Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Yosh Nakamura Interview
Narrator: Yosh Nakamura
Interviewer: Sharon Yamato
Location: Whittier, California
Date: January 25, 2012
Densho ID: denshovh-nyosh_2-01-0011

<Begin Segment 11>

SY: And do you remember when the whole issue of the "loyalty questionnaire" came up in camp?

YN: Well, it was, yes. There were a lot of discussions, and in our camp the teachers by and large were excellent or poor. There weren't too many in between. Some of the poor ones we suspected were kind of spies. We've noticed them coming to meetings we had. They would stick their head in and be listening, but I don't know. Maybe they were just curious. But they were not very good instructors. So we at least had suspicion that maybe their main mission wasn't to teach. But the questionnaire was a very unfair one, so it was impossible to answer it without incriminating yourself, you see? The fact that you were asked to no longer be loyal to the emperor or whatever that statement was, meaning that you were, you see? If you said, "No, I will not be loyal to the emperor," well, you're almost saying that, yes, you were before. When you said, "No, I will not do that. I'll continue." I think it's a wrong question, so if you voted "no" you're considered disloyal. So the questionnaire itself was a very, very unfair question, and maybe it was designed that way so that, regardless of how you answered, you were wrong. And I think you probably have had teachers in your life somewhere where they would frame a question so that any answer would be wrong. Well, that's what happened to us, I think. But when I answered "yes," in a sense it's saying that, it's almost like volunteering because you're willing to serve.

SY: So you were actually asked to do the... because originally wasn't it everyone in camp?

YN: Yes, I think so, everyone.

SY: And so at some point you were asked to sign it and you had to answer "yes."

YN: Yes, I don't remember just when that happened, whether it was before I graduated. It seemed like it was before I graduated. But those who were deemed to be disloyal by "no-no" were then shipped to Tule Lake.

SY: You remember that happening?

YN: Yes, I do remember, and I remember the very sad parting of the ways of some people. And some of them felt that, "I had faith in this country, but the way we've been treated," says, "They don't want us here. So I don't know what it's going to be like in Japan, but it probably isn't any worse than here," or something like that. And so it was not so much a loyalty to Japan as something against the treatment here, that they did that. And so I think it has come to pass that that was considered sort of a question under duress. I think those who were deported, I think, came back.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.