Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Masao Watanabe Interview
Narrator: Masao Watanabe
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: June 19, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-wmasao-01-0013

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: How about your family? When you went to your house, your parents, what was their reaction?

MW: It's hard to recall at this time. I just, I knew how we felt and I don't know. It's hard for me to recall my parents' reaction.

TI: Well, how were you feeling, because fairly shortly after the bombing, the FBI came through and started picking up some of the, primarily Isseis. What was going through your mind as this was happening? And was your father also picked up, I believe?

MW: Yes, he was. [Laughs] And I had a hard time with that.

TI: So was your father picked up immediately? Right after the, that Sunday?

MW: (...) The Public Market, the Japanese group (...) were big enough where they were considered a part of the community family, so that the Pike Place Market elders were always a part of the community, the Chamber of Commerce, and the school board. They always had representatives and my dad was one of those.

TI: So this is within the Japanese community that you had the Japanese Language School, the various associations.

MW: The merchants had representatives, the market -- Pike Place Market -- had representatives, etcetera, and my dad happened to represent the market.

TI: Okay.

MW: So he was deeply involved in the chamber and school board and things like that. So he was... I wasn't surprised he was picked up right away.

TI: And how did you feel about that, when your father was picked up?

MW: I was very unhappy about it and I don't want to say I scuffled with the FBI, but we had words. We were wondering why he was picked up.

TI: So you challenged, you were challenging the FBI?

MW: I don't want to say "challenge" that means more than...

TI: But you questioned the FBI?

MW: I questioned it. That's a much better way of putting it.

TI: And what was the reaction of the FBI having this eighteen-year-old boy question what they were doing?

MW: They didn't... [laughs]. I don't recall. And I don't think he shoved me around or anything, but he had his job and they were very good at it -- [laughs] -- very experienced. But it was a traumatic moment. And my mother wasn't all that well, so I think that kind of compounded my concern.

TI: And was your older brother also there when...?

MW: He wasn't there when the FBI came. It was... I don't know. It was a very traumatic thing.

TI: And did you know where they were taking your father at that point?

MW: No, I did not. All I knew was they were picking up a lot of people. I found out later. You know, you call around. It was an odd, odd period of my life.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.