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-01-0025

<Begin Segment 25>

TI: So this whole sense of now being labeled as a "disloyal"...

TA: Yes.

TI: What did your father tell you about that, or how did he, when you, when you talked to him about that, being disloyal, did he ever tell you...

TA: Yeah, yeah. There, I vividly recall, when we got on the, what we called the "segregation train."

TI: Okay, so this is the train going from Topaz now to Tule Lake --

TA: Tule Lake, yeah.

TI: -- to go to the segregation, at that point it was called the "segregation camp."

TA: Segregation, and then they had these guards, and I guess they were returning from the Pacific, they were talking about the, about the fights and the Japs and things like that in the, in the Pacific. And they said it's the, they called us a "bunch of disloyal Jap." And I, I took offense to that, so did a lot of other, my friends. And I felt pretty bad about that. I says, I said, "Me, disloyal?" Said, "What did I do to be disloyal?" And so I talked to my father, and my father sat down and says, "Hey, Motomu, you're not disloyal." Says, "You're not disloyal." Says, "I purposely didn't even sign you up for registration, on my registration as being Japanese." You know, for dual citizenship. And he says, he says, "You're just, you're just loyal as every, anybody else." And with that, I felt... and he says that, "You're Japanese. And you're Japanese in character, but you're American. You're a U.S. citizen." And so with that, that little spill, I felt better about it.

TI: So he was, he was essentially saying that the move and everything was really because of him, and that you were still American.

TA: Yeah. And he, he didn't feel disloyal. He didn't, he really didn't feel disloyal. He was returning to Japan to gain his freedom, which was taken away from him. He had this pride, he says, "Hey, I'm a Nihonjin, I'm a Japanese. And I was willing to support the United States, my adopted country. I came to the United States as a young child to be, to go to school. And so, I'm going back to Japan, because if they treat me as a Japanese, and Japan is my homeland, I'm going to return." So disloyal? I don't think he was disloyal. Japanese, yes. Strong Japanese. A proud Japanese.

TI: And he wanted you to also be proud of your Japanese...

TA: He also wanted me to be sure I believed it. He says, "Nihonjin is, it's a proud race. Be a Japanese; be proud of it. But also, you're an American, and be, be proud of being American." So, you know, he... it was a, it made me feel good.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.