Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Joe Yasutake Interview
Narrator: Joe Yasutake
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: October 9, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-yjoe-01

<Begin Segment 1>

AI: Today is October 9th, 2002, and this morning we finished a group interview with the Yasutake Yamada family. And I'm Alice Ito with Densho. Mr. Yasutake, maybe you could start off -- at the point of the group interview ending, you and your mother were in Minidoka camp in Idaho and got the news that you would be able to transfer to the so-called "family camp" at Crystal City, Texas.

JY: Uh-huh.

AI: That was in 1944.

JY: That's correct.

AI: And so I just wanted to start in at that point and whatever you recall about that time, leaving Minidoka and going to Crystal City.

JY: Yeah. I don't remember from a day-to-day basis. I sort of have snapshots of when things happened. I do recall saying goodbye to our friends in Minidoka, and by that time my, my older brothers and sisters were all gone, or sister was all gone. And I remember they came out to wave goodbye to us and things like that. And I had a, a very close friend, a guy named Teddy Nakamura, who was our neighbor, and so we said goodbye and all that. It was kind of a tearful scene. But I knew at that point that we were going to, you know, join my dad, so that was good.

And I can't tell you anything about the trip or how we got there or anything else, but I do remember when we got to Crystal City and we were going through the gates, the whole camp looked much more foreboding. Somehow it seems like the fences were heavier or higher. There were more guards, it seems like, around. I don't remember any guard towers, but it just seems like there were more guards around. And, and I can remember the, my feeling that, "Gee, you know, I feel like I'm goin' to a prison." As opposed to Minidoka, everything was just kinda open. And then there were rumors. After a few days I -- that, after I got there, that the, the fences were electrified so if you touched it you would get electrocuted kind of, kind of. I don't know if that was true or not. Probably not. So that was my first impression of, of Crystal City. And the rest of it is just, again, just snapshots. Swimming in the reservoir that they had there where I guess they stored the water, but they let us swim in it. And losing a, a close friend of mine who drowned there. Going to school. And the environment was quite a little bit different because I think, as I mentioned just before we broke, that the kids of my age from Peru spoke Spanish like we spoke English, but their Japanese was much, much better than the, than the kids from the, from the mainland, and they were much more Japanesey -- you know, their mannerisms and, and the way they greeted people and talked to each other and so forth. So there was that division in the sense that I did get to know a couple of kids pretty well, Peruvian kids, but in the main, we didn't mix that much. It was just sorta the kids from the U.S., you know, in one group and the Peruvian kids in another group kind of thing. Played a lot of baseball. Went to school. I --

AI: Speaking of school, you, after you arrived there at Crystal City with your mother, you arrived in time to start the sixth grade.

JY: Uh-huh.

AI: That fall of '44.

JY: I did. And our teacher, I -- you know, it's really interesting. I remember the two teachers I had in camp. This one was named Mrs. Lunz, who I later, later found out, who is alive to this day, and she was a very, very warm, wonderful teacher. And I can remember things going on in class, like one of our classmates was a tremendous artist. I mean, he could just sketch things on the fly that were really impressive. And I remember as a school, for like Parents Night we were preparing to do something, and what the teacher decided was that this artist kid would draw on the board as we sang "Bicycle Built for Two," and so we rehearsed that many, many times to get ready for, for the parents to come in and so forth. And she really, you know, this Mrs. Lunz, really sort of sparked my interest in the fact that learning could be a lot of fun, so I think she had that kind of influence on me in later, later years.

We also went to Japanese school, which was kind of traumatic because the little Japanese I learned in Seattle before, before the war for some reason was pretty well gone, and when I got to Crystal City they made me go back into the first grade again, and I was a, you know, like a sixth grader. And I was mortified because I was with these little kids, and so I probably studied more during that time -- [laughs] -- to catch up and get moved up than I, probably I ever did in my life, I don't know. But finally, after several weeks I was moved up gradually, and I finally got to the same grade that most of my, my peers were.

AI: During this time, when you communicated with your mother, would you say it was a mix of Japanese and English? Or maybe she spoke mostly in Japanese and you replied mostly in English?

JY: Yeah, yeah, yeah. She, she knew a lot of English phrases, but of course her primary language was Japanese so we conversed -- I mean, she spoke to me in, in Japanese except for like, except for words like "socks" or "pants" or something, you know, she would insert English words like that. But most of our conversations were in Japanese. With my father they were pretty much all in English. I don't recall ever talking with my father in Japanese. It just, it just seemed like it was a natural thing to speak in English.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

AI: So had you and your mother been at Crystal City very long before he joined you there? Or...

JY: It seems like he was there. When we got there I just vaguely remember that he was waiting for us and that I saw him for the first time in, in quite a while, because, of course, I was not on that trip that my brother and sister talked about to Lordsburg. So it had been at least a year, you know, over a year since I had seen him.

AI: Let's see. 19-, December 1941 he had been taken away. You had a few visits with him before you left Seattle, and then --

JY: I, I just vaguely remember visiting him in, in the cell, you know, in the facility where, where his office was. But, yeah, since that time, of course, I had not seen him.

AI: So it was over two years then.

JY: Well, through, through our time in Puyallup and Minidoka, which probably amounted to a year and a half or so, so yeah, between a year and a half and two years maybe.

AI: And where, what was your living situation there like? Were you as, the three of you as a family in your own room or unit?

JY: Yeah. And, of course, at Minidoka we had a room to go to the bathroom and everything, and to eat you had to go to some, to some, some other building. But in Crystal City, as I recall, it was like a little, like a studio apartment in a sense, because my mother was -- I don't know where she got the food or how she got it, but we used to be able to eat as a family in, in, in our own little studio apartment, if you will. So from that aspect it was a lot better than Crystal City -- or better than Minidoka.

AI: Because you didn't have to go out and line up for --

JY: That's right.

AI: -- mess hall and line up for --

JY: Uh-huh.

AI: -- everything?

JY: Uh-huh. Still, we didn't haven't a private or anything. We still, we still had public facilities as far as the toilets and where you cleaned up and things like that were concerned. I can remember one time when I was sitting on the potty and there was a -- for whatever reason, I knew what a black widow spider looked like, and he was crawling right up the side of the, of the toilet bowl, and it scared the daylights out of me. [Laughs]

AI: I bet.

JY: But that's why I remember there was, you know, it was a public facility, or a community facility as far as the clean-up areas were concerned.

