Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Harvey Watanabe Interview
Narrator: Harvey Watanabe
Interviewer: Stacy Sakamoto
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: November 4, 1996
Densho ID: denshovh-wharvey-01-0015

<Begin Segment 15>

SS: These, you know, early, early war years, what was the hardest part, do you think, for you personally?

HW: Well, hardest part was feeling helpless. I'm in uniform. If I just walk away from camp, I'm AWOL, because the war is on. And I would be helpless anyway, you know. There weren't enough of us. If there were say, five million or ten million people of Japanese ancestry in the United States, maybe we would have had enough political clout to get something accomplished. But there weren't enough. And it wasn't a civil matter. It was military matter more than a civil matter. That was the sad thing about it, yes.

SS: And you were part of the military.

HW: Yeah, and so what do you do? So you, only other recourse you have is to take the long-range, long-term hope, rather than the short-term fix. That's about all you could do.

SS: What did you learn about yourself during this time?

HW: Oh, I think probably, if anything, I learned to submerge the wanting to get even, or wanting to correct this thing and just doin' the job. I think that was the, the hardest thing was to just forget it. There are other more important things, and if we do it right then maybe they'll look on us more favorably and things will change. And if you go in there and stir up other people, then you can get a, as a few occasions happened, there were riot conditions in these camps, and if you flare up a big enough riot condition in the camp, maybe they'll machine gun everybody, you know. I mean, it's a no-win situation at that time. So the only way to get by that is to let time pass as quietly as possible, 'til the political situation improves.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1996 Densho. All Rights Reserved.