Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Frank Yamasaki Interview I
Narrator: Frank Yamasaki
Interviewers: Lori Hoshino (primary), Stephen Fugita
Location: Lake Forest Park, Washington
Date: August 18, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-yfrank-01-0026

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SF: When you decided to resist, what did you think would happen to you?

FY: I really didn't think. Looking back, I'm young. You know, it was kind of like Patrick Henry would say, "Give me liberty or give me death." Well, it was, you might say it was sort of martyrism. It was the type of schooling, you might say. We hear about historically, people doing things. And so I think that was -- it wasn't as intellectual as one would think. It was just: "It was wrong. To hell with it and I'm going to go all the way with it."

SF: When you found out that you were going to go on trial, did you think you were going to win?

FY: I didn't even think. As far as I thought, for sure we're going to tell 'em that we, our home was disrupted, we had to sell everything we had. But before... we all thought about being like Patrick Henry, we were going make a speech at the trial. I never experienced court before. I never experienced having a lawyer defend me before. And then by the time the other resisters starting coming back and they were pronounced guilty and they started telling us about what went on in court, we realized, oh, my gosh.

LH: So each of you were tried individually?

FY: Some were, I think most of them were doubled up. I was doubled up with a fellow and we had one court-appointed attorney. Others, I think there might have been two or three, even more maybe. I don't know.

LH: And did you have the chance to speak before the judge?

FY: No, it became a, it became a farce. That's when I realized that they didn't care the least bit about whether there was injustice placed on us or whether we were uprooted from home, taken... all they were interested was, "Did you or did you not report for induction?" Our court-appointed lawyer even opened the Constitution and said, "Here, under this kind of situation, a person under duress or restraint" -- which we were in the camp -- "are not subject to military duty." Well, we didn't even care about that. I didn't -- we were just concerned one thing. We were unjustly incarcerated, you know. And that was it. And I didn't know a bag of beans about laws or what is pertinent or what is relevant. So when they came to those questionnaires, it doesn't mean nothing to me. Yes-yes, no-no, whatever. It was just the simple, simple thing that we... the country had done wrong to us. We're citizens. Why should they single out just the Japanese? Why not the Italians, why not the Germans? There had to be a racial implication there. [Interruption] Learned a lot. And it is certainly different from what a lay people would think.

LH: So it's unfortunate that maybe the naive person doesn't have as much of a chance to defend themselves.

FY: Not a chance in the world.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.