AI: Right. So you were there all of your sixth grade then --

JY: Pretty much.

AI: -- in Crystal City?

JY: I was -- somehow, each movement seemed to kind of last over an academic year. And, and I think, as I think I said before, that for -- in, in Seattle, you know, the fourth grade ended in about February or whenever it was that we, we were hauled off to Puyallup, and then I was moved in the next, the next time, to the next grade, to the fifth grade in Minidoka. And I'm almost certain I finished the fifth grade in Minidoka before, and I think it was over the summer or early fall that we went to Crystal City. And the same thing with when we moved from Crystal City. It was at least at the beginning of the school year, because when we arrived in Cincinnati, the principal had to take me to my first class because the class was already in session and so, so he could kind of introduce me to the, to the teacher and the, and my new classmates and so forth.

AI: And -- oh.

JY: So it worked, kind of worked out that way.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

AI: So excuse me, but before that happened, before you got to leave Crystal City --

JY: Uh-huh.

AI: -- there was the ending of World War II and the, the bombing of Hiroshima.

JY: No.

AI: In '45?

JY: When we left Crystal City the war was still on.

AI: It was still on.

JY: It was still on. We left Crystal City in 19-, probably in the summer or early fall of 1944.

AI: Oh.

JY: So the war was still going on. It was not until we got to Cincinnati that the, that the war was over. And I don't remember -- and at Crystal City I was exposed for the first time to, to judo, and I took judo for a year there. And in, in Seattle I can remember my -- one of the -- I think my sister was talking about the string of people that lived with us over time. And this guy, Mr. Abe, was like a grandpa to me at the time, and he lived with us for a year or so, and he introduced me to sumo and entered me in a sumo contest in Seattle when I was probably six, seven, eight years old, so that was my first exposure to that. And then in Crystal City they started that again -- or not they started it, but it was going on there. And, and I went to sumo... I don't know if it was lessons or whatever. And I have a picture, actually, of a sumo tournament; there were a whole bunch of kids lined up around the ring and so forth. So there were activities like that, and as well as we played baseball, which was my favorite sport. And other than that, you know, I don't remember the kind of activities. Between school and just, you know, playing with friends and, and going to sumo and judo and things like that it was, it was, it was pretty well in a sense normalized in my, from my day-to-day activities kind of standpoint.

AI: I think I remember hearing that there were some families at Crystal City that were eventually planning or thinking that they might return to Japan -- the parents were thinking of going. Did you know of any families like that? Or...

JY: The only ones I remember talking like that were the, were the Peruvian Japanese, through the kids. I don't recall any -- in fact, I don't even remember any parents, meeting any parents of my friends there, and I'm not sure what kind of discussions had been goin' on. I don't think it ever occurred to my dad or my parents that that's what they might want to do. I never heard them say anything like, you know, like that, but I do recall that -- and, and it didn't surprise me that the Peruvian Jap-, you know, I heard that they were interested in doing that because they were -- they just seemed more Japanesey to me than even my own parents, and, you know, the, the way they carried themselves and bowed and were very, very formal and so forth. They just seemed to be more "old country," if you will, to me than, than the mainland people were.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

AI: Well, now, then what about the transition out of Crystal City, leaving Crystal City and going out to Cincinnati?

JY: Yeah, that was --

AI: How was that for you?

JY: That was a big move for, for a number of reasons. One is that when we -- you know, we moved to Cincinnati because my oldest brother and my sister were there, and then by the time we got there I think my brother was already gone to Boston and my sister was, was there, but she was busy with school and all that. And we, we stayed in the hostel that was being run by the American Friends, and, and I remember being there. In fact, it was a house kind of built like this one, in the sense it was -- it looked like it was a two-story, probably something built in the 19-, early 1900s kind of a building.

And, and so my mother and father were looking for some kind of employment, and all they could find was as domestic help. And they finally got a job as a -- I think it was as a butler/chauffeur for my dad and a maid/cook for my mother. And it was a very, very wealthy family in, in Indian Hills, which is a wealthy suburb of Cincinnati. So we moved there, and we were in the servants' quarters. And they, they were -- it was very degrading for my father especially, because he had never done anything like that. And besides that, the -- I can recall just hiding from the, from the woman, you know, from the wife because she was, to me she was just a mean old lady, and she apparently was not very good -- well, I know she was not very good to my parents because I could hear her talking to them off and on. And I know that they just hated that job, and, and they -- of course, my father was on parole at the time, so he was on parole and had to report to a parole officer, who depended a lot on what the employee said -- or employer said. So, and he held that over them all the time, and so it was just a miserable year.

As far as I was concerned, in school, it was fine. I went to school -- well, on the most part it was fine. [Laughs] I went to school in Terrace Park, Ohio, which was down the hill from Indian Hills, where we resided. And the first day of school, the principal, I remember, took me into the classroom, and he must have obviously told the students in the class -- this was a junior high, because I was in the seventh grade at the time -- and he must have gone in and told them that there was a Japanese boy coming and, "I want you to be nice to him," and things like that, so when I walked into the classroom I recall that all the kids were, you know, waving their hands and saying, "Come sit by me, come sit by me," and so forth, and, and I, I can remember feeling kind of over -- well, more intimidated than anything else by that whole experience. But once I got into the flow of things -- again, the fact that I played baseball and got on the baseball team and things like that helped me to kind of assimilate with the, with the group.

And there was only -- the only fight I ever had in my life was with a kid -- I, I heard for the first time where my brother was talking about getting in a fight with a kid, and the same thing kind of happened to me. He would just torment me. For some reason he just decided that he would pick on me. And, and the year of judo that I had really helped in that situation. And, and so he didn't bother me anymore, but I remember that there was a rumor going around that I had some kind of mystical jujitsu something or other that, you know, that only Japanese had or something like, you know, and I -- and it was hard getting rid of that kind of, kind of a stereotypical attitude that kind of went around the school.

But in the main, my experience there was really quite good, and I was -- we, we joined the Knothole League, and which was like the Little League, and played, you know, played baseball and things like that. So away from school it was fine, and it was only when I got back -- [laughs] -- to the, to where we, where we lived that, you know, I'd feel kind of... oh, it was just sort of a low-grade, degrading feeling about, about our situation that, that we were in.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

And finally I think my, my father just decided he couldn't handle it anymore, so he got another job in Cincinnati proper at that point with a family who was really quite nice to us. But still, he was -- now he was a gardener. I think he was just a gardener, and then my mother was again the cook and maid of the home. But they treated us very, very well, and you could just tell that they had genuine affection for my parents. And so they, you know, they were there for actually for about two years, while I was in my eighth grade and freshman years in school.

