The Report on Japanese on the West Coast of the United States, often called the Munson Report, was a 29-page report written in 1940 by Curtis B. Munson, a Detroit businessman commissioned as a special representative of the State Department, on the sympathies and loyalties of Japanese Americans living in California and the West Coast of the United States. Munson's report was submitted to the White House on October 7, 1941, exactly two months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The report was presented to FDR on November 7, 1941.
By spring of 1941, it was increasingly apparent that Japan and the United States would become enveloped in conflict. They all fought in World War II. It had broken out with the Japanese invasion of China in 1937 and the German invasion of Poland in 1939. In July 1941, the United States, along with Britain and the Dutch East Indies, had imposed a total embargo on exports to Japan, including critical oil supplies. American military intelligence had broken top secret Japanese military codes, and a September 24, 1941, message indicated that Pearl Harbor was a possible target of a Japanese attack. President Franklin D. Roosevelt immediately designated Munson as a special representative and gave him the task of gauging the loyalty of Japanese Americans, many of whom lived on military bases and important manufacturing facilities.
Munson toured California and the Pacific Coast and interviewed Army and United States Marines intelligence officers, military commanders, city officials, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Munson found that "There is some Japanese problems on the West Coast, but it has not yet reached a state in which we should fear them as a country" concluding that there was "a remarkable, even extraordinary degree of loyalty among some of this generally suspect ethnic group, but there were some Issei that remained loyal to their home country, Japan, and its Emperor." The Munson Report was circulated to several Cabinet officials, including Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, Attorney General Francis Biddle, and Secretary of State Cordell Hull.
On January 9, 1942, Stimson sent a copy of the Munson Report to President Roosevelt, along with a memo stating that War Department officials had carefully studied the document. However, Executive Order 9066, ordering the internment of Japanese Americans, was signed on February 19. It is not known whether Roosevelt was influenced by the report itself, but he undoubtedly heard a multiplicity of suspicions.
- Leslie T. Hatamiya, Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and the Passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 (1994). Stanford, p. 10.
- Nancy R. Bartlit and Everett M. Rogers, Silent Voices of World War II: When Sons of the Land of Enchantment Met Sons of the Land of the Rising Son (2005), p. 143-133.
- C. B. Munson, "Japanese on the West Coast," published as chapter 6 in Asian American Studies: A Reader (editors Jean Yu-wen Shen Wu and Min Song), Rutgers University Press, 2000.
- "C.B. Munson's "Report and Suggestions Regarding Handling the Japanese Question on the Coast," Dec. 20, 1941.." Densho Encyclopedia. 17 Jul 2015. <https://encyclopedia.densho.org/sources/en-denshopd-i67-00005-1/>.