Dan Matsumoto


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Pictured above is a Japanese family in front of their home in Seattle before they voluntarily relocated to Spokane.

For a few months after the signing of the Executive Order, people of Japanese ancestry were able to voluntarily leave their homes and relocate inland. Beginning in February and March 1942, Japanese families living on the west coast were given the option to voluntarily move east. Though this option was called voluntary evacuation, it was expected that all people of Japanese ancestry would be leaving the west coast in a very short time. Out of the thousands of people of Japanese ancestry living on Washington’s west coast, 200 voluntarily evacuated to Spokane, Moses Lake, Pullman and other areas of Eastern Washington.

Because they had only a few days to move, Japanese families sold their businesses, homes, and belongings for any price offered. Most people only received a fraction of what their possessions were worth, and left behind family heirlooms that were lost forever. Some people were fortunate to have good neighbors who helped them move or store their belongings.

Some Japanese had relatives living inland who were able to offer their homes as refuge. Some young Nisei also voluntarily evacuated on their own without their families and without any promise of safety in the places they moved to.


Japanese internment, from coast and camp, world war two, WW2, WWII, oral history


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