Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Arthur Ogami Interview
Narrator: Arthur Ogami
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: March 10, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-oarthur-01-0019

<Begin Segment 19>

AI: So, at this time then, were you, what was your state of mind? You're thinking that you, you really may be -- as a family -- be taken to Japan. You had never been there. What was it, what were you thinking about?

AO: I was thinking that alright, my mother wants us to be intact with the family, so we're going to Japan. And so my mind was made up that I would be with the family to go to Japan.

AI: In your mind, that was your main responsibility?

AO: Yes. That's true.

AI: Well now, at this time, as I understand it, many families were going through these difficult decisions --

AO: Yes.

AI: -- about how to answer the questions and questions about some family members wanting to go to Japan, others possibly not. And, did you hear from other people or talk to anyone else about the situation? Was there much conversation about what to do or how to deal with these questions and conflicts?

AO: Myself, no. I just kept that out of our conversation, because my mother's mind was already made up. And I already decided to join them. So it wasn't necessary to discuss what to do. So if any of my acquaintance said that they were going to volunteer for the army, then that was their preference to do so. If I wasn't in the predicament of my parents wanted the whole family to go to Japan, it would have been different. If they said that I could do whatever I wanted, wished to, I probably would have volunteered with the 442nd. I would've, probably. But that probably did not occur to me. So I did what my parents wanted me to do.

AI: So, at that time then, as I understand, there were some fairly negative comments made by some people about those who had answered "no-no." Did you ever face that? Did anyone ever show a negative attitude to you or your family because you were, answered "no-no" or because you were planning to move to Japan?

AO: I, I do have feelings that some of my acquaintances were objectionable about answering "no-no." And I do know that ones that did answer "no-yes" also were transferred to Bismarck. And some might have answered "no-no" and transferred to Bismarck but hadn't, in the final stage, did not go to Japan. They were still here, and some of 'em had to answer it "no-no" and had no intention to go to Japan. And they're the ones that took a long time to get their reinstatement. And I know of one acquaintance from, were evacuated from Florin, and so... but most of 'em that did go to Bismarck did not go to Japan.

AI: Well, before we get to Bismarck, let me ask you a little bit more. We, you're still in Manzanar and your family has already made the decision and answered "no-no" and your parents are planning to go to Japan. Did you feel that anyone understood your decision? Or, did you talk to anyone else, you said really you didn't talk too much about it, but was there anyone that you talked to or was there anyone who you felt respected and understood a family's desire to do this?

AO: After my decision was made, I didn't talk too much about it among my acquaintance because there's no need to. 'Cause they have their mind made up to stay or go to Japan, so there, I felt there wasn't any need to discuss it anymore.

AI: And I was wondering also, did your mother ever say much about why she was so determined to return to Japan?

AO: My mother, I think she felt that since my father had a place to stay, is that there was a good reason to return to Japan because the farm was enough rice to live for a whole year. And the, when we did return to Japan, my father did the farming but he did not have the equipment so we had to use friends' or relatives' equipment and pay to have the farm work done.

AI: So in your mother's thinking, she probably thought the future for your family, for making a living, perhaps she thought that would be better in Japan than staying in the U.S.?

AO: Most likely. At least we have food and enough to eat on, even though what little rice that my father produced had to be divided for rationing. There's a certain percent had to be given to the government for rationing.

AI: Well, so we'll get more into that when we actually get to that point when you're in Japan.

AO: Right.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.