AI: And was this again a live-in situation, so you all lived there on the --

JY: It was.

AI: -- property?

JY: The home where we lived was not quite as enormous as the first place. I mean, the first place was literally a mansion on an estate that wouldn't quit, you know, but this house was large but -- and our quarters were actually a little bit more modest. It was right off the kitchen, whereas in the other house it was a wing, you know, in effect that we had by ourselves. And this was just, as I recall, really just two bedrooms off the kitchen, with a bath, but I felt much better there. The only thing is -- I'm kind of ashamed to think about it, but I was ashamed of the fact that my parents were servants, and when I was in school the kids knew where I lived and they assumed that was our house. And I can recall just not wanting to tell people or even bring them home because they would find out then that I, you know, that we were in the servants' quarters kind of thing.

And my father had a kind of a hard time at the beginning, because he knew absolutely zip about gardening. I mean, he just knew nothing, and my mother had to tell him everything about -- oh, I can remember him -- you know, watching my mother go out one time to kind of tell him about something. He came in to ask something, and she noticed that there was this humongous weed growing in the middle of the garden. And apparently my dad thought it was some kind of exotic flower, you know, and he had cleared all the area around it and was just cultivating this thing. [Laughs] And my mother looked at him and said, "What are you doing?" [Laughs] So he was in that kind of, you know -- and he mowed the grass. I used to help him mow the grass and things like that. And they had a pool, so we, you know, had to clean the pool. And, and in those days they didn't have a mechanical cleaner or anything, so you had to dig, dig the scum off the walls and so forth and so on. But in the main, they were much happier simply because the, the relationship between them and the employee, employers, were, were just much warmer and easy to get along with.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

AI: And for people who don't know of this information about people like your father who were still considered "enemy aliens" until the war ended, when you mentioned that he was on parole --

JY: Uh-huh.

AI: -- the parole had to do with the fact that he had been incarcerated at the Department of Justice camp.

JY: That's right.

AI: And he, when he was released, his -- the status of his release was as parole.

JY: That's right.

AI: And so when you mentioned earlier, I just thought it would be important to clarify for people who might --

JY: Uh-huh. Yeah, that's right.

AI: -- not understand the situation.

JY: So I -- you know, I never went with him, but I know that he had to go periodically to report to a parole officer. And I don't remember him doing that in Cincinnati proper, at the second job, so at some point he must have been, he must have been -- gotten over the parole status, because by the time we moved to Chicago I know there was no restriction like that on him anymore.

AI: Right. In fact, wasn't there a, also a travel restriction on him while he was on parole?

JY: There was. While we were in -- and I don't remember whether it was -- I think it was when we were in, in Cincinnati proper. He had been offered a couple of jobs, one as a, one at I think it was Penn-, University of Pennsylvania, and the other one at the University of Michigan to teach Japanese, and so I remember him being ecstatic. You know, that, "Oh boy, finally," you know, kind of thing. And then, then the Immigration Department -- not Immigration Department, but the FBI -- would, would not grant him permission to travel to take the job, so he couldn't. He couldn't take those jobs, and I don't know what it -- well, it must have been the end of the war, I guess, at that point, in '45 when we were in Cincinnati is when the war ended, and it must have, there must have been some mechanical, automatic thing that happened when the war was over that he was no longer a parolee, a parolee or something like that, because when the, when the job offer from Chicago came I don't recall there being any, you know, question about whether we were gonna go or not.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

AI: Well, now, at the ending of World War II, with the bombing of, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, do you recall your father or mother making any comment at that point? Or your own recollection of that, that day.

JY: Well, I knew the atomic bomb was really bad, and, you know, it was huge and it killed a lot of people kind of thing, and, and I can remember my mother saying -- I can't remember the words she used, but showing grief about, about so many people -- [cries] -- about so many people dying. But... you know, the funny thing is... I don't remember it really affecting me at that time. And, you know, all our, all of our relatives, of course, were in Fukuoka, so we knew that they probably were not affected directly.

AI: Because Fukuoka is quite a bit farther south.

JY: Right.

AI: Well, and then about that same time I think you were saying that Tosh had returned from his service in the army also in about '45 or '46.

JY: It, it could have been -- it was either late '45 or '46. I'm, I'm almost -- you could ask him, but I'm almost sure it was after the war was over at that point. Just recently over.

AI: Uh-huh.

JY: Because we were still -- when that picture that you had there was taken, we were still at, at our, the second home that we were with, with the Coles, and, and that's when he came back, so that must have been in '45. Yeah. And, and, you know, there was -- I can remember all the cheering and so forth going on when the war ended and so forth. We didn't participate in it that much, but I can -- there was a, a square called Government Square in Cincinnati that was kind of like Times Square in New York except much, much smaller. And all the Cincinnatians were, you know, were -- just crowded that Government Square and so forth. So I, I do remember the, you know, the celebrations that went on when VJ, VE Day first and then VJ Day came about.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

AI: I'm -- oh, excuse me. I was just going to ask you, at about this time, you had just gone through tremendous changes in your living situation. You had gone from being in this camp with all these other Japanese Americans and Japanese Peruvians and their parents and other prisoners of war, their families who were German or Italian.

JY: Uh-huh.

AI: But primarily you were around people of Japanese ancestry, and then you were out in Cincinnati. It sounds like you were one of very few Japanese Americans.

JY: The only. I think I was the first Asian that most of the people in that little town of Terrace Park had ever seen, let alone a Japanese American. So, yeah, it was different. But, you know, I -- it's funny. I don't remember being -- I can remember being, people being kind of, you know, overly nice sometimes and that kind of thing, but the only times I can remember that anything from a, from a racial standpoint happened besides that, besides that little fight that I had was, was both times when associated with, with baseball, I think, when I was playing. I can recall one time when we played a team and we won, and I think it was some kind of a playoff to go to the next level or something, and the, and the coach on the other team was really mad, and, and he said something like, "Well, at least we don't have any Japs playing on our team," kind of a comment, and it kind of startled me. And, you know, our coach came and said all kinds of nice things and so forth, but other than an isolated instance like that, I just don't recall any, you know, huge thing occurring that I can think of during that time period of anything adverse. And, of course, I knew I was different, but it -- somehow it, I don't recall it really affecting my behavior or -- except, except the old business about "Don't bring shame on the fa-," you know, that kind of stuff that was, that had been ground into me, I think from the time I was a little baby.

