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

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Today's date is July 3, 2004, and we're in Klamath Falls for the Tule Lake Pilgrimage, and we're taking the morning of Saturday, while people are, are doing the camp tour, to spend a few hours doing your life history. And before I start, I should ask you, do you want to be called "Tom" or "Motomu"?

TA: Well, really, I used to tell people that only my mother gets to call me Motomu. But I had a heck of a lot of trouble with my name, especially in the service or anyone, they said, "Motobo, Moromo," or whatever it was. So I says, "Hey, to make it easy for people to understand and remember, I just truncate it: M-O -- M-O, and then last "U," and then came up with "Tom," and I've been Tom ever since. And all my friends and people who know me as Tom.

TI: Okay. Well, that's going to be easy for me, because my name is Tom Ikeda, and I'm interviewing, and co-interviewing with me is Chizu Omori, and on camera is Steve Colgrove. And so we're, we're just so happy to be here. So I'm going to start from the very beginning of your life, and if you could just tell me where and when you were born?

TA: Well, I was born in (Merced), and that was June 7, 1929.

TI: Okay, good. And then what was, what was the full name that was given to you?

TA: Motomu Akashi. Yeah. There's an interesting thing about Motomu Akashi, is that my older brother is named Paul, and my younger brother's named Raymond, and here I'm Motomu. And where's, what happened to my English name? And I never found out what, why I was never given an English name.

TI: Your older brother, but they were given both an English and Japanese?

TA: Yes. My older brother is Paul Toshikazu Akashi, and my younger brother is Mitsuru Raymond Akashi.

TI: Did you ever ask your, your mom or your dad why?

TA: You know, I never did. I, I wish I did, but I didn't. I just said, "Okay." And some of the, my, well, even my wife says, "Hey, you must have been an orphan. You don't have a first name." I says, "Well, I have one now." [Laughs]

TI: That's funny. So, what were your parents doing? When you were born, what kind of work were they doing?

TA: They were, they were farmers. Especially my father, he graduated the University Farm School, it was part of the University of California. And he majored in husbandry, and he did a lot of experimenting, farming, he experimented with apricots, tomatoes, and he was, he farmed. He was quite successful at the beginning, but like everything else, the Depression, and also his crop failed and as a result he was dead broke like the rest of the people, I guess.

TI: So, so it was hard farming. How about your mother, what was she doing?

TA: Housewife and helping my father out. Like all, all Japanese wives, taking care of the kids and out there helping out on the farm.

CO: Now, I know that your mother was born in the U.S.

TA: Yes, she was.

CO: She was a U.S. citizen. Yeah, uh-huh. So she was bilingual? She spoke English and Japanese?

TA: Yeah. She was bilingual, she was born in Isleton, and she went to Japanese school and also English school, or the public school. But, of course, her education was cut off short because of, she was second to the oldest of eleven children and she, she devoted most of her time taking care of the kids.

TI: Well, let's talk about your, your mom's side. So about when did your grandfather on your mom's side come to the United States?

TA: Yeah, he, he came early. I don't, I can't recall right now the exact year, but he came early, alone.

TI: But in like the 1800s sometime?

TA: Yeah, because my mother is considered an older Nisei, and so as a result, he came much earlier than my father did. And he came and what he did is he farmed in, in the Delta area, and he went to Hawaii and met my grandmother, and must have been one of these arranged marriage, because he didn't stay long, he just went there, got married, and came back. And they farmed in the, in the Delta area along the Isleton.

TI: So your mom was born, like, around turn of the century, or probably pretty early?

TA: Yeah.

TI: Probably, okay.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: And then on your, your father, so talk about sort of how he came to the United States, a little about his family and his schooling and then how he came to the United States.

TA: All right. My father came from a relatively well-to-do family. There's an old term, "farmer warrior," and the, he, his father ran a sake brewery. He manufactured sake, which entailed having a lot of land. So he had a lot of land, rice land. And he was the fourth... one, two, three, the third son. And, of course, being the third son, you don't inherit the land or anything else. But he went to Saga high school, which was a very prestigious high school, and he attended, he took the naval test because most of the students from Saga, usually went into the military or into the government. And he didn't want to go into the military, he was more of a pacifist, he studied American history, Constitution, and he, he got enamored with... he started to show a lot of interest in, in America. So I guess my parent -- his parents, they were against it, his friends were against it. They said, "No, why don't you just stay here?" And everybody says, "Hey, you're going to the military academy," and that's quite a, quite an honor. Everybody was excited about it. But he says, "No." Pretty stubborn.

TI: So this is interesting. So in high school he studied U.S. history...

TA: U.S. history, Constitution, government.

TI: Constitution, democracy.

TA: Also the parliamentary government (of) England.

TI: And in addition, he took this, this test to go into the naval school, did really well, was accepted to this, this prestigious naval academy.

TA: Academy, yes. In fact, his friend, several of his friend, they, they went to the naval academy, and they were successful. They ended up as being admiral, and later on, well, what happened is that one of the admirals, Matsunaga, he came on the, what they call the... where the naval ship was, sailed around the world, this was before the war. And they, he came over, I met him, and he was an admiral, and my father was just a schoolteacher.

TI: That's impressive. So he was like at a prestigious school, did really well. It's almost like the elite class, in some ways. It's like the best and brightest that would go to...

TA: Best and brightest, but, of course, Saga Prefecture as a prefecture is not a, not like Tokyo or Osaka, whatnot. It's, it's in the country. But yes, from a standpoint of producing more military officers, general officers, having people in position in the government, Saga, Saga produces its share. A large share.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: Okay, so, so he decided at this point that he was interested in coming to America.

TA: Yes.

TI: And your parents or your grandparents didn't want that to happen.

TA: They didn't want it to happen. They wanted him to stay.

TI: And so he was pretty, pretty headstrong. Pretty willful in terms of...

TA: Definitely headstrong. [Laughs] It was, once he made up his mind, he usually stuck with it, yeah. And that's evident in a lot of things that he did.

TI: Did he have contacts in the United States to, to come to?

TA: Not really, except my uncle -- this is my, his older brother was here, Tokutaro was farming in, in Atwater. However, he had a Caucasian sponsor, and he sponsored and, to come to America to go to school. He wanted to go to school, he wanted to attend a college in the, in the United States. However, he spoke very little English. So as a result, he was about eighteen, he went to grammar school and quickly finished grammar school and then went to high school, and got enough confidence that he could go to college in the, and applied to UC -- I keep saying UC Davis, but the Farm School and got accepted.

TI: So the agricultural college that became UC Davis.

TA: Agriculture, yeah. Agriculture college.

CO: So he must have made it in before the cutoff, 1924 was the cutoff of immigration, so he must have come here before that.

TA: Yeah, he came before that. Because he graduated college 1918.

CO: Oh, okay.

TA: Yeah, and he finished in three years. So he, he did very well.

TI: So that is, because as, having English as a second language, he was able to, to graduate from high school and then college in three years.

TA: College, yes. In three years, yeah. He, he met his requirements and he graduated.

TI: Did he ever tell you how he learned English so quickly?

TA: Yup, yup, he sure did. Because when I had to learn Japanese -- [laughs] -- he says, "(Motomu)," he says, "read as much as you can, listen to the radio, and talk to people who speaks nothing but English." And so he lived with, with a Caucasian family. He had to speak English because that's the only way he could communicate with them. But he says, and he says, "Practice and study hard." He says, "It'll come."

TI: Oh, so that's funny. So when you had to really go to Japan, he said the opposite...

TA: He said just --

TI: Listen to Japanese radio, read as much, and...

TA: That's right. He says, "Study hard, practice, learn, listen, and talk to people who speak nothing but Japanese." So he just reversed it to me. He says it worked for him, it'll work for me. Well, for all of us, really.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: Now, so now that your father was a college graduate, at some point he met your, your mother.

TA: Yes.

TI: So how'd the two of them meet?

TA: All right, what happened is that at that time, they had what they called the Yamato colony. It was a newspaper publisher, and he, he bought land, this actually desolate land, in the valley, in the Merced area, Livingston, to be exact. And he bought acreage, and then he subplotted into forty, twenty to forty acres, and sold it to Isseis with the intention, says, "Hey, you people, if you're gonna come to (America), settle, become a part of America and get married, have children," and so he was aware of the Yamato colony. Because UC Davis is, Davis is not very far from Livingston, and there was a huge community there so he was aware and he got a job with a Kinoshita family, and helped them develop their land, and at the same time, he got a part-time job as a manager of the Cortez (Farmers) Association. And during that period of time, of course, my grandfather had, was farming in Cortez, and so...

TI: Oh, so your grandfather followed your --

CO: His mother's father.

TI: Oh, your mother's father, okay. Got it.

TA: My mother's father. My mother's father, he was farming, and then through contact, mutual contacts, they had a, what they called an intermediate, and introduced them, and that's how they met. So it was all the traditional Japanese style. You know family, they know family, and you get somebody that knows both families --

CO: Baishakunin, huh? That's what they used to call 'em.

TA: -- and then get the two together and, and that's it. [Laughs] And so they decided to get married.

TI: And about what year, do you know what year that was?

TA: About '27, maybe.

TI: Okay, '27. Because shortly after that, then they had Tosh?

TA: Yeah, so it should be '26. Just, get the years straight. [Laughs] No, it was '26. They got married, and then they went on a honeymoon to Japan. And when they got to Japan, of course, they had a big ceremony and everything else, and they welcomed her, and then he got sick. I don't know what it was, but he got sick, so had to prolong his stay in Japan. But after, after that, he, they returned, and they went to Atwater.

TI: Well, before we do that, while he was in Japan, I think I recall he, he received a wedding gift.

TA: Yeah, he received a wedding gift from his, his father. A few acres and a house, but he turned it over to his brother who then leased it out as a tenant farmer.

TI: I'm curious, was that a way to entice him to perhaps come back to Japan?

TA: Yeah, that was one of the reasons. I, yeah, and maybe that was his... in a way, when we were ready to, to voluntary repatriation, he says, "Yeah," he says, "I have this land," and he says, "I think this land could support us. So, yeah, I think he had that in mind.

TI: Okay. And so then he came back to Atwater, you said?

TA: Yeah, went, came back to Atwater and helped his brother farm, and what it is is that his brother got -- his wife got ill, because his wife was still in Japan, and he wanted to go back to take care of her. So he turned the farm over to my father, and that's when my brother Tosh was born.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: Okay, and then shortly after, you came in 1929.

TA: Yeah. And then what happened is that he, he had the farm in Le Grande, and he had, he was helping his brother out on his farm. He couldn't handle both. He didn't have enough money, so as a result, he decided, hey, he'll withdraw the lease on that land and then go to Le Grande to farm on a permanent basis, on a full-time basis.

TI: And that's where you were born, (Merced).

TA: Yeah, full-time basis. And then at part-time during the busy season, he was managing the Cortez Farmers Association. So he sort of part-time, and then also he was, taught a little bit of Japanese while he was in Atwater, to supplement his wages.

TI: But you mentioned earlier how, although he was doing pretty well, at one point it got really hard and he lost his money. At that point, what happened?

TA: Well, he lost his money, sold up everything to pay off his debt, we went to our grandfather's place temporarily, and then it was a decision-time as to what he wanted to do, and he loved teaching. He was teaching part-time at the, at Atwater, so when he saw this ad for Mount Eden for a schoolteacher, he sort of jumped at it and says, "Hey, this is, this is great," so he took the job.

TI: Good. And so this is Mount Eden, this is probably where some of your, probably your earliest childhood memories probably take place.

TA: Yes. Yes, we moved to Mount Eden 1934, and I grew up there.

TI: So what was Mount Eden like for you? What was that like?

TA: Nice, quiet, small, very small town. And they had a Japanese community, maybe about 300 families, scattered throughout there. The farm, and the town consisted of mostly Germans. In fact, at one time they called it "Germantown." And then nearby, they had a place where... oh, God, memory's slipping. Another race people. And they...

TI: Was it, not Polish?

TA: Not Polish. Some Scandinavian. I could go by my book, but right now I have a "senior moment." I blank, I don't know why. [Laughs]

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: Well, going back to just some of your early memories of Mount Eden, just growing up there, do you recall any, like, stories of what it was like growing up as a child?

TA: Oh, yeah. Yeah. It was fun time. We were poor, schoolteachers weren't paid that much. I think about a buck per, per student. The farmers were poor.

TI: That's a buck per year? Or buck per...

TA: Per month.

TI: Per month, okay.

TA: A dollar per month. And, you know, that's not much money. And, but anyhow, as poor as we were, we still had fun. We played marbles, played with rolling the tires, the tire rims, you know. And making rubber guns and playing Cowboys and Indians. It was a good time. And, of course, we had our, this Japanese school was there, they had the Japanese activities like the festivals, all the Japanese came, all the kids, they played. We, we did things together and it was pretty nice.

CO: It's my memory that back then, that most of, like, the farming types that came from Japan, maintained a certain village solidarity. I mean, there was a lot of helping each other out.

TA: Yes.

CO: I, I remember that, and I heard stories of where they would go as a group to help somebody plant something or harvest something. It was...

TA: Yeah, they, they helped each other out. Like my father, being, majored in agriculture, whenever they had any problems with, with growing certain things, how to grow or do things, he would go out there and help. Likewise, the leaders of the community, whenever there's problems, a death in the family or, or they didn't have enough money to improve their farms or whatnot, they sort of pooled their money together. They, it was a community. It was a good community and, and the community stuck together. We had our annual picnics. We had our own kenjinkai, the prefecture type picnics, we went out, the Fukuoka people went out and had theirs, the Saga people had theirs. And so, there was camaraderie and not only that, I think that the community not only helped, but also controlled our activities. Like you do something wrong, "haji." Don't, don't cause shame. And people, and they, if you went out alone or walking and something happened, they're always watching out for you. They're there and you know they're there, and so it's not like today where you don't even allow your children to go in the backyard. But then we roamed, and the community people, they knew you by name, and it was friendly. We thought it was great.

TI: Was there extra pressure on you because your, your dad was the Japanese school teacher?

TA: Yeah. Extra pressure. Pressure that I should behave better than the rest, pressures that I should speak Japanese, which I hated. [Laughs] And I should have learned more, but anyhow, I... and he was a disciplinarian. He, he wanted us to follow the Japanese culture, and as a result, I had to go that extra mile to be a "model Japanese child," I guess. The same way for the rest of the family, yeah. It's pressure.

TI: Now your, your father was a, a college graduate. Was that unusual for the community to have someone --

TA: At that time, yes. At that time.

TI: As well as his --

TA: Very small percentage.

TI: -- his, probably his English-speaking abilities was probably better than average, also.

TA: Right. That is another thing that, that was a plus. I mean, they relied on him for, to deal with the, with the, the public, the Caucasian public. When one Issei had an application to fill, he'll go there and help him out, and bring it. He was a sewanin, a helper. I think he spent all his time helping others rather than help the family, it seems. He was always gone. [Laughs]

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: Now, how was that with your, for your mother? Because here you had a large family at this point. Why don't you talk about, how many siblings did you have?

TA: At that time? Let me see. It was my brother Tosh, myself, Mits, Satsuki, and Tomo. There was five of us, eventually, before the war. Junko was born in Tule Lake. And, yeah, we were small and young, and my mother had to take care of the family, and at the same time, supplement teachers' income. So she, she went out and picked tomatoes, picked strawberries, picked tulips. Anything that, to help out, supplement the income.

TI: It sounds like it was a pretty hard life for your, your mother then.

TA: I think so. Looking back, I mean, I don't know how she did it, really. To work, take care of the family clothes, keep up the house. And being the teacher's wife and being able to speak English. The woman, they, they came and talked about their problems and things like that. So she had to do that also, so she was a busy, very, very busy woman.

CO: Yeah, that generation of Japanese American women really had hard lives in terms of work...

TA: Yeah. Because she was one of the few Nisei who spoke Japanese as well as, Japanese as well as English. And as a result, they just kind of relied on her, those things that needed translation or -- not translation, but being able to interpret and make them understand certain things that they do in the American way.

TI: That's, that's good.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: When you were playing, you mentioned earlier that there were a lot of, like, German families.

TA: Yeah.

TI: Did you play with German kids also?

TA: At school. At school, yes. Yes, we intermixed, we played, we had friends and we played baseball. We did everything together. And there was, we didn't feel any different, other than the German kids stayed with the German kids, the Japanese stayed with the Japanese community, after school. Because, of course, they followed their own, old country customs, also. So, but then if we'd meet on the street or somewhere else, yeah, we'll go out and play. And so it was a friendly atmosphere.

TI: Well, growing up, did you ever experience times when you felt like you were discriminated against, or prejudice?

TA: Not discriminated. Not discriminated as such, but at times felt awkward. Awkward in that by then you're, you're conscious that you're Japanese and you're different. And as a result, you sort of think they sort of slighted you in a way, or looked at you a little... but not, not to the extent I thought it was discriminatory. It's just a kid's feeling, I guess.

TI: Well, how did you feel about being Japanese, I mean, growing up?

TA: At that time? Thought nothing of it. I'm Japanese. I mean, like all my friends. We didn't feel any pressure being anything else, although my father sort of pressured me. But, no, we got along. Japanese, I felt American.

TI: Okay, good.

TA: I felt American, went to school, Pledge of Allegiance.

CO: Probably, probably did very, very good in school. The pressure was on to do well, yeah.

TA: Well, I, again the pressure. It's that pressure. In fact, among our, my peers, their family, their parents would tell 'em to do good. My family's telling me -- and the German families used to say, "You're German." So, yeah, there was a lot of competition, but good, good competition. And we got along well. I was never bullied, never really got into any fights. Well, maybe normal arguments and things like that, but no, no.

CO: Boy stuff. [Laughs]

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: Well, when, when you were a teenager, about thirteen, December 7, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Do you recall that day and what --

TA: I sure do. [Laughs]

TI: So why don't you tell me, describe that day for us.

TA: That day, it was Sunday, so we went to church.

CO: Oh, they were Christians, also.

TA: Yeah, my father was a Christian, by the way. He, he converted from a Buddhist to being a Christian. And by the way, the Yamato colony was basically Christian. The, they even had the Christian church and things like that.

TI: What denomination? When you say "Christian," was it like Methodist or Presbyterian?

TA: Well, it was Presbyterian, but I think he was a Methodist, because people in that area were Methodists. But our only Christian church was a Presbyterian church. But we went, and I went there every Sunday, got my little pin, and, and one of the great privileges was to go up there and ring the bell. And so the pastor says, "Okay, it's your turn." So Tosh and I, we just ran up there and swung the, pulled that, that rope and made the darn thing, and that bell will ring and resound throughout the community, and great fun.

