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-01-0030

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TI: Okay, before we get into the, the formation of it, I just wanted to get your impressions of, of during this time, what was going on with the family? What was it like...

TA: Oh, family, the family was normal, you know, normal. What I get is, is tidbits of information. You know, my father really... it's both ways. He was out all the time, doing his thing, but when he comes home, he'll talk and says, "Oh, Matsuda-san hanashita. I talked to Matsuda," and sort of kept my, my mother informed, and kept us informed of some of the things. Because he knew that we were curious about what's going on in camp. He wanted to sort of educate us, too, and get ready. So he, he told us, these are the things that were happening, these are the things that are happening. And so we got a whiff of the idea. But as far as, my mother was one of the original signer of the petition there, one of the thirty names, so she was aware of the petition. She was aware, but she didn't actively participate. Probably supported my father's, whatever he was doing.

And in the meantime, of course, going back before the organization was formed, they, they formed what they called the Saikakuri Seigan, which Saikakuri Seigan is, is repatriation -- or resegregation or resegregation group. They formed that, and then the group elected, they formed what they call a... come on. Jochi-iin, which is a, which is a Standing Committee. It was the Standing Committee that was formed in order to, to regulate and govern the Resegregation Group, support the resegregation movement, and plans and policies pertaining to that group. So he was selected as the chairman of, of the resegregation group, or the chairman of the Jochi-iin.

And with that, he continued to perpetuate the idea, but he needed additional support, and that's the time when the Manzanar people were coming in. And Manzanar had a huge block of people that they moved into Ward A, and Wakayama was the, one of the leaders there. And so the Jochi-iin decided that what they'll do is, get, invite the, Wakayama, and also Tachibana, who came from Jerome, that also had a huge backing, and said, "All right, let's get, invite 'em in to support this movement. And they, they wholeheartedly agreed and says, "Yeah." And as a result of their support, the organization grew very rapidly. Very, became very popular.

TI: And that's when it got to, like, ten thousand.

TA: Yeah, that's when it came to ten thousand. I'm getting my...

TI: No, this is good.

TA: ...chronology wrong, but anyhow, that's where, when it grew to about ten thousand, it was popular, lot of the Niseis and the, the parents, the Isseis and Niseis >and Kibeis, they all supported the idea, because, yeah, this is what they wanted. And then they decided...

TI: To form this Young Men's...

TA: The Young Men's Association, to further display their sentiments to Japan, and to prepare themselves to go to Japan. And they formed the, what they called the Sokoku Kenkyu Seinen Dan.

TI: And how did they form or kick off this organization?

TA: All right. What it is is that they had in... they secretly -- because they knew that the administration was watching them, and they had inus reporting, and I saw a number of reports that were reported to the administration, evidently. So they kept pretty close hold. But what they did is they, they formed a network, and this is the seventy-four blocks, from the seventy-four blocks they had represented, two or three representatives to represent the ward, and from the ward they had committees that represent the ward, and then they had what they called the Central Executive Committee. And the Central Executive Committee then reported to the... Saikakuri Seigan, the resegregation group, which was directed by the Jochi-iin. So that was a...

TI: Of which your father was the chairman.

TA: And he was the chairman. So as a result, this whole organization sort of unofficially came together. And then, based on that, they formed the, the Kenkyu Seinen Dan. And the way they did it is they secret -- they said that this was going for, what do they call it?

TI: The talent show?

TA: Talent show and whatnot, and they got permission to use it, and they distributed invitation to about 650 members. And then, and supporters and other prominent leaders, these, had a strictly, invitation to go to the auditorium. And that's when they, they had the inauguration. They, the president talked and a number of people, my father talked. And they announced the, the manifesto of what it, what this organization would mean, and that was when it became a organization as such. The organization initially became very popular. They had a lot of support.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.