So the days in Cincinnati were pretty good. The, the only downfalls I can remember is like when I had got cut from the freshman baseball team it was just devastating to me because I always thought I was such a hotshot -- [laughs] -- and then I didn't make the team. So and all my -- the guys I played with on that one team were -- I think seven out of nine of 'em made the team, and it was just this one other guy and myself that didn't, so we were both devastated. But that didn't -- you know, that's another side of things, I guess. But other than that, my days, you know -- and, and, and, and the, and the fact that my parents were struggling to -- as domestics, it was, it was not a bad, bad time period for me. My best friend at the second home was a, was from -- in fact, it was a fairly -- there were a lot of Jewish families there. It was kinda like a Jewish neighborhood where I lived, and, you know, so my best friend was Jewish and I used to spend a lot of time at his house. And it was -- there was something, some kind of connect between a Jewish family and Japanese families. I felt very comfortable there, and her mother would nag like my mother would nag and it was just kinda like the same thing, so I, I felt very comfortable. And those were pretty, pretty good days for me.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

AI: Well, and then your father, you were saying, received this offer of a job in Chicago.

JY: Uh-huh.

AI: And so you moved there in 1947, was it?

JY: 19-, that's right, in 1947. Yeah, I, I can remember when he got the job offer, and of course he was elated and decided that we would go, and he told the, the, Mr. and Mrs. Cole, who were their employee, employers, and they were devastated. You know, they didn't want to lose my mom and dad, and so they started to offer them more money and more time off and all kinds of things. And I can recall my dad -- this was the first time I ever heard him say anything, you know, derogatory -- not derogatory, but just kind of against them when he was saying, in Japanese I remember him saying, "What do they think, that I like this job?" [Laughs] You know? He couldn't believe that they thought that if he would, if they would offer him more money that he would stay here and so forth. So of course we did, we did go to Chicago.

And they, they sent me off to a, a summer camp during the year that -- well, during the time they were moving from Cincinnati to Chicago I went to a summer camp in Michigan for the summer while they made the move, so when I came back from the summer camp they had already moved into, into Chicago and he was in place working at the Chicago Resettlers Committee. So that was much more of a job in line with my dad's background and just the kind of talents he had. So the first, the first school I went to actually in Cincinnati, or in Chicago, was pretty -- you know, his office -- we lived in the building. We lived in Resettlers Committee office for the first month, month or so while he was finding, trying to find a place to live and so forth, and so it was in a pretty rough neighborhood. And I went to school, and it was Wells High School in Chicago, and it was, it was a pretty tough neighborhood. I mean, I was, you know, I was kind of concerned about going there every day, but nothing happened. It just, it just seemed very, very hostile to me.

But I was fortunate I was only there for about a month, and then my, my dad bought this house in south Chicago and so we moved down there. And it was at that time that we finally kind of resettled, you know, from -- and got back to a more normalized life. And initially it was just my dad and my mother and I, and then my sister came back from New York and started going to the University of Chicago, and so she lived with us. And then my oldest brother Mike finished at Boston and went to Seabury-Western, which is a seminary for Episcopalians in Evanston. So although he was living in Evanston, of course he came home quite often. So, and then my brother Tosh was the only one who came out to Seattle, so he was the only one that was kind of away from the family. But he would come in on, in summers and so forth, so it was the first time that the whole family got together again in a, in a normal kind of a, environment. And those were, those were pretty good days, too, actually.

AI: And those were your high school years then?

JY: Yes.

AI: In Chicago.

JY: That's right. So finally, you know, from the fourth grade through the, even my freshman year, because I changed schools again although I lived in the same place, I had to switch schools every single year. And so it was the first time in Chicago that I was able to go to one school from the time I was a sophomore, you know, until I graduated. So that kind of had a stabilizing effect I think, too, to finally be there. And there were a few Niseis at that school, but somehow I didn't connect with them. It's not that, it's not that -- I don't think -- [laughs] -- that it was that I was trying to avoid the Japanese or anything like that. I just don't consciously remember thinking that way. But somehow my, I started swimming. Since I got cut from the baseball team, I thought I'd try somethin' else, so I started swimming. And so my -- and there were no other Nisei kids on the swim team, and so my circle -- and swimming is kind of a sport where you kind of start associating with your teammates and stuff all the time, and so all my friends were Caucasian friends. And although, you know, my dad's world was around trying to help people who were coming out of camps to find jobs and homes and, you know, to create a social life for them and so forth, so I was exposed to, you know, to events like that, my, my world at school was pretty much all white. And I really can't even to this day, when I think back on it, I can't figure out why that was, since there were Nisei kids around.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

AI: So at that time, do you recall having a, any sense of yourself? In some -- in high school sometimes identity is a big issue for some kids.

JY: Uh-huh.

AI: Do you have any sense of your identity then? Feeling Japanese --

JY: You mean ethnic identity?

AI: Right. Ethnic identity, feeling Japanese, feeling American, or --

JY: You know, I don't. I, I don't recall, feel anything either way, you know, like I was trying to avoid being Japanese or feeling bad because I was Japanese, or I just don't recall any, any feelings of that either, either way. I just kinda -- I can, I can remember one time when my, my two closest friends were Caucasian, and they were tall. You know, they were like 6' 1" and 6' 2" or 3", and I can, I can remember they came over one day -- we were goin' out -- and noticing at that time that I looked a lot different from them, you know. And I think I might have mentioned that before, but I remember that being a very striking moment there when I thought, "Whoa, we don't look alike at all," you know. [Laughs]

But other than that, I really don't, I really was not conscious of, of my Japaneseness or, or whether I was -- you know, I always assumed that I was, that I was an American, and, and it just never occurred to me anything else, even with the camp experiences. And so, in fact, I never thought about camp. You know, I, I can't recall the whole time that I was in Chicago of ever thinking back on camp, and it, and it's obviously some kind of a just blocking out or something. But it just never, never came up, and my parents didn't talk about it. And apparently my sister talked to my dad about it, but I don't recall any conversation like that. So it was just kind of a, you know, day-to-day routine kind of thing.

