Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
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

<Begin Segment 1>

[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.

<Begin Segment 2>

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

AI: Well, we also wanted to ask a little bit about your young childhood years in the U.S. -- in San Francisco. In your book you described some very happy memories and a time of life that, in some ways was difficult with you and your mother.

MK: In Japan?

AI: In -- in the U.S.

MK: In the U.S.?

AI: In San Francisco. Could you tell us a little bit about those years, as you were growing up? Did you consider yourself American, an American child going to first grade, second grade, third grade?

MK: Well, the first grade, second grade, national identity does not enter the picture. What does enter the picture is this: my parents were poor. (...) So I'll give you an example -- you know, Jello? Those things that they sell at the cafeteria? Even those are cheap things, I looked (enviously) at people buying it and eating it. I never ate those things. But I never passed through there and looked at it. Why? Because every night (...) when my mother came back from work, she exposed me to a book on ethics that she, as a young child, was exposed in Japan. One, which says that one who studies will become successful -- one who is lazy will become a beggar. (...) Now, you know, you get exposed to those things, you develop a sense of a morality, and also a sense of shame merely receiving something from others. So I'll give you another example. When I was small, (...) at 10 o'clock the school provided milk, cookie. My parents were so poor that they could not afford to provide me with those things. And then the teacher would say, "Go and get it because there's one student absent." And I would feel very embarrassed (...). Now, if it's an American student I would assume that what they would say (...), "If you don't go, it's going to go to waste." So there's no sense of obligation to the teacher. But no, because of this early training, when the teacher said, "Go and get it," I felt embarrassed. And when she insisted I really felt a deep sense of obligation. (...) It's a sense of shame to the extent that you're receiving something without giving something. And if the other person insists, you feel obligated -- a deep sense of obligation.

AI: So at a young age, your mother gave you a sense of values that...

MK: That's right. That's right.

AI: felt very deeply. At that -- as you got a little older, in the U.S. still, did you form any kind of national or ethnic identity while you were still in the U.S.? Do you recall forming any kind of national identity or ethnic identity before you went to Japan?

MK: (...) Before (entering primary) school my mother took me to work. I was in the park, and I saw Caucasian youngster playing around with their (mothers). (My mother) can't do that. So I say I'm quite different because my mother is Japanese. She's got to work. (...) But when I got into school there, there is no ethnic difference. The children -- you see in the world of children there's no bias. There's no discrimination. They play around. And so that is the kind of new education that I was exposed when I went to grade school in the United States. Now, in contrast, Japan is a very provincial state. So they would not accept aliens, foreigners, readily as an American. So when I went to Japan I did have some problems, but in due time I was able to merge. So you go to Japan, you come to this country, you go back again, you come to this country -- you are a marginal personality, split personality. You can't understand -- quite sure whether you're Japanese or American. Which is perfectly okay because there you have no notion of nationalism whatsoever. But that is something that the FBI, as well as the Department of Justice, did not understand in the '40s and '50s.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

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

TL: From San Francisco, what age were you when your mother brought you to Japan to be educated again? How old...?

MK: How old was I? I was in my fifth grade.

TL: Fifth grade?

MK: Yeah.

TL: Do you remember what year?

MK: What?

TL: What year?

MK: Lets see, fifth grade? What's that, ten?

Linda Keenan: Ten? Was it 1930...?

MK: Oh, the year. 1934, I guess it was -- yeah, (the) depression period. (...)

TL: Was the Depression a factor in your being sent to Japan?

MK: Well, it wasn't because of the Depression. My mother wanted me to be exposed to Japanese education, culture, and language.

TL: Where did she bring you? Where?

MK: A place called Hiratsuka, near Yokohama -- which was still a small village.

TL: And did she bring you to live with her family or...?

MK: (...) Her family. And I enjoyed every day simply because I didn't have to study. [Laughs]

TL: Didn't you go to school in Japan?

MK: Yeah, I went to school.

TL: Didn't you have to study there?

MK: Yeah. I studied there, but I didn't -- I didn't like the way the Japanese were teaching -- regimentation, constant examination. I resisted that. But in due time, because I like to read, I picked up enough (Japanese). (...) So much so that in due time, I was able to pass the exam, the Tokyo University's graduate exam. My educational process is quite different from the Japanese one.

