Economic losses

The economic and emotional toll associated with the uprooting of Japanese Americans from their homes and businesses was enormous. The cost was especially high for the issei (first-generation immigrants), who had worked most of their lives to establish financial security for themselves and their children. Many Japanese Americans bitterly recall being forced to sell property, personal belongings, and business equipment for a fraction of their value to opportunistic scavengers. Evacuees could take only what they could carry. They left behind heirlooms, cherished toys, and family pets. Farmers continued to work for a harvest they would never see, told it would be "disloyal" to stop. The bustling Nihonmachis (Japantowns) of the West Coast closed down and never fully recovered, even after the war ended.

World War II (66)
Economic losses (246)

246 items
People shopping at
img People shopping at "evacuation sale" (ddr-densho-151-213)
Original caption: San Francisco, California. At a close-out sale these patrons were buying merchandise to take with them when they are evacuated. Evacuees of Japanese ancestry will be housed in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.
Restaurant vacated by Japanese American owner (ddr-densho-151-85)
img Restaurant vacated by Japanese American owner (ddr-densho-151-85)
Original caption: The full caption for this photograph reads: San Francisco, California. Entrance to a restaurant vacated by a proprietor of Japanese descent prior to evacuation. Evacuees of Japanese ancestry will be housed in War Relocation Authority centers where they will spend the duration.
img "Evacuation sale" at business run by Japanese Americans (ddr-densho-151-137)
Original caption: San Francisco, California. A study in contrast in Chinatown: The store on the right is operated by a proprietor of Japanese ancestry, and does a land office business as evacuation nears. Previously, many similar stores suffered losses of patronage because of boycott on Japanese products. Evacuees of Japanese descent will be housed in War …
Farewell letter posted in Chinatown shop (ddr-densho-151-118)
img Farewell letter posted in Chinatown shop (ddr-densho-151-118)
Original caption: San Francisco, California. Letter of appreciation posted in window of Pacific Dry Goods Company, 434-440 Grant Avenue, in San Francisco's Chinatown. Evacuees of Japanese descent will be housed at War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.
Farmer preparing for mass removal (ddr-densho-151-269)
img Farmer preparing for mass removal (ddr-densho-151-269)
Original caption: Woodland, California. Tenant farmer of Japanese ancestry who has just completed settlement of their affairs and everything is packed ready for evacuation on the following morning to an assembly center.
Family transplanting tomato plants (ddr-densho-151-448)
img Family transplanting tomato plants (ddr-densho-151-448)
Original caption: San Leandro, California. Family labor transplanting young tomato plants under canvas about ten days prior to evacuation of residents of Japanese ancestry to Assembly Centers.
Japanese American farmers prior to mass removal (ddr-densho-151-124)
img Japanese American farmers prior to mass removal (ddr-densho-151-124)
Original caption: San Leandro, California. Family labor transplanting young tomato plants under canvas about ten days prior to evacuation of residents of Japanese ancestry to Assembly Centers.
img "Evacuation sale" at Japanese American store (ddr-densho-151-92)
Original caption: San Francisco, California. Customers buy merchandise in a store operated by a proprietor of Japanese ancestry during a pre-evacuation sale. Evacuees of Japanese ancestry will be housed in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.
Tolan Committee representative meeting with Japanese American farmer (ddr-densho-151-216)
img Tolan Committee representative meeting with Japanese American farmer (ddr-densho-151-216)
Original caption: San Jose, California. John W. Abbott, chief field investigator for the Tolan Congressional Defense Committee on Migration, is shown speaking to a young celery grower, on March 27, 1942, who has just completed arrangements for leasing his farm during evacuation. He holds the lease document in his hand. He and his sisters were evacuated …
Household goods waiting for storage (ddr-densho-151-287)
img Household goods waiting for storage (ddr-densho-151-287)
