I found this interesting sign during a recent google adventure, and it led to some interesting research.
Frank Tanaka immigrated to the USA in 1903, when he was 16 years old. Twenty-nine years of hard work later he opened a popular Japanese restaurant in Salem, Oregon and became a respected businessman. His story, told on the sign he placed in the window of his restaurant after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, is not an uncommon one.
Not long after this sign went up, Mr Tanaka and his family were forcibly relocated to the Tule Lake concentration camp, along with most ethnic Japanese living in the western United States, regardless of citizenship status. Like all internees, Mr. Tanaka and his family were allowed to take only what they could carry. In some cases, non-Japanese friends were able to protect some of the internees valuables, but many more saw all of their property looted, or sold off illegally–or simply claimed by others. After the war, many of them came home to find other people living in their homes, often still using their furniture, and they had no legal recourse for reclaiming their property.
Most Japanese-Americans lost everything they owned during World War 2, but despite this, despite losing their rights, special volunteer units drawn from the husbands and sons of the 10 concentration camps set up to punish the Japanese for their ancestry, fought tenaciously in some of the fiercest battles in the war.
Over 122,000 people of Japanese extraction were interred during the war–nearly 70,000 of whom were American citizens. Many others had been in this country between 20 and 40 years. No person of Japanese heritage was convicted of sabotage or espionage during the war. None.
As the war progressed, small numbers of German and Italian prisoners of war were incarcerated at Tule Lake. Though segregated from the Japanese Americans, these confirmed enemy combatants were often given much greater freedoms.