TL: How many -- how many years did you stay in Japan until your mother came to get you?

MK: Four years.

TL: Four?

MK: Four years. (...)

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

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

AI: You wrote in your book that when you first returned to Japan and were going -- starting school there -- as you mentioned earlier, that there was, you were not accepted right away. In fact, your classmates called you names?

MK: Yeah.

AI: Could you tell a little bit about that?

MK: Huh?

AI: Can you tell us about that time?

MK: Well, I mean, they called me names because I couldn't speak Japanese as fluent as the Japanese. Plus, I had long hair, and I wore a necktie and shoes, not a sandal. So the difference of custom -- not able to communicate in their language -- contributed to clashes. But in due time, you know -- boys are boys -- they fight, get bloody nose, but next day they are good friends. These repetitions cemented our relations, so much so that in due time I became one of them. And that is very important. Why? Because (...) when the war came, I refused to take up arms and drop bombs in Japan. Why? Because... I'll tell you why. See, the Japanese were poor at that time, very poor, so poor that they came wearing sandals which did not match. (...) They had their lunch, lunch box. They took out their lunch box from their bag, and start eating their lunch, except that that was empty. (...) But out of sheer pride, they took the motions of eating. (...) I knew (then) that the Japanese were poor, but they were a very proud people -- that they would not say that, "I am hungry, I'm starved." They would not steal. No stealing, no looting, no crime. Now, I respect those people. And when you get to know people like that, you don't feel like dropping bombs on their country.

I'll tell you another things. My parents sent me a box of "kisses," all right? And I asked the teacher to distribute them. And the teacher called each student to the front and gave (each of them a piece of "kisses," then the) student will bow. (...) And then the student will come to my seat, bow, and tell me how grateful they are. But they say, "I'm not going to eat this. I'm going to take it home and share it with my mother, father, and little sister." The other guy would come and say, "Thank you very much. I'm not going to eat it. I'm going to take it home and place on the Buddhist altar for my deceased grandfather." Now, when you get to know a people like that, you don't feel like dropping bombs on their country. Now, if the situation was reversed, I think I would do the same. That (is) if I were in Japan and Japan were (...) dropping bombs on the American cities, (I would never participate because of the) close relationship (I have formed) with my American friends. (War, I eventually came) to realize (...) is an extension of national policy. It's not my war. (...) It's the rulers' war.

TL: In speaking with other Kibei, I've heard stories that they were perceived in Japan as being wealthy because of having things like chocolate candy. Did your classmates or other people in the village think that somehow your American connection gave you a higher status or that your, your grandparents...?

MK: Well, well, you know -- in the first place, it's a quite complicated situation. In the first place, the Japanese did not have to come to this country if they were rich. They came to this country because they are poor. But (when you) go back (...) the Japanese will see that (you) are wearing shoes, socks, nice suits, and so on and so forth. So they become envious. (...)

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

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

TL: You've mentioned that there were different kinds of Kibei. Could you talk about that some more?

MK: Okay. Now then, there were -- particularly in places like Tule Lake -- there were radical Kibei. And then there were Kibei who were very passive. And then there were Kibei who had the insight to do something (positive) after the war. Now, I think we have to grant the fact that most of the Kibei who were educated in Japan lived (there) at a time of nationalism (and) militarism. (That is, during the 1920s and 1930s. But) what many people ignore is this: (...) Babe Ruth came to Japan in (1934) as a guest of the Japanese; (Col. Lindberg and his wife came to Japan in 1931); Charlie Chaplin came to Japan in 1932. (...) You know that the Winter Olympic held last winter in Nagano (in 1998)? (Its) theme song was "Let the Children Rule the World." (...) This is a theme that the Japanese has conceived in as early as the '20s (and this is an extension of the late 1920s mood. At that time) Japanese children made dolls and send it to American students. And the American students created dolls and sent them back to the Japanese student. Of course, this project was an innovation of an American, but it was so great that it cemented the relationship -- the tense relationship that we saw between the American government and the U.S. government. Many people seemed to ignore these social events because they don't know. But a Kibei who was educated in Japan in the '20s and '30s would know (...) (that underlying) nationalism (and) militarism, (was the) peace movement (actively participated by American and Japanese children. And as I said, the Japanese interest in things American was overwhelming.)

