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-01-0028

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TI: So, where we left off was, in some ways, how crowded, how heterogeneous Tule Lake was when you guys entered. I'm curious; how did your father see all this? When he saw this mixture of all these different groups, with different intentions and different thoughts, what, what did your father think?

TA: All mixed-up. He says, "This (camp) is all mixed-up." He says, "Hey, the authorities did it again, they just screwed everything up. He says, "The segregated family is, is a farce." He says, "Look at these people." He says, "I thought this was a camp for disloyals," or people that volunteered to go to Japan. Because he didn't consider himself disloyal. But people who volunteered to go to Japan, "true Japanese." But he says, "It's not. And there's all these problems. Everybody's fighting and arguing and debating all this. This is because the administration screwed up in their, in their separation of the loyals and the disloyals." And so he says, "You know, I think I'm going to request the administration to see if we could be re-segregated." And he didn't use the word "resegregation" at that time, he just says, "I think we should be separated from them, truly separated from the true Japanese and all these mixed-up people."

TI: So for the people that, who really wanted to go back to Japan...

TA: On the first exchange.

TI: On the first exchange, they should be in a separate area, because then it'd be, that would become, then, a homogeneous group again.

TA: Homogeneous and like-minded. So, so he says, he brought that and says, "That's what we need to do." And evidently he, he talked to friends about it, these were friends that he either knew before, but they were educators, former schoolteachers associated with the, with the Japanese schools, and talked to them about it, and they all agreed. And then, later, they had a secret meeting at Shigeru Matsuda's home, and they formed a little, small alliance of like-minded people, and says, "Hey, we need to do this, and let's propose this idea to Mr. Best, the project director." And he says, "To do this," he says, "let's talk to George Kuratomi and Reverend Kai. And Matsuda says, "Yeah, I know them, they're my friends." So Matsuda introduced my father to George Kuratomi and Reverend Kai, and they talked about it, and, of course, they were activists in, Jerome, and they says, "Yeah, that's a great idea." And they supported that idea. And so they met with Best, and Best says, "No." He refused, he rejected the idea. And about a month later, when Myers, Dillon Myer of the WRA director was visiting Tule Lake, they sort of forced the meeting, and they went up there and they, they wanted to resolve the farm issue, and the trouble and things, but, but one of the question was, "Would you allow us to be re-segregated?" And Myer said, "No." And so these people were quite disappointed, but they were determined. And so what they did is covertly started to propagate the idea of resegregation among the --

TI: It's curious to me that the administration refused. Because here was a, a solution, a potential solution to a lot of the chaos that was being, was happening in the camp. Lots of dissention, lots of fights, and here was a plan from someone within saying, "This will make it better." And yet Best and Myers both said no to this.

TA: Yeah. Well, I really don't know what they, why. Of course, I think they advocated that it would cost too much money, but my God, look at the millions of dollars they were already spending. And look at the end, when they, when they transferred the people out. I mean, you know, there's trainload of people would pay for the expense of building another fence. But the barracks were there, all they had to do was bring the bags and move 'em. It was sort of simple, simplistic a idea and a simple idea, solution, but I don't know. I have no idea.

CO: I really feel the WRA just was not on top of the situation. They, they didn't know what was really going on, and they didn't know what to do, in any case. That... I mean, it's just another example of all these mistakes that were made all along. I mean, the fact that they had a Tule Lake segregation center was, I'm sure it was not planned for, but then just came about, you know. And so it's just a bungle of the whole...

TA: It could be their arrogant, hostile attitude towards disloyals, it could be that. They says, "Hell, we're not gonna give in to their demands or their requests. They do what we tell 'em to do. We're gonna deport 'em anyhow." Because that was the central line as far as the higher authority was -- through my reading, not because I knew it, that they were planning to deport all these people out anyhow. So probably, "Why, why accommodate 'em? Let 'em suffer a little."

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.