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I,_ 1943





May, 1943


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· W.AR RELOCATION AUTHORITY [$,__,~~; - /_"-¢l-

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When Pacific Coast residents of Japanese ancestry were evacuated
from military areas in 1942, the·y left behind them a reported $200,000,000
worth of real, personal and commercial property.

To assure full use or·

this p~operty in the national war economy and to protect the property


evacuees, the Executive Order which established the War Reloca-

tion Authority contained a section authorizing assistance to evacuees
in the management.and disposal of their properties.

This authorization

does not mean that ?iRA was empowered to act as receiver of, to warrant titl
to, or to sell or otherwise dispose o-t' evacuee-owned property ~ithout ·
the owner's consent.

Persons evacuated froin. the West Coast still retain

ali their former property rights.

WRA acts merely as an intermediary

b~tween .the. owners and the individuals or agencies with whom they are
conducting business.

Evacuees are assisted in.putting into operation

·deeisions at which they arrived by their own tree will.
Because of the rapidity with which evacuation was conduc.ted
by th·e Wartime Civil _Control Administration, property matters had to .be·
cared for at a corresponding rate of speed.
Reserve Bank


Init~ally the Federal

San Francisco and the Farm
Security Administration . under-_





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· too~ the evacue·e property program pursuant to a request trom Lieut. •
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Ey letter dated Marc~ 25. 1942, _the Director _ of' thl:'

war·R~location to th~ Treisury bepartment all aut~orit;y
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with respect. to the management and disposal ot evacuee property • .. -'~







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The Farm Security Administration, under agreement with the Treasury
Department, took over the agricultural aspects of the evacuee property



program, and the Federal Reserve Bank_- asswn.ed responsibility fo~ handlip.g
urban property problems.

Warehouses were leased by the government for -

the storage of household ~cods.
As soon as evacuation was com)leted, the

War Relocation Authority

assumed its delegated authority regarding evacuee property, and the
Evacuee Property Office was established to carry on the program.


main property office is set up in San Francisco, and two field offices
ere maintained at points where there is the greatest concentration of
eva~uee-owned ~roperty.
problems of ell kinds •

These offices are equipped to handle property
.Among the services they render are arranging

for the rental or sale of both agricultural and commercial properties.
establishing contact between evacuees and persons who wish to conduct


business with them, effecting settlements of claims for or ae,ainst
-~vacuees, checking inventories of stored personal goods, auditing
-a~counts rendered to evacuees, and adjusting differences arisin~ out
of inequitable, hastily made or indefinite a 5 reements.
Field offices and the areas they serve are as follows:


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Whitcomb Hotel Bldg.
San Francisco, Calif'.

Main property office; also
serving northern and central
Californiij, Nevada, and

Room 955, 1031 So.
Broadway, Los .Angeles, Calif.

Southern California, including
San Luis Obispo County- and
all area below the Tehac:iiapi _
Mountains and the State_ ot
Arizona •




Room 6609, White Blde;.- ..
Seattle, Washington

States of Washington, Idaho,
Montana and Oregon

Farm Property

Prior to evacuation, Japandse farm operators in the Pacific
Coast ovmed outright or had a financial interest in approximately
$7,000 1 000 worth of farm equipment and machinery.

To prevent any un-

necessary storage or disposal of this eouipment durirlb the war period,
the· ·government directed major attention immediately to helping evacuees
dispose of it in e m2nner which would assure its most efficient use.
Evacuees were encouraged to sell or lease their equipment in conjunction


with their land when it was turned over to substitute operators.


other instances, sale or rental agreements were negotiated with other
operators in the locality insofar as was ,ossible.

Sow£ evacuees, who

had not finished paying tor their equipment turned it back to dealers,
sometimes at a loss.

Storage was discouraged in every instance.


this policy was largely successful is borne out by a survey made by the
Farm Security Administration during May, 1942.

As of that. date, in that

portion of the·mllitary area already evacuated, field agents reported
· there were onlyl3 farms with undisposed of equipment, valued at
approximatelf $11,655.
Toward the end of 1942, rumors began to circulate on the West
. Coest that large. qu2ntit.ies of evacuee-owned equipment :were either


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lying ·idle in storae,a or rusting away in the fields.



For example, it

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was reported to one of the service organizations in the Salinas Valley
that_ 500 pieces of farm aquipment were stored in that area.

A rep-

resentative of WR.A, with the assistance of the local Chamber of Commerce,
imulement dealers, and other persons of the community, went to Salinas
immediately, and their combin=d efforts uncoverad a total of t'ive - not
five hundred - pieces of equip~ent.
In addition to prom?~ly investigating specific reports of idle
e~uipment owned by Japanese-American families, V:RA has been making a
planned survey or farm and automotive equipment both in the field and
at relocation centers.

All through the Pacific Coast states implement

dealers, county war boards, agricultural_cornmissioners and other persons
who might have factual knowledge have been contacted by VJRA field men.
Newspapers have cooperated by publishing announcements asking anyone with
knowledge of idle evacuee-owned equipment to notify WRA or the United States Department of Agriculture county war boards.