So when you see the Kibei -- radical Kibei in Tule Lake, they (represented) a (small) segment of the Kibei who (endorsed) militarism and nationalism, not those Kibei who understood the undercurrent, (social mood of that period). (...) I think that these things ought to be noted and be (recorded) for the American public, (...) not only amongst the Japanese Americans. So what I'm saying is that, don't just say that the Kibei who were educated in Japan are all radicals. (...)

TL: Was that peace movement evident in your school? So was that something you were exposed to as a student?

MK: Well, it's not only my school. Throughout (all) the schools (in Japan). (...)

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

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

TL: When were you -- when did your mother come to Japan to bring you back to the United States?

MK: 1938.

TL: 1938? And why did she come at that point?

MK: Because my mother believed that I should -- after having received a fundamental education in Japan, I should come to this country, get a higher education, and make a living (...) in this country.

TL: Did you have any regrets at leaving at that point?

MK: No regrets because (I knew that the U.S. is) my permanent residence. But I'll tell you one thing (...): the impact of the Japanese education was distinct. After I returned from Japan and continued my education in this country, (after studying at an American) high school (I continued my study at a) Japanese school and (read Japanese literature. My Japanese teacher at that time, Mrs. Sano, was a very intelligent woman. She perceived my distraught state of mind and attempted to exert a calming influence on me.) And so every day after I have finished lesson I (went) out, closed the door, and (bowed) without her knowing it, because I respected that woman. (The Japanese are a highly civilized people. They do not come out and say, "I respect you." They internalize their feelings.) (...)

TL: This teacher that you just described, was she like -- was she your last teacher at the school you studied at in Japan?

MK: No. This teacher was in San Francisco. (In Japantown. I don't know what happened to her. But I'm sure that she continued to help others.)

TL: And you studied with her when you came back to San Francisco?

MK: That's right (...). Okay. (Now) let me tell you another teacher whom I studied in Japan. She was a woman, too. And when I first went to Japan -- you know, chronologically, it's getting a bit mixed up, but let me say this -- Japanese required homework during summer vacation. And I couldn't hack that. And so this teacher asked her brother, who was a college student, to come and help me. So he helped me. But after that (...), he said, "Please teach me how to pronounce English words." So I spent about another hour pronouncing English words. Now then, after I have completed my Japanese education, and my mother and I were about to go back to the United States, I went to see this teacher, bowed, and told her, "Thank you very much." You know what she did? She grabbed me, put me beside of the hallway, and then she start crying. She said, "My brother just died in China." (And she continued, "In the last letter I received, he said that the greatest joy I had in my life was to learn how to pronounce English vocabularies from you." It was soon thereafter that it dawned on me that there were Japanese who were against the war, a feeling that they could not express publicly.)

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

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

TL: You said earlier that you had a notion that your future did lie in the United States.

MK: (Yes.)

TL: You also said that over time, you were more accepted by the other Japanese students...

MK: (Yes.)

TL: Japan. In this process, would you say your American or Japanese and American identity was growing stronger, or -- how would you describe that identity?

MK: Split personality -- marginal. You have to live with that. You are neither 100 percent Japanese (nor) a 100 percent American. (And that is an asset today, but not so during the war period. It is an asset because you are able to understand the culture of another people, introduce that culture into American culture and stimulate that culture.)

TL: When you went to school in San Francisco, and now you're about fourteen or fifteen, how -- can you tell us about your adjustment in those early years at age fourteen or fifteen?

MK: After I came back, huh?

TL: Yeah.

MK: (...) Well, when I came back I knew that I had to (catch up with my English study). I was burning the midnight oil because the Nisei, they're all (very studious). So I could see my (Nisei neighbors too) burning the midnight oil. I never shut down the light until the other people did. But this -- there's one thing that I eventually came to realize. The Nisei people are very dedicated, (very) -- highly competitive. But as one goes up the academic ladder, the hakujin people seems to -- not to compete, but (nonetheless) come up with remarkable academic accomplishment, (without outwardly showing their competitive mood, at least that is the way I perceived of them.) They (acted) perfectly gentlemen-like. (...) I don't know how they are now. But you see, education just for the sake of education is (not real education. The important issue of education is realizing personal growth.) Now, the Japanese mother in Japan (today, all they do is to) cram knowledge (...) to their children. They become very good (academically), except that they do not develop a vision of the type that the Americans would. (Their vision is) very narrow. And that's the reason why the Japanese have developed great technologists and businessmen. How about the Nobel Prize? It's always Americans, and (the) Japanese? Very few. That is what I mean, that the American type of education is nothing to (look down upon). (American students are) low starters, but (American education provides the) opportunity for late bloomers, (not the) Japanese type of education -- never.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

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

TL: Did you graduate from high school before evacuation?

