Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Tetsushi Marvin Uratsu Interview
Narrator: Tetsushi Marvin Uratsu
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Emeryville, California
Date: May 25, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-utetsushi-01-0010

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TI: When you were doing that, did you feel any different allegiances between Japan and the United States? Did you think of yourself as being more American or Japanese back in those days?

TU: I never thought it out. I never thought it out excepting when the Japanese went into China, we saw all these war movies and the Japanese newsreel where they had the Japanese soldiers conquering this town. They would raise the Japanese flag and say, "Banzai, banzai." We saw a lot of that after we came back to Loomis. And in my heart I'm saying, "Hooray for Japan," but that was when I was a young kid. I don't feel that way now. I think it was terrible what the Japanese were doing in China.

TI: And did your parents ever talk to you about being Japanese and what that would mean or anything like that?

TU: No, not really. I think the decision came a little later on in life when we realized where we were at. I think behind my folks' thinking was that someday we may be sent back to Japan because of all the anti-Japanese propaganda and anti-Japanese feeling prevalent in California. I didn't realize how bad it was. But I read a book by a gal named Linda Gordon on the life story of Dorothea Lange, and this Linda Gordon details all the anti groups, anti-Japanese groups, including the major Institution of Farm Owners. So I thought, I'm presuming that my folks must have thought someday we may have to go back to Japan, that we would at least have some knowledge of Japanese.

TI: Interesting. Yeah, because a lot of the anti-Japanese sentiment was in that area. It was very fierce.

TU: From what this Linda Gordon writes in that book on Dorothea Lange, she just lays it out, these anti Institution of Farm Owners that were afraid of the Japanese buying up the land. So she puts it right out.

TI: Good. I haven't read that book, I'm going to have to look it up. It sounds interesting.

TU: It's a book on Dorothea Lange, but Dorothea Lange was the person who took...

TI: Those photographs.

TU: Photographs of the evacuees, yeah.

TI: They're fabulous photographs.

TU: And she wasn't allowed to take photographs in the camp, but this Linda Gordon got some photographs done by Toyo Miyatake, he had secretly brought in a lens and made a camera out of it, and he took some pictures.

TI: So she used those photographs in her book?

TU: Not too many. What she did with those photographs was she worked with Gary Okihiro.

TI: Okay, I know which book you're talking about, okay.

TU: And he and Linda Gordon did that book, I don't know what the title is.

TI: Was it Impounded?

TU: I'm not sure.

TI: Okay, I think I know which book now.

TU: But anyway, getting back to our story, there was this just virulent anti-Japanese propaganda. And the politicians were going for it, the media was writing things up.

TI: Now for you as a boy growing up --

TU: I didn't know that.

TI: Did you feel it, though? Did you feel kind of this discrimination or maybe Japanese being viewed as second-class citizens in terms of not having the same kind of rights as maybe whites? Did you feel some of that?

TU: No, not really. I guess I had some of that Japanese spirit, you know, "study hard, work hard and you'll get ahead or at least you make a living." [Laughs] Because my experience -- maybe we're getting ahead of our story -- in high school, for example, I had no problem.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.