How Sacramento’s Japanese Community Lost (And Kept) Property During World War II

Museum News

Insight with Beth Ruyak, Capital Public Radio
June 4, 2019

When the federal government incarcerated more than 100,000 Japanese Americans during World War II, many had to leave virtually everything they owned behind to head to the camps where they would live until the war ended.

In total, these people lost between $2 billion and $5 billion worth of property in 2017 dollars, according to the Commission on the Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. These losses included homes, farms, businesses and personal effects, but it’s complicated to trace what happened to this property once people left.

Listener Andy Hesse wondered about this, so he asked us: What happened to the property of Japanese Americans in Sacramento who were incarcerated during the war?

CapRadio’s Emily Zentner investigated the answer for the latest story in our Great Question series. She joins us along with Marielle Tsukamoto, one of the more than 7,000 Japanese Americans from the Sacramento area who were interned, and Sacramento State University archivist Julie Thomas to unpack the answer.