AI: Well, high school for a lot of kids is also kind of a time of looking forward.

JY: Uh-huh.

AI: And looking ahead to your own future. What kinds of hopes and dreams or thoughts did you have about your future for after high school?

JY: Well, during those days -- well, I knew I was goin' to college. I didn't know exactly where, but I think about my -- in fact, my grades in high school were just kind of very average for the first couple years, and I thought, "Jeez, if I'm goin' to college I better shape up," you know, so my last two years my grades went up considerably. So I, so I, I must have always been planning on goin' to school. There was no question about it. As far as what I was gonna do beyond that, in those days it was mandatory military service for, for males, and so I knew that whatever I did when I got out of school I was goin' in the army. So that kind of took care of my immediate future, so I really didn't have to think about, about that. And I really didn't think about that until I was halfway through in the army and was gettin' ready to think about getting out, because I knew there was no way I was gonna stay in the army as a career or anything.

So I think that during high school my only thought was what might I do as an occupation, and I had no idea at the time. I could -- you know, a lot -- I knew that like my, a lot of my siblings' friends were engineers and, or in the sciences and stuff, and I hated that. You know? [Laughs] I just knew that I was not gonna go into engineering. There was no way I could do that. But beyond that point, I, I wasn't sure what I, what I was gonna do, except that I was gonna go to college and after I got done with college I was goin' in the army, and that was about, that was about the size of it. I guess I didn't -- I wasn't much of a... I didn't have much foresight in terms of what was coming up in my future.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

AI: Well, so when you graduated high school and went on to college, that was 1951?

JY: '50.

AI: 1950.

JY: I graduated from college in 19-, or high school in 1950, and just before -- you know, during my senior year, of course, college started coming up. And this same Father Kitagawa that Tosh mentioned was kind of a, a family spiritual leader kind of person, and he's the one that really influenced my oldest brother into going to the priesthood. But he had wanted me to go to an Episcopal school, Kenyon College in Ohio, but I knew that Kenyon College was a, was not a coed-, educational school, that it was just for men, and so I decided I didn't really -- I didn't want to tell him that, but I decided I didn't want to go there.

So and then our minister at, at the church where my brother was a curator at that time was a close friend of the president of Lawrence College, which was up in Wisconsin, Appleton, Wisconsin, and it was a small liberal arts school, a private liberal arts school. And I got some brochures and stuff on it, and, and it seemed like kind of an interesting place to go, so I applied there. And then I had to apply to Kenyon because that's where they thought -- [laughs] -- I was -- that I should go. And fortunately, the acceptance from Lawrence came first, so I told my parents, "I better take this before" -- you know, "Who knows whether I'll get accepted to the other school." So I, I was able to go to Lawrence, Lawrence College, because the Kenyon thing didn't come in for another several weeks after that. So that's how I ended up goin' to, goin' to Lawrence, and I went there for two years. And Lawrence was a -- I mean, it was a absolutely lily-white school, too. I think there might have been one other Nisei who was in the graduate music conser-, music, conservatory of music program up there, but other than that it was a totally lily-white school. Not even any black kids at the time.

And I was there for two years, and it was kind of a, you know, it was kind of a -- it was pretty tough academically, but it was kind of a party school. There was a lot of that stuff goin' on all the time. And I, and I do recall there running into prejudice for, for really the first time that it hit me. The... it was obvious to me when I got there that this was a fraternity school, and although there were dorms, you know, the real "in" people lived in the fraternities. And so when pledging, or not pledging but when rush time came, I rushed with a, with several fraternities. And since I had been a swimmer in high school, the, the fraternity that had most of the swimmers in the college were interested in, in, in me becoming part of the group, and they were, you know, I thought they were nice as I was walkin' around and talking to different people, so I thought, "Well, I'll pledge with them." And then I found out that their national charter specifically -- and they didn't know that apparently when they were rushing me, that the national charter said -- I don't know what it said, but all I knew was that they did not allow Asians into their fraternity, or blacks or any minority group. And so I remember them coming to the dorm, you know, because by that time the communication was such that I thought that they were going to invite me to become a fraternity member, and I remember them coming in and, you know, just being very apologetic about it. They just found out, and they didn't -- there was nothing they could do about it kind of thing. And fortunately there was another fraternity that I, I kind of liked -- but they had most of the football players as I recall -- who, who did not have that exclusion clause, so then they jumped in and offered me the membership. I don't know what you call it, just becoming a brother in the fraternity kind of thing, so I joined that fraternity instead. And that's really the first time that, that I can think of where prejudice really hit me in the face in terms of something affecting my life. But, you know, that turned out fine.

It's just that it was a very expensive school and, and I thought after my -- you know, toward the end of sophomore year that this -- and then I found out that at University of Illinois you could take as many classes as you wanted for 64 bucks a semester, and at that time I think Lawrence's tuition was like $400 a semester kind of thing. And, and my parents, you know, were, were putting me through that school, and I thought, "That doesn't make sense to spend that kind of money," and, and I felt, it felt like I was havin' too much fun. You know, "I shouldn't be having fun like this at a college," so that's when I decided to transfer down to, down to the University of Cincin -- or University of Illinois, and left Lawrence after my sophomore year.

By that time I had kind, kind of established in -- you know, it was kind of hard because I had gotten involved with swimming, and I knew that I would do well. That was a Division III kind of school, you know, for small colleges, and I, I was very competitive there, but I knew when I went to Illinois there'd be no way that I would be able to, to do as well. But I just decided it was time to do somethin' else anyway, so I decided to move and went down to Illinois.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

AI: So you finished up your college there at University of Illinois...

JY: Uh-huh.

AI: ...your junior and senior year?

JY: Uh-huh, I did. And I had joined the -- something interesting had happened. I think I joined the ROTC at Lawrence in the air force, and I thought, "Well, maybe I'd like to be a pilot," you know, but it turns out that my eyes -- I took the physical -- and I was a little short, too, but they, I think they would have given me a waiver on it, but I found out that my eyes were really bad and they were not correctable. So they said that I couldn't, they couldn't accept me into the pilot program, and thereby they said that I couldn't go on -- at that time they only wanted people who could fly, either navigators or pilots, and since I didn't qualify then they weren't gonna allow me to go into the senior or junior-senior level.

