Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Bob Y. Sakata Interview
Narrator: Bob Y. Sakata
Interviewer: Daryl Maeda
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: May 14, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-sbob-01-0013

<Begin Segment 13>

DM: And then, so how did you yourself get out of camp?

BS: Well, as much as I enjoyed the responsibilities I had in the camp there, and George helped me, too, 'cause I would, I would consult with him also, that somehow or the other I had to legally find a way to leave the camp. And so I did search every possible way, and finally found someone to endorse my citizenship where I could just leave the camp. And that took about... April to... that took about six months of communicating and working. I finally was able to leave the camp in December of 1942. I think it was the end of November, yeah.

DM: Well, when you say that you found somebody to endorse your citizenship, what does that mean?

BS: Oh, that meant that you had to have an American citizen, a "respectable American citizen," vouch for, vouch for your behavior and so forth. And this fellow that endorsed my citizenship was completely responsible of me. It's just like being on a parole from being in prison. But he trusted that I would be worth, I would be worthwhile endorsing. And that's how I left. And even from Utah, I left for the state of Colorado because I was impressed, two reasons. Governor Carr, who invited all the Japanese from the West Coast to Colorado, and also I was impressed with Colorado State University that I thought someday I would like to attend.

DM: Just to follow up on, you mentioned Governor Carr, during the early part of 1942 when Japanese Americans were still free to leave the West Coast quote/unquote "voluntarily," there was a groundswell of opposition in many of the different western states.

BS: Yes.

DM: And the governors of several western states tried to bar Japanese Americans from entering their states. My understanding is that in Colorado there was some opposition as well, but Colorado governor Ralph Carr made his very famous statement welcoming Japanese Americans. He said, "They are as loyal to American institutions as you or I." And so you had heard this...

BS: That's correct, yes.

DM: ...when you were still in Utah, in Topaz.

BS: Yes.

DM: And that had a big impact on your decision.

BS: Yes, that had a big impact, especially after leaving California during the hysteria sort of time, where newspapers just completed misread all of us and called us all kinds of names that we didn't deserve. And to find a governor that said that's unconstitutional, that really, at a young age, I really was very, very impressed.

DM: Were there any other ways that Governor Carr supported Japanese Americans during the war, do you remember?

BS: I remember one incident, Daryl, where there were a few very successful West Coast Japanese American farmers, which was in in the Salinas area and Guadalupe... Salinas and... where they settled in Colorado temporarily. And they brought their big heavy equipment on by rail car to Colorado. And a lot of the local farmers saw that and became quite concerned that, "We didn't want those people to become competitors." So there was three farmers there that went to the state legislature and had one of the senators introduce a bill barring, banning any Japanese Americans from the West Coast in prohibiting them from purchasing land in Colorado. And when Governor Carr found that such a bill was going to be introduced, he told the legislature, "You go ahead and introduce it if you want, but that's unconstitutional. If it comes to my desk, I'm vetoing it." So that was one particular thing I remember.

DM: So he was very staunch in defending Japanese American rights.

BS: Oh, yes, yes.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright ©2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.