MK: No. I was still a junior when war broke out. (...) Because I was in Japan, my American education was delayed a bit.

TL: How...?

MK: So I graduated from high school over here, at Tule Lake.

TL: Okay. Let's see. Could -- do you remember how you reacted to the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

MK: (Yes.) When I saw the headlines, and newspaper boys shouted, "Japs bomb Pearl Harbor," I thought they were blaming me and I thought that I was responsible, too. (...) (Because I am an American but also a Japanese.)

TL: What stands out to you about the evacuation process?

MK: Huh?

TL: What stands out to you about the evacuation, when your family had to prepare to go to Tanforan?

Linda Keenan: Your main memory of that.

MK: Oh, my memory. Well, I think my mother did a good job cleaning up the house, selling things which she couldn't bring. And I kind of felt sorry for her because she could only bring what she could carry and all that. (But there is something that is important, something that goes beyond material issues.) Gradually it dawned on me that (evacuation was based on) sheer discrimination, only confining the Japanese Americans -- not the German Americans, not the Italian Americans. (...) That's how I felt.

AI: Did you discuss this idea of -- regarding the racial prejudice, with anybody else at that time?

MK: You can't, because there was this (House) Un-American Activity Committee. (...)

Linda Keenan: The House Un-American.

MK: Yeah. And if you -- if someone reported to the committee, (you'll be) apprehended. Okay? Now, I don't know how you girls think about the JACL. But at that time, the JACL leaders told the Japanese Americans that they should report any anti-American activities of their parents to the FBI. They told the Japanese Americans that they should -- that the government should keep their parents hostage and have the Japanese American form a suicide squad to fight against the Japanese. You probably didn't know about this. You knew about it? Okay, good. Now, I had my education in Japan. I just couldn't do (what the JACL leaders of that time told us to do).

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

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

TL: Which camp were you in when the so-called "loyalty oath" was given?

MK: (...) Topaz.

TL: Topaz.

MK: Yeah.

TL: Can you talk about your reaction to the -- to that oath?

MK: Oh.

TL: To the questions?

MK: Oh, yeah. I think we'd better go a bit further because, as I said casually, I was interviewed by the FBI because I was a Kibei and I was trained in martial arts. So at that interview it was very uncomfortable because he called me a "Jap" and all those dirty stuff. And then told me, finally that because I'm a Kibei, because I was trained in martial arts, I cannot leave the camp. That was quite a shocking event. And because of that shocking event, when the loyalty oath came out, I said, "No-no."

TL: When, when did the FBI interview you? Was it as soon as you arrived...?

MK: (The FBI interviewed me at Topaz in the spring of 1943.)

TL: Topaz, or...?

MK: (...)

AI: Excuse me. As I recall from your writing -- from your book -- the FBI interviewed you because you had applied to leave to attend school...

MK: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

AI: ...outside of camp. Is that right?

MK: (Yes.)

AI: And then you had this very unpleasant interview.

MK: (Yes.)

AI: And it sounds like the FBI staff person was quite abusive, verbally abusive to you.

MK: They're quite capable of doing that. (And it is this FBI interrogation which haunted me for the next eighteen years when I received my Ph.D. from Tokyo University and became confident that there is a realm beyond loyalty, a realm through which I can make a positive contribution in promoting the cultural growth of this country.)

TL: Um, let's see.

AI: (...)

MK: (...)

TL: After you answered "no-no," what happened to you?

MK: Well, subsequently I was sent here -- Tule Lake.

TL: Okay.

MK: Yeah.

TL: And there were many other "no-nos," but they had other reasons also for saying "no-no."

MK: Yes. Yeah. So...

TL: So how did you fit in with all of those kinds of "no-nos"?

MK: Okay. There was the radical "no-no." Today, when we went to the camp site I saw some scribblings. And some of them referred to the "Black Dragon Society," which is a right-wing society. Some would say, "Asia for the Asians." And some would say, "Japan is a country of the gods." You see, these type of Kibei represent the radical segment. (I despised these people.)


