top of page

EXECUTIVE ORDER 9066: Zenbei Nikkeijin Hakubutsukan Shares 130 Years of Japanese American Experience

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, LOS ANGELES, Calif. — From Feb. 18 to Aug. 13, the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo district will present a unique exhibition aimed at examining the social impact of language and encouraging viewers to contemplate the lesson of the past.

In conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, which opened the door for incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II, Instruction To All Persons: Reflections On Executive Order 9066 is available for public viewing.

Coincided with the artworks by Mike Saijo and Wendy Maruyuma, original documents and documentary videos shape the essence of the exhibition. Instructions will also contain two pages of the original Executive Order 9066. EO 9066 was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Feb. 19, 1942.

The original Presidential Proclamation No. 2537 is also featured during the exhibition. Proclamation No. 2537 was a key precursor to EO 9066 that required aliens from the enemy countries of Italy, Germany, and Japan to register with the U.S. Department of Justice.

The EO 9066 and Presidential Proclamation No. 2537 documents are on loan from the U.S. National Archives. Shortly after Executive Order 9066 was issued, a series of Civilian Exclusion Orders were publicly posted all along the West Coast to notify persons of Japanese ancestry of their impending forced removal.

Instructions to All Persons of Japanese Ancestry were the infamous first words seen at the top of the posters. Historic examples of these and other original documents from the time period and documentary videos as well as Maruyama’s and Saijo’s artwork will prompt viewers to ask how they might respond if presented with similar “instructions” today.

A portrait of the Akagi family in Berkeley, Calif., around 1924 is on display at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, Calif. The image, a gift by Fred and Kimiko Kishi, is a part of the Common Ground exhibit. Publicity Agents' photo art by T. Ray Harvey. Feb. 14, 2017.

Visitors will also have an opportunity to view the display, Only the Oaks Remain: The Story of Tuna Canyon Detention Station, which is on the first floor of Japanese American National Museum. The comprehensive display is an experiential presentation of World War II that took place in Los Angeles County.

From Dec. 1941 and October of 1943, Japanese, German, and Italian immigrants, Japanese taken from Peru, and others were incarcerated at Tuna Canyon Detention Station after Pearl Harbor was bombed on Dec. 7, 1941, by the Japanese empire. Individuals imprisoned there were in violation of their civil liberties.

Tuna Canyon Detention Station display opens with a plaque that will be installed at the historic site located 14 miles north of downtown Los Angeles. The following plaque contains the following words:

“The beauty of an oak grove in Tujunga, California, belies a tragic history. At the beginning of World War II, the U.S. Department of Justice turned Civilian Conservation Corps Camp 902 in to Tuna Canyon Detention Station by enclosing it with barbed wire and posting armed guards.”

The special display features photographs, letters, diaries, interviews, and declassified government documents that serve to illuminate a largely untold story that goes beyond the more widely-known story of the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans.

On the second floor, the ongoing exhibition, Common Ground: The Heart of Community, presents an overview of Japanese American history from early immigration to the present day. The display incorporates artifacts, artwork, and media—including rare home movies.

The most fascinating item of the exhibit, and there are plenty, is a section of the barracks from the Heart Mountain incarceration camp in full view as soon as viewers reach the second floor by stairs. The Heart Mountain camp in the state of Wyoming was one of 10 incarceration camps.

The display incorporates hundreds of objects, documents, and photographs collected by the Japanese American National Museum, this exhibition chronicles 130 years of Japanese American history, beginning with the early days of the Issei pioneers (first generation Japanese Americans) through the World War II incarceration to the present.

The Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles is at 100 North Central Avenue. For more information, call (213) 625-0414, fax (213) 625-1770, or visit,

SOURCES: Japanese American National Museum and Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition.

— T. Ray Harvey, PA Public Information Officer and Photographic Artist

Below are galleries of images taken by PA’s photo artist T. Ray Harvey from his visit to the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles on Feb. 14, 2017. The galleries are also of areas in Little Tokyo and the Only the Oaks Remain and Common Ground exhibits.


* A coffee-table chat with the authors of Tule Lake Revisited: A Brief History and Guide to the Tule Lake Concentration Camp Site — Second Edition, Barbara Takei and Judy Tachibana.

* The Survivors of Executive Order 9066 — After the wartime policy was suspended and the incarceration camps were closed in 1946, Japanese Americans had to reconstruct their lives. T. Ray Harvey, Publicity Agents’ Public Information Officer, interviews individuals who shared what life was like after they were released from the camps.

* Sacramento Assembly Center, also known as Walerga Assembly Center, was a placed that housed people of Japanese ancestry and Japanese Americans before they were taken to the 10 relocation camps.

PAPER TAG No. 2076 Sacramento, Calif.'s (Elk Grove) Mary Tsukamoto recalls the "paper tag" assigned to her family when they were forced into an incarceration camp.

T. Ray (Antonio) Harvey is a Public Information Officer and Photographic Artist for Publicity Agents. Harvey is also the author of The HOMICIDAL HANDYMAN OF OAK PARK: MORRIS SOLOMON JR.

Featured Posts
Recent Posts