Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Atsumi Ozawa Interview
Narrator: Atsumi Ozawa
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Skokie, Illinois
Date: June 17, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-oatsumi-01-0006

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: So next I want to go to the wartime. On December 7, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, United States. How did you hear about the war in Peru? What news did you get about the war?

AO: I know that some of the customer used to come to the store and talk to my dad. You know, they were friends so they didn't say anything bad about Japan. I just heard that war... I didn't think anything, but I was surprised.

TI: So Japan attacked the United States, they didn't attack Peru. So was there a sense that Japan was going to be an enemy against Peru? Or why... I was just thinking why, what the Peruvians thought when Japan attacked the United States. Was there a fear that maybe Japan would also attack Peru?

AO: I wonder how they felt, because most of the Japanese businesses, it was owned by Japanese, most of the business. Maybe they were afraid.

TI: So like the Japanese businessmen in Peru, when they heard, what did they think? Were they, you said afraid, or were they maybe proud that Japan did something, or what was the feeling?

AO: I wonder how they felt, gee, I don't know. Maybe some, they thought Japan was going to win the war.

TI: How about your father? Did he ever say anything?

AO: I didn't hear anything. I think he didn't say anything. But at that time, there was, let's see, before the war, most of the Japanese, they used to own a business, so there was a riot against the Japanese.

TI: And this is before the war?

AO: Yeah, before.

TI: Before the war?

AO: Before, before.

TI: And what was the riot about?

AO: I really don't know, but I think that they were afraid. Like all the businesses was owned by, Japanese owned the business, and all the children, Japanese children, we all went to the Japanese school, not a Peruvian school, even were there, maybe all that, probably they wondered why.

TI: Oh, so people were kind of upset. They were saying, "The Japanese own the stores, they don't send their kids to the same school," and so maybe some resentment or bad feelings about Japanese?

AO: Probably, yeah.

TI: Go ahead.

AO: And then in Lima, when they rob all those Japanese stores, they went and steal everything. It was terrible.

TI: Did anything happen to your father's store?

AO: My father and a few policemen, they went to guard all the Japanese stores, so everyone was safe.

TI: So the authorities protected the Japanese, it was just the regular people? They were the ones?

AO: Yeah. (Narr. note: General Sanchez requested that such violence be stopped for the sake of law and order and common civility. From Adios to Tears by Seiichi Higashide.)

TI: And so now that Japan has now attacked the United States, did that change anything? Did people become more angry at Japanese after that?

AO: Gee, I don't know how they felt.

TI: So how did, did your life change at all? At school, did people start talking? Because you were at Lima right now?

AO: Yeah, I was in Lima.

TI: So at school, did people talk about...

AO: We all were afraid, I guess, we didn't know what was gonna happen. And then all the Japanese schoolteachers, they were sent to Japan to exchange with the American prisoners, the first ones. They didn't even go to camp, I think they went directly to Japan.

TI: Oh, so right away they were picked up, sent to Japan for exchange.

AO: Yeah. All the Japanese teachers, the Japanese schoolteachers and some of the Japanese that were, probably they were doing something with Japan or some connection or something, they were sent directly to Japan.

TI: And then were there any stories or did you hear about anything happening to the Japanese Peruvians during this time? Like maybe someone getting into a fight or getting beaten up or anything like that?

AO: Uh-uh.

TI: But earlier you said that some of the stores were, during the riot... and then after the riot, did things then get a little more quiet after that?

AO: Yeah, uh-huh.

TI: Now, did the school authorities tell you or your sister or the other girls special instructions like, "Be careful," or "don't go someplace," or things like that?

AO: Yeah, my dad said, "Don't go out." We were just staying home and then worry about what is gonna happen next.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.