TI: So this was the first thing, like, Sunday morning you guys would go there.

TA: That was Sunday. And then we came back from church, and my father was there, and he says, "Japan attacked Pearl Harbor." That was the first indication that there was any, anything wrong. The second indication was, he says, he had a bunch of documents and things like that, and he says, "Help me burn 'em." So, well, we spent all day just burning things. Pictures, newspaper articles, anything that related to Japan, he burned 'em.

TI: What were you thinking while this was happening?

TA: What was I thinking? Says, "We better hurry up and burn this thing." I mean, especially the stove with all the -- you know, at that particular time, I wasn't thinking of why Japan... well, I'll back up. My father told me, told Tosh and I about the situation, because he loved it. He, he had a map on, behind, behind his office, and he had pins stuck there, and he was saying, "Well, this is what is happening in Manchuria," or, "this is what's happening in China," and this is, you know, the oil embargo and things like that. That the United States and Britain is doing this and the, Japan is trying to expand and gain resources. He, he explained that. In fact, there was a couple of occasion where he says, "You know, there might be some trouble between Japan and the United States." At that time I just thought that it was something economical, nothing like a war. But then it's, when he was burning things like that --

TI: Well, going back to that, so he had his map and the pins, again, how, how did he get all this information? Where was he getting this information?

TA: He was a, he was an avid reader. He read newspapers and magazines. I mean, he, and he listened to the short-wave radio. So he, he kept up with, with news. He, he loved it. I mean, that was kind of his life.

TI: Now, he could do both English and Japanese. Did he get any news from the English sources, also?

TA: English sources, yeah.

TI: So things like the San Francisco, the New York Times, or...

TA: Newspapers, and, and the Japanese newspapers. And he read 'em. I think he read 'em to impress probably his friend Shibata, because Shibata would come over and then they'll talk about it and discuss the world situation. And so, he was interested in history.

TI: I'm curious; did he ever comment on the differences between what the American papers were saying and the Japanese news sources?

TA: No.

TI: In terms of, were there any differences or anything?

TA: No, no. He didn't discuss any news analysis or difference between -- all he, you know, he just, at our age, he didn't go into any deep discussion, he just wanted us to understand. I guess as an educator, he just wanted to keep us informed, keep us abreast. Probably did that so that we could do better in school, to know what the world situation was about. But, yeah, he, he briefly gave us a sort of a run-down as to what's, what's happening.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: Okay, so going back to December 7, so you're burning these maps, these, these documents, these newspaper clippings. Anything else that you had to, that you were destroying?

TA: Well, he was destroying these things, and, of course, he says, "We don't want anything that would incriminate us as being Japanese." And my mother, she had this kimono that she got, and she thought in her mind that maybe this is, this would show friendship between, a relationship between her and Japan, because her relatives were there. So she reluctantly took her kimono and burned it. There was some, like the Japanese flag, a sword in the, and the mirror and the emperor's picture, that was given to him, and some of the award that he was given by, by the Japanese government for good service to the American community. Not the Japanese, for his good service, Japanese service to the community, and got recognized for that. And so what he did is he took that and I guess he didn't want to, to destroy that, so he wrapped it up in greased paper and whatnot, and put it in a can and buried it. Buried it behind the Ja-, the school, and says, "Now, don't tell anybody about this." And says, "Okay, we won't tell anybody."

CO: Yeah, I remember that, the burying thing, too.

TA: Yeah, he buried it, and later on, many years later, I says, "Gee, I wonder if it's still there," out of curiosity and I'd like to, I figured by then, hey, that would be some good -- [laughs] -- you know, something to remember by. I went there and that, Hesperian and Jackson was all, they, it was all demolished and destroyed to create the freeway, and so it was gone.

TI: Oh, so it was probably all dug up and there was concrete, everything just...

TA: Oh, it's all dug, it's gone. Maybe some, maybe some construction worker found it, I don't know. But anyhow, it was gone.

TI: Oh, that's too bad.

CO: You know, I know that later, in the FBI files and such, these little things like your father getting awards for community service from the Japanese government, and say, going to the Japanese battleships when they came to town, and I remember going to a battleship, you know, and that kind of thing. But these things were noted as black marks against people, I know, later on.

TA: I believe so, because of the fact that they, especially intelligence division, the FBI, the naval, they were covertly conducting investigations of people that they suspect. And, of course, schoolteacher and community leaders was one of the suspects. So I'm sure that he was on the "ABC" list, as they called it. And I tried to find his intelligence file, I tried for years to locate it, but no record.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: But going back to the "ABC" lists, because he was, because relatively shortly, the FBI did come visit.

CO: And they picked him up.

TI: And so why don't you tell --

TA: And not visit, they just forcibly came, picked him up, and took him away.

TI: Now, were you at home when this happened?

TA: No, I wasn't. No, I wasn't. My mother told me about it, but no, and they took him away, he was gone for a couple days, then he came back. And, of course, later on he told me some of the questions that they asked and what he, what his response were, but they released him.

TI: But before they released him, when they came to your house, took him away, what were you thinking, your mother thinking, what was it like at your house after they'd taken your father?

TA: Chaos and worry. Worried, because your, the head of the family is taken away from you for no reason at all. It came very quickly, very abruptly, knock on the door, "Is Sanae Akashi here?" Boom, gone. And no goodbye, no nothing. Just gone. And so we were worried and concerned about what, what's gonna happen.

TI: In Mount Eden, were there other men taken away, also?

TA: Not that I know of.

TI: So your father, as sort of that, that person who was one of the community leaders, they really targeted.

TA: They much, target him. I wasn't aware of, Sugino wasn't, the other people weren't, so I think they just targeted him because he was a community leader. And probably because of that, maybe that ship, the military ship, probably. And being an admiral, coming there with these sailors with starched white --

CO: Oh, real spit and polish. Yeah.

TA: Oh, spit and polish. Talk about spit and polish. And sitting firm like that, what you do, really militaristic, I'll tell you. But it was, it was something to see, really. And it really impressed a young kid, that here, row of sailors and admiral and they're sitting drinking sake with my father. Yeah.

TI: And this was more for a family visit, or is it for the school?

TA: I think he came to visit the family. I mean, visit my father. Prob-, but then it ended up as a, as a... what do you call it -- semi-official social kind of thing, because the leaders of the communities were there. And they had a big banquet for him, so I guess it was semi-official. I mean, after all, here's a naval admiral coming to visit a small town like Mount Eden. I mean, if they went to San Francisco or Oakland or someplace, that's something else. But coming to Mount Eden. [Laughs]

TI: Well, and that was because they were, they were friends.

TA: Oh, yeah. They went to school, they went to high school together.

TI: Did you see any affection between the two of them?

TA: Yes. Yeah, yeah, they're like long-lost buddies. Yeah, so they, another thing is they talked in the Saga-ben. At first, official Japanese language, you know. But then later on, boy, they starting to talk the Saga, Saga dialect, "Yoka batten," and all that. And so that was really, yeah, it was a real close, warm relationship. Yeah, I saw that and I was impressed. And then not only that, he invited us to go to the ship. And we got first-class service. I mean, we went to his cabin, we went to the deck and we went to a lot of places where the other people couldn't go. So it was real, real great experience.

TI: Well, it must have been exciting for you, as a thirteen-year-old, or twelve, thirteen, yeah.

TA: Oh, yeah. Of course. Of course. I mean, gee, VIP treatment on a ship? [Laughs] Yeah. The only largest thing I ever rode on before, on a ship was, was a little fishing boat. So it was very exciting, yeah.

TI: Well, that, it's ironic, because that, that friendship later on, again, was something that was held against him.

CO: Well, these were all noted, I know. I mean, my family did that, too, you know. But then, it's interesting that they let your father go after a couple of days or so.

TA: Yeah.

CO: I mean, that, why, I mean, does he have any idea why they let him go?

TA: Yeah. In fact, he, he gave a, jeez, a long, long talk on our way to Topaz. I, it seemed like he was just lettin' everything out. And at, while he was talking, at the end, I felt that, "Oh, boy, he's treating us as, as an adult, as an equal, because of the things he was telling us." But he says, yeah, he was picked up, went to Oakland, they interrogated him, and they asked him a number of questions such as how he felt about the war, what his feelings were, what the Isseis in the Japanese community would do. You know, it was all positive. He says, "The Isseis, they are honest, hard-working, law-abiding citizens." They, they did the farming. And he says, "Look, they're not gonna turn against America. They love America, they came to America, their children are American." He says, "The Isseis will, will stand behind their children. If they went to the army, they will pray for, for their return and support that effort." He says, "I don't think that there will be any problem between the, among the Isseis." He says, "The Niseis have been taught to be loyal to, to America." And he says, "I'm a Christian." He says, "I'm interested in my, my people, the community, and I'll do whatever necessary to help them out." Well, he must have told a good story, 'cause they let him go.

TI: Yeah, he must have, because I was actually surprised that they let him go. Because so many other men with, with fewer connections to Japan were, were detained.

CO: Yeah. I think he was lucky. Whoever heard his story was more lenient than --

TA: More lenient, or maybe they wanted to use him.

CO: That's possible.

TA: I don't know what, but anyhow --

CO: Probably a combination. [Laughs]

TA: And maybe because he was a Christian, I don't know. But he said that they released him and let him go. And boy, we were just elated. Wow, here he is back. But he never told us why. He just, he just says, "Well..."

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Now, from your perspective, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, I think they closed school for a few days.

TA: Yeah, for a few days, yeah.

TI: When school reopened, what was it like for you going back to school?

TA: Horrible. I mean, here's the kids that were your friends. And you go there and say, "Hi, Bill. Hi, Joe." And they're looking at you and says, "You dirty Jap. You slant-eye. Why don't you go back where you belong?" You know? Very hostile, very antagonistic. And you try to gaman, you try to hold back, and you wondered, "Why are they doing this? I didn't do anything. Japan's the one that attacked, not me." And so it was a very trying time. Got into a few fights, arguments, and they never associated with us anymore. They stayed behind, whispering, looking at us suspiciously. Never, they never did that before. But in this case, it was a tremendous -- and it was a 180 turnaround, for one reason or another.

TI: I've heard stories with other people about how, in this situation, sometimes the bullies would pick on the smaller, the younger, the weaker people. Was that happening at your school, also?

TA: Oh, yeah. Then the class bully, he, he came over there and spit at me and says, you know, like, "Take me on." And I got to a point where I couldn't stand it anymore, and luckily I took a little bit of judo and I gave him a good old koshinage and put him down and choked, give him a choke hold and said, "Say uncle." Then, of course, the teacher came by and saw us, stopped the fight, took us to the principal. I says, "Oh, my God, what am I gonna do now?" Says, "I'm going to be in deep, deep problem." Because one thing about my father, my father supported the school, and if the teacher said you were bad, you were bad. And you get scolding at school and when you go back, you get a double punishment. I mean, so I said, "Oh, my God, I'm gonna really get it this time." And so, but the principal sort of says, "Oh, all right, go back to school." Like if nothing happened. So I go back to school and the kids all looking at me and they didn't say anything, they just looked at me in their way. But my Japanese friends, I mean, my Nisei friends, they had a smile on their face. [Laughs] They didn't say anything, but you could see a smile on their face. And I kind of felt good about it. But when I went home, I says, "Oh, my God." And I says, says, "What happened?" I says, "I got a -- " well, I had few [gestures to face] -- "What happened?" "Got in a fight." "Why?" "They called me a Jap." "Oh. Oh, okay." [Laughs] I didn't get that scolding.

TI: It's almost like he anticipated that there was going to be trouble, perhaps, and...

TA: Well, whatever it was, I mean, he, he just didn't react the same way he normally did. He just says, "Good." So, it was good.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: Well, well, after a few months, it became clear that people would be leaving Mount Eden.

TA: Yes.

TI: And describe sort of the, the life, or the preparations to leave Mount Eden. What was that like?

TA: It was panic and chaos, because all of a sudden -- I mean, we anticipated because people in San Francisco and other places were being evacuated. So we, we knew it was a matter of time that our turn will come, and, of course, they posted the public notice. Thirty-four was ours and put it up there and that we had be evacuated within a week. And so, "Well, what, what are we gonna do?" So we had to dispose our property, what little property we had, a car and washing machine, things like that, but getting prepared. And, and my father tried to help the others, tried to explain why and tried to explain what's going on. And so he spent a lot of time talking to the others. At the same time, my mother getting prepared, making duffle bags, and making sure that these are the things that we want, and these are the things that we're going to sell. And these, maybe we could store at the Shibatas' because Shibata says, "Oh, you can store it near where ours..." and so that was the activity. And, of course, as far as the Caucasian kids like that, there was no, no interaction because we were just, the community busy doing, getting prepared.

CO: Yeah, for one week. I mean, didn't have much time.

TA: No, one week is a short time. Very short time.

CO: I'd like to ask about your mother's family in Cressey.

TA: Yes.

CO: Cressey is near Merced, or someplace in that area?

TA: Cressey is near Livingston.

CO: Livingston, okay. Now, at that point, they were able to purchase the land in their children's name, who were citizens.

TA: In that, yeah. In my brother's name, yes.

CO: So that they had a acreage.

TA: They had acreage. They had fruit acreage, and so they, they actually, luckily, they let, had a friend take care of it, and luckily he took care of it. So when they came back, they were, they had a crop to sell. So they were very fortunate in that respect.

CO: Yeah, because that's so rare. I hear these stories, but here's one of them where they had a Good Samaritan friend that literally kept the farm going for them.

TA: Kept it, yeah. Kept the farm going. And, of course, they all came back and they had to build a house with a big room for all of the people, all the sons, siblings, because it was a large family. And so, and they, they went to an assembly center. My, my grandmother tried to -- well, not try -- kind of, well, of course, forcibly urge my mother to join. Says, "Why don't you join us, and then we can be together?" And my mother tried to get my father to, to go, but he said, "No," he says, "my place is here with the community." He says, "I want to help them out because," he says, "they're going through a lot of turmoil, a lot of problems." So he didn't do that. And even Shibatas and the Hasegawas and whatnot, they removed, moved to Marysville. They wanted him to go, too, but he said, "No, I'm going to stay here." So he was kind of committed to, to the community. And also to the community of the school.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: So, let's go back. So you had, your mom had all the bags ready --

TA: Oh, I had 'em all ready.

TI: -- you're all packed. So how, how'd you get to the, was it the bus depot? Or how did you...

TA: Well, you know, they had the bus pick up and whatnot, but a friend of ours, the Kinoshitas, he was a, he was a Jewish man, and he volunteered to pick us up on his flatbed truck, and to take our baggage and haul us over to, to Hayward.

TI: So this Jewish man, who was a friend of the Kinoshitas', you said?

TA: That worked for the Kinoshitas.

TI: Oh, worked for the Kinoshitas.

TA: And my father knew him. The reason for it is that one of my brothers was adopted by the Kinoshitas, and they were friends from, from way back. And so they, they knew this Jewish man, and the Jewish man volunteered to help, to take our family. So we, we were like gypsies, we were like the old, the Oklahoma farmers, and stacked our baggage into the... and gave us lunch, I had a bag of lunch, sandwiches and things like that, gave it to us.

TI: The Jewish man gave you the lunch?

TA: Yeah, gave us the, gave us a bag, for all of us, and then we bid farewell.

TI: Why do you think he was so kind to do this? This is unusual.

TA: Why was he so kind? Maybe because the Jewish people were so persecuted in, in Germany. And maybe he had compassion or sensed what we were going through. But for some reason he did.

CO: Well, you know, there were, there were lots of people who were helped by various neighbors or teachers or, you know? I mean, it, it really didn't feel like, like the whole communities were turning against people. I mean, I, I remember that there were people who helped us, and lots of stories that I've heard where some people came by to say, "This is wrong," and things like that.

TA: Yeah, that's true.

CO: So, it really wasn't as though suddenly the whole white community was totally hostile. That's just not true.

TA: Well, yeah, not everybody was, but then again, here's the German, was a German community, and they were in the same shoe as we were. But yet, there was no indication to try to help us. It was just this -- in my memory -- it was just this one Jewish man that helped us, and I've always remembered that. And I says, "Man, if I get a chance, I'm gonna thank him." And I looked for him, but we don't know where he is.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: Okay, so we just ended up where you were dropped off at the bus.

TA: Yeah.

TI: At that point, did you know where you were gonna go?

TA: Oh, yeah. We knew we were going to Topaz. It said so in --

TI: Topaz or Tanforan?

TA: Oh, no, I'm sorry. Tanforan.

TI: Tanforan.

TA: We knew we were going to Tanforan. Tanforan, just across the bay.

TI: Okay. So you knew it as the racetrack? You just knew...

TA: Oh, yeah. We knew it was just a racetrack, we knew it was there. So it was nothing new, it was just, we're gonna just cross the bay. And, and so we were aware of that, yeah.

TI: So what were your first impressions of Tanforan when you, when you got there?

TA: Well, before I go to that --

TI: Sure.

TA: You know what happened when we got to Hayward? What happened that impressed me the most were these Christians, and they had this table and they had refreshments and donuts and pastries and Coke -- I mean, not... coffee and milk and whatnot, and they, they set it all up for us to have. And I, I was impressed with that. All of this hostility in Mount Eden, and then yet, here, we're ready to go, and these Christians are there coming and talking to us and telling us, "Please, help yourself." I thought that was impressive.

TI: Do you know, was it because they knew the Japanese in, it's Hayward, you said? Hayward?

TA: Hayward, yeah.

TI: Or it was just their Christian belief that they, they decided to do this?

TA: I think it was, well, they knew the Japanese, yes, and then, of course, their Christian belief. And my father, you know, really was impressed, being a Christian, he was thanking them. Well, he was not that, not that jovial, but whenever they came, I mean, he would talk to 'em and says, "Thank you." And we brought him coffee and brought that in. And he was pretty appreciative of that.

TI: So what was your, the mood of your, your father during this period?

TA: Moody. Moody, sad. He just, I think he just couldn't understand it, that, why it was happening. I mean, because he -- this is in retrospect, I think, because he talked to the FBI, told 'em what he was going to do, and he helped the community and yet, he's being evacuated. Solemn, he wasn't jovial like he normally was. Didn't talk much. Yeah, so we saw the change of attitude on his part. And going back to your question, what my first impression of Tan-, Tanforan was, a lot of Japanese all centered in one place. The, the guards, the soldiers, and, of course, we had soldiers on the bus and soldiers there. Then you look up and you, you see this barbed wire fence and, and you get the feeling of being a prison-like. I mean, not being a prisoner before, but then being kind of incarcerated in one bunch where there's nothing but Japanese. That's my first impression.

