Saturday, February 11, 2017

"Instructions to All Persons": Day of Remembrance 2017 on the 75th year anniversary

   On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt authorized Executive Order 9066 which mandated the removal and incarceration of Americans of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast.  The majority of the 120,000 Americans confined in "relocation centers" scattered throughout the United States were U.S.-born citizens.  

   Those classified as "non-citizen alien" were confined at detention stations, and Department of Justice and Immigration and Naturalization Service prison camps; the Issei (first generation) had not been allowed to apply for citizenship.  Many---like Charles Furuta, of the Furuta farm at Historic Wintersburg---had been in the United States for over four decades, many since the 1880s. 

LEFT: An excerpt from The Spoilage describing the conditions at the Colorado River Relocation Center (Poston) in May 1942 as people from Orange County, California arrived. (Source: The Spoilage: Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement; Dorothy Swaine Thomas, Richard S. Nishimoto;University of California Press, 1946)

LEFT: New arrivals at the Colorado River Relocation Center (Poston) filling cloth sacks with hay, to make bedding. Barracks were constructed of green lumber, which dried quickly in the Arizona heat causing openings for wind and dust. There was no furniture or screens between families in the barracks, no medical services, and water and sanitation systems were not complete. The temperature was reported to be over 100 degrees in May, 1942, as people arrived.  (Photograph, National Archives and Records Administration, May 21, 1942)

   Everyone associated with Historic Wintersburg---the Furuta family, the clergy (Reverend Sohei Kowta and his family), the congregation---were forcibly removed from California and confined.  The FBI interrogations of Charles Furuta and Reverend Kowta occurred on the Historic Wintersburg property.  By May 1942, all Japanese Americans in Orange County were gone.

RIGHT: The Furuta family at the Colorado River Relocation Center (Poston) in Arizona. Front row, left to right: Kazuko Furuta, Grace Furuta, Yukiko Yajima Furuta (holding her grandson, Ken Furuta, who was born in Poston), and Charles Furuta. Back row, left to right: Dan Fukushima (husband of Etsuko Furuta and well known basketball coach in San Jose, California), Etsuko Furuta Fukushima, Martha and Raymond Furuta (son of Charles and Yukiko Furuta).  Dan Fukushima originally had been sent to Manzanar, but was allowed to join Etsuko at Poston, where they were married in one of the camp barracks by Reverend Sohei Kowta of the Wintersburg Japanese Church.  All the Furuta children had attended Huntington Beach High School.  Photographs from inside the camps were rare, as cameras at first were not allowed. This photograph was taken circa 1945, prior the Furuta family and others being released to return home.  (Photograph, Furuta family collection, 1945). ALL RIGHTS RESERVED ©

   In 1988, the federal government issued a formal apology, redress and reparation for the violation of civil liberties, as President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.  At the signing, he talked about meeting the Masuda family---congregants of the Wintersburg Japanese Church---in 1945 as an Army captain accompanying General Joe Stillwell.  Read more of this history at and

   Join Historic Wintersburg and stop by our information table at the Day of Remembrance 2017, 2 p.m., Saturday, February 18, at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. More information at

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