Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Fred Hirasuna Interview
Narrator: Fred Hirasuna
Interviewers: Larry Hashima (primary), Cherry Kinoshita (secondary)
Location: University of California, Los Angeles
Date: September 12, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-hfred-01

<Begin Segment 1>

LH: Densho interview with Mr. Fred Hirasuna, interviewers are Larry Hashima and Cherry Kinoshita, Friday, September 11th -- is that correct? Or is it 12th? 12th. September 12th, in Los Angeles, California. Thank you very much, Mr. Hirasuna. I'd like to start with a few background questions here and find out a little bit more about you. Could you tell me where you grew up?

FH: Lodi, California. I was born there.

LH: Okay, and how long have you lived in California?

FH: All my life except for about five years in Minnesota during the war.

LH: So were you yourself interned during the war or you just...

FH: We voluntarily evacuated.

LH: Voluntarily evacuated to Minnesota. So what was that like for your family to go to Minnesota?

FH: Go to Minnesota? Very tough. You know, we moved in July of '42, but that winter it went down to 28 below zero. (...) I learned about snow and storm windows and all the rest of that stuff. Have your car outside you can't even make it start because, you know, the starter wouldn't move the engine it was so cold.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

LH: Yeah, that's one of the things that people always talk about is the fact that the weather when they -- during the war, no matter where they went to it was pretty unfamiliar to them. So your family was a farming family in central California?

FH: No, I was in the shipping business, we shipped fruit and vegetables. But wait a minute now, I take that back. Just before 1942, in 1939 my brother-in-law bought a chick sexing business. Do you know what that is? They separate baby chicks, male and female, and with it came a hatchery and a chicken farm, and he called me -- I was in Delano working in produce. And he called me and asked me to come down and help him and I decided I'd go down and help him. And I had to take charge of the chicken farm, chick sexing business and the hatchery business. I knew nothing about chickens and hatchery, or the chick sexing business. Of course, chick sexing business was sort of a supervisory deal. We had about thirty-six sexers, chick sexers, that we farmed out to hatcheries in the Midwest and East and we'd take a commission on the earnings. Now my brother-in-law, Ty Saiki, was in Mankato, Minnesota. That's about eighty miles southwest of the Twin Cities. And he ran the so-called eastern office of our business, and I was in Fresno running the whole darn thing. But come 1942, when they were going to, going to send us to the camps, well, we were all prepared to go.

But in 1942, our third child was born, in February of 1942. And until that time we were really preparing to go to camp, we had duffle bags and all the rest of that stuff, and then I began to think. No hospitals, maybe no doctors, and our new baby was kinda, not, kinda sickly a little bit, so I decided, "Well, I can't take my family to the camp." So I contacted the Western Defense Command in San Francisco and I told him the circumstances, and I told him I had a place to go to in Minnesota, the eastern end of our business. And finally after about ten days they sent us a permit to go, and that was just about a week before our area was supposed to go to the camp.

So we just barely made it, so I think about July 11th or so we set out for Minnesota, we had two cars. I had my father, my mother, my sister, my sister-in-law, our three little kids, my wife, and myself. So in two cars we headed for -- and then we had a Ford pickup with a trailer and we had some German friends of ours, who loaded it up with business equipment and all. They went up 99 to Reno and there we met them. They wouldn't allow us to go up 99 because that was the dividing line between the so-called forbidden area and the free area. I thought at the time it was a free area. They wouldn't let us go up 99 to Reno, so we had to go through Yosemite and what's the name of that pass, Tioga Pass, I think. And that's just a narrow one road trail and every time somebody came by, you had to back up into a cove and let them go by.

And we set out and we stopped in a place called Carson City, and that evening, it was towards evening by that time and I tried to get a room for the whole bunch of us, you know. So I went to a motel that didn't look too first class, thinking that we would have a better chance at getting a room there. They refused us rooms, said, "You Japs from California?" "Yes." And they wouldn't give us rooms, so then I went to the best hotel in Carson City and they gave us rooms. We stayed there that night, next day we went to Reno. The pickup, in the meantime, went to Reno up 99 we met them there. And I had some people coming from Minnesota to come over and drive the pickup. So we all met in Reno, and from there the two people that brought the pickup they went back home and then these fellows came from Minnesota, they took over the pickup and trailer to drive to Minnesota. That night we went to, from Reno to Winnemucca, you know where that is? Well, in Winnemucca, we knew that there was a hotel there run by Japanese, because our chick sexers used to stop by there. But this Japanese, well, we went to him, and just as we were entering Winnemucca, a truck load of white guys went by -- "Go back to California, you damn Japs!" -- you know. And the women and kids were there. And so we went to this Japanese fellow and he gave us rooms. But below the rooms was sort of a saloon. I guess he owned that, too, or something. Anyway, all that night, there was a lot of noise and I couldn't sleep because I didn't know what was going to happen, kinda scared. Fortunately, nothing happened. And the next day we went to Salt Lake, and from Salt Lake to Des Moines, Iowa, and then to Minnesota, so we made the trip.