AI: So as I recall from your writing, you did not complete high school at Topaz. And after you answered "no-no," then you were brought to Tule Lake. And -- what happened then, when you came to Tule Lake?

MK: (I completed my high school education at Tule Lake. And the teachers there) were dedicated, dedicated to the extent that they wanted to help us, (so much so that I consider many of them as the forerunners of the civil rights movement.) (...)

TL: (...)

MK: (...)

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

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

TL: What, in your book you also talk about the renunciation of citizenship issue. And could you tell us more about what, what led up to that and how that issue became resolved later?

MK: (Yes.) (...) (When) I was transferred to Tule Lake, (and saw) these tanks (and) jeeps with mounted machine guns (coming into the camps, I was mentally depressed, and physically exhausted). (I lost my) appetite (and) developed rashes if I ate. The Japanese doctor did not help me. So I appealed to the administration, but the security guard there did not permit me to enter. In fact, they chased me away. So I told them that this is a country only for the white people. "You people do not represent a democracy." (...) They shot at me three times (with) a .45. (I lost confidence in) the American government. And (...) I renounced.

TL: From reading other histories, there was a fairly large number of other Japanese who also were encouraged to renounce their citizenship.

MK: (Yes.) I think some renounced because they wanted to stay together and go to Japan together. But in my case, my, my mother was already out (of the camp. And so) it was not a family decision, it was my (own) decision.

AI: So I'm trying to understand your state of mind at that time. And it seemed that you had -- your physical health was not good. You had not been eating, and you had been under attack by the guards. And it's -- I'm trying to understand -- did you feel that you did actually want to go back to Japan when you renounced or was it...?

MK: Let's put it this way: because of my early education in Japan, I was confident that should I go to Japan, I'll fit in right away. On the other hand, I knew that I could fit into this country, too. So it's not a matter of loyalty or disloyalty. (Nonetheless,) the fact that the government imposed this kind of (repressive measure evacuation, loyalty question, and now the renunciation act has forced me to lose confidence in that government. I renounced my citizenship as a gesture of defiance. It should also be noted that psychologically, Tule Lake was an abnormal society. Thus, renunciation was an act of stupidity, but long years of rage and accumulated resentment spawned that stupidity.)

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

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

TL: Could you tell us about the formal process of renunciation?

MK: Well, it's been over fifty years, so (...) the details (are hazy). But I know that the interviewer was a woman. And though it was said (...) that the full opportunity was given to the renouncee warning them of the consequence, I never received such a statement from this interviewer. It was done, as far as I'm concerned, maybe in a matter of ten minutes or so.

TL: So there was no explanation of the consequences?

MK: I (don't recall). Maybe there was. But under the circumstances -- (...) this (repression and) harassment -- (...) the rationale with which an interviewer explains things will not enter one's head. (When you see yourself surrounded by) armed soldiers (and tanks, whatever the) interviewers would say (just won't click.)

TL: So at the time that this was going on, the tension in the camp...

MK: Oh, yes -- sure.

TL: ...was very high?

MK: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

TL: Did you speak with other people who had renounced, or did it feel very individual? You didn't know of anybody else...

MK: No. I didn't consult any other people in as far as the renunciation act is concerned. I did consult others after I began to realize that maybe I'd made a mistake. (...)

TL: Did the camp administration move quickly to deport all the renunciants?

MK: (Three months after the war, some renunciants were deported,) including (...) those Nisei who were underage.

TL: Did you have to go with that group or did you stay -- or were you able to stay?

MK: Well, I was fortunate that, and I was, I considered myself fortunate because one of the men that I have dedicated the book is Opler. And so he had connection with the administration. In fact, I was working under him. So I think he did a lot to help me.

TL: Your dedication also mentions Wayne Collins?

MK: Yeah. Wayne Collins.

TL: And could you talk a little bit about his role?

MK: You know, you should ask his son, who I understand is coming. Yeah. Ask him.

TL: We'd love to have your perspective as well.

