Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Fred Y. Hoshiyama Interview
Narrator: Fred Y. Hoshiyama
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Culver City, California
Date: February 25, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-hfred_2-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: Before we go there, I want to learn more about this meeting. So when you went to this meeting...

FH: JACL meeting.

TI: JACL national meeting.

FH: I was there.

TI: Were you there as a representative --

FH: No, not a representative, just as a person.

TI: Okay, so it was like --

FH: Of course, I'm a YMCA worker, but...

TI: Right. Was it open to everyone, or just... I'm trying to figure out who was there.

FH: No, no. They had this summit meeting, so to speak. We didn't call... "summit" is a new word. Summit health right now. That's a brand-new word in the 2000's. We never heard of summit before.

TI: It was just a meeting, a national meeting.

FH: It was a national JACL, got all the leaders together.

TI: And so who was there? When you say national, were people from Seattle...

FH: Sure, Seattle, all over.

TI: ...Chicago, everywhere.

FH: They came in.

TI: And about how many people?

FH: Those that could come. And Mike Masaoka was the main person that they listened to, and there was George Inagaki and there was, I remember some of these people.

TI: And about, roughly about how many people were there?

FH: Oh, at that meeting? There in the Kimon Hall, maybe forty to forty-five. Yeah, as I remember, yeah.

TI: Yeah, I'm curious to know as much as I can about this meeting. So Mike Masaoka was in charge of the meeting?

FH: Well, he was the national president. And a lot of people condemn him, and I hear this often, but they were not there. And I think that if they were there, they would temper their harsh decision about Mike. They said he sold us down the river, so to speak, and that we were traitors. Now, there's something else I hear said. He pointed fingers at people, had FBI pick them up. That I don't know. I can't vouch for that, 'cause that's something beyond my ken of understanding. I don't think he did that, but people are people, and I don't know.

TI: But tell me about, like, the mood. So you have about thirty, forty people at this meeting.

FH: Yeah, and we're all blind leading the blind. We don't know what's gonna happen. But Mike said that we are citizens, and we have a right to be citizens, and our job is to be strong citizens, support whatever the country needs, we support it. That's what Mike said. His proclamation, we live in a better America, something, for better Americans. "Better America for better Americans," yes. I think we owe a lot to people like Min Yasui, Mike Masaoka. His brother Joe was the regional director of JACL after the war. And son, Mark, still lives in Los Angeles.

TI: And what was the date of this meeting? What was the, when did this happen?

FH: Gosh, that's a good question. I don't know.

TI: So I think, I'm trying to remember. It seemed like it was maybe in February. Wasn't it right before...

FH: It had to be February, yes, of course.

TI: Because at this point, how much discussion was it about what the government was thinking of doing in terms of removing people?

FH: At the time, as I remember, the information given or talks, no one really knew what's going to happen, but we had to take a stance for the sake of our future, especially the sake of our parents. And that's, seemed to be a big concern for us at that time. And so we said, "What is the best policy under this situation?" And so we took the policy of cooperation instead of going to jail like some did, which was great.

TI: And when you say "cooperation," was it with the understanding that cooperation may be being moved to camps, inland camps?

FH: Well, we didn't even know that at this point. But then as that came out, we agreed that we would go ahead and cooperate instead of becoming a sore thumb. Or else we could have took a stand, and that could have hurt them, some of the people by saying, "They're traitors. Not citizens, they're traitors, they're Japs."

TI: Now, within that meeting was there any dissention? Were there people who maybe challenged Mike and says, "Mike, are you sure you want to do this?" Was there any of that?

FH: Well, there was a lot of discussion, but not, I didn't hear any strong challenge because they felt that to challenge indicates that we're traitors, that we are for Japan. And that was an easy step to fall into, right or wrong, yes.

TI: And what was the age of the people in this room? Were these all Nisei?

FH: Sure, they were all Niseis.

TI: And who was, was Mike about the oldest?

FH: Very few Sanseis at that time, very, very few.

TI: Because at this point, you're a young man, you're just...

FH: Well, I was twenty-six, maybe seven. Not that young.

TI: And were you about the average age or were you older or younger?

FH: Well, I think probably I was pretty much older, older of the group, elder of the group. Not oldest, but there were some people, I think it was Okada, some from Salt Lake City was here, and Seattle.

TI: Like Jimmy Sakamoto?

FH: Sakamoto.

TI: Clarence Arai?

FH: Clarence Arai, probably. I don't know about Jimmy, 'cause I met Jimmy in the '30s. So this was way before that. I mean, this happened after I met him. See, Jimmy was involved when we started JACL. That was about '30, '31 maybe, '32.

TI: Now, besides Mike Masaoka, do you recall any other speakers that you remember that impressed you, what they said?

FH: There was a guy named Dr. Nishikawa... mostly Mike did most of the talking. And everybody listened to Mike, 'cause he was the guru of the Japanese, JACL.

TI: And at this point, was Mike still based in Utah, or was he...

FH: Yeah, I'm sure that they had an office in Utah at the time, although I don't know. This, why we met in Kimon Gakuen, that's Japanese school, it's 220 Bush Street -- no, no. 200 something 6, Bush Street.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.