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Title: Yuri Kochiyama Interview
Narrator: Yuri Kochiyama
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Oakland, California
Date: July 21, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-kyuri-01-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

MA: I wanted to ask you about the, what they called the "loyalty questionnaire," the so-called "loyalty questionnaire" where they had you answer those questions, "Are you loyal to the United States?" and what you remember about that.

YK: Yeah. But I don't remember how they passed out those questionnaires. I mean, did they just pass them out? But everybody was -- well, questions twenty-seven and twenty-eight, I think, "Would you be loyal to this country?" And the other one is almost like it: "Would you serve in the United States military in whatever division that you're asked?" or something like that. And that's what I think was the beginning of the, dividing the Japanese people. 'Cause especially the Kibeis would say, no, they would never want to serve this country. The Niseis didn't know what to say, and the parents didn't know what to tell the kids. The parents, of course, would not serve the United States, 'cause U.S. wouldn't even let them become citizens. But over that question, I mean, there were... those who were real gung ho Americans and who... that's not a good way to express, but who felt they should fight for U.S., they really let the camp people know. And those who were totally angry at the U.S., they would let the camp know, "No, we would never serve." And so there were fights among the Japanese after that. And it was, it was hard because that's such a political question, but it's such a personal question. And it was, it could be a very divisive... even among one family, there's different feelings. And even families began to fall apart.

MA: Right, it's not just a simple question, yes or no. It has deeper implications than just, yeah, one word answer.

YK: Right. Oh, that questionnaire and those two questions, I mean, it really began to divide the Japanese people. It became very open because I know our block, the young people felt they wanted to show America that they were as American as anyone else. And so a lot of volunteers, it came out there would be volunteers. But then those who hated America, they came to hate the Japanese Americans who were willing to fight. And so it got to be really bad, and a lot of people moved into our block who were also for fighting for America. Because they were, some were even beaten up in their own block, or told to get out. And so there were all kinds of problems there.

MA: How did that impact your own family, do you remember that? With your mother and your -- I mean, your brother was in the service at that time, but your older brother was still in camp.

YK: Well, he tried, but he didn't get in, 'cause he had asthma. But our block was, the young people were stronger for showing America they were as American... they were more maybe, in their hearts, they must have been more American than being Japanese. And a lot of those kind of people moved into our block. And I guess maybe some people moved out of our block who didn't feel comfortable with that. But I think it was sad because, I mean, it really, where we should all be unified, we're going through the same problem, but this... and then things even got worse. As the war went on and more and more families got notice of their son or brother or somebody was killed, I mean, and yet, in one way, I felt this gives us an idea of what's happening outside of camp into the rest of America. That many American families are losing members of their family in the war, that we have to understand and know what they're going through. Because one day we'll be out, and we have to sympathize with those who lost people in the war. And understand that when they show hatred for Japanese, because they may have been killed by Japanese soldiers. And then anyway, our own could have gone through the same thing. But I think that whole experience of internment was a good learning lesson. Though it was also a learning lesson that we should, after a fight, that this will never happen again to any other group. And I think Japanese Americans really did feel that way.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.