Of course, I studied the Constitution and the history, and Bill of Rights in school, and so I says, "Gee, where's my rights? What's happening to me?" As young as I was, I was impressed that all of this was wrong. I couldn't understand why, why we had to go. And the Germans, they didn't have to go. My father was saying, "Jeez, the Germans didn't have to go. The Italians didn't have to go." But we were going. And so that's the kind of mood I was in. And, of course, we were busy moving things around, getting set in the barracks, filling our mattress full of straw, and things like that. So the initial first two days is, was just busy getting ourselves set up. Later on, you start thinking about it more and more, as, as you get the feeling that, hey, you go to the mess hall to eat. You can't go outside. Of course, at that time, there were visitors coming and things like that. But the fact that you couldn't go outside anymore. This is it. So... and then later on I, I would go up in the grandstand, look around. Because you could see the, the city or see the airport. Way out in the distance, you'd know that there's Mount Eden out there, and you start thinking, "Jeez, sure like to go back." Because those were good times.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: So what, what kind of activities did your, your parents do to pass the time? You were there about four months.

TA: My mother was busy, busy, busy, cleaning the house, taking care of the kids, all those things that mothers do. My father was brooding for a while, but he got a job as a warden, and this warden allowed him to go and talk to people and see things and, and have a little interaction with the, with the authorities, administration. See his, the JACL's, how they were conducting themselves, and he was pretty, he gained back his confidence and he became a lot more jovial. He spent a lot of time practicing Noh, this is the old Japanese...

TI: Can I go back to the war? And it's interesting to me, so, so he was Issei, he was given a warden, the warden was kind of a position as some of these, a go-between between the administration and the community.

TA: Yeah.

TI: And you, you mentioned the JACL and what they were doing, because they were the Niseis, who also played a role as a go-between between the administration and the community. Did your father work with the JACL? Or, when you said that he kind of knew what they were doing, what kind of interaction was going on?

TA: No, because Isseis' authority was very, very limited. I mean, the JACL actually took over everything, and the Niseis took over, and the Isseis were kind of a secondary role. I think because he speaks English, and that gave him, and he gave him a little bit of a role to meet, to do things for the community. That's his main thing, is to do things for people, and that, that seemed to bring his spirit up. Directly contact with, not, not me personally observing, but he would say to me that, "It's too bad that the Niseis and the JACL have taken over the role that the Isseis held, and then sort of suppressed the Issei down to a minor, secondary role. And all they can do is get a job at the mess hall, or other menial jobs, while the, the clerical jobs or the administrator jobs, things like that, were not available to him. Even in the community activities, it was the Niseis that took over.

TI: That's interesting. Because the Niseis, at this point, the JACL leaders were probably in their twenties, their mid-twenties.

TA: Twenties, yes.

TI: And here you had individuals like your father, who was closer to forty, college-educated, bilingual, and he was put more into a subversive or supportive role.

TA: True. Some of 'em were, lot of 'em were his, his students. But lot of 'em -- they were, they went to college. And were going to college, and then graduated college, they, they had no job. They were grocery clerks. They had menial roles, they didn't have any leadership position because the Issei controlled the community. So as a result, it's just a complete reverse.

TI: So right at -- so when you went to assembly centers, it's really switched right there.

TA: It switched. And not only that, the administration backed the JACL.

TI: Exactly, because it was, it was really the administration, camp administration that really caused this flip.

TA: That caused the flip.

TI: Because they would focus more towards the Niseis.

TA: True. And, you know, and that, that bothered you, because Niseisas a rule obeyed their father. They looked up to the Isseis. And, and they, whatever the Isseis said, they went along with. But now, I guess, for the first time, now they're, now they're above. And then the Isseis, by rules, were not able to hold any official, official positions. So it was a reverse. That troubled them.

TI: Yeah, it must have been very hard for your father, who was a very proud man, to, to have this.

TA: Yeah. Too proud sometimes. But it disturbed him. But then he overcame it, and he felt pretty good about, I mean, as he, as the days go, of course, now we were getting prepared to go, relocate.

TI: To Topaz.

TA: To Topaz.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: Well, let's go there. Because you're at Tanforan for about four months, and then you had to go to Topaz, and during the train ride from Tanforan to Topaz, you had a, you and your older brother had a conversation with your father.

TA: Yeah, a very long...

TI: I wanted to go back to that, and talk a little bit more about that. Like, what else, he mentioned, you mentioned earlier how he talked about his conversation with the FBI when he was picked up, but you talked about other things, also, during that.

TA: Oh, yeah. He talked about, he talked about what our situation was. He says, "We're going there -- " by the way, he, he was, he was convinced by my mother to make an application to join my, my grandmother. But the authority says it was too late. "You people, do it when you get to Topaz." So he was anticipating putting in his application, and then putting it and going to, to Granada. He talked about that, he talked about the various options that he had, like we could go all out on our own, or we could go to my, my mother's sister's, who lived in Chicago. We could go there, or we could go to Granada. And so he talked about the options and what we would do, but he says that, "No, we will not be in camp." He says, he says, "If we're in camp," he said, "What we're gonna do is lose a lot of initiative, we'd be complacent, we'd be, we won't, we'll lose our own free will." He says, "Freedom is too precious to, to sit in the camp." And so he was, he was adamant about going outside.

TI: So he was pretty aware that, that there were ways to -- even though you were going to Topaz, that once you got there, there would be ways to leave Topaz and to get back into society.

TA: Yes, because that's what the authority told him. Says, "When you relocate, it's only a temporary thing, and once you get there, you could relocate outside to wherever you want." And that was the word that was given by the authority. That was the promise. Says, "You people, that's what's gonna happen to you."

CO: And I think that was WRA policy, which clashed with, say, the army and... I, I see that as a big struggle there.

TA: Yeah, because there was a switch between the army, your army authority and WRA. But anyhow, he, he was adamant about going outside, and he talked about loyalty, he talked about bushido, and what, he says, "You are an American." He says, "When you get older, you will fight for America." Says, "The Japanese will fight for Japan, Americans will fight for America, and he says, "I will support you and I believe in democracy," and so in our mind, Tosh and our mind, is that we will go to Topaz temporarily, we'll go out, and then he says, "It's gonna be hard, it's a lotta hardship." He said, "We don't have any money, we don't have any property." He says, "The only thing we have is our back and our hands." And he says, "We'll have to struggle," but he says, "Would you, would you help?" He says, "Gambarimasho." So let's, let's do it together. And, and we says, "Yeah, sure." At that time, we felt, "Gee, he's treating us as an adult." He's never talked to us like that before, especially about his personal life, or the family. But he was, he was divulging all this to us, and we, my brother and I, we started to appreciate that, and says, "Oh, this is great." So we were anticipating going outside.

TI: Well, it sounds like a, like a motivational, uplifting conversation that you had.

TA: Yeah, yeah. I think more soul release on his part, to let us know how he felt, and then saying, "Okay, gang, let's get, let's get ready to prepare to go outside. Because we are not going to stay in the relocation camp." Says, he says, "Freedom's too important." And so that was his rally call.

CO: Yeah, and after all, I mean, he had been led to believe that, yes, that this was possible, and could happen.

TA: Yeah. That's what the authorities were telling him. I mean, all of us. And so, so he took that to heart. He says, "That's what's gonna happen."

TI: So with that feeling, you, you went to Topaz.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: What was Topaz like for you? What were your first impressions?

TA: Topaz, first impression, desolate, dry, dusty. You know, it's an isolated area, got to Delta, and then the sergeant up there told us, okay, what's going to happen to the baggage, the bus picked us up, hot, dusty, and that was my first impression of the area. [Laughs] Nothing, cactus, sagebrush. Little green in Delta, but other than that, there was nothing. And then we got into Topaz, the guards standing in the, at the gate, with the guns, and then, interesting thing was that they had a makeshift band, and they're saying the California, the California song, but they were singing, "California, California, bakatare, bakatare, bakatare-yo." You know? In... and we, we said, "Yay, yeah!"

TI: So this was a band of the Japanese.

TA: Boy Scouts. Boy Scouts, yeah, the people that came, went there ahead of us, and they welcomed us. And there were buses going by, and they're just...

TI: And so they made up, they changed the words to say, essentially, "California, stupid California, stupid California."

TA: Yeah, "stupid California." "Bakatare, bakatare," you know? So we all stuck our hands and says, "Yay." [Laughs] But that was the first impression of camp.

TI: Yeah. Well, that seemed like a healthy attitude. Just really realizing it was California's fault.

TA: I guess, because we had a pretty positive attitude that we're not gonna be here long.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: Now, things like when you're -- 'cause Topaz was set up to be more of a permanent place for people, so things like school, did you, did you go to school?

TA: Yes, we went to school.

TI: Because you were, like, eighth grade at this point?

TA: Yeah, we went to school, and it was a little room like this with benches, potbelly stove. If you talk about the (convenience), it was barely nothing, you know? No pencils, no papers, and there was old Mrs. Lyle. Good old Mrs... and she was an excellent teacher. And I think she brought things that, to reality, says, hey, all this fancy stuff, you don't need it. Says, "Concentrate on the, on the book, the study, and we don't need fancy things. All we need is the, the motivation to learn."

CO: You know, they had many Caucasian teachers in those camps, and when you look back on it, you wonder...

TA: They were great people.

CO: Yes, on the whole. And how did they recruit these people? You know, to come into a place like that, they came from back east.

TA: They lived in the same barracks that we did, they had a corner there for all the, the Caucasian employees, maybe the decors were a little better, but then the, the conditions were the same. And they, they were dedicated teachers. I mean, they really, to leave places, their old jobs, to come to, to Topaz to teach. So, and when they taught, they were very firm, but they were serious, they wanted us to study, regardless of what the circumstances was, to study. So that was highly motivational.

TI: Now, these are serious things, because I think one of your teachers assigned you to be, like a reporter.

TA: Yeah.

TI: To go out and...

TA: Go out there and collect information.

TI: Collect information, interview people, find out what's going on, and write about it.

TA: Yeah. And I, I interviewed the principal, (Grande) Nobles, and he was a real good gentleman. And he says, "Oh, you're the class reporter, okay. I'm ready for an interview." [Laughs] And he treated me pretty good. And so I asked him a lot of questions pertaining to what's going to happen to the students, and what our future was, and that in general. I said, "What is the, the climate, and what is your thought about us being here?" and things like that. And he was very candid, frank, and he says -- it was encouraging, too, he says, "Well, this is only a temporary," but he said, "We'll have the school running, we'll have books, we'll have, things will be better, and we won't disappoint you. And eventually you'll, you could study here and go out and you could continue your education." And I talked to him and I talked to the gym coach, and I talked to the class president, the senior class president, and he, they were very positive and nice interviews. Found out that, that students were leaving, families were leaving, and that they were going to places like, like Salt Lake, they were going to Chicago, New York, they were going to Denver. They were going to places, and they says that, "A lot of 'em are going to school, and they're doing very well." And so it was sort of a positive thing.

TI: So this is what you thought was going to happen to you also.

TA: Oh, yeah. Of course. Of course. That's, that was, was dear, it was in my -- I believed it, I thought about it, I knew we had to go. I says, I knew, I've already made up my mind that it's gonna be hard, and I'll, probably I'll have to work, help the family out. But, you know, my father emphasized education. He said, "Education is foremost." So I knew that I was gonna go to school.

TI: Well, I'm curious --

TA: Studied hard.

TI: -- your father was such an avid reader of the news, how did he react when you were reporting? You were doing all these interviewing and writing?

TA: Oh, he was very proud. He says, "Oh, this is great." Of course, before the war, he was saying, "Become a lawyer," but then he says, "Become a writer." He says, "Write about it. Write about the situation here. Let the people know." He says, "After the war," he says, "let the people know what happened to us." So he was pushing me -- I think what he really wanted to do was be his recorder to, to spread the word. [Laughs] But anyway, he was very supportive. When it comes to education, that's one thing, he was very, very supportive.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: Well, after, after about six months of being at Topaz, a friend of the family, James Wakasa, was shot and killed by an MP sentry.

TA: Yeah.

TI: So this was about six months in. What was the effect on you and, and your father and the rest of the family?

TA: Well, since we knew him, and it was sort of a personal thing. And as far as my father was concerned, they, they had, in the boiler room they used to drink together, and he went to the University of Wisconsin, he's an educated man, they exchanged ideas, so they were, they knew each other and then, and knew each other's feeling. And so when he got, when he was killed, he took it hard. And, of course, he became one of the committee members to see what they could do about it so that it won't happen again. So... and as a result of that, they changed their policy about having, guards having guns and having only the sidearms and things like that at the guard gate. So he was instrumental in pushing that along. But, yeah, it was, to him, I think, it was a loss.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: So this was about six months in, and you mentioned earlier how your father, right away, applied to be transferred. Six months in, you still haven't been transferred. How, what was, what was going on? Why was it taking so long for, for things to happen?

TA: I knew why later on, but at the time, like everybody else, we waited in line, and the first thing says, "We got a lot of applications and it takes a while." And my, my father was aware of the fact that they did some, some spot check, to see whether there's anything in the background, things like that. So it was taking a little bit more time. And so he kind of accepted that at first. But as the time went, they kept saying, "Oh, just a little bit longer. A little bit longer." And he started to... started to change. He says, "Hey, maybe our chances of going is, is not as good as we thought it was." But yet he, he kept his spirits up and told us, "It'll be soon. We'll, we'll be going to join Grandma." And then, of course, the "no-no" situation came about. For a while it was temporary, some people were not allowed to leave until the "no-no" situation was, was completed.

TI: Well, so, yeah, let me, let me explain. So what happened was the questionnaire came out.

TA: Yeah.

TI: And, and so what all, essentially adults over, was it over sixteen or over seventeen, had to answer this, or is it eighteen?

TA: There were several applications. The first -- well, it was simultaneously, but, but the army --

TI: Right, so you had draft eligible men.

TA: This is for the, yeah, for the selective service, and within that, within that thing, was the two questions: "Will you serve," or "Will you swear allegiance." Okay, those 26 -- 27 and 28, was a matter for seventeen and over, to thirty-four, draftable age, that was what the thing, form was. Because the objective was to screen out those who are "loyals" and "disloyals." And then have them volunteer for the all-Nisei combat team.

TI: Right. And they took that same questionnaire, though, and they tried to modify it for others, also.

TA: At the same time, WRA came out with their own form, which had the same two set of questions. Okay, the same two questions, but now the WRA form was for men, for the men -- for the Niseis, undraftable age, and, and the Isseis. And then for the women, they had a question, the 27 was, "Would you volunteer for the nursing corps, or the women's auxiliary, army auxiliary corps," which pertained to the women. So there was a big hassle, and what happened as a result of this questions, the government changed it. And they changed it to, "Would you obey the law of the United States," and, you know. So what happened is that --

TI: That was on question number 28. So rather than swearing allegiance to --

TA: Twenty-eight was allegiance to... which a lot of Isseis objected to. My father objected to it, and he supported the Isseis, because the Isseis were saying, "Wait, we can't do this. If we do this, what happens to us?" Says, "That means that we have no country."

TI: It'd be, they'll be individuals with no, no country.

TA: Yeah. And so as a result, my father and many others, of course, advocated the change. Says, "Change it so that it'd be more acceptable to the Isseis."

CO: You know, it's really ironic, the first two camps that were given the questionnaires were Tule Lake and Manzanar, and those are the two camps that had the most trouble with all this. Then when they changed that question 28 for the rest of the camps, then, you know, it just calmed down. And you have to make these distinctions, because if you single out Tule Lake as being the biggest troublemaking camp, they were the first to get these, and so...

TA: Yeah. And they were given a lot of misinformation, such as you will be liable and criminally liable.

CO: That's right. For twenty thousand dollar fine and ten years in jail for not answering these...

TA: Yeah, so, jail and so all those, it's a different kind of a situation.

CO: So that it's unfair to single out Tule Lake as --

TA: That is, that is true.

CO: As being more "troublemaking" than anywhere else. It was just an accident of, of order.

TA: Yeah. Conflicting orders, and different people presenting the different information to the residents.

CO: Yeah. So anyway...

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: So as this got settled down a little bit, your father eventually filled out the form.

TA: Yeah.

TI: How did he answer those two questions?

TA: He answered, he said, the first question, 27, he says, "Because the Isseis were given this form that the females got" -- well, anyhow, he did, and then it said, "Would you serve as a, in the nursing corps or the WRA?" He says, thought that was nonsense, so he left it blank. And then as far as the obeying the law, he says, "Yes." So technically speaking, it was a "yes-yes." Because he, he would have said, "yes" to 27, "Will you serve?" because when he was going to school, he served with a, he was a, joined the ROTC, and he's telling us that we should serve, and he was telling us that, what it is is that bushido meant that you will protect your family and, and your country. And he says, "I came to America, I adopted America. America is my home. It is your home, and I will do whatever possible to defend my home and my family." And he could explain that, and so he was obviously a "yes," a very highly loyal "yes," for that matter. And so, he, "blank-yes," and the, and then the, and then, of course, a lot of the people in the block, they all agreed, because that was a reasonable question. And as a result, our block had the highest rate of registration for that one. And the highest rate of "yes-yes." So it was... and then, like everything else, it was over.

TI: But then later on, the news came out that they were going to segregate, they were going to form a segregation --

TA: Exactly. And what it is is that our application for transfer never came. And he was called in for, by the FBI, to answer certain allegations that were made against him. And he suspected that it was a, the JACL, because some of the things that he was saying was, was contrary to JACL's feeling of, "Hey, let's get all these Niseis to, to volunteer. And he, he felt, he was close to the Kibeis. Very close to the Kibeis, and he felt that the Kibeis were, were really discriminated and abused. He says, "Lot of these people" -- I don't say lot, but many of the Kibeis, they were drafted, they volun-, are volunteer, they served in the army -- this is prior to the war. And what happened is, the Niseis, of course, they were delegated around to minor roles, some of 'em, their guns were taken away, and they were sent to a labor battalion. But the Kibeis were discharged and thrown into the camp. And they were, they said, "Hey, we were serving, and now they want to know what, we were loyal." And not only that, is that the people outside of our camp, what happened is that when they had the chance, the people in Santa Clara moved -- before the evacuation -- to nearby farms, and they were farming nearby. And they were coming to the camps and they would tell us their stories and what they do, and they were free to go wherever they want, and being paid going wages while they were being paid sixteen dollars a month. And they were never questioned. Their loyalty was never questioned. And they said, "They pick us up, put us in, why do they question us?" Said, "We're just as loyal as those people." And that was his rationale, and the more he thought about it, I guess what he was saying is, "This is not right. Our rights are being, being abused."

