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-01-0050

<Begin Segment 50>

TI: And one other difficult question. And, going back to "no-no" boys -- and again I'm doing this at the end, so that if you don't want this part of this, we can take it out easily. You talked about your feelings, especially those intense feelings during the war, when you read that Irrigator issue. When you came back to the States, how would you describe your relationships with "no-no" boys? Or what, how did you feel about "no-no" boys when you got back to Seattle?

MW: Well I... I had certain feelings, which were maybe on the stronger side. Because of the loss of close friends and things, and my anger at the time I read, read about this. And I've tried very hard to understand the reason that these guys used to become "no-nos" And the one thing I knew was that a few of my close neighbors, their parents were very, very strong pro-Japanese. And I know why. They were veterans of the Russo War, and their homes were plastered with these Japanese war ships and Togo Taisho and Nogi Taisho and all this, and I could see where they're from. You know, they're very strong in kendo and stuff like that. And I could appreciate some of the way they felt. But to throw that all away when you're living in U.S. or something, was a little strange to me. You know, it's the same neighborhood of these guys that I'm talking about, that were "no-nos," right before we were evacuated, when the choice was made to go back to Japan, the same group went back. Now, whether they were all from the same society or not, I don't know. I don't want to pretend to know. But I thought there was somethin' wrong about trying to take it both ways. You know, hey, make up your mind, go that way or go this way. If you're gonna go this way, do it this way.

TI: This happened fifty-five years ago, and back then those feelings were really intense.

MW: Intense.

TI: How would you say those feelings, how do you feel today, when you think about those same men?

MW: Yeah, I...

TI: If you saw them on the street right now, I mean, what would it be like?

MW: I think, basically, the same reasons are still persistent. I mean I... at some point in time, I think you, or you or I as an individual, we see these things that our parents feel, or our country's doin'. And somewhere along the line, I'd like to think we're mature enough to make our own decisions, whether you go this way or that way. And a lot of it might depend a lot on what, how old you are. But I still think it's a pretty individual thing, you know. And I just, like -- gettin' back to the "no-no" boys, I think there's a time when you, they should have talked up, to their parents. "Okay, you're right, I'm wrong," or, "You're right, I'm gonna go with you." Then go with 'em. But don't play both sides of the street.

TI: And when you say "play both sides of the street," I trying to make sure I understand this, that... maybe you should explain, when you say "play both sides of the street," what does that mean?

MW: Well, to take, well, say, be so strongly pro-Japan and anti-U.S., then go back to Japan. I mean, don't stay here and don't do what the Americans are doin'.

TI: Okay.

MW: I don't know if that's a proper answer. Think it over, or take it off the tape. [Laughs]

TI: No, I think what you're saying is that these men had to make a choice of either, if they were gonna be supportive of Japan, then go to Japan. But if they were gonna be, to stay in the United States, then they should support or...

MW: Or be Americans.

TI: Be Americans, and do it that way, and not try to...

MW: Don't sit on the fence and take the best of both worlds, or something.

TI: Right. Okay.

MW: Does that, is that clear?

TI: No, I understand.

MW: You understand? 'Cause I didn't, individually, wanna damn these guys, but I thought they were old enough to use their own minds, that's all. Or is that clear?

TI: Yeah, that is. Okay. That's, that's good.

<End Segment 50> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.