So here we were going to Mankato, a town of about 20,000, and fortunately for us I guess there was a lot of German Americans there, German descent, and during World War I these Germans took a beating. Yeah, they were called all kinds of names, and spit on and all that kind of stuff because they were the enemy. But in our case, the German Americans were very friendly, because they knew what we were going through because they went through it themselves. And for five and a half years we stayed in Mankato, Minnesota, and our kids went to school there. And after about five and a half years I told my brother-in-law, "I can't stay with you, I'm just working for a monthly salary and I've got to get busy and start accumulating something for the kids to go to school." So I quit him and came back to California. That was in winter of 1947.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

LH: Well, we're skipping ahead a little bit, but given that you had this unusual experience of, as you described, sort of the drive out to Minnesota and living in these conditions and the cold weather in Minnesota, how did this get you involved in the redress movement? Particularly because most of the people see redress as an issue of those who were interned and went into the camps? So...

FH: Well, I got involved in the redress business because I belonged to the JACL, Japanese Americans Citizens League, and I belonged to the JACL since 1929. I was a member before I went to Minnesota, even during the war I was a member and when I came back I got back into JACL activities and when JACL went into redress I got involved, and started to help out. That's how I got involved in redress.

LH: And so you were a JACL member from almost, almost the beginning days of the organization?

FH: Well, yes, because the first national convention was in 1930 in Seattle. The (Fresno) chapter was first known as the American Loyalty League. And that was formed in 1923 by a Dr. Thomas Yatabe, who was born in the San Francisco area, but he came to Fresno to establish his practice. And he was the one that organized the American Loyalty League, which later became the Fresno chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League. So, and he was my dentist, I went to him in 1929, and he talked me into joining JACL. And in 1930 I was sent to the first convention in Seattle for the JACL. So that's a long time ago. 1930.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

LH: Well, given your sort of longtime involvement in JACL, how did you see your role personally, being a member from central California to helping this nationwide effort toward redress?

FH: Well, it's, one thing, I was eligible for redress because I was considered a voluntary evacuee. And I had documents from the government showing that they gave me permission to be a voluntary evacuee. And my wife and I and our three kids -- we had three at that time -- five of us were involved in trying to get the redress awards. So naturally, financially I was interested. So, and the general purpose of redress was to me a good idea, that the government should pay for its mistakes and so that's how I got involved.

LH: Well, what was your personal role in terms of organizing, getting people in central California in the, in the JACL chapters there, involved in redress?

FH: Well, at first it wasn't easy. The reason that people thought, "Oh heck, there's no chance of getting anything out of the government." But the more we worked on it, the more the possibilities became that we would get redress. And then we went out to different clubs, the smaller Japanese clubs and asked them to join JACL and told them what we were doing. And because money was involved, more and more people were interested. You know, money comes into everything, and when they saw a chance at getting $20,000.00 they became interested. And we and a group of other people around me, around, I shouldn't say around me, but like Mae Takahashi and various people in the Fresno chapter, we started pushing more and more to get people interested in redress and to contribute money to the Legacy Fund so that we could push that program in Washington, D.C.

CK: Just to clarify, when you began helping on redress, was that in 1970, when Edison Uno, or can you pinpoint the time when you got actively involved?

FH: Let's see... it was about 1970 or a little after.

CK: Did you go to every convention?

FH: Just about, just about.

CK: So you would have probably attended the convention in '70 that was in Chicago?

FH: I didn't go to Chicago.

CK: Oh, you didn't. Then, so then the following biennium, for two or three bienniums it was again voted as a resolution. So apparently is that when you became involved?

FH: Yes.

CK: Okay, thank you.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

LH: What were some of the other difficulties in getting people involved in redress besides their early reluctance in terms of...

