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SUMIYE UMEKI YAMAUCHI v. ROGERS

February 10, 1960

SUMIYE UMEKI YAMAUCHI, Plaintiff
v.
William P. ROGERS, Attorney General of the United States, as Successor to the Alien Property Custodian, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WALSH

The above entitled cause is brought under Section 9 of the Trading with the Enemy Act (50 U.S.C.A.Appendix, § 1 et seq.). Plaintiff seeks to recover the proceeds of an insurance policy issued in the name of her father, and seized by the Alien Property Custodian, and for which claim had been made by her father prior to his death.

The applicable sections of the Act are:

 ' § 2. Definitions.

 'The word 'enemy', as used herein, shall be deemed to mean, for the purposes of such trading and of this Act (sections 1-6 and 7-39 of this Appendix) --

 '(a) Any individual * * * of any nationality, resident within the territory * * * of any nation with which the United States is at war * * *

 ' § 9. Claims to property * * * suits to recover.

 '(a) Any person not an enemy or ally of enemy claiming any interest, right, or title in any money or other property which may have been conveyed, transferred, assigned, delivered, or paid to the Alien Property Custodian or seized by him * * * if the claimant shall have filed the notice * * * may institute a suit * * * to establish the interest, right, title, or debt so claimed * * *'

 The case was heard on December 11, 1959. Each party filed trial memorandum, documentary evidence was introduced, and argument was had by counsel. The case was taken under advisement, and counsel directed to submit proposed findings.

 Counsel for plaintiff argues that decedent, Kunishige Umeki, the father of plaintiff, was a resident of the United States within the meaning of the Act, from 1906 until his death in 1956; that his presence in Japan from 1946 to 1952 did not constitute residence for the purposes of the Act; and that by reason of the circumstances under which repatriation forms were executed, decedent's repatriation was not a voluntary act, and was not a voluntary abandonment of his United States residence.

 Counsel for plaintiff asks the Court to take notice of the fact that following the surrender of Japan in August, 1945, the United States desired to close the internment centers and to release internees; that communities on the West Coast of the United States were then still hostile to released internees, and many were unable to return to their former communities; that the atmosphere of the internment centers was that of a penitentiary and internees were badly treated and forced to live in crowded conditions with inadequate sanitary facilities; and that repatriation forms were signed by decedent and others under these conditions.

 Defendant argues that plaintiff cannot recover by reason that her predecessor in interest was an enemy of the United States within the meaning of the Act, in that he was a resident within a nation with which the United States was at war, and therefore her predecessor in interest could not recover.

 Upon consideration of the pleadings, briefs, evidence and argument of counsel, the Court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:

 1. The Court has jurisdiction of the subject matter and the parties in this action.

 2. Plaintiff, Sumiye Umeki Yamauchi, is a natural born citizen of the United States, a resident of California, and the daughter and sole heir of the decedent, Kunishige Umeki, who died intestate in December of 1956.

 3. Decedent, Kunishige Umeki, was a Japanese national, who entered the United States in 1906, at 18 years of age, and became a resident of California; married a Japanese national, and had two children, both of whom were born in California; and decedent maintained his residence in California continuously until 1942.

 4. The insurance policy in question was issued to decedent in 1929, was a 20-Year endowment policy, No. W3-128129, California-Western States Life Insurance Company, maturing in November of 1949, with a face value of $ 3,000.

 5. The net proceeds of said policy totaled $ 3,366.75.

 6. Early in 1942, the United States being then at war with Japan, decedent and his family were evacuated by the Government and interned at a War Relocation Center, along with other persons of Japanese descent, and decedent and his family remained at said Center until late in 1945.

 7. The internment of decedent and his family was due solely to the fact that they were of Japanese descent, and he was not charged with any unfriendly, subversive or hostile acts, and there is no evidence of decedent or plaintiff ever having performed any act hostile to or against the interests of the United States.

 8. In August of 1945, Japan surrendered to the United States, and articles of surrender were signed in September of 1945.

 9. On October 29, 1945, decedent, Umeki, while still at the Relocation Center, signed a printed form of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, entitled 'Application for Repatriation' and indicated his desire to be repatriated to Japan only if named members of his family accompanied him. (The named ...


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