Camp Rules

The Western Defense Command and the Fourth Army with headquarters in San Francisco was put in charge of managing the evacuation of Japanese Americans from Washington, Oregon, and California to camps east of the Cascade and Sierra Nevada Mountains. All aspects of camp management, including the Security Regulations below, were detailed in a camp management plan.

1. All criminal and civil laws, local state and federal, are in full force and effect in all Assembly Centers. All of these laws and the following Assembly Center Regulations will be strictly enforced by the Interior Police. All violations of criminal laws or Center Regulations are to be promptly reported to the policeman on duty at the Interior Police Station.

2. All radios and lights of every kind in all evacuees' quarters shall be turned off by the occupants not later than 10:30 P.M. Lights shall remain off throughout the hours of darkness. Exceptions to lighting regulations will be permitted in case of fire, sickness, pregnant mothers, mothers with young children, and other necessary cases, with the written permission of the Center Manager.

3. All evacuees shall be in their own living quarters between 10:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M. Exceptions will be permitted for persons going to and from the nearest lavatory, or when necessary in caring for sick persons. The Center Manager may issue written exceptions in other cases which in his opinion are warranted by circumstances. Evacuees, when assigned to work between the hours of 10:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M., shall be provided by the Center Manager with a written exemption from this ruling, giving the evacuee's name and address; the duties to which he or she is assigned, and the hours and location of duty.

4. Evacuees are prohibited to contact directly or indirectly, either in writing or verbally, any military police personnel assigned to duty at the Assembly Centers except for official business, and then only when such contact is initiated by military personnel.

5. All evacuees are required to stay at least ten feet back from all outside fences, including those which separate Military Police areas from evacuee areas.

6. Unnecessary noises or disturbances are prohibited.

7. Loitering in or around the buildings or areas in which any of the business of the Center is carried on is prohibited, but this shall not be construed to interfere with any legitimate business an evacuee wants to conduct with the staff of the Center Management or the Interior Police.

8. Alcoholic beverages, excepting sacramental wines in the possession of persons authorized, will be confiscated without compensation and turned over to the physician-in-charge of the Center hospital who will destroy all alcoholic beverages not suitable for medicinal purposes, retaining that which is suitable. All such proceedings will be made a matter of record in writing, including the names of those persons involved; further the physician in charge at the Center will account for such retained confiscated liquor on his stock record account. The destruction of alcoholic beverages not suitable for medicinal purposes will be witnessed by a Caucasian member of Center staff and a certificate to this effect completed. This certificate will show what was destroyed, listing quantity and brand.

9. Tools which may be used as dangerous weapons, including knives with blades three inches or more in length, that are necessary to evacuee artisans in their assigned duties, shall be placed in the custody of a person designated by the Center Manager who will check them out and in each day they are used, maintaining a record thereof. This will not apply in mess halls or shops in daily operation.

10. The use of bicycles by evacuees in Centers will be limited to the restrictions imposed by the Center Manager. Such restrictions shall be published and posted on all bulletin boards in the Center.

11. Traffic regulations for each Center will by published by the Center Manager. Evacuees will obey all such regulations and violators of these rules will be subject to restrictive measures.

12. Evacuee truck drivers shall not be permitted to drive outside the Center except by written permission of the Center Manager.

13. When an Interior Policeman, in performance of his duty, requests information about an incident or person from evacuees, they shall give all such information in their possession without reserve.

14. The Interior Police Officers are authorized, without warrant, to enter all buildings and evacuee quarters at any time of the day or night when considered necessary in the performance of their duties.

15. Fraternization between evacuees and Interior Police is prohibited.

16. No evacuee shall enter any room, apartment, barracks or other building, or part thereof which is vacant, without express permission from the Center Manager. When enclosures of these kinds are normally occupied only a part of the time, this rule shall apply during the unoccupied time.

17. Purchase of any articles by evacuees from any source outside the Assembly Center will be made through the Center Store. Such articles will be subject to inspection by the Interior Police before delivery to the evacuee. Parcel Post packages addressed to evacuees will be opened at the Post Office for inspection by the evacuee in the presence of a member of the Interior Police. Packages shipped by express or freight consigned to evacuees will be similarly inspected at a place designated by the Center Manager. All articles of a contraband nature will be confiscated.

18. Property, articles or equipment belonging to, or in the custody of the United States Government, or any of its agencies, shall not be moved by evacuees from one building or location to another building or location unless by written permission of Center Manager.

19. Evacuees are prohibited from organizing, participating in or being members of any secret club, organization (excepting Boy Scout activities), association or combination of more than one individual. With the written permission of the Center Manager, evacuees may organize athletic and religious clubs, provided that all constitutions, by-laws and governing regulations of such organizations shall be submitted in writing to the Center Manager for approval before adoption thereof.

