Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Toshio Moritsugu Interview
Narrator: Toshio Moritsugu
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: March 2, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-mtoshio-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: So let's go back to your father because you mentioned him being interned. So the last we talked about him, he was working as a carpenter, building like machine gun nests. So tell me about him being picked up, what happened?

TM: One afternoon, the security people, as my mother told me, there were two military people and an interpreter. They told my father to, "Pack up your tools, we're gonna drive you home." So he returned home with the security people and they, the security people told my mother to pack some clothing for (my) father for a couple of nights. And they would not have my mother talk to my father. They were always close to them. (My parents couldn't disuss) private things. And from what my mother told me, they looked all over, searched the whole house, for anything that they could pick up. And my dictionary for example, Japanese American dictionary was taken and my kendo outfit was taken. And the radio that we had was taken and my father was driven downtown.

TI: And so how did you hear about what happened to your father?

TM: I was away at that time and after my mother related that to me I felt sickened. How would we be able to make a living now, eight of us children and my mother? What would be the means of, you know, making a living? And I said, "Something is wrong. Why? My father didn't do anything wrong. He was a straight man, actually 'alien' person, but why him?"

TI: Because in fact, he was helping the war effort, you know, through his work as a carpenter. Now, was there anything that had happened that would have put your father under suspicion? Because he wasn't picked up initially, so the FBI had their lists of what they considered the most dangerous people and they picked them up right away and your father was a little bit later on. So in the interim period, was it just because you think it just took 'em a long time to get to your father? Or did something else happen that may have made the government more interested in your father?

TM: I have no recollection of that. He was normally doing his carpentry work and regular normal living and it just happened suddenly. So they must have had a record of what he did over the years and came to the conclusion that he had to be interned.

TI: And at this point you mentioned you were away, were you at the boarding school at this time in Honolulu?

TM: Yes, I was at McKinley High School, at the boarding (home) and my mother called me to indicate that my father was interned. And when I returned home for the weekend, I got (the) full in detail (of) what had happened.

TI: And then, yeah, I think you mentioned that you were able to visit your father. So why don't we talk about that. How would you be able to visit your father?

TM: Every Sunday a military bus came downtown, right in front of the Kamehameha Statue and people that wanted to visit their interned parents or so had to be there at the particular morning. And at a particular time that you were driven over to that internment camp, spend several hours, and you would return back downtown. And I was able to catch the bus on certain Sundays and get to meet my mother and go there. Apparently, they didn't allow a large group from a family, about two per family were allowed for the visit.

TI: And so then when you went with your mother, so you and your mother, would you be able to bring anything to your father? So when you visited him, did you have anything for him?

TM: I don't recall having anything, because you had actually the military guards and strictly, you know, movement was really watched and it was strictly talking to the interned person and when it was over, sent home.

TI: So what I'm going to do right now is kind of walk through a... just say one of your visits. And so you mentioned being picked up and what kind of vehicle did they take you to the camp in, do you recall whether it was a bus or a car?

TM: Well, this particular bus had a full load, and went to the internment camp. You were discharged and led to a room where you had the person interned.

TI: Okay, so before we even go there, so the bus ride over, you mentioned other families were there, can you describe what the mood was like in the bus?

TM: Yeah, it was really gloomy, people did not talk to each other. We got to be friends with a few families. Other than that it was strictly, getting on the bus, getting to that internment camp, being returned home and going home. So the mood was really sad.

TI: Sort of somber, quiet?

TM: Somber.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.