. Aki Iwada writes about her family being part of the group sheltered by Lowell Sherratt Sr. in Collecting Nisei Stories. Sherratt—who had worked with the Aggler and Musser Seed Company—had an existing relationship with the families due to his work as a seed salesman.

Sherratt’s action to help the families move to Utah is noted on the Honeyville website today: “When asked of his father’s role in sponsoring the displaced families, Chairman of the Board, Lowell Sherratt, Jr. comments, ‘We didn’t think it was extraordinary. It was just something he did for some very fine people.’”

Among those imprisoned before the May 1942 civilian registration was Huntington Beach’s Masami Sasaki. Sasaki was known as the “chili pepper king” and operated a large complex of chili pepper dehydrating and processing warehouses on the William T. Newland farm, where the Newland House Museum and Newland Shopping Center is today. In 1929, his dehydrating operation was described by the Santa Ana Register as “the largest pepper drying plant in the world”, with a growing annual output of a quarter of a million dollars.

Sasaki—along with Reverend Kenji Kikuchi of the Wintersburg Japanese Mission—was one of the “prominent Japanese” invited as a regular speaker at Huntington Beach High School Parent Teacher Association meetings in the 1930s. He also had been part of a local Business Men’s Association, supporting the formation of a local Red Cross chapter in 1917. His prominence as a successful businessman and the fact the Aoki Kendo Hall operated in one of his warehouses, made him an immediate target of the FBI in December 1941.

Masami Sasaki hosted civic groups, including the award-winning martial arts program at his Huntington Beach warehouses, circa 1930. By the time of the Xth Olympiad in 1932, the judo students were invited to participate in a demonstration at the Los Angeles Coliseum. (Photo snip, Center for Oral and Public History, California State University Fullerton PJA 260) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED ©

By the time of registration in May 1942, new growers had taken over Sasaki’s chili pepper warehouses in his absence. The Santa Ana Register noted the significant drop in chili pepper production due to the absence of Japanese American farmers and in late May reported on the possibility of a variety of crops rotting in the fields, due to lack of knowledgeable labor. The Orange County Farm Bureau lobbied Washington, D.C. for tariff reductions to encourage local farmers to recover a crop that Japanese Americans had proven to be an economic boon to the County.

Japanese Americans waiting at 249 East Center Street in Anaheim, on May 11, 1942, the first day of registration at the Civil Control Station in north Orange County. The Santa Ana Register noted that "when the evacuation is completed on Sunday, all persons of Japanese ancestry in Orange county will have been removed." (SOURCE: Santa Ana Register, May 11, 1942)

In May 1942, Charles Furuta, owner of the Furuta Gold Fish Farm at Historic Wintersburg, also was among those already imprisoned. The FBI interrogated him in the sunroom of his home within 48 hours after Executive Order 9066 was signed on February 19, 1942. He was taken to the Tuna Canyon Detention Station in Los Angeles County, and eventually would be confined in a Department of Justice prison camp in Lordsburg, New Mexico.

The sun porch of the 1912 Furuta bungalow at Hisgtoric Winterburg, the location of Charles Furuta's interrogation by the FBI in February 1942. (Photo, M. Urashima 2014) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 

Yukiko Furuta and her children had been packing and preparing for the Civilian Exclusion Order. They managed to store belongings at the Pacific Gold Fish Farm, owned by Yukiko’s sister, Masuko, and her husband, Henry Akiyama. Caucasian employees of the Akiyama family continued to operate the business and safeguarded the families’ personal property for the duration of the war.

Raymond Furuta, 27, an alumni and star athlete at Huntington Beach High School, married 23-year-old Martha Kuramoto in a "quiet ceremony" on April 19, 1942.  Not all who wished to attend were able to be at the wedding, due to the five-mile travel limit imposed on Japanese Americans. After the ceremony, the wedding party walked next door to the Furuta bungalow for supper. The ceremony was performed by Reverend Sohei Kowta, who followed his congregation into confinement at Poston. (Source: Santa Ana Register, April 21, 1942)  

To avoid separation, Charles and Yukiko’s eldest, Raymond, married his sweetheart, Martha Kuramoto, in the Wintersburg Japanese Church one month before they left California. Their first child would be born in confinement at the Colorado River Relocation Center, Poston, Arizona.

