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War Relocation Authority Application for Leave Clearance
War Relocation Authority Application for Leave Clearance

Detail, for women.

#27. If the opportunity presents itself and you are found qualified, would you be willing to volunteer for the Army Nurse Corps or the WAAC?
#28. Will you swear unqualified allegience to the United States of America and forswear any form of allegience or obedience to the Japanese emperor, or any other foreign government, power or organization?
"March 24, 1943
Mr. D. S. Myer, Director
War Relocation Authority
Dear Mr. Myer,
Your confidential communication to Project Directors dated March 18th, enclosing a copy of your letter to Secretary Stimson, has been read and studied with deep attention....
Since premiums are to be awarded to the loyal, is it of vital importance that all loyalty should be defined in similar terms for all evacuees in all Centers. My concern at the moment is that Cozzens, Brown, and Throckmortom and Mrs. Adams, in a consultation with a committe representing our evacuees, acted with your approval to create the Manzanar form of question 28 for all non-citizens as follows:

'Are you sympathetic to the United States and do you agree faithfully to defend the United States from any and all attack by foreign or domestic forces?'

Out of the 3356 alien registrations, 1378 answered 'yes,' 1122 answered 'no,' 179 made no reply, and 677 qualified their answer. Practically all qualified answers were 'Yes, except as to Japan' and many added, 'in which case we would remain neutral.' The question asked at other centers on authority from Washington was as follows:

'Will you swear to abide by the laws of the United States and to take no action which would in any way interfere with the war effort of the United States?'

Our Japanese Committee and our staff, unaware of the degree of leniency proposed by Washington, and anxious to remove the stinger from the original phrasing of the question from Washington, were unanimous that the Manzanar form of the question was desirable. It now appears that a 'No' answer on this question might have been a 'Yes' on the question later proposed by Washington. It also is definitely sure that even the qualified answers would have been 'Yes' on the question later proposed by Washington.
We therefore find ourselves in a position of being out of line in the degree of our answers, both by aliens and citizens, since a 'No' answer by a father, who in Japanese fashion demanded family unity, resulted in a 'No' answer by the son who was a citizen. I cannot conscientiously refrain from bringing out this point which will now adversely affect the lives and position of so many of our people, nor can I refrain from urging upon you that we have an opportunity to recanvass the alien group who have answered 'No' or who have answered 'Yes' with qualifications, putting before them another oppportunity to cancel their previous reply and answer the revised question sent out by Washington, so that they may not be penalized and their future possibilities as residents of the United States may not be destroyed. If this recanvass is permitted by you, I feel certain that we should also then allow our citizens to revise their answer, if the removal of pressure by their parents clarifies the whole situation.
Very sincerely yours,
Ralph P. Merritt,
Project Director"
National Archives
Courtesy of National Japanese American Historical Society