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-01-0033

<Begin Segment 33>

TI: So that was July 1944, August was when this Young Men's Group was formed, about the time you joined, and then... see, August, September, about October, there was a shift. I guess about that point, they also announced that people could renounce their citizenship. So wasn't that a whole shift...

TA: It was, it was in Dec-, July at first.

TI: Okay, they announced that.

TA: That's when they announced the Denaturalization Act, which my father and other people supported.

TI: Okay.

TA: My father said that, says that he wanted the true Japanese, who really felt strongly about Japan to renounce their citizenship. He encouraged that.

TI: Okay, so this is important. So July, they made this announcement so that individuals, like U.S. citizens could renounce their citizenship --

TA: That is correct.

TI: -- and from your father's perspective, that was good, because then people could really show that they were true Japanese, and be more cohesive, or more cohesive as a group.

TA: True, true.

TI: And this was July. And that was probably, again, part of the formation of the Young Men's Association, all that was all probably tied to, to helping that?

TA: It helped them along, but the organizations were being, it was all kind of simultaneous. The various organizations, I mean, not only the Sokoku Kenkyu came in, but the Sokoku Hoshi Dan was formed, which is the so-called Sokoku, and then they had the Joshi Dan, of course, that was inaugurated, of course, later, but they were, the women were participating, and so they changed the name of the so-called Kenkyu Dan to Hokoku Seinen Dan.

TI: Okay.

TA: And then, of course, you read a lot about Hokoku-Hoshi Dan, it's hyphenated. But the Hokoku-Hoshi Dan pertained to the organizations as a whole.

TI: And one part meant the young men's, and another one meant sort of the, the older, the adults.

TA: Yeah. What it is is that one, the Hoshi Dan was for people thirty-five and older, Kibei, Nisei members, and the Hokoku Dan was for people sixteen and over, up to thirty-five, but it had a junior member, and there was people fourteen, fifteen in there. But, and then they had the Joshi Dan, which is for the women.

TI: Okay, right.

TA: So they had those three. But collectively, when people talk about it, they talk about it either as the Hokoku Dan, Hoshi Dan, or Hokoku-Hoshi Dan.

TI: Well, so with the formation of the Hokoku Dan during this period, what was their stance about renouncing their citizenship? I mean, obviously, there were people there that were in favor of this.

TA: Yes.

TI: How did that manifest itself? How did they show that? Did they encourage people?

TA: Well, what happened is that it divided the organization, because of the fact that George Kuratomi and Reverend Kai faction, their group, was anti-renunciation. They did not want to renounce. They favored resegregation, they favored all this, but they're not going to renounce their citizenship. And then the Wakayama/Tachibana group, they favored renunciation. And not only that, they took over the Jochi-iin. What they did is they, they bothered the, threatened my father, and as a result, he was removed, forcibly removed.

TI: This was Wakayama and Tachibana's group.

TA: Wakayama and Tachibana, because they had these thugs that was backing him up, and particularly Wakayama's group, they had the San Pedro people, and there he had about a hundred of these ruffians, and they're tough people. Fishermens, whatnot, and they, they interfered with the activities, they, interfering with meetings, Wakayama was out there making speeches and whatnot, and as a result of that, my father was removed. And then they took this Miyamoto to take his place.

CO: Removed in the sense that...

TA: Removed from the position of chairman.

CO: Uh-huh.

TA: But what happened is my father just was, just went into the background, and did his activities from the background.

TI: And this was about a couple months after the initial formation of the Young Men's, so about October.

TA: Well, but, see, it was formed in, August 12th, between August 12th and October. During that period, there was, there was a lot of struggle and a lot of dissension among the members.

CO: Things were happening, happening pretty fast, because...

TA: Oh, yeah. It was happening fast.

CO: Yeah.

TA: Yeah. That's the reason why it's very difficult to determine who was who, and who was doing what. And eventually, Wakayama got blamed for all of it. [Laughs] Wakayama and Tachibana got blamed for all of it. But anyhow, there was a lot of movement and struggle between these people. It was not a very cohesive group.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.