Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Takashi Hoshizaki Interview
Narrator: Takashi Hoshizaki
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda, Jim Gatewood
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: July 28, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-htakashi_2-01-0025

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TI: Okay, so let's talk about what you could recall of the trial, or before the trial, the preparation for the trial. Do you remember any of the preparations in terms of talking with a lawyer or any conversations with a lawyer?

TH: A little bit. I guess the problem then became trying to find a lawyer, and this fellow, (who) was it? Menin, I guess. Yeah, Samuel Menin. But his idea at the very beginning was that we give 'em a little hard time trying to supposedly identify each of the defendants, so he suggested that we all get identical haircuts so it made it difficult. And I thought, oh, (...) that's not the kind of defense that we need. But I went along with it, and some of 'em refused to go along, but so that was the very beginning, and he did apparently try to give us a good defense, but now I guess my mind is a little confused because Eric Muller did the research on it and reading his book, get a real sense of what was going on. But at the time, sitting there as a defendant, I don't think those things really crossed my mind, except the time that the judge says, "you Jap boys," and then he said, "Oops," okay, and we were having a non-jury trial and so (what) he says, "Well, that doesn't look good for us," which it wasn't.

TI: But during the trial, thinking back at the time, did you feel the lawyer, Menin, was trying to do a good job of defending?

TH: Yes, I, yeah. But he did try. In fact, there was a time that they even got to the point of Menin ready to take on the district attorney. In other words, take his coat off, roll up his sleeve and they're gonna have it out with (fists) in the courtroom.

TI: In, in the courtroom?

TH: In the court room. [Laughs] So, thought "Wow, what's goin' on?" Well, must be, these guys are really goin' at it.

TI: And I'm not sure exactly when this was taken, but there's a, a fairly well-known photograph of, of the courtroom.

TH: Of the sixty-three, yeah.

TI: Of sixty-three. Do you remember when they took that picture?

TH: (Yes), it was very strange because I was in the back row and then as the guy got ready (to take the pictures), somehow something flashed in my mind that said, you know, this picture might be famous about fifty years from now, and so I (...) so I stood up and looked at the camera. And I was surprised, it was about fifty years that suddenly the (picture) came up and being shown all the time.

TI: Yeah, it's a well-known photograph and your premonition was right. It, it did become very prominent. Now was this photo taken, at what point during the trial?

TH: I really don't remember, except that as the trial was going on we had a court, I guess a photographer came in and set up to take pictures.

TI: So describe when, I guess, the judge rendered the verdict. What, describe that.

TH: Well, as the trial was going along, it became more or less apparent that it wasn't going to be good, so when he finally gave us a sentence, I said, well okay. The other thought was whatever came out of this very first trial, the possibility of really appealing it and getting a better, maybe a better review or really the legality of the whole thing would be looked at, instead of just the fact that we didn't appear for our induction notice. But again, all of that didn't come to pass (...). We had a sentence of three years.

TI: So when that happened were you surprised at the verdict or the sentence?

TH: No. Well, the length of the sentence was a little surprising.

TI: How so? How was that surprising?

TH: Most of the others that we were hearing about was that one year would be, probably be the maximum that they're giving to these other draft resisters, so when it was three years I said wow, that's quite a bit. And later on we learned that usually you only serve about a third of your sentence and then you can go out on, on a parole.

TI: But he essentially kind of threw the book at you, gave you kind of the maximum level, and you guys served more than a third.

TH: Yeah. Yeah, I think the whole idea at the time, thinking back on it, was that we were the first to be tried and so I guess they were really afraid that if we had won the case then (...) everybody in all the camps would then just say the heck with it. (...) If they're called for the draft they wouldn't be going in. So I think they, as you said, they decided to make an example of us, and three years was enough that they scared people into rethinking any decisions that they had made.

TI: But our justice system isn't supposed to work that way.

TH: Yeah. But it was interesting going back into reviewing what had happened. I gave the keynote speech at the Manzanar pilgrimage this year, and in that, and someone else had pointed out earlier, but in that speech I said, "Well, the sentences from all the different camps (for) resisters, ran from three years for us and, and down at the Gila River people it was one cent apiece fine to acquittal altogether (for those from Tule Lake), so it was this whole range of sentence." And it was interesting because the one cent fine was made, I think after the war was over and the trials had, I guess, somehow legally got dragged on that long.

TI: During the preparation, during the trial, what type of discussion was going on amongst the men? When you were in the cells, do you recall any discussion?

TH: No. I personally think we didn't really have anyone with legal knowledge within the group and since, especially someone who was a legal scholar who would understand what was going on. And even now, well, now we go back and there're questions about what was in the Selective Service Act, and at one point early on it was set up so that if you're to be drafted into the service you could not be held, incarcerated in any particular institution. But then apparently later on they rescinded that part, but my question in my mind is when did they rescind that? Was that before our trial, or was that after? But I haven't had time to stop and look those things up.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.