Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Sumiko M. Yamamoto Interview
Narrator: Sumiko M. Yamamoto
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary); Barbara Takei (secondary)
Location: Sacramento, California
Date: December 8, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-ysumiko-01-0026

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TI: So I'm wondering if at any time, especially when you were working with the U.S., U.S. agency, if it ever came up that you had renounced your U.S. citizenship? Was that ever an issue in terms of employment or certain jobs?

SY: No, they didn't ask us that.

TI: So was the assumption that you were American citizens?

SY: Yeah, I guess so, because we spoke English.

TI: And did they ever ask you, "So how is it that you came to Japan?" Did they ever talk about that or ask any questions about that?

SY: No, they didn't, but when we were in Hakata, we, headquarters, General MacArthur's headquarters sent a message to each armed forces office that all repatriates may not working for the armed forces anymore, so we were released.

TI: And so you were released.

SY: Released, yes.

TI: So you lost your job.

SY: Yes.

TI: Because you were, 'cause you had repatriated, you were in that classification.

SY: Yes, yes.

TI: Which essentially sort of identified you as probably someone who renounced their citizenship.

SY: Yes, yes, I think so.

TI: Did you ever understand or know why that order came from General MacArthur's...

SY: No, no.

TI: And so there's no, no explanation.

SY: I think I heard about it, but I forgot what it was about. So after we quit, my sister and I did housework -- not housework, but worked for the family of the armed forces as a housekeeper or babysitting or something like that.

BT: Did they pay you in dollars?

SY: No, we got paid in yen.

TI: So it sounds like --

SY: Japanese government paid us.

TI: But, so it sounds like it was, like you had a pretty good job working with the U.S. government, and when you got essentially fired or released, you had to take a cut in your standard of living in terms of what you could do.

SY: Uh-huh.

TI: Okay.

SY: We got paid in yen. Unless you were a civilian hired by the American, U.S., you don't get paid in dollars.

TI: So was it that your younger brothers, though, they were still American citizens. Were they able to get jobs, or were they also unable to work for the U.S. government?

SY: Well, gee I forgot about them. [Laughs] My brother just below me was working as a houseboy. And my youngest brother, he was going to Japanese school. I think he was going to high school or something... no, junior high I think he was going to.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.