Civilian Exclusion Order No. 61 directed Japanese Americans to register on May 11 and 12 at the Huntington Beach Memorial Hall, at Sixth and Magnolia (now Pecan) streets.

One year earlier—on April 5, 1941—a crowd of 200 local residents gathered at the Memorial Hall with the Japanese American Citizens League for a banquet honoring Orange County Nisei who were entering the U.S. military. Among the dignitaries recognizing the young servicemen were W.H. Gallienne of the Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerceand Reverend Sohei Kowta of the Wintersburg Japanese Mission.

The Huntington Beach Memorial Hall served as the Civil Control Station on May 11 and 12, 1942. Only one year earlier, it had been the location of a community celebration for Japanese Americans entering the military. (Photo, Huntington Beach Memorial Hall, circa 1950, City of Huntington Beach archives)

The 1941 ‘Selective Service banquet” was a multi-cultural fete of the type Huntington Beach had enjoyed for years, with local Boy Scouts leading a flag salute, a chorus of “God Bless America”, Mary Toyoda from Santa Ana playing a violin solo, and a koto performance by a Miss Takahishi from Los Angeles. Huntington Beach’s chili pepper king Masami Sasaki also is listed as one of the guest speakers, along with elected officials and the Chamber of Commerce.

Reports of the growing production and success of local chili pepper growers were a regular feature in the Santa Ana Register. Much of the local crop was dehydrated and purchased by paprika or cayenne manufacturers. (Santa Ana Register, November 8, 1941)

One year later, Masami Sasaki was in a prison camp. After President Roosevelt issued Proclamation No. 2525 on December 7, 1941, Sasaki—born in Japan in 1888 and not allowed to become a U.S. citizen—was classified as an enemy alien. He was taken into custody for questioning on December 7, and then moved to Ft. Missoula, Montana, where his FBI hearing was described in 1960 court documents as being “only five or ten minutes”. He was then moved to Livingston, Louisiana, then Santa Fe, New Mexico, then Granada, Colorado, then to Tule Lake, California where he remained until released in 1945.

The same families of the young servicemen honored at the 1941 Selective Service banquet in Huntington Beach now were lining up outside Memorial Hall in May 1942 to register and receive an identification number, before their eventual incarceration in the Arizona desert.

“Finally when the curfew laws, military zoning, and evacuation orders were instigated to include the American citizens of Japanese ancestry, the whole life of the Japanese community became a turmoil,” recalled Clarence Nishizu, a congregant of the Wintersburg Japanese Mission during his 1982 oral history with California State University Fullerton. “Accounts were frozen, payments neglected, cars and furniture repossessed--we were helpless victims of the money grabbers who came to buy furniture and other belongings at ridiculous prices...many realized nothing from the sale of their life’s earning.”

After the Civilian Exclusion Orders were posted in Orange County, the Japanese American community would have seven days to prepare for departure on May 17. The shock and fear felt after December 7, 1941—and the past months’ chaotic dismantling of the lives they had created in the peatlands—would give way to quiet despair and the surreal existence of a prison camp.

The map that accompanied Civilian Exclusion Order No. 61, illustrating the boundary for those who were required to register at the on May 11 and 12. According to the Santa Ana Register at the end of registration on May 12, 1942, a reported 575 people, representing 150 families, registered in Huntington Beach, and in Anaheim 736 individuals registered, representing 174 familiies. The total for this region of Orange County (not including the "Little Tokyo" north of Oceanside) was 1311 people, representing 314 families who would depart California on military-guarded buses on May 17.


*This article was originally published on the Historic Wintersburg blog on May 10, 2017.


© 2017 Mary Urashima

california civilian exclusion orders historic wintersburg orange county WWII