FH: The main, main problem is trying to get them interested. At that time a lot of people wouldn't join JACL. There were some that blamed JACL for evacuation, and some just didn't like JACL and they wouldn't join. But when prospects became better and better that there might be a $20,000 or whatever award, they became interested. It's just like when during evacuation time before Pearl Harbor you couldn't get very many people interested in JACL, but after Pearl Harbor they figured well, maybe JACL can do something for me in terms of evacuation and internment, then they all started to join again. So it was self-interest I think mostly.

LH: Well, and reflecting back in some of things that have been said in the conference, how do you view... I think the way that a lot of people characterized JACL during the conference was sort of as one big organization. But clearly there were all these smaller organizations, smaller chapters of JACL which had different agendas and had different problems that they had to encounter through the redress movement. What made the central California JACL sort of face different problems that were different from the Bay area, say, or from Los Angeles?

FH: Do you know, like the N double-RP, or NCRR? Their main strength is in the urban areas like San Francisco and Los Angeles. Because in Fresno we never heard of, nobody ever came from that outfit to Fresno. And the Fresno chapter did everything. The Fresno chapter and the so-called Central California District Council, we had about nine chapters there. And we did the things that NCRR, that they did, we did that ourselves. We didn't have to have them do it. So that's why I say, in terms of importance, if a person had to choose between NCRR and Japanese American Citizens League, I think they would choose JACL, because JACL is a bigger organization, they're more organized and they were doing all the things that NCRR claimed that they were doing. We were writing letters and we had every one of the legislative persons out of our area, we had them on our side. We'd go to their fundraising things and we'd talk to them, and we knew some of them personally. And so we had 'em all on our side anyway. So I think central California did a good job.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

LH: And in terms of, you know, in the actual lobbying effort, was that the same kind of effort that you felt going on with the Central California District Council, and the Fresno chapter of JACL, that you were doing all the organizing for that level?

FH: We were doing all that lobbying right there in Fresno, 'cause we were mainly concerned with the representatives from our area. They're the ones we knew. And if we got them on our side, well, at least we have a number of representatives that would vote, vote for our proposition and...

CK: When you say you did the same things that NCRR did, does that mean like Day of Remembrance kind of activities or...

FH: You know, that's one thing I hand to NCRR, because I think Day of Remembrance lasted one or two years, and after that people got too busy to do anything so we haven't done anything about that for years, which is wrong, I know, we should...

CK: Well, not necessarily, it's to accomplish a goal and you had your way. Was there trouble getting the people motivated? For instance, in raising funds for the LEC, were you, did you meet with success in that, or did you again meet some resistance?

FH: On the whole I think we were very successful, that is, per capita I think we raised as much or more money than most of the other districts. Because there's always different reactions, there's some people who had nothing to do with it. They can say, "Oh, there's no use," and you couldn't get a penny out of them. So, but there are others who contributed to the LEC effort before the award. And I think we did very well collecting money.

LH: How important do you think it was for your, for the work that you did in terms of the national effort? I mean, a lot of people will say, "Well, Central California, it's a very small population." But how would you react to someone saying something like that?

FH: I would tell them that per capita we did just as well or better. Because Northern Cal and Southern Cal, the two biggest district counts, I think per capita, they didn't do that well.

LH: So in terms of the organizing effort and the results for the amount of population, you thought, that your work was pretty well-accomplished?

FH: I think so.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

LH: Well, in terms of the, sort of the final redress law passing, what do you think were some of the key elements that got it over the top, and sort of got it signed by President Reagan?

FH: To me, the key element was the fact that JACL nationally raised over a million dollars. They maintained a year-round office in Washington, D.C. solely to work on redress. And I think that was very, very important. You know, you sent letters to Congress, sometimes I wonder if they ever read 'em. But with our office in Washington, D.C. like Grayce and Rita and Jo Anne, they were contacting the Congressmen every day, consulting them, and talking with Senator Inouye, Senator Matsunaga and the representatives there but who they should contact to try to get them to co-sponsor or vote for that measure. And I think with all due respect to what NCRR did -- and I think they worked hard -- I think their efforts were not as effective as our office in Washington. D.C. You know, that personal contact beats letters, I think.

LH: So the constant contact by the out members in the LEC office in Washington, D.C. was really important.

FH: I think it was very important. What do you think about that?

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

CK: Are there any particular instances of your lobbying the legislatures in your district that were interesting or hard to get, or what are some of the things that you did to...