20. a) All meetings within the Center shall be conducted in the English language except as provided in Paragraph X-5 c and adult classes in English and Civics, and in other cases where it is absolutely necessary for the proper administration and operation of the Center. In the latter cases, a transcript of the proceedings will be prepared, translated and filed in the office of the Center Manager, a copy being furnished to the Interior Security Police. The use of a spoken Japanese language will be held to an absolute minimum consistent with administrative necessity.

b) Except as noted in Paragraph XXVIII, a member of the Center Administrative Staff will physically supervise any and all gatherings (meetings) held for any purpose. This does not mean that a member of the Center Administrative Staff must be present at all times, but does mean that he will control and supervise such meetings by his physical presence to the extent that it is deemed necessary by the Center Manager.

) The Interior Security Police, in addition to being required to attend all meetings concerned with self-government, are authorized to attend all meetings of whatever nature which are concerned with the maintenance of order, discipline and observance of Center regulations. In addition, the Interior Security Police are authorized to attend all group gatherings, except those between the Center Staff and the evacuees which are concerned soley with administrative matters of the Center. The Interior Security Police will attend such meetings at the invitation of a member of the Center Staff.

) Meeting for the purpose of discussing the war or any international problem are not authorized.

21. a) The possession of and the serving of foods which require heating or cooking will not be allowed in the quarters of evacuees. This does not apply to formula foods for infants. Violations of the above will be reported to the Interior Police who will confiscate without compensation all such articles, delivering them to the Messing and Housing Section at the Center.

b) The possession of perishable foods, excepting fresh fruits which will be allowed, by evacuees will be as determined by the Center Manager. His decision defining what constitutes perishable goods will be published and posted on all bulletin boards.

22. The laws of the state wherein the Assembly Center is located as pertaining to gambling will be enforced by the Interior Police.

23. Male evacuees, including auxiliary police, shall not enter the barracks, apartments, dormitories or other quarters set aside for the exclusive use of the female evacuees, except when specifically ordered to do so by some Caucasian who is head of some Center Management Division and this may be done only when necessary to carry on work of the Center which can not be done elsewhere.

24. Female evacuees shall not enter the barracks, apartments, dormitories or other quarters set aside for the exclusive use of male evacuees under any conditions.

25. There will be no personal financial transactions or negotiations between personnel serving in or with the Wartime Civil Control Administration and Japanese evacuees. Any such practice by persons connected with the Wartime Civil Control Administration in any capacity will not be tolerated and all officers or employees serving in the Wartime Civil Control Administration are required to confine their relationships and dealings with such evacuees to official business only. No personal business of any nature between Wartime Civil Control Administration personnel and such evacuees is permitted.

26. a) No evacuee is required to work, however once an evacuee has accepted a job for which he will receive remuneration, the evacuee will, except in cases of illness, carry out his or her assignment. Should the evacuee desire to quit, he or she may do so, provided forty-eight hour notice of intent in writing is presented to his Caucasian supervisor. This notice will set forth the reason for quitting and effective date.

b) Stoppage of work (except as provided in (a) above) by individuals or as a group with the intent to, or the effect of interfering with the execution of the functions and operations of the Assembly Center is prohibited.

27. No evacuee shall prevent or attempt to prevent any other evacuee from working. This rule shall apply to all verbal, written, or physical means which might be employed, either direct or indirect.

28. No evacuee shall deliberately or willfully destroy or attempt to destroy or mutilate any government property.

29. All evacuees shall obey the directions of the supervisors of the projects on which they are working. Any evacuee who has any grievance regarding such directions shall submit his grievance to the Center Manager in writing.

30. No evacuee shall make, or offer to make, any payment in money or other thing of value to any member of, or employee of the Center Staff, the Interior Security Police or the Military Police for any act or omission on their part or as a simple gratuity.

31. Parents are required to properly and thoroughly instruct their children in these regulations and the necessity for obedience thereto. In those families that contain members who cannot read, it shall be the duty of the oldest adult who can read to instruct the non-readers in all these regulations.

32. No evacuee shall conspire with any other evacuee, or group of evacuees, to evade any of these or subsequent regulations or any official rules and orders of the Center Manager or the Wartime Civil Control Administration.

33. Any violation of these regulations may be prosecuted under Public Law 503.

34. Under no condition will the use of profane or abusive language or conduct unbecoming a gentleman be allowed in the Assembly Centers, either by Caucasians or evacuees.

35. Songs of martial nature or in praise or worship of the Japanese nation, government, or Emperor shall not be played or sung in either English or Japanese in Assembly Centers. The letter as well as the intent of this regulation shall be fully complied with by individuals and groups.  

To Start You Thinking -

  • 1) Review the regulations. Suppose they were posted on your classroom or bedroom wall and your obedience was expected. With which of the regulations, if any, would you find it difficult to live. Explain.

    2) What was the purpose of Regulation #30?

    3) Are these rules consistent with the claim in the WRA pamphlet "The Relocation of Japanese Americans" that "the relocation centers are NOT and ever were intended to be internment camps or places of confinement?" Explain.

from "INTERIOR SECURITY REGULATIONS," in Western Defense Command and Fourth Army Wartime Civil Control Administration, July 18, 1942, part of the Camp Harmony Exhibit Documents, University of Washington Library: Seattle, Washington..
Last modified in July, 2008 by Rick Thomas