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-01-0037

<Begin Segment 37>

TI: And so what was the family like, family life like after your father leaving? You said you were closer, did things quiet down? Or I -- here's a question: the leadership of the Hokoku Dan and Hoshi Dan were gone, now. What happened to the organizations?

TA: What happened to the organization? They did a divide-and-conquer method. What they did is they came and they just rounded up all the leaders and eventually, between January and about, was it... maybe June, about 1,500 were picked up and moved away to Santa Fe or Bismarck. So all the leadership was gone, the organization was really, actually, dying. Membership was, people didn't want to be part of it, they left, Best had a ruling that if all the bugle-blowing and all that, was against regulation, and he even locked up kids. Sixteen-, fifteen-years-old, buglers, buddies of mine, and put 'em in the stockade. Now, a lot of people says, the stockade disappeared, but the stockade reappeared. Because there were people that age being placed in the stockade.

CO: So something like a stockade...

TA: Something like a stockade, yeah. And what was the violation? Because we went out there and blew the bugle? But anyhow, we were in violation of that type of activity, and so by then, like, I quit the bugle corps, because they said that the parents would be responsible, and they would arrest not only the bugler, but the parents, and I didn't want to jeopardize my mother, so I quit. Same way with a lot of other people, we quit. The organization, essentially, was defunct.

CO: Now, that panic where so many people signed the renunciation papers and stuff, that must have been taking place sometime in this time period.

TA: All right. What happened is that this was the time period in between, after, after about January, when, I think about December, as I remember, December, they, they withdrew the exclusion law, and they allowed loyals to go out, but those people who were "disloyal," considered to be disloyal, would be put on the stop-list. And those people who volunteered for Japan would be placed on the stop-list. So that, all of a sudden, they're telling the so-called fence-sitters, or these people who are loyal, that, "Hey, you're gonna have to leave, because the camp was, Tule Lake was closing. It's gonna close within a year. So you guys better get ready to go out." And these people, all of a sudden, they says, "Wait a minute. We don't want to go out. We want to stay. We want to stay in the security of the camp." So all of a sudden, there was a whole avalanche of people renouncing their citizenship.

TI: So that's so interesting. So they, they, so there were just a few people, maybe a few hundred, who signed originally, but it was the, the announcement that, that people were going to be kicked out of camp, and people who were just so unsure of what's out there, are frightened, probably, if they signed they would at least know they'd go to Japan.

TA: Yeah.

TI: And so they, so literally thousands of people signed.

TA: Some, yeah, very telling, because they were all last, the Department of Justice underestimated the number of people that were gonna renounce. They just thought that it was not, going to be a very few number that's gonna renounce, but all of a sudden, they were, boom, they got bombarded.

TI: But it's interesting to realize that many people signed it not so much that they wanted to go, that they were disloyal, it was just the uncertainty. They were just...

TA: There was many reasons for, for renouncing. To keep the family together, really resenting the fact that their Constitution rights were, were taken away from them. "They didn't treat us as Americans." "We're not United States citizens, we're non..." abuses. They were against that. And then, also, people worried that, "Hey, if we go outside, where are we going? No home, no job, no skills, what are we going to do?" And then there was that hostile environment, they were getting, we were getting reports that people that moved, they were getting shot at. They were getting, houses being burned. And that was, they were scared. Uncertainty, scared, some of 'em had sons in the army, and they said, "Well, they're little kids. What are we gonna do?" So it was a mixed bag of reasons why they did, but it occurred because of that announcement.

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.