And that's the time I was transferring down to Illinois anyway, so when I got down to Illinois I knew they weren't gonna accept me in the air force. And so I went to the army ROTC and I talked to the colonel there about joining the army ROTC, and he said, "Well, you know, you've missed two years," and all that. And, and in our conversation somehow it came out that my brother was in the 442nd, and by that time -- this was, what, 1952 -- you know, the fame of the 442nd had just gone all over the place. So when he heard that, then he said, "Well," he said, "in that case, if you can be as good as your brother, then we'll take you on," or something like that. So they put me into the -- they got me, that got me into the ROTC. I don't know if -- I'm not sure if I, I would have gotten in without that, that kind of reference, so to speak. So I thought that was -- and I had no idea that they were that well-known at that time.

AI: It was a surprise to you, then.

JY: Yeah, it was. It was.

AI: That, that it had that kind of reaction.

JY: That's right. And, and I hadn't really, you know, I hadn't even thought about it that much, and at that time I didn't know much about it except that my brother was in it and so forth, so yeah, it did surprise me quite a bit.

AI: So Tosh hadn't talked too much about his experiences at that point? That was still --

JY: No, he, he had not.

AI: -- some years out.

JY: Certainly not about the war. And he, when he came back -- you know, he, since he was in the 442nd he had a lot of contact with Hawaiians, he talked pidgin, and when he came back from the army I thought, "What in the heck had happened to this guy?" You know? [Laughs] He talked so strangely that -- and I didn't know what pidgin English was at the time, and, and I thought maybe he'd gettin' hit in the head or something, and had affected his brains or something because, I mean, he really talked with a heavy pidgin kind of a -- and it, I guess it's kind of infectious or something. [Laughs] If you get exposed to it you just automatically start talking that way. I don't know. My, my late wife was, was Hawaiian, but even she didn't talk that way, so... [Laughs] But, but yeah, he...

So I finished up at Illinois and got my commission, and, and, and then it was just a matter of time before I was gonna go in the service. So as I said, I didn't think too much about the future because that was my future right then. That, fortunately the Korean War was just over, the shooting war was over, so I knew that there wasn't any imminent danger. But for a while there I was a little bit con-, you know, when I was still goin' to school it was still goin' on, so I thought, "Well, I guess that's, that's what's gonna happen." But fortunately it was over by the time I got done with school, so...

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

AI: And that, that was in 1954 that you graduated from Illinois?

JY: That's right, 1954. So I was in the service from between 1954 -- well, I got married to my late wife at that, at that time. She was -- as I mentioned, she was from Hawaii and I had gotten to know her through a mutual friend when I was going to the University of Illinois, and so we started dating and we had known each other about a year. And then when I, when I went in the army I had to go to this, what they called the Field Artillery Officers Course down at Fort Sill. Actually, I had it easy because there were some people in the, like in the training that they had to go through, through OCS that had a rough time because they went through the same academic training we did but they had to do all the soldiering on the side, and since we as lieutenants were already commissioned, we just, all we did was go to class. But even with that, I started thinking that, "This is not a life to be by myself," and so I talked my, my... was she my fiance at the time? I can't -- yeah, she was. That's right. We'd gotten engaged before that, and we were gonna wait until I got out of the army and then I decided, "Nah, let's not wait anymore." [Laughs] So I called her down to the, down to Oklahoma, and we got married down in Oklahoma.

AI: What was her name?

JY: Her name was Elsie Kurisu, was her maiden name, and she was, she was born and raised in Kauai in Hawaii. So she had never experienced cam, of course, so she knew nothing about, about any of that kind of thing.

AI: So you got married there at Fort Sill, Oklahoma?

JY: Uh-huh.

AI: And then what happened after that?

JY: Well, and then we got, I got assi-, assigned overseas, and for, for a while I was afraid I was gonna go to Korea because that was still smoldering there, and you couldn't take dependents to Korea. But fortunately I'd asked to go to Europe, and I got my -- that's what they let me do, so I was able to take my wife over with me, so that turned out, that turned out well from that standpoint. We went overseas and got -- I was assigned to Ulm, Germany, which is just a little bit outside of Munich. And aside from all the war games, I was out in the field. I was in the artillery, and so they just continuously had war games over there where we'd go out and dig through the mud and fire rounds at artillery and all that stuff for about eight months out of the year. But the other four months were pretty neat because we were back in the garrison, and we could take leave. You know, my wife and I were, we were really young, like we were twenty-two, and so -- and we had our own car and our own apartment and had a maid. You know, it was kind of pretty high living for a, for a young couple. So we traveled around Germany and went to Switzerland and things like that whenever I could get off, so it was -- if it hadn't been for the army it would have been like a honeymoon for that time period. [Laughs] So it was, it turned out, it turned out well.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

JY: The... and then we, and then, of course, we came -- and I kind of grew up in the army, actually. You know, I was a pretty naive kid I think when I got out of college, and all the sudden I was thrust in a situation where I was responsible for a bunch of guys and I had to get up and teach classes on subjects that I didn't know anything about until I read about it before I got up and taught it and things like that. So and, and just, just the situation of having so much responsibility and making decisions about things and talking in front of groups and things like that I think helped me to kind of grow up, if you will, mature a little bit.

So by the time I was ready to come back, I was what they call the executive officer of a (battery), of a artillery unit. And then just, just a couple months before I came back our, our unit commander was, was rotated out. So instead of assigning somebody in they just had me take over for that last couple months, and so then I really felt kinda tensed up because now I had like 150 guys and all this equipment and so forth that we had to prepare to rotate back to the United States. And so that was a pretty busy time. And one of the kids almost died on me because he got so seasick that he just got totally dehydrated, and that really worried me on the way back, that I'd have this kid who had died on, you know, on my watch kind of thing. I think I might have been more worried about me than, than him. But that was a time of kind of like growing up for me during that time period.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

AI: And so we were, just before we broke briefly, you were just at the point of finishing up your service with the army.

JY: Uh-huh.

AI: And you had been rotated back to the United States. And so at this point, what had you decided to do then?

JY: Well, you know, I didn't know. And we stopped in New York because May lived there, and, and probably more than anything else because I didn't quite know what to do at that point, I decided to enroll at NYU, and I hadn't even been accepted there yet. [Laughs] I hadn't even applied, but I thought, well, you know... and then my wife loved New York. As soon as she hit the port there she just absolutely loved, fell in love with the place. So we decided to stay there for a while, and so I started going to school and she got a job. She was a registered nurse, and she got a job in an operating room fairly easily. So I started taking classes as a special student, and, and then eventually I got accepted as a regular student. And so we lived in New York for about, about two years while I was finishing up my master's degree. And during that time, of course, we interacted with May's family quite a bit because she was there. You know, she had a home and all that. And we were living in a basement apartment, so we spent a lot of time at their place in our spare time. And so we were there for about two years.