MK: Okay. Wayne Collins (...) was a dedicated man. He not only helped the renunciants, but he helped others, Japanese Americans, who were in trouble with the American government. What characterized Wayne Collins is this: he always advocated freedom of speech, (...) regardless of whether it was wartime or not. In as far as the freedom of speech was concerned, he would go and help the communists and the Nazis (not that he endorsed their views; he was defending) the freedom of speech. So (...) he even defended the boys who were in the stockade; (...) he was defending their right to freedom of speech. (...)

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

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

AI: You also wrote in your book that, during this time after you had renounced, and that you were having some regret of -- feeling that maybe it was a mistake. From your writing, it sounded like you were in a very low state of mind. That you...

MK: [Laughs] Anyone would (feel) pretty low. (Tule Lake was a glooming site.)

AI: Could you tell a little bit about what happened that brought you out of that?

MK: Depression? State of depression?

AI: Yes. What got you out of that state?

MK: Oh. What got me out of that? Well, it was (people) like Opler, Collins, and a (handful) of Christian pacifists, (who had visions beyond the immediacy of events, who inspired me to pursue higher education after the war.) You see, one thing people (tend to overlook are the churches in Tule Lake. Sometimes reference is made to the Buddhist church. But rarely is reference made to the Christian Church. Its minister was Reverend Grubbs (with a congregation of about twenty.) (...) They were against administration policy and came to defend the renunciants. (...) I'm not a Christian, but I think in all fairness, their contribution should be recognized -- particularly in view of the fact that many Buddhist leaders, ministers, of honganji in particular, they represented (the) radicals. I don't want to embarrass these guys, but I knew many of them were on the forefront of emphasizing militarism and nationalism. In contrast, (...) this small Christian group transcended the realm of loyalty. (...) That's the reason that, I think it was tomorrow, I'm going to deliver a eulogy on behalf of Tom Grubbs, (not withstanding the fact that) I'm not a Christian. It doesn't matter. (...) Tom Grubb was a great man. (...)

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

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

AI: Well, I especially wanted to ask about that, because it seemed to me from your writing that a great theme in your adult life stems from these times, where you discussed both the pacifism, the going beyond the questions of national identity or citizenship or loyalty, going beyond that, and also bringing together the themes of peace. And again, going beyond the usual definitions of loyal, disloyal. And also bringing together eastern thought and the western thought, as you were mentioning.

MK: Let's go one-by-one now. Okay, what is your question?

AI: Well, my question is -- if you could talk about these themes that emerged, that you...

MK: The pacifist theme?

AI: Yes. Yes -- the theme.

MK: Okay. The Christians who were pacifists, in that they did not endorse neither the Japanese government's policy nor the American government's policy. So to that extent, they were pacifists. Now, in as far as the Buddhist leaders in Tule Lake were concerned most of them endorsed the Japanese nationalism (...). But this does not mean that I, I'm against Buddhism. If I'm against Buddhism, I wouldn't have gotten a doctorate degree in Buddhist philosophy. (...) It's only (...) fair (to note that a handful of Christians) helped the Nisei at that time.

AI: Well, and in particular, Wayne Collins. Can you discuss what happened then -- in how Wayne Collins assisted you to have the renunciation declared void?

MK: Well, it took ten years, you know.

AI: Yes.

MK: So during that time I never had any contact with him. So I don't know. He's a lawyer, so he went about his way. And finally he won. But I couldn't wait that long. So in spite of the fact that I've renounced my American citizenship, I just went ahead and got an American passport, and went to Japan and studied -- granting that it was a great risk. But it was a risk worth taking.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

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

TL: Could I just ask a last question? I like the title of your book, Beyond Loyalty, and I'm wondering if you could explain why you chose that title?

MK: That's your territory.

Linda Keenan: Well, the Japanese version -- the Japanese version of the book had a different title, but we needed a title that would say what the main theme of it really was. And that did seem to be, as you were summarizing, the main point of his thoughts, about the whole experience. So that's how it came there.

MK: The title is different between the Japanese publication and English publication, simply because the title itself is attractive. When you use Beyond Loyalty, it's very attractive to the Americans. That kind of a title will not be attractive to the Japanese. What will be attractive to the Japanese is The Nisei Rebel.

TL: Thank you.

MK: So it's not a direct translation, but I think it was -- it's a very effective translation. The success of that book is largely due to Dr. Keenan.

TL: Well, thank you very much.

MK: Okay.

TL: Both of you.

AI: We appreciate your time.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.