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MASAMI SASAKI v. ROGERS

June 24, 1960

MASAMI SASAKI, Plaintiff
v.
William P. ROGERS, Attorney General of the United States, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WALSH

Pursuant to designation as a special judge in the matter here involved, the Court heard oral argument on May 25, 1960, on a motion for summary judgment filed by the defendant on January 11, 1960. *fn1" The motion was based on the pleadings and the certified transcript of proceedings in the Office of Alien Property.

The salient facts are as follows: The plaintiff, Masami Sasaki, was born in Japan in 1888 and immigrated to this country some time prior to 1941. He was living in Huntington Beach, California, on December 7, 1941, on which date the President issued Proclamation No. 2525, U.S.Code Cong.Service 1941, p. 885, declaring certain citizens of Japan, over 14 years of age and residing in this country, were to be termed enemy aliens. The Attorney General, under the Alien Enemy Act, 50 U.S.C.A. § 21, and the Presidential Proclamations of December 7 and 8, 1941, Nos. 2525-2527, U.S.Code, Cong.Service 1941, pp. 885, 889, 891, 6 Fed. Reg. 6321, 6323 and 6324, was delegated authority to intern, in his discretion, all resident alien enemies whom he considered dangerous to the public safety of the United States.

 On December 7, 1941, the police contacted plaintiff at his home in Huntington, California, and he was taken into custody without warrant for 'questioning'. *fn2"

 The plaintiff claims that he was subsequently moved to Missoula, Montana, where he was given his first hearing, and said hearing lasted only 5 or 10 minutes. In August, 1942, he was moved to a camp in Livingston, Louisiana, where he was given another hearing, which lasted from 3 to 4 hours, and at which, apparently, certain information was provided for the hearing officer by representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. *fn3"

 The plaintiff filed a Notice of Claim for Return of Property (No. 5687) on September 16, 1946, which was amended and consolidated with Claim No. 33744, filed on January 30, 1948, in accordance with the provisions of the Trading with the Enemy Act, 50 U.S.C.A.Appendix, § 34 et seq., for the return of $ 42,075.52, plus interest, *fn4" which sum plaintiff had deposited in The Sumitomo Bank, Ltd., a Japanese corporation engaged in business in the United States. The assets of said bank were seized under the Trading with the Enemy Act by the Alien Property Custodian in 1943.

 The Government contends the plaintiff was an internee and parolee, and therefore not an eligible debt claimant. On July 14, 1942, the plaintiff by an Order of the Attorney General, upon recommendation of the Alien Enemy Hearing Board, was interned as an alien enemy. In a subsequent order of the Attorney General, dated January 17, 1944, the internment order was vacated, and the plaintiff was paroled, subject to parole restrictions, and was transferred to a War Relocation Center as noted earlier. This action was never rescinded or overturned.

 Plaintiff here has exhausted his administrative remedies in a series of applications, letters, etc., spanning a number of years. In a letter dated January 9, 1957, the Chief of the Claims Section, Office of Alien Property, found the plaintiff ineligible as a debt claimant and informed him of the procedure to be followed upon dismissal of a claim. *fn5" The plaintiff filed timely objections to the dismissal of his debt claim on February 4, 1957, on the grounds (1) that under the community property laws of California his wife (who was not interned) was entitled to recover one-half of his claim, (2) his citizenship acquired in January 14, 1955 had the effect of reversing his internee-enemy alien status, and (3) since Congress, by act of 1956, authorized the payment of evacuation claims to all internees whose evacuation claims have not been paid by reason of their internment, plaintiff's ineligibility to the debt claim should also be lifted. The Chief of the Claims Section affirmed his earlier dismissal of plaintiff's claim by letter of February 11, 1957, but indicated he would amend the plaintiff's claim, and show it to assert the one-half claim of his wife. However, in a letter dated October 31, 1957, the Claims Section notified plaintiff that since the wife had not filed a claim prior to November 18, 1949, her claim was ineligible under Section 34 of the Trading with the Enemy Act. Plaintiff took objection to the latter ruling on the ground, among others, that the ruling of 'internee' in his case was arbitrary and should have no legal effect. The Chief of the Claims Section, on February 10, 1958, affirmed his October 31, 1957, and former rulings. He also indicated that he was applying to the Custodian of the Alien Property Fund for an order to dismiss the claim.

 The Deputy Director of the Office of Alien Property upon 'the application of the Chief of the Claims Section and after considering the objections filed by the claimant and finding that no genuine issue is raised thereby and that the * * * claimant is not eligible to maintain a debt claim' ordered the claim dismissed and disallowed on June 19, 1958. *fn6" He also directed that since the debt claims filed against The Sumitomo Bank exceeded the funds held by his Office, any further proceedings were to be governed by section 34(f) of the Trading with the Enemy Act.

 Thereafter, on October 24, 1958, the Deputy Director signed the Final Schedule in the Matter of the Insolvent Account of The Sumitomo Bank, Ltd. The plaintiff's claim was not among those allowed, and plaintiff filed a complaint for review of the Final Schedule pursuant to section 34(f) of the Trading with the Enemy Act.

 The plaintiff, in answer to defendant's motion here, states his argument as follows: 'Plaintiff is an eligible claimant under Section 34 of the Trading with the Enemy Act, because the Section permits every resident alien to recover, if he has not been 'interned or paroled pursuant to the Alien Enemy Act.' (Emphasis supplied.) This means validly and correctly interned or paroled. It does not mean erroneously or unlawfully interned or paroled.' Plaintiff also asserts that the fact he was subsequently naturalized as a citizen is evidence that he was not deserving of internment.

 The pertinent statutes involved in this controversy are section 21 of the Alien Enemy Act and section 34(a) and (f) of the Trading with the Enemy Act. Section 21 of the former Act reads in part as follows:

 'Whenever there is a declared war between the United States and any foreign nation * * * and the President makes public proclamation of the event, all * * * subjects of the hostile nation * * * being of the age of fourteen years and upward, who shall be within the United States and not actually naturalized, shall be liable to be apprehended, restrained, secured, and removed as alien enemies. The President is authorized * * * by his proclamation * * * to direct the conduct to be observed, on the part of the United States, toward the aliens who become so liable; the manner and degree of the restraint to which they shall be subject and in what cases, and ...


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