TI: And so you think because of, he was sort of talking like this, sort of realizing that their rights were being abused, you think that there were people in the JACL who disagreed with him and perhaps informed or told the FBI about this?

TA: Yeah, yes, because -- well, of course, the informant is anonymous. But then, when he went to these meetings and made these protests and things like that, well, it was the JAC members that were against it. Because they wanted, they're the ones that wanted the, the Niseis to volunteer for the army. Because they're the one that suggested it, and they wanted, they want the Niseis to show their loyalty, and says, "Hey." So as he was protesting -- but he was protesting more for the Issei, because the Issei felt that if they were drafted or volunteer, that they lost their son. I mean, that's the Japanese way of thinking. You go, you serve...

CO: You die.

TA: Yeah, you're gonna die. And these people, these Niseis, the young Niseis, were their oldest son. That means that they couldn't speak English, and they're saying, if their son is serving in the army, "What are we gonna do when we go out?" And they, lot of the Isseis married old. They, because they were working and they weren't, there were no women to marry, so as a result, they married late. So they had a lot of young children. And they said, well, these were young children, "How are we gonna, what are we gonna do? Our farm's taken away, our property's taken away, we're gonna, what are we gonna do? We have no skills." So as a result, my, my father was pretty sympathetic to that. And, and as far as the JACL people, they kind of says, "Hey, do what these people are saying. If you want to go out, say 'yes-yes.'" And so he was trying to defend the, the Isseis' concern. And he vocally said that in public meetings. And he suspected there was some JACL member or somebody that informed on him.

TI: Which then led to this interview with an FBI in, in camp.

TA: Yeah, with the FBI, yeah, with the FBI. To find out what he was doing.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

TI: And so after that, how was your father feeling about that? Was he getting more and more sort of...

TA: Suspicious, and he, he started to think more and says, his leave clearance, he knew, by reading newspaper and whatnot, one of the qualifications to weed these people out before you let 'em go. And he knew that troublemakers or people who had derogatory, unfavorable information on file, were not going to be released. And he knew that the FBI had a file on him. So, I mean, I think what he did is put two and two together and he says, "Hey, they're not gonna release me." And being proud as he was, he wanted his freedom. That's one of the reason why he came to the United States, is freedom and Constitution and liberty and civil rights. So as a result, he started to lean towards, "Hey, maybe I am not going to be allowed to go outside." That was his change of feelings.

TI: And so when the segregation issue came up --

TA: When the segregation issue came out, as soon as it came out, he made up his mind. Because he got us together and he says, "Look. We -- " he says, "I am holding you people in the family back. If I withdrew my name from the application, your chance of going to Granada to join the family will be, you're going to be able to go. Your mother's a citizen, you people are all citizens, and you'll be able to go. But," he says, "what I'm gonna do is I'll, going to volunteer to go to Japan." Said, "Once I get to Japan and the war's over and whatnot, I'll come back." But he says, "To provide freedom for you and freedom for me, the best thing for me to do is to volunteer to go to Japan, and you people go and join your mother's family." And my mother says, "No." She says, "No. If you're going, I'm going. We're all going." She was pretty stubborn about certain things, and one of the things he did, she did not want to break up the family. She wanted to hang on and be close to the family. And so that's what happened.

TI: Tell me about your mother. So, was she the type to stand up to your father on these, on other issues?

TA: Normally not. Normally not.

TI: But this one was really important to her. To really, to know your, your father said, "We should do this," she disagreed...

TA: She disagreed. Normally, there were times, like putting in the application to go to Granada. Yeah, she insisted on that. There were certain things that she, she held fast, but in normal cases, she would go along with my father. Like any good Christian wife, says, "I'll go wherever my husband will go." And then as us children, we were taught oyakoko, fidelity to your parents. Says, "Okay, if you're going, Mom, we'll go."

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

TI: Okay, so this is a huge shift. So your father decided to, to segregate, to go back to Japan, your mom said, your mother said, "We should stay together as a family." So all of a sudden, from your perspective, you were thinking you would leave camp to go back into U.S. society. From that thinking, you now shifted just quickly to thinking now you're gonna go to Japan.

TA: Yeah.

TI: So what were you thinking when was happening?

TA: Shocked. Really shocked. Especially when you had to go tell your friends that we're going to, we're going to Japan, you know? All, your whole frame of mind is, "I'm going to go to Japan" -- I mean, outside. I'm going to work, I'm going to get a job as a houseboy, I'm gonna do something to help the family out. And you're saying, I'm going to go out, and your principals and teachers are saying, "You're going to go out." And then all of a sudden, we became a "disloyal." We were tagged with being disloyal. As being one of the "no-no boys" if you wanna, for that matter. And so it was a shock, a tremendous shock. My brother and I couldn't understand. We just... you know? [Laughs] And in, then we had to shift our way of thinking, we had to shift our friends. Now the loyals are saying, they don't want to associate with us, so you start thinking of people that --

TI: Because up to this point, you were, you associated more with the loyals?

TA: Oh, yeah.

TI: And then there was, and then you had the ones whose families --

TA: We looked, we looked at that the, we looked at the disloyals as, "Hmm." But then all of a sudden, we became one. [Laughs] But, yeah, it was a terrible shock.

TI: Now, did you and your brother, did you ever feel resentment towards your father for making this decision?

TA: No. No, not at that time, no. We, we felt that we should be going with the family. I think that the family was more important to us. We were taught that way; family. That's the bushido way, family. So as a result, we, we went along with it.

TI: Now, your brother was a little bit older, so he was probably old enough that he could probably have stayed --

TA: Yes, yes, yes.

TI: -- 'cause he was... was there, was he ever enticed to probably stay, or did he also think that he just needed to go with the family?

TA: No, he felt the same way, he says. Because by then, our uncles and whatnot, they're writing letters and telling Mom that, "Hey, this is what" -- they were planning for us. Later on I found out that they already knew that it was approved.

TI: That it was approved for them to leave Granada?

TA: For us to leave. It was approved.

CO: To transfer out of Topaz to Granada.

TA: Out of Topaz, it was approved. This is what I found out later, through my research.

TI: Oh, so it was just like the inefficiencies of the government to...

TA: Not inefficiency, I think it was...

CO: No, there's some...

TA: I think what happened -- first of all, what the policy was, you go to what they called the regional WRA, and you put the application, and then two camps have to agree for the exchange. All right, Topaz agreed, Granada agreed. In fact, Granada says, "Hey, when, we're expecting them. When are they gonna leave?" So we were that close to leaving. That's how close we were. And something triggered it, and, of course, I could speculate as to what, what did it, but either one, the Topaz project manager knew that the questionnaires were coming, prior briefing on that, or he received that unfavorable information, the informant report. Or because they became, maybe the U.S. army -- because of the FBI warrant, provided them the intelligence report. But for some reason or another, it was stopped. And so we didn't know that.

TI: Who knows for what reason, just something, it might have been just one person stopping it, just changed the whole life of...

TA: Yeah.

CO: Look, if you look at the inform-, I mean, FBI, the kind of hearsay and, and just so-called "derogatory" remarks about somebody, they are so flimsy and so unsubstantiated that they're meaningless. And yet --

TA: Yeah. But they will pick up.

CO: -- one little thing can do it.

TA: And like you say, surprised they released him, but they did. I think they released him for a reason. To, to quell the community and make sure that they understand it.

CO: I don't know that they are so... [laughs]

TA: I don't know. I really don't know.

TI: What, how did your father --

TA: Because other schoolteachers were picked up.

CO: Sure, and held.

TA: Held, so I don't know.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

TI: So this whole sense of now being labeled as a "disloyal"...

TA: Yes.

TI: What did your father tell you about that, or how did he, when you, when you talked to him about that, being disloyal, did he ever tell you...

TA: Yeah, yeah. There, I vividly recall, when we got on the, what we called the "segregation train."

TI: Okay, so this is the train going from Topaz now to Tule Lake --

TA: Tule Lake, yeah.

TI: -- to go to the segregation, at that point it was called the "segregation camp."

TA: Segregation, and then they had these guards, and I guess they were returning from the Pacific, they were talking about the, about the fights and the Japs and things like that in the, in the Pacific. And they said it's the, they called us a "bunch of disloyal Jap." And I, I took offense to that, so did a lot of other, my friends. And I felt pretty bad about that. I says, I said, "Me, disloyal?" Said, "What did I do to be disloyal?" And so I talked to my father, and my father sat down and says, "Hey, Motomu, you're not disloyal." Says, "You're not disloyal." Says, "I purposely didn't even sign you up for registration, on my registration as being Japanese." You know, for dual citizenship. And he says, he says, "You're just, you're just loyal as every, anybody else." And with that, I felt... and he says that, "You're Japanese. And you're Japanese in character, but you're American. You're a U.S. citizen." And so with that, that little spill, I felt better about it.

TI: So he was, he was essentially saying that the move and everything was really because of him, and that you were still American.

TA: Yeah. And he, he didn't feel disloyal. He didn't, he really didn't feel disloyal. He was returning to Japan to gain his freedom, which was taken away from him. He had this pride, he says, "Hey, I'm a Nihonjin, I'm a Japanese. And I was willing to support the United States, my adopted country. I came to the United States as a young child to be, to go to school. And so, I'm going back to Japan, because if they treat me as a Japanese, and Japan is my homeland, I'm going to return." So disloyal? I don't think he was disloyal. Japanese, yes. Strong Japanese. A proud Japanese.

TI: And he wanted you to also be proud of your Japanese...

TA: He also wanted me to be sure I believed it. He says, "Nihonjin is, it's a proud race. Be a Japanese; be proud of it. But also, you're an American, and be, be proud of being American." So, you know, he... it was a, it made me feel good.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

TI: So you, you go to Tule Lake. And what was Tule Lake, now, what were your first impressions of Tule Lake?

TA: Huge. Huge, lot of people, lot of confusion. People, they were, we were coming in, and the Tule Lake people were going out. I mean...

TI: So the Tule Lake people that were going out, these are ones who were classified as loyal, and they were going to a different camp?

TA: Different camp, yes.

TI: Or probably back to, possibly even back to Topaz, or go to Topaz, or...?

TA: Topaz, probably Topaz, because it was Topaz train. But for what, whatever it is, is that they were being processed, and the guards treated them with welcome, and helping them out and all that, and on this side, the guards were treating us rough, fingerprinting us, and looking at us, making weird comments and things like that. But it was a switch of people. Because, like the, the whole thing had to be done in about twenty-five days.

TI: So we're talking, every day, like, hundreds of people?

TA: Hundreds of people.

CO: Thousands.

TA: In and out.

TI: Thousands of people just going...

TA: And eventually, there was nine thousand, about nine thousand people moved out, about nine thousand moved in, and about six thousand remained.

TI: Okay, so it was about fifteen, sixteen --

TA: Fifteen, sixteen thousand people.

TI: -- thousand. For a camp that was designed to be, hold...

TA: A little smaller than that.

TI: Yeah, probably about, I think, twelve thousand or so, is probably what it was designed for.

TA: So, it --

CO: Yeah. It was very crowded, yeah.

TA: It was very, very crowded, and very, very confusing. And as far as I was concerned, all I felt was there's a lot of, lot of people.

TI: So probably lots of chaos, confusion...

TA: Yeah, not, not during that processing, but later on, yeah.

TI: Okay.

TA: Later on.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

TI: Well, I mean, compared to Topaz, as people got into Tule Lake and here you have a lot of people coming from lots of different camps, some people that were, who were at Tule and stayed, how did that compare with Topaz in terms of how the interactions, how people got along with each other?

TA: Well, you know, Topaz, it came from a community, the San Francisco Bay Area, and it's part of Santa Clara and, you know, so as a result, it's a, it's a homogenous community. People knew each other. I had friends from the area, my father had a lot of friends from the area. So it was a different, the only time that there was any real turmoil was that, that questionnaire time. That's when it caused a lot of problem, because difference in philosophy. Not that they, as a community, they were, they were friendly, congenial to each other. Very little problems. Maybe some, but not a heck of a lot. There were some protests, there was agitators, because of the abuse of civil rights and things like that, but basically, I thought it was... from a, from a, my perspective, it seemed like -- but I heard a lot of talks about civil rights, constitutional rights and all that. I've, I've heard that. I've heard the -- not JACL member in particular, but the Niseis, the older Niseis, telling us about loyalty and be American. And so, yeah, it was alright.

TI: So, but Tule Lake was very different, because it wasn't a, as homogenous.

TA: Oh. Tule Lake was just, it was chaos. I mean, fights, arguments, brother against brothers, against friends. Just fistfights, you know. And a lot of name-calling, inu in particular. These are Japanese informing on Japanese. And my father didn't like that. And then, of course, it was a mixture. It was, a lot of people, they say that Tule Lake was for "no-nos." These are the "no-no boys." But when you look at it, it wasn't. It was just a mixture of people. You had the "yes-yes," like the "yes-yes" over eighteen, they went because their parents were going. You had the, of course, the "no-no," the ardent disloyals, and you had the "no-yes," they didn't want to fight, join the army for a number of reasons. One of the reasons is because of the, because when they wanted to volunteer, they couldn't. But they, they said, "No, I won't fight, because you guys didn't want me." They had that kind of feelings. You had, you had the "yes-yes" conditionals, with condition that, "Yeah, we'll do it, provided that you let my family out, you let them go out, and restore their property and things like that." And the, you had the Kibeis. Now, this is what really brought an argument for my father, is that at the very end, the authorities said Kibeis that were in Japan for over ten years, and educated, had formal education in Japan, had all or part of their relatives in Japan, and returned to the United States after 1936, were considered disloyal, and they segregated them.

TI: Just regardless of what they said in interviews, or what they wrote down, just that distinction of ten years...

TA: The distinction.

CO: Uh-huh. Yeah. Now, you know, 'cause I've done a close study of the questionnaire, the way they did it, like graded it and all that kind of thing, like selection of who was loyal, and they had the "white," "brown," and "black" categories.

TA: Yeah, this is true --

CO: But, but a lot of things could be held against you, and put you in that category, even though technically you were not a "no-no" or not all these other vague categories --

TA: True.

CO: -- and then anybody that a camp administrator wanted to get rid of, like a troublemaker for some reason, whatever, that they were just shipped off. And so it was a catch-all category for, for people they...

TI: Well, in addition to all the people who were transferred, you mentioned there were about six thousand who stayed.

TA: Yes.

TI: And within that group, I've interviewed people who were "yes-yes," from the whole family, and they just didn't want to move.

TA: They didn't want to move.

TI: They just, they just wanted to, to stay there, because they were comfortable at Tule Lake.

TA: They were comfortable, initially when Tule Lake was built, they had the bigger, bigger accommodations. And, you know, they weren't crowded, and they were, they had the best jobs, the best facilities, they had connections with the administration. For the first time, Niseis were recognized and given positions of authority. And so they didn't want to move. They says, "No way I'm gonna move again. I'm gonna stay right" -- and besides, they were in California, and they figured that California was close to their home. And when they, if they were ever released, they would be able to go to, to their home without a heck of a lot of traveling.

TI: So going back to your point, so Tule Lake was, was this very diverse mixture of, in terms of how they viewed the loyalty issue, staying in the United States, going to Japan. So there wasn't, by no means, it was homogeneous. It was very --

TA: It was, no, it was very heterogeneous community, and not only that, is that the percentage of what we call Kibeis. The Kibeis was, was four Kibeis to one Nisei, all right? And not only that, it's, fifty percent were minors. Fifty percent of the population was minors. So, you know, you take, you take that into account, and you have the Tuleans, where the old Tuleans were envied by the segregee that came in. So that caused a lot of turmoil, lot of problems. And not only that, because of the increase in population, there was food shortages, lack of employment, lack of housing. They had Kibeis, bachelors particularly, in rec. halls and they bunks, no more than maybe -- just walking, maybe, maybe a foot, foot-and-a-half apart. Just lined up.

TI: Wow.

TA: And, you know, and these, the Kibeis were mistreated. And so that's, so, you know, you had the work stoppage problems, you had the overturn of the trucks, you had all those problems.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

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.

<Begin Segment 29>

TI: So going back, so after Myer said no, your, talk about, so your father did what next? What was the next...

TA: Well, what he did is these like-minded people, they says, they wanted to pitch the idea of resegregation. "Let's, let's spread the word." And so that's what they did, is they quietly, secretly, without observation by inus, because they suspected inus, and they didn't want the inus to know what their activities were, because if they did, it would be reported. And so they quietly spoke to like-minded people, and started to gain support. And eventually, they got about 6,500 people to support the idea. They, also, they wanted to petition the higher authorities for resegregation. And so about April, they sent a, others prepared, and thirty others, they petitioned Cordell Hull, the Secretary of State, for resegregation and revival of the exchange, exchange program.

TI: And when you said 6,500, were these all signers of the petition? Is that...

TA: These were signers of the petition, yeah.

TI: Okay, so that's where that number came from. So...

TA: Yeah. Well, yeah, he brought it up ahead of time, but, I mean, they had about 6,500 supporters.

TI: Okay.

TA: And with this... at the first petition, they only had a few names, maybe about thirty people. That was the first petition that went to Cordell Hull, and then it was routed through Ickes, and down to Myers, down to Best, for Best to make a determination. So that was the first determination. And then based upon that routing, then Mr. Black, who was the assistant director, called in the, the people like my father and Matsuda and all that, the close alliance people, and says, "All right, why don't you make kind of like a study, and see who, how many people will support this idea?" And that's when they got the six thousand people, and then that's when a second petition went out with, with the 6,500 names. And that was also rejected.

TI: And in general, those 6,500 names, these were supporters, were they, were they the ones who would be in the, sort of the, the group? The like-minded people to go to Japan? Were these pretty much the signers, or were they from all sides...

TA: It was the, it was the community at large. The segregants, they circulated it. Of course, probably -- and I don't know this -- but probably they, they did it around the like-minded people, and eventually it just grew and grew and grew, and eventually they got 6,500 people to sign. And that became their strength, and then they figured they had enough clout, that now they could take those 6,000 people, re-submit this petition, and see if they could get it done.

TI: And so what happened then?

TA: Well, what happened is they didn't get an answer. They also submitted the same petition to De Amat, he was the Spanish Consul in San Francisco, with the same 6,000.

TI: Because the Spanish government was, on behalf of the Japanese government...

