Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Akio Hoshino Interview
Narrator: Akio Hoshino
Interviewer: Stephen Fugita
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: July 11, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-hakio-01-0011

<Begin Segment 11>

SF: Since you reported for your physical, how did you get "picked up" by the authorities? When...

AH: Of course, after I went to the physical, and I passed. You know, I can't remember clearly, except that I must have got the orders to report, and I did not. And so the next thing I knew there was a marshal in the front door to take me away. And we all accepted it. I mean, the family knew that it was going to happen, and we just said our goodbyes, and I went along with him. I was treated very well. Sat in the front seat with the marshal as he drove. And we stopped for lunch, and we just walked in like we were a couple of friends, stopped for lunch, and got in the car again, and went. I don't know whether the people outside knew the circumstances, but they certainly must have known, having to come behind barbed wires to pick me up and all that. I was treated very civilly.

SF: Then where did he take you?

AH: To Boise County jail, and there, there were some of the others that also took the same stand. And they were picked up and brought to the county jail. Funny sideline to this thing is that place is filthy, and so we asked the jailer, "Can we clean up the place?" And they said, "Oh, by all means." They furnished everything that we need, we took the mattresses and beat 'em up, cleaned up the place. And then the chef said that he's been wanting a vacation, and asked one of us if we'd cook. So we said, "Sure, we'll cook." [Laughs] We cooked a whole bunch of rice. I don't know what the other inmates of the jail felt, but we cooked rice and had Japanese-style food. Gave us practically the run of the place. You know, it seems funny to think of it. Even when the date for a court appearance came, they just opened the door, gates, and said, "Okay, let's go." And we all meandered down the streets like a bunch of visitors. And went into the courtroom, and went through, to me, what seemed like a mock court procedure. We were judged all guilty. Given three months, three years -- three years, three months, and three hundred dollars. I don't know what formula they used, but that was our sentence. Then on the way back, the guard says, "You guys wanna pick up something at the dime store?" "Yeah, we wanna pick up a few odds and ends." "Go get it." So we all scatter around and went into the dime store, got what we needed, and got what we wanted.


AH: No sign of a, of a, whatchacall it. And when we came for a day to go back to the West Coast to where we were supposed leave, we just boarded the train and went along with the guard. Got unloaded at McNeil... of course, in a prison, it's completely democratic. I mean, you behave and you have your prisoners' rights and that's it. They didn't feel like a majority or minority, you're one of the group.

SF: What did you feel like when the judge read the sentence?

AH: I don't recall exactly what I felt like. I felt that this was their decision, I just have to go along. There's no way I can fight it, and the attorneys that -- court-appointed attorneys -- would do nothing except to put us on the stand and say, "Okay, you say what you want," and that's it. There was no help. No... nothing.

SF: Did...

AH: Funny thing about... there was one person who was a Kibei and he said he can't speak English, and he could. But, so the judge told me to interpret for him. And so I interpreted for him, and he said that, no, he's a Japanese, he's going to... "I don't understand English," he's not gonna go army. So I interpreted it exactly the way he told me to, and the judge -- I could hear him -- he went into his chambers with the attorney and said, "This guy's gonna be no use in the U.S. army. What's the use of drafting him?" And so, he just, they just released him. I still know him, and... [laughs]

SF: How did the other guys feel about that? That this guy got off.

AH: I don't know. I don't know how the other guys would feel about... mostly I guess he felt that, good for him. He got off of it. We all took it seriously, and yet, it was like a mock trial. And we knew what was going to happen, eventually, and we were just ready to accept it.

SF: Among the group of you, you stayed in the same area of the county jail, right?

AH: Oh yeah, we had one, one area. We had the run of the place. Cleaned it up...

SF: Did you become good friends? Or...


AH: Among each other?

SF: Yeah.

AH: Oh yes. We all knew each other, and we all had a close tie. The reasons that they took that step was the individual reasons. We didn't plan an organized attempt to do anything. We became good friends. After the war, they... when we were all released back in Seattle, they were my closest friends among the Japanese community.

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