Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Fred Korematsu - Kathryn Korematsu Interview
Narrators: Fred Korematsu, Kathryn Korematsu
Interviewers: Lorraine Bannai (primary); Tetsuden Kashima (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 14, 1996
Densho ID: denshovh-kfred_g-01-0003

<Begin Segment 3>

LB: When you decided to violate the orders, did you think that you'd be arrested?

FK: I assumed that, that worst was gonna come before me, and I knew I wouldn't be a free man. They're not gonna let me have that, make it that easy for me, because, you know, I was even classified as an "enemy alien" by the draft card. And so I knew that as soon as they realized that I'm there, free, that they were gonna catch me.

LB: Were you afraid of being arrested?

FK: No, I wasn't, because I didn't feel that I was, I did anything wrong. And if anybody did wrong, it was the law. Because I figured it was unconstitutional what they were doing.

LB: When the military and the government issued the orders saying that Japanese Americans had to leave the West Coast, what did you think the government was going to do with the Japanese Americans?

FK: Well, it was already in the papers what they were gonna do; put them in relocation and then to concentration camp. So it was in the papers that they were even lobbying in Washington to have this happen, to gather all the Japanese and to put 'em in relocation centers.

LB: What did your family say to you during the period of time that they were preparing to leave and you were deciding not to go?

FK: Well, they were so busy at that time because of the chaos of Pearl Harbor happening. They knew that they, that worst gonna come to them, and they realized all that work they did, all those years, all that hard work, was just about to disappear. And they didn't know what was gonna happen in the future. So my mother was always in tears all the time, what was gonna happen, and that was it. Just worried about, "What are we gonna do?"

LB: So you really didn't have a chance to talk to them?

FK: No, I was just the third son, you know, and just in the way to them. And if any consulting they wanted, they talked to my two older brothers. So that was it.

LB: Did you tell them that you weren't going to go?

FK: I told them that I... I didn't say that I wasn't gonna go. I told them that I am going to leave, I may be in Nevada.

LB: After your family left and your friends and everyone were in camp, and you were working in Oakland, did you ever have any regrets about refusing to go?

FK: No. I, I felt funny knowing that my parents and my friends were interned, and as prisoners of war, that's what they were, prisoner of war. And here I am, you know, going to work. I saw in the paper that they're, they're supposed to be all interned, all "Japs" were interned. There wasn't any in, in the streets anymore. And I didn't feel guilty, I just said, "Well, I'm just gonna go to work and think about my work and how I'm living day to day until something does happen."

LB: How did you feel when you were arrested? What were your thoughts, what went through your mind when the police or military police picked you up?

FK: Well, it's a funny thing. I was... well, in the papers they said that a spy was caught in San Leandro, and they never had a spy caught in San Leandro before, so they didn't know how to treat me. And I didn't feel like I was a criminal, and I didn't, I didn't feel that I did anything wrong. I may have disobeyed a military order, but I'm not, I'm not in the military. That's the kind of feeling it was. And so I had to go along with the authorities of being put in jail because, I mean, I couldn't do anything about it. They apologized, too, for what they're doing. So that's how it was.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1996 Densho. All Rights Reserved.