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-01-0041

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TI: Yeah, so Tom, I'm going to take a step back. So when you're on the ship going to Japan, your uncle Frank had, had given you this picture of Japan as people starving and really dire. In your mind, what were you expecting when you went to Japan?

TA: Would I be accepted? He said, "You have to learn Japanese, and you have to learn the Saga dialect." He says, "You have to know the language and the culture to be accepted by the Japanese. Because they would be keibetsu, they would discriminate against you." He said, "Once you're accepted, there's, as Japanese, it'll be all right." But he says, "You have to be Japanese." He says, "I will be treated the same way that I was treated when I came to the United States. I was not accepted until I was able to learn the language and assimilate." And so I was concerned. Was I prepared? Did I know enough Japanese? Did I know how to behave? Those were some of my concerns. And then kind of P'd off that I'm, I was caught in this situation, you know. What did I do? I reflected on, on the Niseis. How they were treated, how we were treated, evacuated, relocated, segregated, and we didn't do anything. So I reflected on that. I was worried.

TI: On the, on the trip over, did you ever have a chance to have a conversation or discussion with your father?

TA: Oh, yeah, yeah. I talked to him, but not too much detail. I don't think he was ready to really talk about some of the things, but... and that's the reason -- see, when, after my father left, there was a blank as far as my resource of information was concerned, because he was feeding me, and I was reading bulletins and everything else, but when he left, a sort of void of what happened. But yeah, he resented the fact that, that he put us into this situation. But he was committed, and he says that, "We will do all right when we get to Japan. Don't worry about it." He was more telling us things will be all right. We would suffer, but we would do all right. And that the main thing is we are all together. He says, "We have not divided, we're all together, and working together in Japan." He says, "We'll make it up. We'll make up."

<End Segment 41> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.