Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Esther Takei Nishio Interview
Narrator: Esther Takei Nishio
Interviewer: Sharon Yamato
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: September 21, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-nesther-01-0031

<Begin Segment 31>

SY: So at some point, then, during the 1980s when they were having these redress hearings --

EN: Yes.

SY: -- were you approached to talk about that experience that you had?

EN: Yes, they asked me to testify at the hearings, about my return to...

SY: Pasadena.

EN: The Western Defense Command.

SY: Right. And what was your reaction?

EN: Well, I felt that I had no, I had no relevance to what was going on with the redress hearing. I couldn't understand why they'd want me to talk about my experience.

SY: Really? So it was because you just didn't think it was important enough?

EN: Right. I didn't think it had anything to do with redress.

SY: With asking for some sort of reparations for what you went through.

EN: Yes.

SY: Even though you had had this horrible experience of going to Amache, you didn't think, you still didn't think...

EN: No. I really didn't see any connection to redress at all.

SY: So was it Mr. Anderson who asked you to testify, or was he --

EN: No, it was whatever group it was that was conducting the hearing.

SY: And did, were, did Hugh Anderson actually approach you or did you talk to him?

EN: No. He was also asked to testify, and it was, happened to be on the same day, so we drove in together to wherever it was they were conducting the hearing and we waited to be asked to testify. And as it happened they called me first, and so I did my thing, but they never got around to Hugh Anderson, which was, I thought, very sad. So he never got to tell his story.

SY: I see. Now, you then, in fact, did testify even though you were not sure.

EN: Right. I didn't think I needed to.

SY: And were you, like, coached in this preparation of what you were gonna talk about, or did you pretty much do it on your own?

EN: I don't recall how it happened or what they asked me to do, but I have a copy of my testimony and it's really just a recap, a recap of what I just went through with you, what happened.

SY: Going to Amache, going to...

EN: Yes, going to camp and coming back.

SY: And so at the time that you gave this testimony, then do you remember what the, any reaction?

EN: No. That's also a big blur.

SY: It, was it pretty scary to give the testimony?

EN: It must have been, but I don't remember. Isn't it strange how you, you can't remember these important dates? I don't understand it myself.

SY: But you managed to get the courage to do it, or whatever it took to do it.

EN: Apparently.

SY: And that was really before you really started, people asking to interview you and all of that. So it was, was this, that the first time you started thinking about that whole experience?

EN: Well, I tried not to talk about it or think about it, I guess, and I don't know why. I just didn't want to. And it was only when Darcy asked me that I suddenly decided maybe it's time I should talk. And I've been talking ever since. [Laughs]

SY: Does, has it helped to talk about it?

EN: Not really. But -- you spoke about interviewing Harry Kawahara -- but he said it's my job. [Laughs]

SY: So you consider it your job, your responsibility.

EN: I guess so.

SY: And obviously because you were so helped by the Quakers, then that, does that have anything to do with...

EN: I'm very grateful to them, yes.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.