Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Kara Kondo Interview
Narrator: Kara Kondo
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Gail Nomura (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 7 & 8, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-kkara-01-0052

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AI: So we're continuing on. And just before the break, we were talking about some of the activities for redress, and you had just finished explaining to us about coming to Seattle for the practice --

KK: Yes.

AI: -- session for preparing people who were going to be giving some testimony to the Commission on Wartime Internment and Relocation of... or Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. And I think you had mentioned, also, talking to one of the commissioners, and you had meant Judge William Marutani.

KK: Yes, yes, yes.

AI: But, but also you were, yourself, were preparing to give some testimony.

KK: Yes, that's true. And I think I covered in my, my presentation some of the, main part of my presentation to the commission was the encounter with the, the sergeant, Sergeant Nathan Miller, who was in charge of evacuating us and his attitude, what he found there in the community. And why he, himself, was so shocked that we were being put in internment camps. And at that time, his attitude was very surprising to me because we felt that he was just an arm of the government doing what they were asked to do or were willing to do. So that was... I think it was a story that I thought needed to be told by some of the attitude of the military personnel who felt that probably that evacuation of us, of the Japanese and Japanese Americans, was very unfair. And that was the gist of my presentation to the commission along with a brief history of the Japanese in the Yakima valley. And I remember that Judge Marutani thought that was a very good presentation, so I was quite pleased, although I think many of the other testimonies were different or very personal. And I'm sure that affected... the stories affected the commission that, I'm sure, supported the redress movement.

AI: What was it like for you to give testimony and be a part of that very public setting?

KK: It's always frightening to appear before a panel of -- but I had given testimonies before congressional groups and, and state group, groups, too, so that, in behalf of various issues, I have appeared, not on a panel of that wide importance, but.... so that you actually read what you've written, and you hope it's going to be convincing. [Laughs] But it, it comes, I don't think any time that it's a pleasant task. Some people may enjoy it, but I think no one, really. I don't think the Niseis or people who talked really relished appearing before the commission, but I felt, I think that they felt it was very important that the stories need to be told.

AI: After you gave your testimony, did you get any kind of response or reactions from people?

KK: Not that I recall, but sometimes you forget these kinds of incidences. And I don't even remember how I got home. But I guess, I... the things you forget. [Laughs]

GN: How did you feel after your presentation?

KK: Well, you're always pressed for time. And they say, "Mrs. Kondo, your time is up," or whatever. And, and it's never enough time, and you wish you could explain some of the parts of your testimony a little bit further. But usually all the testimonies ran overtime, and you were made much aware of that. So... but I, you feel relieved. And you wish there was something, something that could really sway them. But I think all the people who gave testimonies felt it, they were stories that needed to be told.

AI: Was there anything about the hearing that surprised you?

KK: Well, I can't... I really can't remember. I can't recall that, anything that surprised me.

AI: It must have been a very emotional day.

KK: It, it was. But I felt that the practice sessions were far more emotional because, for the, it was the first time that people talked about their experience and, and it was very difficult for most of them to talk about it. But once they have said that, I hope that they appeared before the commission and gave the story to those that mattered. But it was apparent that there were many, many stories that needed to be told. That people who had harbored that internally for a long time, how much needed it was to get the stories out. Perhaps to their children, perhaps to the other public. But...

<End Segment 52> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.