And when I finished, got close to finishing my master's degree, our first baby, our first son was -- she became pregnant with our first son, and he was born just about the time I finished school. So at that point, of course, I felt -- I decided I needed to go to work, so I finally found a job with the air force as a civilian in one of their research laboratories as a psychologist. So we moved to Dayton, Ohio, and there my second son was born in, let's see, in Dayton. And then after spending a couple years there I was offered an opportunity to go further to graduate school to get a Ph.D. from, by the air force. They had a fellowship kind of a program, and although I hadn't really even thought about goin' back to graduate school again it was an opportunity where they paid your full salary, moved you up there, paid all the tuition and books and so forth, and it was hardly a thing I could pass up. So we went up to Columbus for a year, and then my third son was born there just about the time I finished school.

And I went back to Wright Patterson and I was working for the, what they called the Air Force Systems Command at the time at the Aeronautical Systems Division. And after working there for about seven years or so I was offered a job in Dayton -- Denver, Colorado, from a guy I had worked with, one of the -- a senior psychologist who had, who I'd worked with in Dayton, and he moved out to Denver to start a new lab. And so he asked me to come out, so I did. And so we moved to Denver in about 1970, and we were there for about eighteen years. So all my kids kind of considered Denver their home. They, you know, they went through grammar school, high school, and so forth while we were in Denver.

AI: Now, as your kids were growing up there in Denver -- and excuse me, what are their names? Your --

JY: My oldest son's name is Jack and the second one is Shawn and then my third one is Paul, and none of them have Japanese names. We, we struggled with that for a while, I mean, each time a child was born, and we decided, well, since they have the name Yasutake it's not like we have to identify their identity and so forth, so we just decided to give them -- like Joseph Jack is my oldest son and then Shawn Michael is the second one, and so forth, so they, they have just regular English-type names before the Yasutake comes up.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

AI: Well, and as they were growing up there in, in the Denver area, do you think they had any experience with any sort of prejudice? Or did you recall ever talking to them about any issue about being Japanese American? Or --

JY: Not really, and that's the whole, my whole time period of life where we, we really had no Japanese identity. My whole world was, was a Caucasian world. As you can imagine, the air force world is, you know, not only Caucasian but male-dominated kind of a society. The neighborhood where we lived, both in Dayton and in -- of course, in Dayton they were too young anyway -- but in Colorado, especially in Denver, it was a completely, you know, there were probably a handful of Asians in the neighborhood or even in the school that they attended, so they lived in a pretty much of a all-white world, too. About the only contact they ever had with Japanese culture kind of things was when we'd go down to some kind of a like an akimatsuri or something that was being held down in downtown Denver. And we used to go shopping at the grocery store down there for Japanese stuff. So other than that, though, we lived, we lived a suburban kind of life. And, and even myself, you know, I, I don't recall more than once or twice anybody at work ever asking me about, about camp or the subject even coming up. And, and so my, my Japanese American-ness just kind of not there really. Just -- and, and something that just never occurred to me.

And I, I can recall in later years asking my sons about that, and, they'd say, "Yeah, there were a couple times when somebody'd say something about that," and they usually referred to like Chinese like "Ching Chung Chinaman" or something. You know, that kind of stuff. But they didn't recall much. They, they also swam in high school, so they had kind of a certain circle of friends, so... and they were probably a little bit insulated from, you know, the environment where things like that might have come up. Or probably they were in too much of a polite society, if you will, for that kind of thing to, to crop up.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

So it, it really wasn't until we moved to Cali-, well, my first wife died in 1984, and while we were still in Denver, and so I stayed there for a couple years after that and continued working, but I just felt like I was ready to move on. So I retired. They were gonna move the laboratory that I was associated with down to San Antonio, Texas, and I decided that that was not someplace where I wanted to live, so I was eligible at that point to take an early retirement. And my wife had just died, and I decided that maybe it was time to just do somethin' else, so I took that early retirement. And I stayed retired for a while, for about six months or so, and realized -- I was in, see, I was about fifty-four at the time, and I thought, "Well, it's not -- I'm not quite ready to, you know, just play golf all the time," kind of thing, so I took a job with Lockheed, and that's what brought me out to California. And I got remarried at the time. Just right after I moved to California I had met a former friend of my wife, my late wife's, who I just kinda knew casually, but we just kinda got to know each other quite well after my, my late wife had died. And finally we got married in 1988, about a year after I came out to California.

AI: What's her name?

JY: Her name is Judy, and she's Chinese. She's actually from New York City. She was born and raised in New York City, and she -- so, and she has a daughter. I have a stepdaughter now who's a senior in, in college, and she -- we got married in '88, so I think her daughter was about the fourth grade or so when, when we got married. And when we came out to California -- actually, because of my stepdaughter, and my wife is very, very much of a churchgoer and she wanted to find a church that had a nice program for kids, and it just so happened that the Japanese -- at the United, Wesley United Methodist Church, which is in San Jose, is ethnically probably 85 percent Japanese, Japanese American at this point. And so we started, started going there to, to the church there, and that's when I started to kinda reconnect with my Japanese American-ness, if you will.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

JY: Somebody asked me if I would be willing to talk about my camp experience -- a guy named Ken Iwagaki -- to some classes that he was associated with -- it was called the Japanese American Resource Center and Museum at that time -- and so I casually said, "Yeah, I think I could do that." And then he, then about two days later he came back and said, "How about next Thursday?" 'Cause he already, he obviously already had somebody that had asked. So I said, "Well, okay."

And then I suddenly realized I didn't know anything about it. You know? I mean, I had lived through it and so forth, and I suddenly realized I really didn't know anything about camp. So during that week I read feverishly, whatever I could get my hands on, and the more I read the more -- I don't know if it was angry or, you know, just sort of, "What the heck happened?" kind of thing, because I was -- you know, all those years in, in, in my life I just never thought about it, didn't read anything about it, knew nothing about it. And so I, as I read all that stuff, I just started to get much more intense about, about things. So I started going out to classes. And, and as I was doing that, this REgenerations Project came, and he asked me if I would be interested in, you know, being involved in that, so I said, "Sure, that sounds like it might be interesting." And so I got a little more acquainted with oral history, and in fact they took us down to the National Museum and gave us like a three-day seminar class kind of thing on collecting oral histories and so forth.