FH: We had a Congressman Pashayan, he was an Armenian person, and I knew him personally from when he was a little kid. But he was for redress but not cash payments; he wanted to build a monument or something. But Tom Shimasaki was very active in our area and Frank Nishio and I, we worked on him and finally we got him to agree to co-sponsor and recommend cash payments. He was one difficulty. Pete Wilson was a senator, I think, at that time. He came to Fresno to address a dinner of the Nisei Farmers League, you've heard of the Nisei Farmers League? And I knew he was coming, so I wrote him a letter and I told him I wanted him to address the matter of redress personally at that dinner. And when we were at the dinner -- Harry Kubo was president -- Harry Kubo came to me and said, "Wilson wants to talk to you." So we talked to Wilson and we told him why we wanted redress and he nodded, and on his way out, his aide was following right behind him and we asked him, "Well, what about that?" And he said, "Don't worry, he's gonna vote for redress." Those were two cases that we thought -- and you know Senator Paul Simon? Yeah, he came to Fresno for a fundraiser, he was running for president, I think.

LH: In 1984.

FH: Yeah, he was running for president. Yeah, he came to Fresno and again we went to him because we knew that he would be important in this fight in Congress. And at that dinner I pointedly asked him, "What is your position on" -- I forgot the name of the bill, "S-" something or other -- he didn't know what "S-" something or other was meant so he asked his aide, "What is that?" and the aide told him. "Well, I am going to co-sponsor that bill," but I wanted him to come out in publicly and make that statement and he did. Those are some of the, and the others, like we would go to their fundraisers and talk to them, and they were duck soup, they... fundraising means a lot to them.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

LH: So what do you think the legacy of the redress movement will be for the Nikkei community in the next, you know, twenty years, say?

FH: Difficult to say, but I think as it was repeated at the meeting several times, it shows what a group can do when they get together and really push, it shows that, I think. We may never have an occasion to vote for something like this again. And I said then and I say now I really think we are a disappearing group. You know, our kids are intermarrying and I have six grandkids, three are so-called "pure Japanese," and three are hapas. And I see these hapa kids, they're gonna out-marry. I don't think they're going to marry Japanese. They are gonna out-marry. You're gonna have quarters and sixteenths, but even after, in the quarters, sometimes even in the halves, you can't see any Japanese in their face at all. And in a couple of generations from now, only time you will think a person has Japanese blood he might have a Japanese surname which kept on. And to me, I can't blame the kids, because when a person is one-sixteenth say Japanese, he can't ignore the other fifteen-sixteenths of his heritage. Like a black person, they say that if you're one-sixteenth black, you're black, but I don't believe that. If you're one-sixteenth black, you're fifteen-sixteenth something else. And that should rule. You know when evacuation time came, they said anybody with one-sixteenth Japanese blood was subject to evacuation, that he was Japanese. They based it purely on blood, not on your actions, but blood. And that's entirely wrong.

LH: Well, do you think that the Japanese American community, regardless of whether or not there was, if it is a disappearing population or disappearing community, do you think that redress will be something that will be felt and you know, motivate people while it's still around?

FH: I don't know how to answer that really. It might. Now, I try to get my grandkids to read stories about our generation, but it's hard to -- every time a book comes out I buy one and give it to them, and tell them to read it, but whether they actually read it or not, I don't know. And my two youngest grandkids they're half, hapas, their associates are all non-Japanese. They go to non-Japanese friends' houses and I don't think, I'm almost a hundred percent sure they're gonna out-marry. They're gonna marry non-Japanese. And that's the way the whole population of Japanese is going that way. I don't think you can find a family now, not a family, but very few families that don't have some kind of out-marriage in their families. And you know how prevalent it is, even now. They say what, 50, 60 percent out-marry, so I think we're going to be assimilated that way, I think.

CK: And there's no renewal because we don't have immigration from Japan, although I've heard of some Shin Issei.

FH: Shin Issei, Yeah, there are a few like that, but not enough.

CK: So what do you think will happen then to "Japanese Americans?"

FH: I think we're gradually going to disappear.

CK: Disappear.

FH: I think so, I think so. We're going to be assimilated, so-called, I think.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

LH: Well, just sort of a final question. What do you, what are your opinions on those who didn't support redress but accepted a payment anyway, and sort of...

