Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Jim Matsuoka Interview
Narrator: Jim Matsuoka
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: May 24, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-mjim-01-0008

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MN: You mentioned about this school assembly.

JM: Oh, yeah, yeah.

MN: Can you share with us that story?

JM: Well, we were all called out to an assembly outside, not in a building, but really outside in the firebreaks. And there was a platform, and the principal of our school, old white lady, got up there, and she starts talking about Pearl Harbor and the death and destruction. And halfway through she breaks down and begins to sob, you know. And that's just what we needed. Just, just exactly what we needed, you know. We're wondering, "Why in the hell are we in this..." I mean, we were young, but we weren't stupid. Somewhere along the line, it filters through that people don't like us, you know. We're in here because we're bad, and now we get the whole, we get the whole thing thrown at us. We're bad because we're, we're part of this group that bombed and killed, and, "You Japanese are bad people, you know, and you're part of them." She didn't say it like that, but she might as well. She might as well. Because like I say, we're not stupid. And yeah, talk about getting a complex, you know, geez, how much more do you want? I could always relate to Frank Emi talking about, "What do they want us to do? Tuck our tails and walk away?" In a way, that's what we almost had to do when they browbeat you like that. I mean, I wouldn't have minded if she kept a stiff upper lip like the British do and said, "Oh, well, tally ho, we'll continue on and we'll beat the Axis," or something like that. But now to sit up there and sob, oh, goodness. Those are searing moments in your life, they're hard to forget. Obviously I didn't forget it. It's burned into my memory.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.