Internees Greet Americans At Urawa Internment Camp

Prisoners at the Urawa Internment Camp, 5-6-3, Saitama Prefecture, cheer United States Navy and Marine medical personnel on August 30, 1945. Several Japanese Civil Police are also present. Father Edwin C. Ronan (November 5, 1884 - March 1, 1965) is coming out of the door to greet the Americans. Father Ronan was the Chaplain of the United States Army and the Philippine Army until his capture on Mindanao in June 1942. Urawa was opened on October 5, 1942 for civilian men, mostly missionaries and clergy, in a Franciscan convent. On January 28, 1944, Urawa Camp held fifty-six men - 30 Canadians, eleven British, seven Greeks, three Americans, three Belgians, and two Dutch - were transferred from Sumire, Sendai, and Miyoshi camps, which were closed. Urawa could hold up to 78 men. With 35,500 square feet (3,300 square meters) of land and only 10,500 square feet of buildings (990 square meters) this modern building, constructed just before the Pacific War started, had room for the internees to grow their own food. All of the internees were fluent in Japanese, so orders were given in Japanese only. The camp lacked heat, causing the United States State Department to issue a formal complaint to the Japanese through Switzerland in December 1943. The internees could see the firebombing of Tokyo on March 9-10, 1945, and subsequent air attacks. In the September 4, 1945 issue of the Los Angeles Times, Urawa internee Father Marie Gabriel Groleau (July 28, 1913 - December 25, 2000) claimed the Japanese Civil Police beat the internees. The Los Angeles Times reported that the Civil Police also ate the rations intended for the camp; Father Ronan lost sixty-five pounds. The internees, many of whom had lived in Japan for years, separated the actions of the camp guards from the Japanese population. Just before the camp was liberated, supplies were dropped from Boeing B-29 Superfortresses on August 26, 1945, but the internees gave their parcels to the public.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
National Archives and Records Ad
Archival Identifier: 
Date Photographed: 
Thursday, August 30, 1945