So that's kind of how I started to get involved in Japanese American history and the incarceration and all that kind of thing. And the more I had got involved with it, the more I realized -- even before 9/11 I was saying that we need to -- because there are things that happen all the time. You know, like when the, when the Oklahoma bombings occurred everybody immediately started to talk about the, the Arabs. And even I can recall seeing accounts of the FBI stopping Arab Americans at airports and interrogating them as to where they were going and why they were going and all that kind of stuff, and it just kinda started reminding me of the kind of things that happened during the Second World War to Japanese Americans. And, of course, since 9/11 it's just really come to, come to the forefront, and, and it just reinforces my, my beliefs that, you know, this ancient history from sixty years ago is just as relevant now as it ever has been and that we really need to press on and keep that story on the, you know, on the -- alive in front of the American people to as many factions as we can get the story to.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

JY: And I'm, am glad to see that the Japanese American community now has become very vocal, and I'm glad to see the younger people becoming involved in this. And they've had several events in San Jose and San Francisco in the Bay Area where they, they have joined up with Muslim Americans and gone to their mosques and had joint ceremonies and showing their support and so forth. And the, the -- I know that the Muslim community, Muslim American community, has been very grateful for that, because I've heard them say that many times, and I've been to ceremonies where they have expressed that kind of thankfulness and, for the support of the Japanese Americans. And people are seeing the parallels, I think, that exist between what happened then and now. I'm not sure the story is out as much as I'd like to see it or as strong as it perhaps should be. But with people I think like Norm Mineta in the Cabinet, I can't help but feel that, you know, President Bush has to be hearing Mineta from the side, saying, "Don't forget," you know. And although there's, there's things going on that I really don't like, at least there seem to be voices now that are just there to, to provide some kind of balance between what the administration seems to be pressing toward versus, you know, the alternatives that they might be considering. So --

AI: What, what kinds of things are you most concerned about now in that regard? Some of the things that you think are problems that remind you of the past and --

JY: Well, it's the -- I think the main thing is the, the aura that exists. This, you know, the, the -- it's sort of like the McCarthy days when, you know, if you were not against Communism you had to be un-American. And in the same way now, it's sort of like if you're not for the war, for example, on Iraq, then you must be unpatriotic kind of thing, and that kind of thing disturbs me. The fact that people are afraid to -- even the -- it appears to me like, you know, as we sit the Democrats are, are very concerned about saying something about it, even though many of them I know feel that there is something wrong here, because they're afraid of being painted as being unpatriotic or something. And that's the general attitude that I am most concerned about -- that, that people have got to be able to speak up, you know, and feel free to speak up no matter, no matter what, without people accusing them of being a Communist or being undemocratic or what have you. And, and, and I feel that to be very, very important.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

AI: How do you think the students now, since 9/11, when you go to the classroom and talk about things like the constitutional rights and protections and civil rights -- now, of course, you're talking about that today in this atmosphere of fear of war and an atmosphere of government and media officials talking about national security and, as you were just saying, about patriotism or so-called patriotism -- what kind of reactions are you getting from the students in classes?

JY: I'm not sure, because at that point I'm always lecturing to them -- [laughs] -- and perhaps I shouldn't be doing that. But I see kids nodding their heads. I certainly see teachers and, and, you know, the adults nodding their heads when I say things like that. The main thing I'm trying to, that I try to bring across is that, yeah, there are parallels between -- and I always say something like, you know, sometimes people -- and they do. Sometimes people ask, "Well, why don't you just forget this? That was sixty years ago. Why not press on?" Well, because it's very relevant right now, especially right now, and it has been relevant for, you know, since the days of, certainly of Oklahoma and, and things like that. And as I talk about things like that, I see, I see people nodding their head, and sometimes they'll have a comment or two. So, but then I'm sure everybody doesn't agree with me. You know? So I don't know how to respond to your question about that, but all I can do is kind of point out these things and hope that maybe it'll catch in some, some quarters of the audience that perhaps I might be talking to, and maybe it might have some kind of a effect at some point if we do it enough times and to as many people as we can.

It's not that I'm against war, but there's gotta be a reason for it. And, you know, it... for, for me to think that the United States is simply going to attack somebody because they might do something, then who's next? Is Cuba next? And then, you know, is, is China next? I mean, who do we go after? Spain is -- you know, where there's a dictatorship. We don't like dictatorships. Are we going after them? I mean, where do you stop with that kind of thing? It's just totally insane to me, that kind of rationale. And it, and it's amazing to me that it's not insane to more people -- [laughs] -- than just, you know, just a few people that seem to be willing to speak up about it. So I don't know. All I can hope is that as we talk to more and more people that maybe there's a wider realization that this kind of thing is something people ought to think about and, and just even in terms of past history.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

AI: Well, some people have mentioned that when the redress campaign efforts were going on for Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II, a lot of people were saying, "Well, we're -- we would like to see this redress happen as a lesson for our country so that it's not repeated." And when you think back to that time about redress, and in fact the redress legislation did pass, in -- but now in the present time we're, we may be seeing a repeat of this. What's your thinking on that?

JY: Yes, we are seeing a repeat of it, and certainly if there, if there are terrorists in this country we need to dig them out. But I think, you know, if due process is not taken care of at the same time, we're gonna lose the whole thing anyway. It just doesn't -- to, to do away with due process and the Constitution and so forth because of national security, which is what they said during the Second World War, is, is something that we should have learned, and that, yes, we must, you know, capture people who are going to do harm or perhaps may be doing harm, but at the same time we can't do it by giving up the constitutional rights of everybody. And, and I think that's the, the most important thing I can think of in this, in this, the current times that I would -- it just upsets me when, when I hear things about, you know, the fact that, "Well, we're in a time of crisis, and in a time of crisis you gotta give up certain civil liberties," and that kind of thing. It's bothersome to me.

AI: Is there anything else that you'd like to add?

JY: No, I don't think so. I think we've covered quite a bit in the time that we've had. [Laughs]

AI: I really appreciate your time and your thinking and all the information that you've shared with us. Thank you very much.

JY: You're welcome. Glad to be here.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.