TA: Behalf of the Japanese and the United States, as the arbiter, and go-between. Neutral nation. And then they didn't receive any reply from Myers, they didn't reply from De Amat, so they sent another letter and petition, and what happened is that Myers then sent the letter addressing the community. In other words, it'll be addressed: Tule Lake Residents, and said that resegregation is not, not an option. And as a result of that, they, Black called these people in to explain, and adamantly, and with uncertain terms, that resegregation was not favorably considered. And so these people... and the, and the case was closed, no more action to be taken.

TI: But this was after, but this was again after Black said, "Go do this," and...

TA: Yeah. And see that, but what happened is that Black admonished them. Says, "You did the survey wrong. You didn't ask whether they wanted to move, re-segregate or not, you asked them that, that, 'Would you sign up, and show your loyalty and, and sign up for the next exchange ship to go to Japan.'" Just misrepresented...

TI: Oh, so Black felt that the wrong, or he said the wrong question was asked, essentially.

TA: Wrong questions were asked, and they went --

TI: Although the sentiment was probably very similar.

TA: Yeah, it was similar, but he felt that they did not follow the rules, and that what it was, was should have been a circulation to see how many people were willing to move.

TI: But again, it must have felt, to your father and the others, that here again, the administration let them down, didn't tell the truth. I mean, they kind of worked with them, and they did something, and then, again, they were sort of let down.

TA: Yeah. So, so evidently, it made it, made a final statement: "Case closed, no more. I don't want to discuss it anymore." And so they were, they were kind of disappointed.

TI: So, so then what happened? What was the next step?

TA: And they quietly went into the background, and with the strength of, of the support that they had, they continued the resegregation movement, but then what it is is that they started to think of the idea of creating a young men's organization for, to teach these people the Japanese culture, the language, to get the body and mind in the frame of going to Japan, to live in Japan. And that's when they came up with the idea of forming the Hokoku -- actually, the first one was Sokoku Kikoku Kenkyu Dan.

TI: Dan.

TA: Yeah, this is the, the research part of the, kenkyu means "to study," study Japan, and they, they got that, and they... actually, before that time, they continued soliciting support and they, they ended up with about ten thousand people that supported the idea of resegregation. And so with that, they figured that it's time for a formal organization that will, to put the idea into motion.

TI: Right. But again, having lost kind of the battle to re-segregate, they now used their energies to form these groups to get ready.

TA: To get ready, yeah.

TI: To go to Japan.

TA: Because it was the intention of my father and the, and the group, to get the Kibeis and Niseis ready to, to go to Japan.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

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.

<Begin Segment 31>

TI: Well, in fact, right about that time, you joined the organization, also.

TA: Yeah. Yeah, my father --

TI: Although you were young for this, weren't you?

TA: I was, I was, you know, it was for, it was for fifteen and over -- no, sixteen and over. I was fifteen, but we knew, my father in his position just said, twisted arm and said, "Well, we need a junior membership." And so he spoke to, like Tsuha, I met Tsuha, who was --

TI: So was it your decision to join, or was it your father thinking that you should be part of this?

TA: He, my father figured would be a part of it, yeah.

TI: What, what did you think about joining the organization?

TA: Why not? I mean, he said, he told me what it was. Says, "Gonna prepare you to go to Japan." Right now, my mindset was, "I'm gonna go to Japan." So if this is going to be a part of it, okay, I'll be part of it. And, of course, my father's, so will I. I'm not gonna say no. So I, my brother Tosh and I, we joined, and we met Tsuha, and he, he gave us a hachimaki and all that, and he says, okay, and he shook our hand, and then told us to, to meet the block leader, and I met them, and formally accepted and told me to cut my hair bozu, which I reluctantly did, but I did.

TI: So bozu is just like shaving...

TA: Shaving my head, yeah.

TI: And so you would then have the headband...

TA: Headband --

TI: Hachimaki.

TA: -- and then a sweatshirt with this emblem. This emblem was the sweatshirt on.

TI: Okay, so that was your, essentially your uniform.

TA: That was our uniform.

TI: And so everyone in camp could see that you were part of this organization.

TA: That we were Kenkyu Seinen Dan member, yeah. And we did our drilling. You know, it was very peaceful, and really, if you're, like if you're a member of Boy Scouts, it's something kind of like that. Drilling and marching and running exercises, physical exercises, it was, it was kind of fun. There might be a political connotation, but still, it was fun. And I really enjoyed it. And then, there was a, they were going to form a bugle corps, and, of course, they ordered the bugles from Sears Roebuck, and they wanted selected members to become part of it, and I was selected. I was selected as one of the twenty and I, I learned how to play the bugle, and was head of the, the running group, and we marched and blew our bugles, and "Wasshoi, wasshoi." And there was a lot of camaraderie, it felt like I was Japanese. [Laughs] So it was, I thought it was, I didn't think nothing of it. I thought it was, personally, I thought it was great.

TI: And there was, I think there was one incident or one event where, I think, a large portion of the camp, like about ten thousand were all grouped together. I can't remember what --

TA: Oh, this was for Meiji Tenno's birthday. It was a great event. In fact, it was a huge event, and we just marched in groups.

TI: So this is the birthday of the emperor, that you --

TA: Yeah, Meiji Tenno, the Meiji Tenno. Meiji, Emperor Meiji, and we'd go there and we stood in line, they planned speeches and we bowed and shouted, "Banzai," Yeah. It's, it's extravagant. It's huge. Lot of people, lot of noise, and that's what we did.

TI: And how did that feel for you, as a, at this point you were fifteen, sixteen years old.

TA: For me, fifteen, sixteen years, yeah. You know, I'm part of the group. I've been accepted. So I thought it was... and my father is part of the leader of this, and by God, this is great.

CO: If you don't mind --

TA: I didn't have any reservation, for that matter.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

CO: Just to backtrack a little bit, you know, there was this murder in, in Tule Lake, and...

TA: Hitomi.

CO: Yes. Do you have any, like, who was this person and what was the effect on the camp from having this guy murdered? Now, you know, Frank Fujii has this story where it spread like wildfire that somebody'd been murdered, so he said all these little boys just ran down to see the body and all that.

TI: So, yeah, this was about July 1944 that Yaoze Hitomi was murdered. So why don't you --

TA: We heard about it.

CO: So there was this piece of paper that had "inu" on it, stuck on the barrack wall, right behind the man with, with a knife.

TA: Yeah, this, we heard it through, of course, you know, and we knew he was murdered. My father told us that he was murdered. But we didn't know, find out what the alarm was, but as far as he, he was the corporate manager, the co-op manager, and he, he wielded quite a bit of power, and he was considered "old Tuleans," and a lot of people disliked him because of the fact that he was running this thing, "suspectedly" illegal, and making a profit, and they were in cahoots with the, with the administration, and that, and he was reporting on, on the pro-Japan activities. And they had a run-in, and there's rumors, all kind of rumors who did it, but they, they murdered him, and we heard about it.

TI: Did they ever find out who committed the murder?

TA: No. Not to this day, not to this day. Although there's very, a lot of suspicion.

TI: And what was the reaction of your father and the other, kind of, leaders when this happened?

TA: My father -- not the leaders, but my father says, "Served him right. Damn inu." That was his reaction to it. But because there, it was conflicting with their, with their movement. Other than the resegregation movement, there were other political organizations. They were vying for power, and one power had the administration's support. Well, on my father's side, we did not have administration's support, so there was a lot of involvement. But as far as the true story, I talked to a couple people about it, and they came that close to telling me, but then they didn't. They backed off, I guess because it was murder.

TI: Hmm. Interesting.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 34>

TI: Well, from your perspective, then, as a member of the Hokoku Dan, the Young Men's, as a junior member, what did you see?

TA: I personally saw a great change. When, when my father was removed and Tachibana, Wakayama took over, Wakayama had talked about becoming a more aggressive, more intimidating, and they were using coercion and forceful tactics to, to join the organization. And as a result, our, our leaders emphasized and says, "Be more aggressive. Blow your bugle louder, yell 'Wasshoi' some more. Thump the feet louder, and be more aggressive in what you're doing." And as a result of this, a lot of the members -- especially the (Nisei) -- they got fed up with it and they says, "No, no, no. This is not for me." And they started to leave. And the membership started to slowly lose, lose membership.

TI: Now, was this just for membership, or also, does the, to sign the renunciation?

TA: This, this, at that time, the renunciation program was on hold until such time they came up with procedure as to how they would do this. So what happened is that it was only, people got to, got to, people renounced after the procedure came about. And those procedures were: one, you had to apply; two, you had to have a hearing; and third, you had to be approved by the attorney general. And those procedures didn't come in until sometime in October. October or November.

CO: And, you know, in the meantime, in the Supreme Court, they're moving along with these cases, and it was in December 18th or something when the... what was her name? Mitsuye Endo case was decided and they said everybody could go back to their homes. So... you know, it's all kind of stuff going on.

TA: Yeah, there was a lot of conflicting things because this is when, this is when things started to, to happen, because now you got the renunciation, and you got the Wakayama faction says, "Start pushing renunciation." But by December, there was only about a hundred some-odd people that renounced, mostly Kibeis. But what happened, based on this, the Department of Justice conducted a hearing. And based upon the hearing, the attorney general then quickly approved it. And upon approval, they lost their citizenship, and as a result of that, they were classified as "enemy aliens."

TI: So these were the U.S. citizens who renounced, all of a sudden they lost their status as citizens, and then were classified as "enemy aliens."

TA: "Enemy aliens." And then as a result of being classified as "enemy alien," they now had the authority -- well, not authority, but they, without being in conflict with the Geneva Conventions, they now could remove 'em to an internment camp without any repercussion.

TI: Yeah, those were the Department of Justice internment camps.

TA: Because --

CO: For aliens, yeah.

TA: Because the Spanish consul, during this time, was quite reluctant to do anything, because these were Niseis and Kibeis, and Kibeis and Niseis are U.S. citizens, so they couldn't really interfere with that, strongly make protests and things like that. So as a result, when they became enemy aliens, now they had the full power to just move 'em out, and that's what they did. In December 29th, my father was picked up along with...

TI: Right, so your father, with, who was already... well, he was a Japanese citizen.

TA: Issei.

TI: Issei.

TA: So he fell in that category. But he was also in-, he was, he was interviewed by Burling, and he...

CO: Burling, yeah.

TA: And he was asked a number of questions.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

TI: Right, so your father, along with about sixty-nine other men...

TA: Sixty-nine other men.

TI: Many of them who were formerly U.S. citizens, but who had renounced --

TA: Yeah.

TI: -- were picked up by, by... and, yeah, picked up.

TA: Picked up. They were, early in the morning, they came in there and raided the apartments, and like my mother was saying, says, "They came in, knock on the door and said, 'Where's Sanae Akashi?'" "Sanae Akashi's right there." They woke him up and told him to get dressed, handcuffed him, put him in a car and took him away. And that's how quick it was. Very efficient, as, as people told me about it, it was very efficient the way they did it. In fact, Tamura, he was in a, in a, he was in his bachelor quarters, and there were six or seven people there, but they knew exactly what bed to go to, and picked him up and carried him away. So it was a kind of a very efficient arrest.

TI: So how did you find out?

TA: I found out, I woke up -- my mother woke me up, after they left, and told us, "Your father's been arrested." And she told us how it happened and things like that, and, "Gee, what is this?" And then about the same time, one of the Hokoku Dan members, I don't know whose name, he came in and told us that, "The Hokoku Dan-in has been arrested." And we didn't know who was arrested, what the names were. But by then, he says, "Come on. We have to signal for assembly." So I got dressed up and got my bugle, and then blew my bugle for signal for assembly, and then all the members assembled. And that's when they announced that the leaders were, were arrested. They said, they said, among which was Akashi, Tachibana, Watanabe, Matsuda, and they named some of the people, but they didn't know the rest of the people's names. It was only until later that they, they found out who they were.

TI: So after you assembled, so you did the bugle call, everyone assembled...

TA: Yeah, about 350 of us assembled.

TI: And then, and then what, what did you do as a group? What was the next...

TA: Well, we assembled, made a, they made an announcement, they says, "All right, go back to, go back to your barracks, have breakfast, and we'll call you again. We'll signal you again." And I guess that's, that's, in the meantime, the people at the (Caucasian elementary school), they were able to request their immediate family, a friend, whoever, for their toiletries and things like that. And these, the internal security people, the camp police was told not to give out names, but eventually they weeded out, and they found out very quickly who those people were. The members, the leaders.

CO: You mentioned, you mentioned the word "stockade," you know, I forgot to bring that up sometime here, but I thought the stockade had been dismantled by this time.

TA: Yes, it was, it was. Because say, way back again. All right, there, many of the resegre-, oh, boy.

TI: Resegregants.

TA: These guys were members of the group, the resegregation movement, and they were arrested. And, including Kai and Abe and the brothers. Tokio Yamane, these people were... and Toki Yamane was the brother of Shigeru Matsuda.

CO: Not, the brother-in-law.

TA: Brother-in-law of Shigeru Matsuda, who was a member of the Saiban-iin. And what they did is they, the family, the resegregation family, they collectively gathered money, and formed what they call a lawsuit committee, and they decided that they would contact Besig, of the Northern District of the ACLU. Besig said he'll take the case, he contacted Wayne Collins, and Wayne Collins, who was familiar with this type of cases, went, got two people to file a writ of habeas corpus. And what happened is that with this writ, with this writ of habeas corpus, Collins and Besig went to the regional WRA meeting, and threatened 'em with this threat. Says, "We are going to file the writ of habeas corpus." They, the WRA, immediately became scared. They didn't want any publicity, because all the activities there was illegal. Holding prisoners for eight months without a trial, without a hearing, without charges. And so they immediately disbanded them, and they immediately, what they did is not have any trace of the stockade, they dismantled it, and it disappeared.

TI: And what time period, roughly, was this? So they're, the eight months they were there, do you roughly know when? Do you know...

CO: Well, I used to know. [Laughs]

TI: Okay, well, don't worry about it. We can, we can, it's actually in your book.

TA: Oh, is it? Okay. [Laughs]

TI: We can do that...

TA: Sorry. [Laughs] Senior moment again.

TI: Yeah.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 36>

TI: So you're... let's go back to your father being arrested with the other sixty-nine men.

TA: Yeah.

TI: How long were they being held at Tule Lake before they went to Santa Fe? Were they there just for a few days? I can't remember how long...

TA: Tule Lake?

TI: Yeah, well, they were, they were being held just for, like...

TA: Oh. Just...

TI: Days, or...?

TA: No, the next day. I mean, we assembled, and probably 29th they were assembled and they were bussed to Klamath Falls the same day.

TI: So they got 'em out right away.

TA: Right away, yeah. They were not, there was no stockades, they kept 'em in the (Caucasian elementary school). They stayed there. And then they bussed 'em out, and they drove right by us. By then, we assembled and we all marched, and there were about couple thousand out there supporting 'em and wishing 'em, giving 'em a send-off. And that's when they told us that they were going to Santa Fe, and we "Banzaied."

TI: So you had, like, thousands at the fence right there?

TA: Oh, yeah. Right there by the fence, fence-line. With the bugle corps and everything. And then we gave 'em a send-off, like you send-off a bunch of heroes. And then they disappeared.

TI: Boy, what, what were you feeling? I mean, here your father was being sent off like a hero, and yet your father is leaving the family.

TA: Yeah. You know, that's youth again. I guess it's akin to... you know, the Brown Shirt members of Hitler's regime, I mean, you're young, your father is a leader, everybody's being "banzai" and he's going. Proud... still sad that he's leaving, but kind of proud that he, he's showed that he was a true Japanese like he said. He says, "You be," he says, "you be Japanese in character." He says, "Proud to be a Japanese." He instilled that in us. And when he left I was kind of proud, yeah. He showed that he stuck to his guns. We didn't know what the consequences were, but we know he was going. But like any other families, like my father and mother, she was pretty sad about the situation. Mad in a way, that he was taken away. Mad that he didn't, he didn't get a chance to say goodbye. She held that for a long time. In fact, many years after, she says, "You know, one thing I resent about that is the way took him away. Didn't even say goodbye to us. Didn't even say goodbye to the children. Woke him up and took him away." She, that, she held the government... she resented it, that kind of a handling. She also resented because, you know, with all the children and the head of the family leaving, and we're there going to Japan and where is he going? We don't know where he's going. So...

CO: She had her baby, a young baby.

TA: Yeah, young baby, so as a result, yeah. Very disappointed.

TI: How was it for the family? Because I, again, I've interviewed lots of people, and the camp situation, the nuclear family would really break up. That sense of family, because the kids would eat separately from the parents and...

TA: Yes. Yes.

TI: How was that for your family, especially during these hard times?

TA: Same way. Same way, is that, you get a sense of independence and non-reliance on the parents. "Why should I worry about the parents? We could eat whenever we want to eat, we could do whatever we want, and who's going to keep us from doing it?" You get, you get to a stage where you feel that way. And I guess I also felt that way. But then again, you could see the sadness in your mother. Not the father, but the mother. Mother is, sees the sadness of the family slowly breaking apart. And she wanted to keep us together. So as a result, I know one time she told me, and I would do something and I resented it, and I said, "No," and she took a broom and struck me with it. Didn't hurt, kind of laughed and whatnot, but she, and I felt very bad about that. So I felt that maybe I should spend a little bit more time with the family. And Mits is the same way. He was in a stage of, that age where you wanted to -- [laughs] -- break away. So he, he was that same way. But we all finally got together, especially when my father left. When my father left, we became very, very close, closer together. And we supported each other, particularly my mother.

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 38>

TI: So where, where we are right now is, we're in 1945, so around June, the, the organizations have all, sort of, pretty much ended. The administration sort of did the divide-and-conquer, your father was sent away, and your family has sort of, sort of gotten closer going through this...

TA: More family unity.

TI: ...more family unit. August 1945, the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, which essentially ended the war with Japan. But what was your reaction when you heard about the bombing, or the, the atomic bomb on Hiroshima?

TA: Concern. The reason for it is that my mother's family came from Hiroshima. And like anything else, she says, "Well, if I have relatives in Hiroshima, they must be dead." That was my first reaction. I said, "Oh, my God, what, what did they do?"

TI: Because also, you were thinking now you're going to back to Japan, too.

TA: And going back to Japan, too.

TI: And the family might be... because in just, in a couple months, you're starting to get ready to go to Japan, in about November, and wanted to find out what it was just like, just waiting and getting ready? Your dad, your father's still separated.