Project Evacuee

Property Officers at relocation centers are, by means of questionnaire,
interrogating evacuees regarding the whereabouts of any farm equipment
which they may have left behind, and a~e offering to help them dispose·
of it.

of A:)ril, 1943, these procedures have.. uncovere.d a total of




195 tractorst and 497 pieces of miscell~neous equipment, including
harrows, plows, discs, and small tools.
Eacjl county USDA war board receives from WRA a 11st of all
euuipment uncov~red in the survey of its own area, the location in whi~h

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-5it is stored, and the name and address of the WRA representative ~o is

locally responsible for the disposal of the equipment.

At the same time,

the State ~ar Boards are being informed of all equipment that is found.
At the time of evacuation, approximately 232,159 acres of lan~
were farmed by Japanese-American op~rators in the evacuated area.
Some of this land_ was owned by evacuees who are .American. citizens_, and
some was held under either lon6 or short term tenure agreements.


evacuation was eccomplished without any substantial crop loss is largely
due to the effective work performed by the Farm Security Administration.,
which, until t~e fall of 19~2 1 handled all ferm property matters.


June 1, 1942t ~ou6 hly three months after the first evacuation order,
practically all farms had been transferred to Sllbstitute operators, and
thousands of dollars of vital food crops had been saved.
Many of the farm tenure agreements negotiated either by the
evacuees themselves
or by the FSA for ~vacuees are still in effect.

Some agreements have not worked out,_howevs.r,. and ViRA, through its
fi~ld property offices, is now assisting evacuees to nG~otiat~ new

Automobiles and Tires


In th~ eu-ly months of 1943, reports were published that 33,000
autor.:obiles owned by Japenese-.Arn.0ricans nO\\' living in relocation centers
were in storage; and that, as a canseauence, the rubber in :wel+ over . ,.
100.000 tires


being wasted.

Vary few residents of the centers still·

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hold title to automobiles, and the majority or those


do plan to

. leave. shortly to accept -job offers ·1n the Midwestern· states.

The estimete


33,000 is based on the number of cars registered

by persons with Japanesa names with the Motor· Vehicle D3partments of
Oregon, Washington, California, and P..rizona, in the year prior to

About 5,000 of these cars were owned by japanese-.Americans

who took their automobiles with them when they left the evacuation area
d~ing. the period of voluntary evacuation, and about one hundred more
were.located in parts of the four states outside the evacuated areaQ.
During the·evacuation period, the records of the Motor Vehicle'J:epartments show that almost 20,000 cars were transferred ta non-Japanese

Some evacuees, having only a small equity in the cars and being

·· unable to dispose of them before leaving their homes, turned them back
to the dealers who have since sold them.


Commercial and Urban Real Property
Slightly mor':3 then hal:f the Americans of ·Japanese ancestry who
lived in the coastal stutes :?rior to ev::icuation lived in urban and
suburban districts.

Many either owned or were buying homes or their own •.

Approximately 6,000 v:ar,;;; proprietors, managers, or ofticiais or business
conce;ns ranging from larg~ manufacturing establishments to small lodging
. "houses, retail shops, end la·undries.

Others· were craf'tsmen, mecha,nics,

or·member~ of professions, and·ovm.ed equipment vlith wh!ch.they.carried

on their


A comparatively small percentage of this prope~ty was



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brought to the attention of the Federal Reserve Bank, based upon the
number of evacuees who availed themselves of the services of the bank.
As an example of the soope of tha holdings of evacuees, the

Japanese-Americans Citizens' League reported that in the city of Seattle-,
Japanese operated 206 out of a total of 325 hotels, one-fourth of the
laundry and dry cleanin6 establishments, 140 grocery stores, and 50
green houses.
To preserve and protect this property and to prevent huge l'osses
in enforced sales, first," the Federal Reserve Bank, anQ. now the Evacuee
Property Office, aid evacuees in the storaee, sale, 'lease, and operation

Personal Property
At the time of evacuation, tha gover~ent leased wareh9uses end




offered to store the household goods and other non-perishable personal
property of evacuees free of charge for the war ~ariod.
families took advanta~e of this service.

~nly 2,867

Most eva~uee families made the

best private arrange:1.ents they could i'n the limited time available.
Some evacuees sold their personal property completely, but the majority·
stored ·their goods with friends, in church basements, in attics,
in garegee, and in any other available storage place.
The Federal Reserve Bank aided evacuees in personal property·
problems until evacuation was com~leted~ and since that time 1ffiA has been


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called u~on to perform myriad services.

Field property represeR-t_atives

have investigated the ·condition· of personal property reported broken
into,·have chacked inventories

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privately ·stor~d goods and arranged for

to government-operated warehouses or _to the e\'."acuee 's Jrlace _

residence; end ·have arranged for the_ sale or other disposition


·cni'aDti.ties of .. small articles·.
One of V;RA'_s chief tasks now in connection wi t.t; personal ~roperty
.: -is tb ·:rorwe.rci. household ·eouipment, clothing, and .o~her. personal goods to.
evacuees who leave relocation centers for. privat~ employme.nt •. Thj.s means





· collecting prooerty from the various places in which it is. store_d and
arranging transportation by the most economical method. to.
the. point
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where the family is resettling.

Each evacuee is entitled to one movement

ot personal property at government ex~ense over and above·movement to
a ~overnment warehouse···ror ... If_ -he cb,ooses to -~ve his goods'
. b_rought to him -at a relocation center, he will then have .to assume the
transportation expense for the next himself, b~t_if' he waits ~~il he
leaves tha center on indef-ini te leave,· t;he gover.nment transports


personal property:to his new place of residence •...

_May 1943




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