After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Select Committee Investigating National Defense Migration, chaired by Representative John H. Tolan of California, examined the potential issues of large-scale forcible removal and internment of Japanese American citizens and immigrants living on the West Coast. A couple from Berkeley, California, believed that “evacuation,” a euphemistic term applied by the committee to the forced removal, was a necessary wartime response, but cautioned the committee against retaliating against Japanese Americans because of their race: “We recognize the need for evacuation, but moves further than that can only serve to alienate that huge majority of loyal Japanese, citizen and non citizen alike. We just cannot allow our war to take on a race character. If we do we only indict our own cause.”
Some 120,000 individuals of Japanese descent, including American citizens and Japanese citizens legally residing in the United States, were forcibly removed from and lost their homes, stripped of their businesses, and imprisoned without due process in internment camps. Some detainees remained in camps until 1946, despite the War Department’s rescission of the relocation order in 1944.