FH: Well, I'll tell you this, when the money started to come in, I'd go to various people and tell them, "Why don't you give a little part of that to the legacy fund?" And some of them probably went, "Oh, I'll do that." But they wouldn't do that, even if I went back a second time, they wouldn't do it. One person told me, "Well, I'm gonna keep the principal but when I get the interest I'll donate the interest," he didn't do that. So, and then Frank Nishio, who is a very good friend of mine, when he got his, he said, "I'm not gonna donate anything to the legacy fund, because I don't know what these young guys are gonna do with that money." So instead, he made two one thousand dollar awards to people in the community who had helped Japanese Americans when redress... one was Ray Appleton, the talk show host, who supported us all the way, the other was Tom Kerwin of the Fresno Bee, an editor. And the Fresno Bee was very bad during evacuation time, they just poured it on us, you know, "We want 'em out of here, we don't want 'em back." And I reminded Tom, and he said, "Yes, I'm sorry about that, I don't think the Fresno Bee should have done that." When he got his $1,000, he donated his $1,000, he donated that money to the Hubert Phillips Scholarship, which we as Japanese Americans established. There are two scholarships, the Mary Baker Scholarship and the Hubert Phillips Scholarship. And we established those because they were two of the outstanding non-Japanese who stood by us all during that period. They fought evacuation for us, and they urged us to come back, and when we first came back the sentiment was, "We don't want 'em, (we) don't want the Japs." But they fought that, too. So, when they died, why I and some of the others, we decided we're going to make a scholarship in their memory, and we did, we established two scholarships for them.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

LH: If you could, what kind of message would you like to send to those six grandchildren and also in terms of knowing about the Nikkei community, and also... sorry, what was the other part?

ME: Go ahead and ask that one first.

LH: What would you like them to know about the Nikkei community?

FH: I'd like them, I'd like them, for them to know the history and I try to acquaint them with it, but how receptive they are I really don't know, I really don't know.

LH: Why do you think that's so important, though, for them to know that?

FH: Well, I think they should appreciate their heritage. I think we have a heritage that we are proud of, I don't think that being a Japanese American makes you any better than anybody else, but at least makes you an equal of everybody else. I don't want a Japanese American to say, I'm proud to be Japanese American. What is he going to be proud of? He didn't make that; he was born that way. He's Japanese American, so as long as my kids, my grandkids, behave themselves, do what they're supposed to do as good citizens, I'm proud of them. And I will try to inform them what their parents, and grandparents, and great-grandparents did.

LH: And what would you like them to know about the work that you did for this?

FH: To me, that's not important, what I did, because that's too much like bragging.

LH: Well, what about the work that others did for redress?

FH: Yeah, well, I'd like them to know that story. I have a lot of tapes that, about this kind of stuff. I'm going to make them, I haven't been making them watch those. But you know, these darn kids nowadays, they're so busy. The two youngest grandkids, one is fourteen, the other's seventeen going on eighteen. They're in, the oldest one is (5'10"), 200 pounds, plays football, does midget car races, then this coming, right now he's president of the student body at Bullard High School, a high school of about twenty-seven hundred students. He's president, student body president. I'm really proud of him and the younger one is following in his footsteps. I don't know what more I can ask of my grandkids. I told my doctor I want to live four more years, and the reason for that is I want to see my youngest grandkid graduate high school. [Laughs]

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

CK: Some of us have said that what will be remembered about JACL, say eventually it dissolves. What, in your opinion, would they remember? Would redress be something that would be remembered fifty years down the line, a hundred years down the line?

FH: I guess it would be one of the things, but I would like them to remember more the struggles that JACL went through to get established at all. You know, people like Saburo Kido, Dr. Yatabe, George Inagaki, Walter Tsukamoto, those people just worked their hearts out to establish the Japanese Americans Citizens League, because they believed that we had to have it, because there was so much discrimination in those days, that if we didn't have some kind of an organization we couldn't fight that. And that's why many of us joined JACL. 'Cause we knew, we went through terrific discrimination from childhood on. You know, before, I know in grammar school, why, you felt it every day that you're different and the other kids were trying to pick on you. High school wasn't so bad. But there are other things, they show that prejudice against Japanese, or I guess any people of color basically, but especially Japanese. In our area, part of that prejudice was made easy because the Armenians were taking a beating, people didn't like Armenians. But the Armenians fought that by becoming very successful farmers and businessmen, now nobody dares say anything bad about Armenians, they've got too much money. [Laughs] And I think -- and the Japanese, when they came back from evacuation, most of us, we started with nothing, you know, it was all gone, we had to start from the bottom and we built our ways up and some of us are fairly successful. And I think people admire us for that. And I think Japanese have, on the whole have done well in recovering from the evacuation.

