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"After Pearl Harbor, A Japanese Pilot Crash-Landed ..." Topic

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913 hits since 31 May 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP31 May 2017 12:30 p.m. PST

…On A Hawaiian Island And Tried to Occupy It.

"In 1941, a lone Japanese pilot tried to capture the Hawaiian island of Ni'ihau. The natives responded by holding a luau for him.

Though part of the US, Ni'ihau has been privately owned by the Robinson family since 1864. Only natives, Robinsons, government officials, and US Navy personnel may go there which is why it's called "The Forbidden Isle."

Back in 1941, the island had no electricity or phones, and virtually everyone spoke only Hawaiian. Even its owner, Aylmer Francis Robinson, lived on the neighboring island of Kaua'i and only visited weekly…"
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Mark 131 May 2017 1:05 p.m. PST

We had a discussion of this same subject, but with a different link, only just more than a month ago.

TMP link

Still … an interesting bit of history.

(aka: Mk 1)

Legion 401 Jun 2017 6:46 a.m. PST

He may have been lucky the natives didn't have him on the Luau menu ! wink

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP01 Jun 2017 10:56 a.m. PST


Well… at the end… (smile)


VCarter Supporting Member of TMP01 Jun 2017 2:19 p.m. PST

Wasn't this one of the reasons Roosevelt put in the executive order for Japanese-American interment?

Mark 101 Jun 2017 6:45 p.m. PST

Wasn't this one of the reasons Roosevelt put in the executive order for Japanese-American interment?

It may have been the event itself. But I don't think so. I think it was more likely the publicity around the inquiry into the event. But I have not seen any credible analysis of Roosevelt's position on the question.

Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066, issued February 19, 1942, stated (in part):

I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of War, and the Military Commanders … to prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he or the appropriate Military Commander may determine, from which any or all persons may be excluded, and with respect to which, the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion.

The President's order was very broad, essentially allowing the exclusion of anybody from areas that were to be designated by the military.

It was Stimson (Secretary of War) and Bendetsen (Director of Wartime Civilian Control Administration) who over a period of a few months turned this into the internment of the whole Japanese-American population of the West Coast.

The transition from excluding anyone who was a threat from sensitive areas, to excluding ALL Japanese-Americans from the whole West Coast, seems to have been driven by many factors. One was a long-standing history of anti-Asian sentiment among state and local politicians (Chinese and Japanese immigrants had faced many "blue laws" in California, Oregon and Washington). Another might have been the personal prejudices of some of the military leadership. The publication of the hearings/inquiry into the Ni'ihua incident occurred in this same timeframe, and there was explicit press coverage of the more damning testimony, much from individuals in positions of authority who basically spoke in racial/prejudicial terms.

There is a correlation in timing between the publishing of results from the inquiry into this event, and the turning of opinion in published materials on the West Coast. As an example, a count of anti Japanese-American statements in newspaper editorials, and in letters-to-the-editors, shows a dramatic surge in February/March/April 1942, that was not present in December/January.

But we should not forget that in the months following Pearl Harbor there were several stinging defeats in the Pacific, and even raids by Japanese fleet submarines on the West Coast, including the shelling of some shore installations and the torpedoing of some coastal shipping.

I believe that the reports of the inquiry had a significant affect on public opinion, and that this led to increasing pressure from local politicians that eventually pushed the military to move on internment. But it's not easy to prove cause-and-effect in such a complex web.

(aka: Mk 1)

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP02 Jun 2017 11:13 a.m. PST

Why they didn't made the same move with Italians or Germans?…


Legion 402 Jun 2017 1:26 p.m. PST

There were a few, very few Italian and German Americans that were thought to be "sympathizers". I'm not sure if any were actually interned, arrested, etc. But that number would probably be very small.

Mark 102 Jun 2017 1:36 p.m. PST

Why they didn't made the same move with Italians or Germans?

German and Italian "enemy aliens", that is to say actual German and Italian nationals who were in the U.S. at the time, were interred within 2 weeks of the declarations of war. So also with Japanese "enemy aliens".

But these were relatively small numbers.

The difference with the Japanese interments was what happened 2-5 months later, when AMERICANS of Japanese decent were interred. This was rather extraordinary, and affected more than 100,000 people.

As to why -- it seems to have been combination of California legislators and a few select military leaders on the west coast acting out of extreme prejudice.

Roosevelt and Hoover (head of the FBI) made public statements dismissing any rumors of disloyalty by Japanese Americans. But Roosevelt gave broad authority to the military leadership to manage as they saw fit. Two particular military leaders stand out for their anti-Japanese racism -- Major Bendetsen, mentioned in my post above, was one. The other was General DeWitt, head of Western Command. DeWitt was quoted as saying:

I don't want any of them here. They are a dangerous element. … It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen, he is still a Japanese. American citizenship does not necessarily determine loyalty… But we must worry about the Japanese all the time until he is wiped off the map.

Initially many California newspapers published editorials describing Japanese Americans as model citizens and loyal Americans. But a committee of the California legislature wrote and distributed an anti-Japanese report to newspapers which declared that those of Japanese heritage could never be assimilated into American culture, and would always remain loyal to the Emperor of Japan.

The reports of the Ni'ihua investigations, which described how the Japanese pilot enlisted the active help of one civilian Japanese immigrant and two civilian Americans of Japanese decent, came out within this environment. Newspaper editorials changed, and public opinion changed, and soon there was a strong demand in the civilian and military to get the Japanese-Americans out of the West Coast.

The exclusion area was California, and parts of Oregon, Washington, and a little bit of Arizona. Those who left voluntarily were not interred. Those who had no where to go, or chose not to leave, were interred in camps.

It is notable that the Japanese-American population of Hawaii, which was larger than the Japanese-American population on the west coast, and would have been a substantially larger threat to the American war effort (if they were, in fact, a threat at all), was never relocated, or interred, or bothered at all. This is likely because the civilian and military leadership in Hawaii did not share the racist beliefs of the civilian and military leadership on the west coast.

Or so my readings have led me to believe. Wasn't around at the time to see it for myself.

(aka: Mk 1)

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