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24 January
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Shoichi Yokoi

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The third to last of the Japanese surrenders 28 years after WWII ends.

Shoichi Yokoi Hole

Shoichi Yokoi Hole Flickr

Shoichi Yokoi was a sergeant in the imperial Japanese army during WWII.  He was discovered in Guam on January 24, 1972 by some shrimp fishermen.  He was 57 years old and couldn’t put up much of a fight when he was captured.  When he returned to Japan he said

“It is with much embarrassment, but I have returned”.

He had hide in a cave for 28 years.  While he was hiding he did see leaflets that announced the war was over, but he believed them to be false propaganda and ignored them.

He was the third to last to surrender.  The last was Private Teruo Nakamura, who was arrested in December 1974.  He was featured many times on Japanese television.  And in a US television documentary called Yokoi and His Twenty-Eight Years of Secret Life on Guam.

From the Japanese government he received $300 in back pay.  He married and settled down.  In 1997 he died at the age of 82 from a heart attack.  He has his own museum in Nakagawa-ku, Nagoya.

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14 January
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Proclamation No. 2537

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The First Steps Toward Japanese-American Internment

Internment Letter

Internment Letter flickr user dbking

On this day in 1942 President Roosevelt issued Proclamation No. 2537 which required that Americans from Germany, Italy or Japan must register with the Department of Defense.  Additional proclamations were to follow.  They expanded the original requirements to include all persons of Japanese ancestry, even American-born citizens.  They also froze their assets and set up “exclusion zones” that those registered could not enter.  All this despite the fact that a 1941 federal report requested by Roosevelt indicated that more than 90 percent of Japanese Americans were considered loyal citizens.  Proclamation No. 2537 permitted the arrest, detention and internment of enemy aliens who violated restricted areas, such as ports, water treatment plants or even areas prone to brush fires, for the duration of the war.

Just one month later a Roosevelt reluctantly signed Executive Order 9066, which sent many Japanese-American families into internment camps.  On December 29, 1945 Proclamation 2537 was revoked, by Harry Truman, with Proclamation 2678.

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