CK: You mentioned that we all faced discrimination, can you remember the very first time you felt it? What incidence was it that...

FH: Well, the very first time I remember was I was in the third grade in grammar school. I was a little kid and there was a tree in the yard and the leaves were falling and I shook the tree to make the leaves fall faster. And a teacher came over and gave me a whack and said, "Quit shaking that tree." I guess to me that was prejudice, I don't know. But when I was working in Delano in produce, you couldn't go to the theater except to a certain section. In Lodi, when I was a kid, you couldn't go into a public swimming pool, they wouldn't let you in. And there's other countless little things that you feel that you're getting because your not white, 'cause I remember as a kid there were times when I cried and wished I were white. [Laughs]

CK: Do you remember being called a "Jap"?

FH: Oh yeah, many times, many times.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

LH: One of the things that was brought up in one of the breakout sessions is that -- and it appeared actually in the Rafu Shimpo a few weeks ago -- was that a lot of the younger generation of Japanese Americans were saying that the war was not an issue, that they were actually even tired of hearing the war. Do you think that that sort of indicates that they are taking a lot of the things that the Issei and the Nisei went through for granted?

FH: You know, they should never get tired of what our fellows did in World War II, fighting in Europe and in the Pacific, never, because they're the most important item in our being able to come back. Because, when we came -- before evacuation, you used to take a lot of crap from the public in little things, but after I came back, I didn't feel I had to take crap from anybody. I remember, a guy could be six feet tall and I would go up there and say, "What did you say?" You know, 'cause I hear him make some kind of disparaging -- I would never have done that before the war. I wouldn't have had the courage. But I've never taken any crap from anybody on account of my being Japanese since, without making some kind of protest.

CK: And you think it's because of the record of the servicemen?

FH: Oh, I think so. I think that was the most important thing.

CK: That you have that to back you up in saying, "Look what our boys did?"

FH: Yeah, yeah. Nothing but great admiration, I have friends in the service. I never went into the service because in 1942, I was thirty-four years old. I had a wife, three kids, little kids and I was taking care of my father and mother and, you know, they classified all of us 4-C at one time, aliens or non-eligible for service. And I wrote to my draft board in Fresno, local board 124, I told them, "Look, I'm an American citizen, I want my 4-C classification changed." So they sent me a lot of papers and I sent them back then they gave me a (2-C), which is a sort of a occupational or dependency deferment. 'Cause I told my wife, "If I'm drafted, I'll go but I won't volunteer because I have to take care of you guys."

LH: Is that a 2-C?

FH: 2-C or 2-A or something. Occupational, but see, if I went, why, who was going to take care of my wife and my parents and my little kids? No matter what you say, I think in anybody's concern, his first concern is for his family, the kids that he brought into the world. That's always been my first concern even beyond country.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

LH: I want to say thank you very much. It's been a great... is there any final thoughts that you would like to add, something that I haven't touched on or we haven't touched on that you would like to say and for people to know and people to sort of realize about this conference, or, you know, the Nikkei community or anything like that?

FH: Well, I think this conference is a good thing. It brought out many people with differing opinions, but as I said many times, it took everybody to bring about redress. I think that NCRR maybe emphasized their importance a little bit too much to the disparagement of JACL. And no matter what they say, I think they're pushing them, their position a little bit better than JACL. I get that impression, I don't know. Maybe I'm wrong.

LH: And how about NCJAR?

FH: Oh, he and... he, what's his name, Bill.

CK: Bill Hohri. William Hohri.

FH: Bill, yeah, he and I had little words. But I told him that, "I didn't support you because your deal never had a chance to get passed, the judicial way." For one thing, his claims were too big. And at that time with the budget in trouble, and I didn't think he had a chance, and I told him, "You don't have a chance. That's why I didn't support you," I like his ideas. But he has always, always put JACL down. And then when he, when JACL, the deal went through, he applied for his $20,000. Then he makes a statement, "Well, I spent the twenty thousand dollars and bought a car." It doesn't matter what -- he didn't have to make that statement. I think his statement was disparaging JACL's efforts, that's the way I took it and I didn't like that a bit. And there are... well, I don't know. Well, that's about all I have to say. [Laughs]

LH: Well, thank you very much.

FH: Well, thank you, yeah.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.