Community Camp Councils and the JACL
The WRA established Community Councils in each camp. Comprising representatives from each block, these councils became the chief form of self-government and in theory granted Japanese Americans agency. Ultimately, however, these councils still operated under the strictures of the WRA.
In comparison, the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) wielded greater political influence. From its headquarters in Salt Lake City, the JACL continued to publish its newsletter and ideological organ, The Pacific Citizen, throughout the war and participated in top-level WRA meetings concerning camp governance and policies. During “evacuation,” the JACL cooperated with authorities, arguing that only through cooperation could Japanese Americans demonstrate their loyalty and evade worse treatment. The JACL also faced criticism for its involvement in the 1943 “loyalty” questionnaire that required many to choose between statelessness or disloyalty. Tensions between various political factions within camp frequently came to a head in strikes and protests. The 1942 Poston and Manzanar strikes were notable for their scale and coverage in the mainstream press.