Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Mitsuko Hashiguchi Interview
Narrator: Mitsuko Hashiguchi
Interviewer: James Arima
Location: Bellevue, Washington
Date: July 28, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-hmitsuko-01-0032

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JA: Bainbridge Island was one of the first areas that was subject to mass evacuation and that was in March of 1942. What was the Bellevue Nikkei community reaction to that?

MH: They says, "Oh, my goodness. Bainbridge is moving on, I guess we're next." And we are just counting and listening and hearing, and, of course, my husband was in contact with the Seattle JACL back and forth so he always was able to report back to us what's going on. And when Bainbridge started then we knew uh-oh, something is happening. Where we are going? How long are we going to be gone? And the destination is what -- first thing we all wondered -- where we were going to have to be going. And then when they, the final orders came and said, "You are going," well, we didn't know where we were going. They said just bring one bag. Well, you can't get anything in one bag or anything like that, so it was something else really.

JA: And when your husband would go back and forth to Seattle and bringing information, were community meetings held?

MH: Community meeting, yes. We had at the Kokaido, yes. The Bellevue people all were to get there, supposed to come there and meet at a certain, certain time so that we can all discuss whatever that's coming up, what will be done, and what action we'll be taking when the time comes.

JA: And how well-attended were these meetings?

MH: They all come. They all, they were all curious to know what is really going on. So somebody at least from every family were there, so they'll know what was going on and what has to be done.

JA: And what was the atmosphere at these meetings?

MH: Cool.

JA: Cool?

MH: Cool. Nobody sayings anything. I think my husband was the only one talking about. And probably the few Isseis that were, have to be kind of interpreting to the Isseis, the remarks and things like that. But the leader of the bunch was picked up. See, Mr. Yabuki was kind of leader. Mr. Tsushima was leader, he was picked up, too. And so, it almost had to be the other ones that were, understood the language.

JA: So the established leaders from taken away.

MH: Uh-huh.

JA: And how did the community react to your husband during this time?

MH: Well, they certainly didn't like him because they thought he was the guy that's kind of, that doesn't say, "No, we're not going to do this, we're not going to do that," or whatever. He did whatever the JACL told him. He said fine. He brought all the information back to them and worked with them, is what he did. So, they, they thought he was a bad boy or I guess you'd explain it that way.

JA: So they blamed the messenger.

MH: Yeah, to him, yes, even though he was the messenger.

JA: So, but their feelings were toward the JACL and not to the U.S. government for what was happening?

MH: They kind of blamed the JACL, too. They were wondering why the JACL didn't fight this whole thing or do something about it. I heard that remark, too, at different times.

JA: And this was openly discussed at these meetings.

MH: Uh-huh. Then, of course, you know who has to fight that one back again with some comments. Of course, I don't know what he said because I wasn't allowed to go to the meeting. I had to stay home. They didn't invite me. [Laughs]

JA: So you heard, again, you heard these things indirectly or through your husband.

MH: Yes.

JA: So at these meetings, then, it was largely the head of the families that went.

MH: Head of families that went, yeah, or the head of the family boys or something like that... would understand what all this was going on. So most of them were old, older boys of the family.

JA: So it was fairly exclusively male attendees then.

MH: Well, but then some had to be female because like Mitsi Shiraishi's a girl, and Hanna Yoshimoto is a girl in the family, so she probably went.

JA: Okay, so there were a few.

MH: Just a few, that's right.

JA: Okay.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.