TA: Separated, we were, we were really, really getting worried. And my mother's resolution to go to Japan started to waver. In fact, my uncle came, Uncle Frank came from Cressey, because they were, they relocated by now, because, and he came, paid us a visit, and urged us to stay. He says, "If your dad want to go, let him go." But he says, and he hear, well, I have an uncle that came back from Japan, and told about this condition in Japan, so this, this is a firsthand knowledge of what was in Japan. He says, "It's terrible. People are starving, and housing, everything is desperate there." So she, he encouraged my mother, says, "No." But then she stood fast and says, "Look, we're on the stop, stop-list, we can't leave anyhow, and besides, we're determined to go to Japan," with my father. And he says, "Well, how do you know he's going back?" Said, "We don't know, but we have indications that he'll be." And that's when we were really concerned, and my mother, we told my mother, "Why don't you write one of those secret letters that you always did?" And she -- I give her credit, and my father credit, too, because I don't know why they anticipated this, but they says, "These are the things that we're gonna do. Your name, it could be spelled 'Sanae,' or S-A-N-A-E, or S-A-N-Y-E. Or Paul, or," you know, he says, "If you use this word like Kiyoshi, Vivian. And if you use this it means, 'yes,' if this, it means 'no.' And if this is what you... they felt that if it was ever intercepted, it would be innocuous, it wouldn't mean a thing.

TI: So what they had arranged for was --

TA: They've arranged.

TI: -- essentially a code between the two of them.

TA: The code between the two of them.

TI: To help them communicate back and forth --

TA: Communicate back and forth.

TI: -- past the censors that...

TA: Yes. That, because we know what, everybody knew what we had said, my God, I mean, all around -- whatever, whenever we got something, it was full of holes. It didn't say nothing. You know, "I am, I'm well. How is everybody?" And that's it, about it. And so she really, she taught, my father taught her to write it in, with lemon, and with a chopstick -- with a toothpick, and there on paper, and she wrote this and said that, "Where, where are you? We're waiting to find out what, where you're gonna, what are you gonna do? Where are you?"

TI: 'Cause she wanted to find out whether or not he was going to be on the same ship going back to Japan?

TA: True, yeah. And wanted to know what was happening. And what happened is that at that time, by then -- I'm reviewing -- he's already in Terminal Island. What happened is that my father's brother, Tokutaro, left Terminal Island. And my cousin, David Akashi, who was the brother of Tokutaro, moved to, back to Los Angeles. And we heard through Uncle Frank that he moved, and I, for some reason or another, my father -- that's a very, mystery to us. 'Cause how did he know that Dave was in, back in Los Angeles? But anyhow, for some -- and then how did Dave get a message from my father? But whatever it was, it says, is says that, talked about Dave, talked about the good days of the rice ball and the, and then when he left in December, giving them the idea -- we read it, we re-read it, and we came to the conclusion what he meant was, "I'm in Terminal Island, I will be leaving in December." And with that, we felt, "Oh, wow. He's going to be with us."

About the same time, they said, WRA announced that those people in, that been interned, will be, will meet us at the, at the dock on the ship. So with this message we says, "Okay, our father's going to be with them." That, that really relieved my mother. My mother's, all of a sudden, all this worry, and she says, "All right. Father's going to be there, so we won't have to worry." Says, "We'll continue to prepare to go to Japan."

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 39>

TI: Okay, so I'm curious; so you're all getting ready to go to Japan.

TA: Ready to go to Japan.

TI: This is now almost a year after your father was taken away.

TA: About a year, yes.

TI: And a year ago, he was sent off with like a hero's farewell.

TA: Yes.

TI: I'm curious, now that a year has gone by, in terms of how the other people at Tule Lake, who were not going, how they treated you, your mom, your family.

TA: My mother in particular, you know... this is funny how people react to certain things, because when my father was picked up, a hero, whatnot, they'd come to my mother and says, "Oh, domo arigato." And treated her with high regards. But after that, jeez, they just turned against her. They didn't even want to talk to her. They just ignored her, alluded to that it was my father's fault that there, that people would, all these things are happening, and so she was really disappointed, and we felt pretty sorry for her. You know, high esteem down to, to being hated. I really hated the way they treated her. But, but she, she went through it.

TI: That must have been very, very hard for your mother.

TA: Aw, she's a good soldier. [Laughs] I wish I did more for her while she was living.

<End Segment 39> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 40>

TI: Well, I'm going to skip up to, so eventually you got to Portland. This is on December 28, 1945, and this is the day the ship, the USS Gordon is scheduled to leave Portland. You and your family are on the ship, and yet your father still isn't on there yet.

TA: Yes.

TI: And there's, I think in your book you talk about this scene where, where you see your father for the first time. Can you describe that for us? How you first saw your father.

TA: Well, you know, I was up there on the deck and I was thinking about a lot of things. And all of a sudden, the people started to go out towards the side, so being curious as I was, I went over there and looked, and here's a paddy wagon that came up, and it stopped. By then, we were ready to go. The, the... what they call the...

TI: The gangplank?

TA: Gangplank was up, the crew was in, we were all ready to go. But then at the last minute, this paddy wagon came in there and the gangplank, and then here's these (sixteen) people came out of there, and, and I says, "I wonder who these people are." Everybody said, "Who are they? Who are they?" And people started recognizing, they says, "Oh. That's Matsuda. That's Tachibana." They started saying, and I says, I looked, and the third person, they're coming up, was my father. And by coincidence, he looked up, and our eyes met, and I says, "God, that's..." I was relieved. I was, "Wow, he's back." Because we were worried. We didn't know, we were promised that he was gonna be on the ship, I went all over, frantically looking for him, and nobody knew. When he says, "Have you seen Akashi?" They, "No, no." None of them. The Santa Fe people, all these people said, "We haven't seen him." And so we were worried. My mother was certainly worried, and my, she told me that she went up and looked, the second shipment came in, the third shipment came in, and, and my father wasn't on it. Those shipments, the trade shipments that came in. So she was really, yeah, really... I don't know how you say it, but really heartbroken. And she had to tell the children that, and she, she said, "I, we're gonna have to go back to Japan alone. We don't even know where to go." She didn't know, she made one trip to Japan, she knew it was someplace in Saga, Eguchi, and that's about it. And so she was quite scared, she was telling us. She was all, you know, she was very, very worried. But then when, well, this is going further, but later on, I looked and whatnot, the ship started moving, and I knew he was on board, but I couldn't tell my mother because they separated us. The fourteen and under were, like Mits, they were on one side, and we were on the other side.

TI: So they separated the men on one side...

TA: The men on one side, the women and children on the other.

TI: And the women and children on the other side.

TA: And they would not let us communicate. They had a barrier, we were roped, and they had guards standing there, and we could not go to the other side. So the ship is leaving, my, probably my mother didn't know, I'm looking, but anyhow, I knew he was on board, and I felt, yes, but then all of a sudden I says, "Maybe it wasn't him." It, possibly it wasn't him. And so I started having some worry about was it really him, or was it not. So I had some concern.

TI: But then eventually you, you did see him on the ship?

TA: Yeah. Well, what happened was they had what they called the visiting hours, and we went out there and we didn't know where they were, but fortunately they were sitting on one of those hatch covers, and we met and...

TI: So this was your mom, you mother and your...

CO: No, his dad.

TA: My mother, Tosh and I...

TI: And your, the younger siblings.

TA: And the younger siblings, we were all there.

TI: Were all there, and you went to go meet them.

TA: Huh?

TI: And so you went to them?

TA: Yeah, Tosh and I.

TI: Okay.

TA: Tosh and I was, Tosh and I, we went there.

TI: And your father wasn't there yet, so it was just...

TA: No, we were there, and they says, "Did you see Father?" "No, I looked for him, couldn't find him." And it's sort of, "Oh, God," sort of, "Are we really going alone?" And it was a, it was really a terrifying feeling, because couldn't, could hardly speak the language, we'd never been there. It's going to the unknown. And it's the fear, the not knowing what's going to happen. And then all of a sudden out there, he says, "Kiyoshi, koko da." He says, "Hey, Kiyoshi, I'm over here." Oh, man, the relief. I mean, we stood there and hugged him and it was really good. It was, it was a heart-, I mean, experience that, and especially, you could see my mother. She... I'm sorry. [Cries] Doggone it. Sorry, sorry. Sorry. Anyhow, just seeing my mother's face. So happy. All her worries were over. It was great. Well, anyhow, that's what happened. I think we were all concerned about our mother and father, really. 'Cause my mother, she suffered so much. Not only that, we got to Japan... [pauses] yeah. I didn't ever think this would happen.

<End Segment 40> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 41>

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.

<Begin Segment 42>

TI: And so when you arrived in Japan, what was it like?

TA: Just like my Uncle Frank told me. I mean, funny thing, we were, when we were coming to Tokyo Bay, you could, it was a clear day, we saw Mt. Fuji. And jeez, everybody said, "Wow." And so that was fine, but as we were crossing, we see more and more ships, U.S. ships and Japanese ships and... and we see these repatriates, Japanese repatriates coming back, and they're coming back and they're all in ragged uniforms, just a pack on their back, and then we, we would, they anchored at the (Yokosuka) Bay, and then we got on an LST, we transferred over, and then we got to the relocation -- well, the repatriation center, which was run by the 1st Cavalry, and oh, talk about misery and dirtiness and all that, but for a while, we were elated because they fed us what we thought was red rice. And red rice is supposed to be good luck, special. But it was korian. It was korian, it was really some beans, hard beans. Everybody got diarrhea. Everybody, I mean, it was just terrible. But for a while, some of the Isseis thought, "Wow, maybe Japan won the war." But said, "Wait a minute. There's a guard over there. Those are guards, they're, they're 1st Cav. people." And, but anyhow, you see around you, all around you, just people, these families, the repatriate families huddled together. It's cold, no fire, no warmth, no food. The soldiers all defeated, like they had no hope. It was a dismal, dismal situation. And that's what we were confronted with when we first arrived in Japan. It was, in fact, worse than what Uncle Frank told us.

TI: What was the reaction of the Japanese when, when they found out about you coming from the United States? I mean, what was their --

TA: Oh, when we got back to Eguchi, to where...

TI: Yeah. What was, kind of reception did you get?

TA: The first contact that I had was my brother and I getting off the train, trying to catch a bus to Eguchi, because my father gave us directions. Says, "You, when you get to Kurume," said, "when you get to Kurume, you take a bus and go to Eguchi." And he says, "Ask for Akashi. Everybody will know." And we tried to ask for a bus, and nobody could understand us. And I said to myself, "Hey, Tosh, I don't think they understand us." He says, "Yeah, I thought I spoke Japanese." But, and then they gave a strange look because we were dressed differently. You know, our American clothes had color, and they'd wear old, wartime clothing, the womenfolks had that, what do they call it, the farmer's clothes, and the men had tattered clothing, whatnot. And here we had relatively new jackets, I think mine was red, checkerboard red. And so, wow, they looked, they thought I was, some of 'em said, "Keto." You know, keto, "white man." Yeah. They thought we were part of the occupation. And here we were repatriates, or, not expatriates, but here we were returning to Japan for the first time. Yeah, see, the two of us traveled alone because our family left first. We, we stayed behind to take care of the baggage, and they got on the first train.

TI: Okay, so they were there already, and you were bringing the baggage.

TA: They were there already, and we were trying to join up with 'em. And then we went to the village, and they're all looking at us very strangely. They knew we were outsiders, but they, they thought we were Americans. Not Japanese, Americans.

CO: Well, you were in a, in a sense.

TA: Well, yeah, that's, that's the way they treated, looked at us. Yeah. And because they were conquered or whatnot, I guess they couldn't say anything, maybe held, were reserved, but they didn't say anything. But, they looked at us, and then we went to the home, and -- to the family home, but the family home was not there, and we went to our uncle's place, and he wasn't there because under the tenant, absentee tenant, the house was turned over to the tenant, and then the tenant told us that the family went to Tokutaro's place up in the hills. So we walked up the hill, and people asked people walking by. Then pointing their fingers at us, and some of the girls giggling.

<End Segment 42> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 43>

TI: How did you, how did you feel as you were doing this? What did you, what kind of --

TA: Feel like a stranger. [Laughs] You know, in a strange world. I mean, we thought that we were returning to Japan as Japanese, but we're not. And we try to speak to 'em, they don't understand us, when we asked for directions. And then we, they're speaking that Saga-ben. Saga dialect, and we'd catch bits of words, but we really don't know what they were saying. So we struggled, and they pointed their finger and we showed 'em the address that they gave us, and finally we got, got there. My uncle initially welcomed us, but then that lasted about, maybe two days. Because gee, you got a family of eight to feed, and his house was a small house, and he gave up his small yo jo han, which is oh, a little place, about this much with all of us sleeping --

TI: You mean like about 10' x 10' kind of?

TA: Oh, 10' x 10' would have been a luxury. Let's see. A tatami is 4' x 6'?

CO: Something like that, yeah.

TA: And it's a yo jo han, so 4 1/2 tatami, so maybe about, about maybe 8' x 8'? It's a small room, and we all, of course, in Japan you don't have beds and everything else. You just throw your blankets there, and we didn't have any blankets. They didn't have any. You know, they don't have blankets for all of us, but what spare they had, they gave us and we spread it out, we all huddled under one -- usually a cushion and a blanket and cushion and blanket and you have separation, but we just spread it, we didn't have any blankets against the floor, we just have it all up on top of us. And it was cold. They don't have heaters, they don't have heaters at all, and we weren't used that, but it was really cold. Because this is, this is January. And he, he fed us one time, rice, but then thereafter, he said, "Fend for yourself." You know, he had his own family to take care of, and we imposed upon him. But he was good enough to give us this place. So as a result, we had to sell our clothes, whatever, on the black market, and get enough money to feed ourselves. And at the same time, we were considered Americans, so we were not, we couldn't get what they call haikyuu, which is rations. And they had rice rations, very little, with wheat and little bit of, a little noodles and hard crackers that the army had, surplus, and they came with this. And that was haikyuu, but we weren't, we weren't authorized. My father was the only one that could go, because he, his name was on the koseki tohon, the family register, as a Japanese. So he got it. My mother couldn't, and the, the kids couldn't. So as a result, unbeknownst to us, but I later found out he registered us on the family register. That's the reason why we were able to get some haikyuu. And so we got some haikyuu, but other than that, we, we had to fend for ourselves.

<End Segment 43> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 44>

TI: So what kind of things did your, your father and mother and Tosh and you do, to survive? I mean, to help...

TA: All right. What happened is that for the repatriation program, the government allotted land. There's sort of a, like a consignment that you, you cleared the land and work on it, and within thirty years the land would be yours. So we had a little plot of land, trees growing, rocks and boulders and whatnot. So we spent most of our time -- my father says, "We have to clear this land before, before the planting season." So we all frantically, with what we called kaitaku, reclaiming land, and worked hard, and also, to pay my uncle for letting us stay there, Tosh and I had to help my uncle, we carried the rice buckets, swinging that stuff and taking it over there, scooping it all over, this is the, the night fertilizers.

CO: Yeah. Human waste, yeah.

TA: Stink, and it spills on you. We didn't know how to do it. You have to get it in a certain swing, you know, so that it, it doesn't spill and you still could walk. And hell, the first time we grabbed it, went like that, and the damn thing spilled all over. It was awful. But anyhow, we went through that, and then we had to stomp on his wheat fields to... because if you stomp on it, it grows better, it gives you better growth. And then we had to go collect wood up out in the hills, carry that. We did that in addition to kaitaku, so we were pretty busy.

CO: Gee, you managed --

TA: Had very little contact with people.

CO: Yeah, managed to eat, though. That's amazing.

TA: We managed to eat, and later on, things got easier because my uncle was able to send some care package.

CO: Oh, from the U.S.?

TA: From the U.S., but it was a long time in coming. But it did eventually arrive, and that saved us a little bit. But, and then, what happened is that my father said that probably he could -- and relatives don't help. Relatives do not help when you're in dear need. I mean, they won't give you nothing. Because --

CO: And that's so contrary to the way you were raised.

TA: Yeah, they, they wouldn't give us anything. You think that -- but, of course, it's after the war, defeated, they're starving themselves, so I guess they, they want to protect their, whatever little bit they had. But my father says, "Let's go visit this, the admiral." I think I read the book that -- I wrote in the book that I later met him. Well, we did. We went way up towards Kurume, went out there on a jinriksha, which is one of these hand things, and we went there and, and my father told him our situation, and asked him if can spare a bag of rice. And they're a wealthy family, and they, well, they gave us a bag of rice. And boy, my mother stretched that rice to no end. Rice, she'd put a little bit of rice... you know okayu, the rice gruel?

CO: Yes, I know okayu.

TA: And you know, it's a luxury if you get rice gruel with potato, sweet potato, but we didn't have sweet potato, so she chopped up... we went and salvaged the, the tops of, of the vegetables. Well, really went out and did a little bit of night requisition. We cut these things, then my mother chopped it up, and we put in there, and it was filling. It was probably better nutrition than the stuff that we ate, we're eating today. But...

CO: Yeah, greens. [Laughs]

TA: Yeah, but she really, it's a wonder how she was able to feed us. But it got to, it got to the point where we were, Tosh and I, working and everything else, we, and we were eating. And he says, "Look, sorry buddies, it's time for you guys to go." Says, says, "You need to help the family, why don't you look for a job?"

TI: I'm sorry, this was your father's talking, or your uncle?

TA: My father's talking.

TI: Okay, your father's saying, "It's time for you to..."

CO: Yeah, I, I was interested in how your father was feeling. I mean, if you know, having brought, gone to Japan, he must have felt bad. I mean, I don't know, but...

TA: Well, he, his, his concentration was getting that land cultivated so he could plant, and once he plant, he figured that we'll have enough vegetable and things like that. But he, he dedicated all of his effort into planting, so every day he was out there. And we says, "Well, we have to help you cultivate." I mean, not cultivate, "to clear the land." And he says, "No, Mits will help." He said, "Mits, Mom and I will do it, and you just go out there and see if you can find a job." So Tosh and I went, and Tosh got a job --

TI: Oh, keep going, we'll finish this and then we'll...

TA: Tosh got a job with the, with the Air Force. I mean, not with the Air Force, but with the company that was refurbishing, repolishing swords to present to the army officers for souvenirs, and he worked there, and I got a job with a company called Nodomi-gumi, it's a Japanese construction company that had a contract with the Air Force to construct a, build a road up to a radar site on top of Mount Seburi, it's the highest point in that area. And so, and there, and since the Japanese could handle demolition, they had a demolition squad assigned on top of, as we moved, to do all the demolition, and they wanted an interpreter to work with them, and go-between the, the Japanese contractor and the Air Force and the demolition crew, so I got a job there. So...

<End Segment 44> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 45>

TI: So just the final question for, for this morning is, while you were doing this, at some point, you decided to go back to the United States.

TA: Yes.

