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One of the militarys largest undertakings during WWII was the mass evacuation of people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast of the United States This stretched from Washington to Oregon and down to southern California The decision to evacuate the Japanese was one made at the highest levelby the President of the United States who was acting as Commander in Chief3 pp6 What military plans and recommend- ations lay behind this decision What alternatives was the President presented To what extent was his decision based on military considerations Initial plans for evacuation of suspected people from strategic areas along the West Coast concerned enemy aliens of all three Axis nations Germany Italy and Japan rather than people of Japanese ancestry alone The census in 1940 showed that out of a total of 126947in the United States 112353 Japanese were living in the three Pacific states California had 93717 Japanese or nearly three fourths of the national total Out of the west coast Japanese 40869 were aliens called Issei ineligible for citizenship through naturalization proceedings and 71484 were American-born called Nisei and therefore US citizens For several decades the Japanese population had been the target of hostility and restrictive action and the bombing of Pearl Harbor just added fuel to the fire 6 pp20-25 During the first few days after the Pearl Harbor attack the west coast was alarmed by a number of reports all false about enemy ships off shore It was in the midst of this atmosphere that the first proposal for a mass evacuation of the Japanese developed On December 1 a treasury agent reported to Army authorities that an estimated 20000 Japanese in the San Francisco area were ready for organized action Without checking the authenticity of the report the Ninth Corps Area staff worked on a plan for evacuation which was then approved by the corps area commander 6 pp20-25
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