Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: George Yoshida Interview
Narrator: George Yoshida
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), John Pai (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: February 18, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-ygeorge-01-0031

<Begin Segment 31>

AI: Well, now, like many of the younger people, you started thinking about getting out of camp --

GY: Yes.

AI: -- wanting to get out. And how did that happen for you? What, what happened?

GY: Well, I worked every day in the camp -- or rather in the camp hospital as an orderly. And after about a year, roughly about a year or so after our being sent to camp, I think the government decided that here we have over a hundred thousand people, feeding them and housing them. It's costing us millions of dollars. And there was a turn-around on the part of government authorities in terms of who we were. There were no acts of sabotage or espionage perpetrated by Japanese Americans. And the Japanese American soldiers, they, and the 100th Infantry Battalion, mostly from Hawaii, made up of Japanese Americans from Hawaii, and a few of the mainland Niseis were in the Army. And apparently, they were very much impressed with these early inductees. And the government decided again, well, we've got here, a good supply of healthy men in camps. Why not give them an opportunity to participate in the war effort?

AI: And that was about January of 1943, wasn't it, that --

GY: I suppose so.

AI: -- that the government issued these questionnaires to the young men at first and then everyone in camp to -- for people to supposedly determine were they loyal to the U.S. or not? And those who were supposedly loyal indicated on this questionnaire, then they would be allowed to volunteer for --

GY: Yes, volunteer.

AI: -- the Army or, or possibly apply to leave.

GY: Yeah.

AI: Do, do you recall that questionnaire?

GY: Yeah, I recall that. I think it was the "yes-yes," "no-no" kind of a question. The question -- I'm not quite sure what numbers they were, but the point is we were asked if we would be loyal to the United States as citizens and not to protect any other country. Essentially this is what it said. And I said well, I certainly am an American and am not going to go out of my way to protect any other country other than the United States. So when those two questions that were answered, I said "yes-yes" without any doubts, without much debate in my mind. And this is true of most Niseis of my, among my friends. So I said "yes-yes." And so it was not a matter of much debate in my mind. And my parents had nothing to say or didn't try to effect -- or affect my, my ideas about how to answer these, these questions. They didn't say, you should do this or not, yeah. They were pretty cool about that. So my answer was yes, I would defend the country and -- but I wasn't ready to enlist into the Army at that time, although many Niseis did out of camp, yeah.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.