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Title: Minoru Kiyota Interview
Narrator: Minoru Kiyota
Interviewers: Tracy Lai (primary), Alice Ito (secondary)
Location: Klamath Falls, Oregon
Date: July 3, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-kminoru-01-0001

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[Ed. note: This transcript has been edited by the narrator]

TL: Today is Friday, July 3, 1998. This is Tracy Lai and Alice Ito, and we are interviewing at the Tule Lake Pilgrimage, Dr. Minoru Kiyota. Could you please tell us where you were born?

MK: I was born in Seattle, except that I don't know Seattle because my parents left Seattle soon thereafter.

TL: Okay.

MK: Yeah.

TL: Where did they take you next?

MK: They took me to Japan, and then from Japan to San Francisco. And then later on when I was much older, my mother took me to Japan again. See, so I've been crossing the Pacific many times since, (...) since an infant. And...

TL: What kind of work did they do for a living?

MK: Nothing to be proud of. Well -- let's see, in Washington, they told me that they had a dry cleaning business. Yeah -- and then when they came in -- down to San Francisco, both my parents worked as a cleaning people for the Caucasian.

TL: Did you have other siblings?

MK: Huh?

TL: Did you have brothers or sisters?

MK: Yeah. I had (a brother) and (a sister). But you know how it is. I meet them, and then for -- but we shake hands, hug each other (for about) three or five minutes, (then) -- we exhausted conversation. Because I haven't seen them for many years. I spent most of the time in either Japan or Wisconsin. So there's not (many issues we have in common).

TL: Do you know if your parents had intended to return to Japan, or did they hope to make their future in the United States?

MK: They intended to make their future in the United States, but (...) my mother (...) thought that in order to make a, a meaningful life in the United States (...) I should know how to speak Japanese and be exposed to Japanese culture. And so that's the reason I became a Kibei, with all the problems which that kind of people (...) encountered.

TL: I should have asked earlier when you were born...

MK: Um.

TL: ...because I'm also wondering at what year you went to Japan?

MK: You know, I really don't know, because I was still an infant the first time when I went abroad. But...

Linda Keenan: What, what year were you born?

MK: 1923. (...)

TL: Could you tell us what "Kibei" means to you? Because in speaking with other Kibei, sometimes people make a great distinction about who qualifies as being Kibei and who does not.

MK: You're quite right. It, it's a very ambiguous term. I don't know myself because I could fit in with any Kibei group, to the extent that I could (even) curse in the Japanese language. I could equally curse in (the) English language. So to that extent I think I'm a crossbreed. Now, that is important because nowadays one exposed to both Japanese and American culture are looked upon (because) they are (...) bicultural. But that did not happen when I was young in the '30s and in the '40s. I was always a suspect: "He's been educated in Japan," you know. And then from the Kibei side, they would say that I speak English, so -- so, "He's a traitor." So when I came to -- (...) Tule Lake I never shaved my head. I never belonged to any radical group. So I was a suspect from the veritable Japanese, and I was also suspected by the administration, and because I was educated in Japan. And they considered me extremely dangerous because I was trained in the Japanese martial arts. Okay. Go ahead.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.