Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Hiroshi Kashiwagi Interview
Narrator: Hiroshi Kashiwagi
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Klamath Falls, Oregon
Date: July 3, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-khiroshi-02-0016

<Begin Segment 16>

AI: Well, so then, for most of 1942, and it sounds like you were very busy and active, and, but then things changed in early 1943.

HK: Yeah, February 1943, with the, when they issued the registration order, the army came in to recruit, and then the WRA wanted to, to move us out, so they needed clearance, and they combined the two, and they had these stupid questions, and we refused to register.

AI: Well, tell me how that came about. Tell me about your, you had some discussion with your family members and friends?

HK: Yeah, we had discussions, and we also gauged what was going on within the block, as well as within the other blocks. And we felt that -- and then we certainly didn't want to register, or answer those questions. And the first feeling was that everyone would, would refuse to register.

AI: Well, tell me about that. Tell me, what was your feeling? You didn't want to, you didn't want to answer the questions because...

HK: Oh, yeah. Well, you know, the way we were treated, as non-citizens, and then to be, to ask, "Are you loyal?" questioning our loyalty. I mean, we certainly were loyal. Had we not been in camp, I mean, there was no question. And I remember the Nisei who were being drafted before the war, and I was in this men's group, young men's group, and we would have little parties, going-away parties for them. And was picked to give a little speech. And so I would make this funny old patriotic speech, urging them to serve their country and so forth. And, yeah, so, but once we were treated like we were, then, yeah, I couldn't register and say, "I will serve in the army wherever sent," and so forth. I really couldn't. And I think the, the kind of life that we had before the war, some of the abuses that we, we had, I think, played into that decision. The fact that my favorite teacher did not respond to my letter, and then to find out that she was a racist, and those things. We wrote to our boss, in fact, my mother sent some things out of yarn. She made flowers out of yarn -- this is one of the crafts that they did in camp -- and she sent this package, sent it to the boss. And there was no response. She was too busy harvesting the fruit, I guess. I mean, she felt put-upon, because she had to do that, and because we were moved out, we were not there to do the work, or something, she blamed us for it, or blamed Japan, or what. Anyway, she never responded. And there went all that work, and yarn and goodwill and all that. So, yeah, I think all that helped in making my decision.

AI: And at that time, as I understand, there were quite a few people who were deciding that they would not answer the questions at all, they would really not fill out the questionnaire, and they would refuse to register altogether.

HK: Yes, and we were close to Block 42, and there were a bunch of young men who asked for repatriation. And then because of that, they were first to be ordered to register, and they refused that. And so the army came in, and at bayonet points, they were all put on the trucks and taken away.

AI: Did you know some of those fellows?

HK: Well, I knew them later. Yeah.

AI: Did you think that something similar would happen to you, because --

HK: Oh, yes. We were all ready. We had packed our suitcases and we were ready to go, because we had refused to register. I mean, we thought that we would be next, because we were, this was Block 42, Block 40, Block 41. So we were close, so we were ready and determined to do, to oppose it. And...

AI: What -- excuse me -- what did you think would happen to you if you, you had your suitcases ready, you thought you would be taken away, but what did you think would happen after you were taken away?

HK: I don't know. I mean, we were ready to go anywhere. [Laughs] Because, yeah. Opposing that meant that much to us. We would, yeah, risk all of that. And these people thought that they were risking, but actually, they were taken to the county jail, and then the WRA was told that they couldn't hold them. And the whole registration was not compulsory, although they never told us that.

AI: At the time, you believed it was compulsory.

HK: Yes. They made us believe that we had to do it. And they said that if we didn't, we would pay, and we would be fined and sent to jail, or something. And so we thought we had to. But then when you read about it, the administration was told that they couldn't do that. But they never told us that.

AI: So at the time, you believed that you might have, you might be taken away, and you might be thrown in prison and fined a large penalty.

HK: Yeah. Yeah, we were ready, ready to take all that consequence. Yes. So I, I remember it very vividly, they started to beat the mess bell, and all the mess bells were ringing, and then they came, and then everyone rushed as the, as the men carried their suitcases out and got on the truck, and left. Yeah, that, that's a very dramatic, memorable scene.

AI: Were there, were you attending large meetings discussing this registration? Or was it --

HK: Yeah, I think I was. Yeah, different meetings, but everyone was pretty worked up, so I don't know if that helped very much, yeah. Maybe it just helped to raise the... yeah.

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