TI: And wanted to ask you, why did you decide to go back to the United States, and was that hard for you to leave your family there?

TA: Well, see, by then I, I gained employment at Saga military government, which was close to us in Saga city, which was only about an hour on the train. And I got a job there, and it was Captain Gilpin there. He, we were talking about, "Where you came from," things like that, and he introduced the idea, why don't I go back? He says, he says, "You know, you people can go back," and that's when I decided, "Hey, maybe it would be a good idea to go back." He also indicated that, "You could be a U.S. citizen, you could be employed as a, as a U.S. citizen, and earn American dollars. And so, you know, you people would be better off." So I went home and I talked to my father and mother and discussed it with them, and they agreed thought that was a good idea. Now, the reason my brother didn't go was because he caught pleurisy, and he was ill, and he wasn't able to go. So I was next in line, and I figured that I'll go back and earn some money, send it back. But at the parting word, I remember, "Haji o kakeruna, which means, "Don't bring shame to, to us." And, "Benkyo," he says, "Gakko ni ikunoda." He says, which, "Gakko ni ikunoda." He says, "You go to school." So I promised him that I would go to school, and I would not bring shame to the family. And, and I left.


TI: Okay, so, so Tom, we're now on our fifth tape, so we're going to continue the interview. Where we left off on the last tape was, you had just, you were in Japan, and you made your decision to return to Japan, and you had talked with your father and he gave you some advice in terms of coming back. So let's, let's pick it up there, and how did you get back to Japan?

TA: How did I --

TA: Or back to the United States?

TA: Back to the United States? Well, before we left Tule Lake, there was an announcement that all minor U.S. citizens will be able to return to the United States, provided that you had some documentation, or some birth, birth records. So we made sure that we went to the office, presented our record, and, with the intention of returning to the United States. And then, when I worked for the military government team, again, like Captain Gilpin said, after learning about my situation, he, he sort of helped me out in filling out the papers, contacting the, a sponsor, my uncle, Uncle Frank, and then arrangements were made to, to, for a ship to return. And that's how I came about returning to United States.

<End Segment 45> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 46>

TI: So where'd you, where'd you return to? Which, which port?

TA: Returned to San Francisco, of course, and then to, back to Cressey.

TI: Okay.

TA: Cressey is where my mother -- my uncles all lived.

TI: Uh-huh.

TA: And so I went to Cressey, and soon found that it didn't fulfill my objective of one, getting an education, two, earning enough money to --

TI: Well, before we get there, what was the reaction of your Uncle Frank and other family members when you returned?

TA: Oh, it was great. I mean, they welcomed me, and, and they asked me questions about Japan and, and they said that, "Too bad that you didn't stay, you could have stayed."

TI: Oh, stayed in the United States and not go to Japan?

TA: Yeah, yeah. He says, you could have, you should have, but, of course, they respected my mother's choice for us to go. So it was a nice welcome.

TI: Well, I'm curious, too, when you were approaching the United States, and... how did you feel? What did it feel like coming back to the United States after these, these years?

TA: Well, like anything, I sort of reflected on my father. I says, "Gee, this must be like my father returning -- coming to the United States."

CO: Oh, coming, yeah.

TA: 'Cause he was about the same age, and traveling alone, and coming, going to the United States. And here I'm in the same situation: all by myself, returning to the United States, and I reflected on that a little bit, but I was a little bit apprehensive, because I didn't know really how my uncles would accept me, how I would fit into the, in the community. I, you know, to the family, that went through a different type of hardship. And so there's sort of a lack, there's a gap to be filled. But that rapidly filled up, I mean, after all, they're my uncles, they, they gave me advice, they told me what to do, and said that, "You could stay here and farm, but, of course," he says, "we won't be able to compensate you," because they were not in a position to do it, however, I was welcome to work, there was plenty of work to do. And I, I did a little bit of work, but then I, I told my uncle, I says, I would rather, maybe go to Uncle Masuji's -- this is my uncle in Berkeley, and perhaps I can work there and then go to school. (Narr. note: My uncle Masuji Fujii is my aunt Hiro (mother's sister's) husband.) And Berkeley High was known to be a good high school, so they agreed, they called my uncle Masuji and said, "Motomu would like to go," and they said, "Oh, yeah. Come on over." Said, "We got plenty of room." And so I left Cressey and went to Berkeley.

<End Segment 46> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 47>

CO: Now, when you left Japan, you were on good terms with your father? I mean, he fully...

TA: Yeah, I was in good terms with him, he gave, he gave me his blessing, and he says, like I said before, says, "No, don't bring shame to the family, and get your education." Because he, he valued the education very strongly. He says, "A good education will open doors for you," so, he says, "Get a good education."

CO: Yeah. Did you ever talk about what happened at Tule Lake with your dad while you were still there? Did he ever, you know, reflect on it and talk about it philosophically?

TA: Not, not really, because he... you know, we were so darn busy trying to, trying to live, and working and there wasn't a moment where we sat down -- well, it's crowded anyhow, and just going to the bath and all that, and getting things running, and eating, there was a, I mean, I think most of our attention was focused, and earning and living -- I mean, surviving, and getting that farm going. Or that plot of land, so we could get that vegetable grown. I think that was the primary objective, so there was very little talk about Tule Lake. It's sort of like, I don't know whether he didn't want to talk about it, we knew about it, so I guess he just thought that it wasn't necessary to talk about it.

CO: Uh-huh. Yeah, and even after you came to the U.S., were you able to ever have this kind of talk with your dad?

TA: To tell you the -- I could go into that if you want me to.

TI: Yeah, let's talk about that.

TA: Because I'm going to go, fast-forward.

TI: Okay.

TA: So, well, anyhow, I, there was a time when I enlisted in the army, I got my warrant. As a warrant officer, the security requirements are a little bit more rigid, especially when you get involved into the sensitive as well, and that requires special access and things like that. So as a result, my, my boss, my OIC, wanted me to see what, whether I had dual citizenship, because one of the things was dual citizenship and relatives foreign, relatives living in foreign, with close relationship. So I did, and checked with the, with the Saga military government -- I mean, the Saga prefecture government, they checked the (family) records, and they found out that I had dual citizenship, and as a result, my OICs recommended strongly that I, you know, renounce my Japanese citizenship. So I took the formal step of going to the foreign ministry and applying for renunciation. And so I was a renunciant in reverse. I renounced my Japanese citizenship. And, and I told, I told my father the reason why, and he, he understood, he gave me his tacit approval, because I said that this was for the advance of my career. Says, "I have to do it," and he understood.

TI: Do you think that hurt, hurt him, though? For you to...

TA: No, I don't think so. I don't think so, because he --

TI: And I should back up, there were two things that they said you had to do. One was if you had Japanese citizenship, renounce that, and the second thing was you had to sort of break ties with any close relatives in Japan --

TA: That's right. Yes.

TI: -- because of the nature of the work you had to do.

TA: Yes.

TI: And so you had to tell your father that, that in order for you to accept this position and get the promotion, you would have to --

TA: Well, I already was promoted.

TI: Okay, but you would have to --

TA: It's the new position that we were going to be moved into.

TI: Okay, then you'd have to kind of, sort of break ties with him, and it could be close.

TA: Yes, yes.

TI: And so you're saying that he gave you his approval.

TA: He gave me his tacit approval, and he says, "I understand."

TI: Because this would include your, your mother also? Well, your mother was back in the United States.

TA: No, she wasn't. My mother was there, too. My mother also agreed.

TI: She agreed.

TA: They agreed, and they said they knew it was necessary. And he always preached, he says, "You're a U.S. citizen. And if you, you just have to fight for your country. Do what is necessary for your country," so he understood that, and when I told him, maybe it may have broken his heart, but then he, he understood. And as a result, going back to your question, after that, I never had contact with him.

CO: You mean you never, that was it. You, he died, or...?

TA: That was it, except for one time, and that one time, when Junko was getting married, she wanted my father to attend the wedding, and lo and behold, there was no record, and they approved it, and gave him a visa to come, and he came. And I was stationed at Hawaii at that time, so he made a stop in Hawaii, and made an effort to see me, saw me for about two or three hours, got back on the plane, and left, and that was the last time I see him.

TI: In those two or three hours, what did the two of you talk about?

TA: Just, "How are you doing?" Nothing, nothing in particular, just, just know how I was, what I was doing, whether the family was well. Just a regular family talk.

CO: Uh-huh. Did he seem well, did he seem in good spirits and all that?

TA: He was in good spirits. And, in fact, I said, says, "Pop," I said, "Why don't you come to the United States?" And his remark was, "No." Says, "I'm not going to go back to the United States." He says, "I'm going back to my students." And he was known to be a very dedicated teacher, and he says, "No, I want to go back to my students." In fact, later on, when my mother and everybody came, he promised that he would go back, but he made a comment, Satsuki was telling me that no, he wanted to stay with his students. So he, we let him have his way.

TI: So he went back, just briefly, then, for the for the wedding --

TA: Yes.

TI: -- ceremony. And so Junko was, this is in California?

TA: Yes, in California.

<End Segment 47> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 48>

TI: So, actually, we're a little out of sequence, but let's back up a little bit. So she went back to the United States, and I should back up, because prior to her going back to the United States, your mother returned to the United States.

TA: Yeah. The sequence is, my, my brother got drafted in Japan, and then he came --

CO: Mits.

TA: And then he came to the United States for basic training, and then for the army, army service. He's the second one that came back. Then my mother came back, and my mother came back with the understanding that she was gonna work, earn the passage for each one of the child. So each one of the child came back. I think Satsuki came back first, then Junko came, and then Tomo came last.

CO: And this was with your father's approval? I mean, he...

TA: Yes, he understood that. Understood -- I think he, he understood that our place was in the United States.

TI: Now, from your mother's perspective, though, she was always the, the advocate, the proponent of keeping the family together.

TA: True, true.

TI: And so here, this is about 1953, she decides to go to the United States to earn money to help bring the --

TA: The children back, yes.

TI: -- your sisters back. What changed in her mind to think that she would essentially leave the family?

TA: Because there's a promise, there was a promise by my father that he will return when all of the children are back. So he, she eventually felt that he was gonna be back. And it's, it's that sacrifice that, that a mother makes. "I'm making this sacrifice to bring my children back to the United States where they belong, and then my husband will join me when, when this is all over." So her objective was to bring the family back together.

CO: Still, though, I mean, when you mention, when you say things like, "where they belong," "the United States is where they belong," what, what came, what brought them to that conclusion that the children belonged in the United States?

TA: He always did.

CO: He always did?

TA: Sure. He always said that, in fact, when just before the, before he volunteered to go back to Japan, he says, "You, you people are -- you, mother and children are U.S. citizens. You stay here." He says, "I will go through all my applications, and you can then go and join the grandmother, and you can stay here." He says, "I'll go back to Japan, and after the war, I'll come back." So there was always that intention for him to come back. It was always his intention to have his children live in the United States. So I don't think it was anything different from what he was...

TI: So it would have all come together if he did return, or if he did come back to the United States, but he chose to stay with his students...

TA: He chose to stay with his students, and then, of course, he got ill, he had a stroke, and then he was not able to come to the United States. So that was a sad thing that, that he never got to come back, however, we abided by his wishes, and all the children got together and says, "Well, we'll get his ashes back to the United States." So his ashes are back, my mother, who passed away, of course, her ashes are -- so they finally joined together in the same, in the same grave.

TI: After your mother returned to the United States, were there any regrets that your father never joined her in the United States? Did she ever talk about that?

TA: That aspect she never did say. That, she never said anything. She was pretty silent about that. But deep in her heart, I think that she... I don't know, maybe felt, not betrayed, but felt that, gee, too bad that he didn't come back.

<End Segment 48> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 49>

CO: So where did she live, and what kind of work did she do?

TA: All right. She lived in San Francisco.

CO: San Francisco.

TA: And she made, she did domestic work. And I think she did domestic work until she retired.

CO: Well, she worked hard all of her life for her children. [Laughs]

TA: She did. I mean, she really did, and you could only appreciate your mother once you get old and once they're dead, once they die. Then you say, "Oh, my God, all the things that she did for us." I mean, she would give her last kernel of rice for her children, rather than eat it. So that's the kind of woman she was. She was a strong-willed woman.

CO: But then she did bring her, enable her daughters to come here, so --

TA: Yes.

CO: -- so she was close to them in, in her old age, then.

TA: Yeah. The children were here, Mits by then was out of the army. So she was happy, and, in fact, after we told her to retire, she lived a pretty happy life.

CO: Uh-huh.

TA: You know, she went to Reno, played poker, and did all those things that the old Isseis do. [Laughs]

CO: Well, San Francisco is a nice place for Issei. I mean, I know, I've been to some of their senior functions and stuff.

TA: Yeah, yeah, so it's... she, yeah, the senior functions in San Francisco. And she did a lot of that thing. And she got very, along very well with Mits' wife, and they did things together. So I think that maybe all the suffering was, was worth it in the end. I guess, maybe, she never said it, but probably there's a resentment that my father didn't come back. At first it was understandable. I mean, he, he in no way was gonna return to the United States because of the treatment that he went through. But eventually, he got older, and I think even getting him to come to the wedding was quite an, quite an accomplishment on all, all the children's part, because they asked him to come, and, of course, he said, "No," and they insisted, and then he finally acquiesced and came.

CO: Well, here's five of you now living fairly close together --

TA: Relatively, relatively close together, yeah.

CO: Yes, uh-huh. In talking to your sisters, they said, "Well, because we were brought up in this kind of scattered fashion, that there wasn't this feeling, a close feeling of family experiences together sort of thing, but now you're getting much closer.

TA: Yeah. It's one of those unfortunate things, like, like I'm the outsider, because I was always away. I was in the military service, serving in various places. So I was never around. And then, of course, each one had their independent ways, and then once they got married, they had their own family and things like that. So yeah, that closeness, there's a lot of closeness between Mits, Satsuki, Tomo and Junko. They're close. They, and then my older brother, he's in Japan, and he's kind of distant, and I'm kind of distant, but they're trying to rope me in. I mean, we do things together, not as often as we should. Probably after this, maybe we'll do more things together.

<End Segment 49> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 50>

TI: Can I shift gears here a little bit?

CO: Oh, yes, I'm sorry.

TI: Let's shift, and I actually want to go to your, your book. And Tom, why don't you hold your, your book up.

TA: Oh, this is Betrayed Trust.

TI: Upside down, and just off to the side, and pointing towards me. Good. But I just wanted to -- recently, and this is just... oh, a month or so out, you came out with a book about not only your life, but your, the life of your father. And I just wanted to ask you the question, is why did you decide to write this book? And you could put the book down now.

TA: Well, several reasons. You know, after I retired, I started to reflect. I guess that's when you have time to reflect, and I, I thought about my father and how I kind of betrayed him, betrayed his love, and I says, "Well, what I'm going to do is I'll write about my father." And as a, sort of a... whatyoucallit, a memory for, is it what they call heritage? Or, what it is, a gift to my children and my grandchildren.

TI: Like leaving a legacy?

TA: Legacy, so that they could understand their grandfather, because they haven't met him. They haven't really met him, so I felt that that was, would be a good token to let the children know more about their father. That was one thing, and then, of course, as I started to write this thing, there were certain gaps. And particularly, the gap when he left for Santa Fe, and I wasn't there to observe, I didn't know what he did. So...

TI: Well, so, yeah, so I wanted to just mention how, to write the book, it's not only your life, but your father's life, and you had to do a lot of research to, to sort of map that, or piece it all together. Before you start talking about this, I'm just curious, how long have you been working on this book?

TA: I... about eighteen years.

TI: Eighteen years?

TA: Yeah. Eighteen years. It was a very difficult task to gain all the information I needed to gain.

TI: Because what type of research did you do in those eighteen years, to write this?

TA: Well, I started first talking to relatives, talking to people, trying to find out more about my father. Things that I know, try to confirm what I know, what my mother told me, and see if that was accurate. Talked to my uncles, I talked to friends of his, and then I, going to, I started to go to the Bancroft Library, and I started to research at the National Archives. Because of the fact that as I went along, there's gaps that, that, there's information that I didn't know. For example, what's contained in the FBI file, or the intelligence file? I don't know what's in it. Then what happened, he told me what happened when he was picked up, but I have nothing to, to support that. So I started to try to search for his file, really, initially, and it all turned out negative. It seemed that every time I send a letter to the State Department or the FBI, or National Archives, or, you know, the army archives, I get a negative. WRA files and, and it always comes back. Well, I don't say purely negative, because I, I found some FBI reports, his, his personal file. Files that were maintained during his evacuation days, Topaz, I mean, in Tule Lake, all those kinds of stuff were, were dribbled in. "Oh, yeah, we found this." And then you write to somebody else and they says, "Oh, yes." And so I started getting more and more information.

TI: Do you want to speculate on why some of his files were unavailable or missing? That you couldn't find?

TA: Well, at first, I just thought there was just... being in intelligence, I says, "Oh, God." I mean, either one is, they, they have the file, but it's lost, or they don't want to give it to me. And then, of course, I had to rely, Freedom of Information Act, I had to rely on the Freedom of Information Act, even to get it. In fact, they told me that I cannot ask for it, it had to be my older brother. I says, "Well, wait. My brother's in Japan and I'm here. And he, I'm, I'm his surviving son." And so I guess that was enough argument that they, they released me some of his private files. But somewhere, some-, I think that there's a file that exists that I, I haven't been given to me, or either destroyed for some reason or another.

CO: Or still... what's, can't, can't be opened until 2030 or something like that.

TA: It may be because there are a lot of names. You know, that's something that I, I got involved in, is names, people's names. They will give me my file, my father's file, but if it contains any other names in there, they will either block it out, or they'll cut it out, or they would never give it to me because of the fact that it had other people's names. That could be it. I mean, it could be that there's a lot of names that they don't want to reveal because that's one of the things that the intelligence agencies do protect. And not only that, they protect methods and sources, and if there are, quote, "informants," or people that have provided information, they would, of course, give them coded names, but they won't release that.

<End Segment 50> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 51>

TI: Okay, while there's, so there's some information that you weren't able to find, but you were able to piece together other gaps, and one of the gaps was sort of that time he spent in Santa Fe and Fort Stanton.

TA: Yes.

TI: And so let me, let me back up a little bit. So this was that period when, when he was at Tule, and he and sixty-nine other men were essentially arrested and taken out of Tule Lake and brought to a Department of Justice camp at Santa Fe. But you were able to piece together, through interviews and other information, a little bit more information during that period. So why don't you, why don't you tell us about what happened to your father after you left Tule Lake?

