Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Tom Akashi Interview
Narrator: Tom Akashi
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary); Chizu Omori (secondary)
Location: Klamath Falls, Oregon
Date: July 3, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-atom-01-0016

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: So what, what kind of activities did your, your parents do to pass the time? You were there about four months.

TA: My mother was busy, busy, busy, cleaning the house, taking care of the kids, all those things that mothers do. My father was brooding for a while, but he got a job as a warden, and this warden allowed him to go and talk to people and see things and, and have a little interaction with the, with the authorities, administration. See his, the JACL's, how they were conducting themselves, and he was pretty, he gained back his confidence and he became a lot more jovial. He spent a lot of time practicing Noh, this is the old Japanese...

TI: Can I go back to the war? And it's interesting to me, so, so he was Issei, he was given a warden, the warden was kind of a position as some of these, a go-between between the administration and the community.

TA: Yeah.

TI: And you, you mentioned the JACL and what they were doing, because they were the Niseis, who also played a role as a go-between between the administration and the community. Did your father work with the JACL? Or, when you said that he kind of knew what they were doing, what kind of interaction was going on?

TA: No, because Isseis' authority was very, very limited. I mean, the JACL actually took over everything, and the Niseis took over, and the Isseis were kind of a secondary role. I think because he speaks English, and that gave him, and he gave him a little bit of a role to meet, to do things for the community. That's his main thing, is to do things for people, and that, that seemed to bring his spirit up. Directly contact with, not, not me personally observing, but he would say to me that, "It's too bad that the Niseis and the JACL have taken over the role that the Isseis held, and then sort of suppressed the Issei down to a minor, secondary role. And all they can do is get a job at the mess hall, or other menial jobs, while the, the clerical jobs or the administrator jobs, things like that, were not available to him. Even in the community activities, it was the Niseis that took over.

TI: That's interesting. Because the Niseis, at this point, the JACL leaders were probably in their twenties, their mid-twenties.

TA: Twenties, yes.

TI: And here you had individuals like your father, who was closer to forty, college-educated, bilingual, and he was put more into a subversive or supportive role.

TA: True. Some of 'em were, lot of 'em were his, his students. But lot of 'em -- they were, they went to college. And were going to college, and then graduated college, they, they had no job. They were grocery clerks. They had menial roles, they didn't have any leadership position because the Issei controlled the community. So as a result, it's just a complete reverse.

TI: So right at -- so when you went to assembly centers, it's really switched right there.

TA: It switched. And not only that, the administration backed the JACL.

TI: Exactly, because it was, it was really the administration, camp administration that really caused this flip.

TA: That caused the flip.

TI: Because they would focus more towards the Niseis.

TA: True. And, you know, and that, that bothered you, because Niseisas a rule obeyed their father. They looked up to the Isseis. And, and they, whatever the Isseis said, they went along with. But now, I guess, for the first time, now they're, now they're above. And then the Isseis, by rules, were not able to hold any official, official positions. So it was a reverse. That troubled them.

TI: Yeah, it must have been very hard for your father, who was a very proud man, to, to have this.

TA: Yeah. Too proud sometimes. But it disturbed him. But then he overcame it, and he felt pretty good about, I mean, as he, as the days go, of course, now we were getting prepared to go, relocate.

TI: To Topaz.

TA: To Topaz.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.