Original caption: Woodland, California. Household goods belonging to evacuees of Japanese ancestry, stacked for storage. The Federal Reserve Bank is assisting, in conjunction with the Wartime Civil Control Administration, in the final settlement of their affairs.
Exclusion orders posted in vacated restaurant (ddr-densho-151-127)
img Exclusion orders posted in vacated restaurant (ddr-densho-151-127)
Original caption: San Francisco, California. Civilian Exclusion Order Number 5, ordering evacuation of residents of Japanese ancestry, posted in a vacant store window on Grant Avenue in Chinatown. This establishment, like many others in Chinatown, was operated by proprietors of Japanese descent. Evacuees will be housed in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.
Sign advertising household goods (ddr-densho-151-318)
img Sign advertising household goods (ddr-densho-151-318)
Original caption: Sacramento, California. Preparations are being made for evacuation two days hence of all residents of Japanese ancestry from this city.
Close-out sale at nursery (ddr-densho-151-305)
img Close-out sale at nursery (ddr-densho-151-305)
Original caption: Berkeley, California. Residents of Japanese ancestry are closing out their businesses in preparation for the coming evacuation. They will be moved into War Relocation Authority centers to spend the duration.
Japantown store prior to mass removal (ddr-densho-151-325)
img Japantown store prior to mass removal (ddr-densho-151-325)
Original caption: Florin, California. View on main street of this little agriculture town in the center of the strawberry and grape-producing area occupied mostly by residents of Japanese ancestry. Evacuation is due in two days of people of Japanese descent from this community.
Japanese American farmers prior to mass removal (ddr-densho-151-126)
img Japanese American farmers prior to mass removal (ddr-densho-151-126)
Original caption: Near Mission San Jose, California. This family of Japanese ancestry have but a few more days to work in their stawberry field before evacuation to an assembly point from where they will later be transferred to a War Relocation Authority center to spend the duration.
Japanese-owned farm recently sold (ddr-densho-151-121)
img Japanese-owned farm recently sold (ddr-densho-151-121)
Original caption: Near Centerville, Alameda County, California. Japanese berry farm transferred to a Yugoslavian in United States since 1913.
Japanese American selling possessions (ddr-densho-151-275)
img Japanese American selling possessions (ddr-densho-151-275)
Original caption: Centerville, California. Scene in the Japanese American Citizens League local office. This office is assisting the farmers of Japanese ancestry in this district to arrange their affairs for evacuation and to keep them posted on events. Harry Konda, officer of the league, is disposing of a washing machine to a local Mexican farm laborer's …
Japanese American boarding up store (ddr-densho-151-93)
img Japanese American boarding up store (ddr-densho-151-93)
Original caption: San Francisco, California. With the the owner scheduled to be evacuated, a store front is boarded on Post Street, San Francisco, California.
Goods for sale in Japantown (ddr-densho-151-233)
img Goods for sale in Japantown (ddr-densho-151-233)
Original caption: San Francisco, California. A common sight on the streets of the Japanese quarter of the city prior to evacuation.
Father and son in front of store (ddr-densho-151-272)
img Father and son in front of store (ddr-densho-151-272)
Original caption: San Francisco, California. Dave Tatsuno and his father, merchants of Japanese ancestry in San Francisco prior to evacuation.
Farewell letter posted in Chinatown restaurant (ddr-densho-151-117)
img Farewell letter posted in Chinatown restaurant (ddr-densho-151-117)
Original caption: San Francisco, California. Farewell letter posted in show window of T.Z. Shiota, importer in San Francisco's Chinatown, prior to evacuation of residents of Japanese ancestry. Evacuees will be housed at War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.
Gene Akutsu Interview Segment 2 (ddr-densho-1016-4-2)
vh Gene Akutsu Interview Segment 2 (ddr-densho-1016-4-2)
Preparing for mass removal

This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinions, finding, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.

Yoshimi Matsuura Interview Segment 11 (ddr-densho-1014-6-11)
vh Yoshimi Matsuura Interview Segment 11 (ddr-densho-1014-6-11)
Hearing about the bombing of Pearl Harbor: changed relationships with friends
API