TA: Well, after Tule Lake, of course, I had a list of the executive committee members, and so I started to search for these people. Like, for example, Matsuda's wife, Violet, I searched around and got some information from her. Ted Kubota, he was the mimeograph operator for the Hokoku Dan headquarters, and I tracked him down and talked to him about it. I had, at one time, before I started getting real, I started to organize a children of the General Gordon, you know, the people that went back, and these people, there was about twenty other people, talked to them, and some of these people were at Santa Fe. I received information from that. Searching out the archives, I received information pertaining to that. But when it came down to my father and what he did during that period of time, I had to go to Japan. I found out that there were three people that I can maybe get some information. And those information, those names were provided to me by, by Violet. Because one of them was Tokio Yamane. And, and she gave me her address. The Tamura, I was able to get address through Yamane, who had some contacts with them. And then Kenji Wada, Kenji Wada was the one that was very close to him, and through a number of correspondents, checking around, we finally tracked him down, and found him. So those were the three people, and they were all three members of the Central Executive Committee.

TI: So, I'm curious, how did they feel about talking about this? I mean, I image they had not shared this information with very many people, if any, and here you were coming to ask all these questions. I mean, what was, what type of reception did you get?

TA: Sanae Akashi's son. It seemed to have opened the door. Because they says, you know, your accent, you go in there and you aisatsu, you know, and all that, and then you ask 'em what, "Were you in camp?" and things like that. But then as soon as we mentioned that we're the sons of Sanae Akashi, then all of a sudden they opened their heart and they says, "Oh, yeah, Sanae-san." And, and they, they talked to us. And they talked to us about certain things that they never talked before, I guess. 'Cause I don't know what other information was obtained, but told, talked about a lot of the things that he said, one of the, and some of the things that, in his character, what he did. Those, those are the kind of things I, I gained a lot from them.

<End Segment 51> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 52>

TI: Okay, so why don't you now describe what happened to your father after he left Tule Lake?

TA: Well, of course, Tamura was telling me about this train, how they were taken by the bus, loaded onto the train, the train ride, and how in the conversation, some of the conversation was, like, my father says, "Oh, now we're, we're going to Santa Fe, that's a good camp." I mean, there's, all the, the Isseis that were interned are there, from the, from the Bay Area. And he says that... and then Tachibana, who was there before and released on parole, he says, "Yeah, Santa Fe is a good place," and they, they're under the Geneva Convention and they abide by that, and they're treated good, and it'll be a nice place. It was a nice place. And Kenji Wada, he gave me details on what, when they got there, how they were processed. Strip-searched, looked at and questioned, and making out additional, filling out forms and things like that. And questioning them about the organization, which they seemed to already have. They had a whole roster of, of the members. And they knew that what each -- seemed to, he says, "It appeared that they knew what each and every one was doing." And they already had pre-, pre-prepared files with the Santa Fe numbers, internment numbers, and he was telling me that the numbers were all in sequence and that Tachibana had an odd number. They asked him and they said, oh, they used the old Santa Fe number, and it was an early number so his number was low, and their numbers were all in sequence.

TI: Going back to what Wada-san said, I mean, was it almost like, did he think that there might have been an informant within the group that, that gave the, the authorities information? I mean, someone had to give somebody all this information.

TA: Somebody did, yes. Somebody did. In fact, the, Tsuha gave to the administrative, the administrative police, a copy of the, the minutes of the inauguration with names. People were, Wada said he was highly pissed about that. And then they, they just had a feeling that, they knew all about, all about him, and yeah, he said probably some inu that, somebody within the organization that had enough information. And they, he suspected Tsuha, because Tsuha gave the, the inauguration ceremony of the program and names, and who was gonna speak and all, who was in certain positions. So he thought that he might have. And he said it later confirmed it, because when they went to, to Fort Stanton, the segregation, he isolated himself and never talked. In fact, at the end, he didn't go to Japan. So there was only sixteen that actually went to Japan. Because he, at Terminal Island, changed his mind and remained.

TI: Well, you mentioned Fort Stanton. How did they get from -- why did they go from Santa Fe to Fort Stanton?

TA: All right, what happened is that there was a riot. What it is is that first, there was a Higashi. Higashi was a troublemaker. And he was the president of the second group, because what they had is they, they've already named the predecessor: "In the event of an emergency, these are the people that are going to take our place," and Higashi had, was the member. And he was, he was Wakayama's right-hand man. And Wakayama selected him to be the president. But Higashi was a kind of an arrogant man, and he disobeyed a lot of the rules, and he wanted to continue to wear the Hokoku Dan emblems and things like that, that the, the OIC in Santa Fe told them not to. Says, "That's prohibited," but yet he, he denied the regulation, made this display, went to the hospital, then wanted the, went to non-visitor and demanded that he can see the patient, and then he was eventually thrown out of there. But anyhow, he got arrested, and then the, there was some trouble, and they figured that Tachibana was, was the troublemaker, and so they pulled him in. So now, well, Higashi was already pulled in, but now they pulled in Tachibana and the, the Tule Lake bunch sort of went over there to see what was going on. So as a result, that caused the riot, and a number of people got beat up and things, but it was a very short thing, but it was riot. And based on that, they started to conduct an investigation as to who instigated the riot, who was behind it, and Wada and also... Wada in particular, he felt that Wakayama squealed on him. And the reason for it is that Wakayama was not picked up. He was considered to be the leader and all that, but he, he was relocated, he was transferred to Crystal City of all places, one of the best places that you could go to. And so they didn't, they was wondering why Wakayama wasn't among the people, among the seventeen. And why did they get these names? Who knew that, like, Akashi and Matsuda and Shishido and all the... who'd know it? Because they were not actively participating. They more or less stayed in the background. And so they suspected Wakayama.

TI: So how many men were, were sort of pinpointed, or, or picked in terms of going to Fort Stanton?

TA: There were seventeen, and one of 'em was not even a Hoshidan member. I mean, he was just a cook, he was a gambler and a troublemaker, so the Santa Fe, the old Santa Fe people complained and told them to get, get him out of there. So the, they complied and threw him in the bunch.

<End Segment 52> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 53>

TI: And maybe you could explain, so Fort Stanton, so Santa Fe was a, a Department of Justice, so pretty high security.

TA: Yes.

TI: But they were sent to Fort Stanton, which was even higher security, more like... explain that. What was the significance of Fort Stanton?

TA: Now, Fort Stanton, per se, was not a Japanese internment camp. It was for the Germans. However, within Fort Stanton, there was what they call a Japanese Segregation Camp No. 1. It was a small sub-camp. And this small sub-camp was, it was in conjunction with, with the Germans, troublemakers. And what they did is they isolated, and they gave 'em a harsher treatment as a punishment. And so Japanese Segregation Camp was an unknown. It was a secret camp, unknown to many people. In fact, hardly anybody knew about this camp. And what it was is that -- I learned through my research -- is that they wanted to show that, that Fort Stanton was near Santa Fe. They never mentioned this Japanese segregation, they referred to it as Fort Stanton. And by just an error --

TI: They referred to it as Santa Fe or Fort Stanton?

TA: Well, the, it was Fort Stanton. Fort Stanton was known as an internment camp, and so what happened is that by error, when my mother made query about where the whereabouts of my father, because he, we weren't receiving any letter or not, but they cc'd Fort Stanton. And because of this letter, my mother learned that he was at Fort Stanton. But they told, they gave instruction that, "Send the address to Santa Fe." So we all thought that Fort Stanton was near, adjacent to Santa Fe, because they used the Santa Fe address.

TI: Well, now how far away was...

TA: Two hundred miles. Two hundred miles south. And so, what happened is when they, when they took the Santa Fe people -- well, the Tachibana and Higashi was there first, but when the took the, actually, seventeen, the cook came later, so actually, what is it? Seventeen minus three is...

TI: Fourteen.

TA: Fourteen people. And fourteen people were loaded on, on a truck and taken to Santa Fe -- I mean, to Fort Stanton. But they didn't go to Fort Stanton, they just bypassed the fence and took 'em to the segregation camp. And that's where they stayed.

TI: So, so it sounds like it was a secret camp, and at this point, the Geneva Convention should be in play --

TA: Yes.

TI: -- for them, and I would think, I mean, it doesn't seem appropriate that you can take a group and put them into a secret camp and not inform people, based on the Geneva Convention.

TA: Based on the Geneva Convention, that you could only hold them for thirty days. That's the, that's the limit. Thirty days in confinement, separated from the rest of the group. Well, this is not thirty days, it's more than thirty days.

TI: So you think that was one of the reasons why they called it -- or by appearances, called it Santa Fe?

TA: Yes. Later I, I learned through my research that that was the intention, is to keep the... in fact, when they violated that cc, they kind of admonished the, the people for, for sending that. And I got the copy of that, there was a letter to the OIC saying that, "because of this, you, you revealed the location of these people." So as a result, they were trying to keep it secret, very secret.

TI: So, what was life like at Fort Stanton for your father and the other sixteen?

TA: For all, when they were there, it was not a cohesive group. Very mixed, and they had the younger people, the older people, and they started to get separated into their own little, where they were compatible. And it was boring, monotonous, nothing to do. They did get the newspaper. Wada subscribed for the newspaper, and they got the newspaper, and that was their only means of communication. They, the German sub-camp was co-located, so as a result, they had a fence, I mean, gate, but the shower was on that side, but they were able to take the shower on the German side, and they were able to go to the recreation hall, they were able to mingle with the Germans. And so, other than being isolated and confined, the guards left them relatively alone. It was a high security fence, they had to place to go. And so...

TI: And so how long were they at Fort Stanton?

TA: Let's see... they were picked up about May... about August.

TI: So May...

TA: After the war ended. August 15 the war ended. In fact, there was a touching thing, that Wada was telling me about how the OIC came and made a speech that, you know, "Yesterday we were enemies and now we are friends," and he says how he admired 'em for being resistant and being, that, and he also said that the emperor asked that, that they cooperate. And, and then also, the radio broadcasts that the emperor made, they allowed 'em to listen to the radio, and he, he sort of became a little bit more lenient. Gave 'em, like they wanted wood for carving and things like that, they gave him wood. They wanted fish and he went out and got fish. And they, they were relatively treated very well, after the war ended.

<End Segment 53> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 54>

TI: And, and so after Fort Stanton, so the war had ended, they're at Fort Stanton, then what happened?

TA: Well, in the meantime, what happened is they took a crew of people to Santa Fe to go there and demolish all of Santa Fe.

TI: All of Fort Stanton.

TA: Fort Stanton -- I mean, all of Fort Stanton, and the segregation, and the German sub-camp. They waited until they were moved, and then they demolished it, so that there's no trace. And then what they did is they took, took them by train to San Pedro. And then the San Pedro detention center became Japanese segregation, number one. All correspondence, everything else, had to go through Santa Fe as if it, as if it was still located in Santa Fe.

TI: But they were in Los Angeles?

TA: They were in Los Angeles at that time. And another interesting thing about this is that how, what it is is that by then, the people were able to go back to the Pacific Coast, so my uncles returned, my cousin, Tokutaro's son, went back in the, in Los Angeles. And again, I was trying to find out through Mary -- see, by then, by the time I got interested, Dave already died. And so I was wondering, how did my father find out that Dave was there, and how did they get the message.

TI: Right, you mentioned that earlier, and then he brought the rice ball.

TA: The rice ball, yeah.

TI: Right, okay.

TA: He says, "We really enjoyed the rice ball during Christ-, you know, Christmas and things like that. Meaning that it would, it alluded to the fact that Tokutaro left from Santa -- Terminal Island, so therefore, he spoke it in Terminal Island, and he enjoyed it. And, and gave an indication that they were going to Portland, because the nurse, while they were they were doing the physical, giving the shots and whatnot, erroneously said, "Well, it looks like you people are going to Portland." And at that time, my father, they had access to newspapers, so he looked at the, looked and found that the General Gordon was berthed at Portland, so he figured that that's where, that's where...

TI: And that kind of completes the loop, because in Portland is when he met the family on the, on the ship.

TA: Yeah. And therefore, from Terminal Island, he was under guard again, back to Terminal, to Portland. In fact, they were there for two weeks. So they were, they were ahead of the ship, really, because the ship was not even moored in the, in Portland, in the army terminal there. But they were detained there, and then when the ship came in, everybody was loaded, then at the last moment, they, police escorted him to the, to the ship.

TI: Right. And you mentioned that earlier. So that, that closes that loop.

<End Segment 54> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 55>

TI: I mean, eighteen years to, to write this book. When you, when you think about your readers, what do you hope that they get from reading your book?

TA: Well, as I did my research, and as I was writing, I says, "Well, gee, this is, this is more important than just a legacy for my, my children. I says, this is information that needs to be known, because, because much of it, again, through my research, I didn't know. I said, "Well, I should share this with people," and also the fact that this abuse, looking at the Patriot Act, for example, and the treatment that they're, that the Muslims are getting. If they look like, if they have a turban on their head, they're, they're treated as if they're a terrorist, and they interrogate 'em and, and do all this stuff. And it's, seem to be a repeat of the things that we went through. Guilty by association, or guilty by looks, by race. And so I says, you know, this, this is a message that has to be told to the public. And also, again, going back to my father, I remembered my father said, "You know, you have to tell the people about what's going on here." So as a result, I said, this is a bigger project than I thought it was. And I guess this is the reason I'm here, is to tell the story that needs to be heard, not only by you people, but, but the American public. And hopefully it'll reach the American public, they'll realize that, that things are like this, history is repeating itself, that these citizens -- you know, the government is as good as the citizen. And the citizen have to be aware, the citizen have to be cautious, and make sure that, that the government, the elected government officials or bureaucrats, or the military, do not abuse the rights of citizenship. American.

TI: Well, after having read the book, I think you do an excellent job of telling that story.

TA: Well, thank you very much.

<End Segment 55> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 56>

TI: And I -- go ahead.

CO: Oh, you know, I like to ask philos-, well, I won't call it, elevate it to that level, but after all we've gone through and all we've learned and everything, how do you feel about what they did to us?

TA: What they did to us... anger. I mean, the time that I really felt angry was when I found those five letters pertaining to when our release -- it was approved, that close to freedom, and yet they held it. That, that really tee'd me off. The treatment that the United States treated us... you know, we're Americans, and we were taught in school that we're Americans. We had constitutional rights, civil rights, liberty, freedom, justice for all, and all of that gone. And yeah, I felt pretty angry about it. But, of course, as you grow older and you reflect, the anger disappeared but, but, then again, I hate to see it happen to other people. Because four years of my life, I was -- almost four years of my life was in captivity. I was the U.S. government's prisoner for four years. And then people say, "Well, if you were that angry, and you were captive for four years, how come you served in the army for twenty-six years?" Sort of contradicts itself. But I think that a deeper feeling was, was to serve my country. I don't want to wave the flag, but to show loyalty. And hopefully, through my service, that my grandchildren -- these are the ones that I'm worried about -- my grandchildren will be able to enjoy the freedom and liberty that they enjoy now. Be able to go to school. I mean, I tell the, I tell my kids, I says, "I didn't even have a grammar school diploma. I don't have a high school diploma." All that was taken away from me, I didn't even have a graduation. I went to night school while in the army, I matriculated my final year at, at University of Nebraska Omaha, but even then, as soon as I finished, they had orders for me to go to Vietnam. So I didn't even attend graduation there. I didn't even get a diploma, it was sent to me. So, those things were denied to me, and I don't like to see it again.

CO: Uh-huh. You know, the thing that I'm, I've gotten more and more aware of the more I study and research and all, is what it did to our community, the Nikkei community.

TA: True.

CO: And the divisions that were formed were so deep that it's like you kind of hope that, gee, if they understood all the various accidents and complexities and everything, that somehow they would be more reconciled, more reconciliatory -- I don't know what's the right word here -- but something where they, they could see what happened to us as a group, and all. But it's tough. A lot of Nikkei just don't seem to want to examine any of this.

TA: That's true, because it did destroy Japanese community cohesiveness. And, you know, when, you have what they call a sort of "invisible control" of, of yourself, not, like my father says, "Do not bring shame to, to us," and that was, it was not only my father. I think all the Isseis, and older Isseis, says, "Haji wo kakeruna. Don't bring shame to us. Those are things that, that the Japanese community had, and they were, they were more disciplined. The crime rate among Niseis, what was it prior to the war?

CO: Practically zero.

TA: Practically zero. I had, I never heard of any crime committed by us. Because we were admonished by our, our family, our family group. However, there's a plus side of this. And at first, I was really angry about it, but then after I thought about it, it turned out to be good. What happened is that they separated us, scattered us throughout the United States, broke the, what they called the Japanese ghettos, and we, by that, by numbers, in other words, the lesser the number, it's easier to be accepted. And as a result, the Japanese became accepted in the Japanese community. And not only that, the Niseis, the older Niseis, especially the people in camp, what they did is they had in mind that their Issei father says, "Education, hard work will bring success." And that's what the (Kibeis and) Niseis did. They went to school, they studied, they did well, they got good working jobs, and ended up as model U.S. citizens. So there's a plus side to this. Even after all of this, there's a plus side. Excuse me?

CO: But what a price. I, I just feel that, I don't know if it was worth the price.

TA: To my children and grandchildren, it is. To me, no. Because I felt that, that I was deprived. I had to get my education the hard way, the slow way. But then again, I achieved my education. But, but the thing is, my children have certain liberties that I never had. I mean, they could go to a community and be American, and of course, it depends on where you live, Washington and Anacortes, Virginia, and, of course, in the Bay Area, but out in the suburbs, they're easily assimilated. When I, in fact, one time, when I went to Omaha, and I wanted to go swimming, they frowned upon it. They looked at me, and treated me just like they treated other people. But now, my goodness. I mean, they could join the swimming club, baseball club, they could take any courses. I think that they have the freedom that my father wanted, believed in, and I feel strongly right now that, yeah, we had this renunciation thing, we bring up the resistance thing, we bring up my, my story, but truthfully, if you asked me, I'm telling you how I feel. Maybe other Niseis, Isseis, Kibeis, may not feel the same way. But I do feel that it improved our stature to the point that we have been accepted as being one of 'em, except for the "glass ceiling." Because I felt that "glass ceiling."

TI: At this point, we're running out of time on our tape, so --

TA: I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I told you not to talk to me. [Laughs]

TI: This is, this is a great, a great ending for the interview, and I just, again, want to thank you so much for, for taking the time. And thank you so much.

TA: Well, thank you very much for having me. I certainly enjoyed it, and you, too, Chizu.

TI: And Chizu, thank you very much.

TA: Yeah, I certainly appreciate it, and it was nice. At least I got it off my chest. [Laughs]

<End Segment 56> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.