Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Tokio Yamane Interview
Narrator: Tokio Yamane
Interviewers: Sachiko Takita-Ishii, Yoko Murakawa, Noriko Kawakami
Location: Japan
Date: May 23, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-ytokio-01

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

[Translated from Japanese]

I1: Your life, along with many others, was largely at the mercy of the history and the relationship between the two countries. But you have clear views and opinions, and you're living your life fully. It is hard to find someone like you in the States. We cannot find anyone who could clearly describe the experience and offer a broader perspective about what was really going on. You were not trying to scare your fellow incarcerees by marching and chanting "heave-ho, heave-ho" in front of the camp. You did it to stand against the U.S. government and to demonstrate that you were able to stand up for your rights without being armed. No one could talk about that. The leaders who remained in the States are hiding and will not talk about it. Because the leaders are being silent, people who renounced their U.S. citizenship are questioning why they did it. They feel confused and could not offer a clear and structural description about what went on. You can describe the entire situation clearly for us. You were twenty-one or twenty-two back then, right? And I believe you were making the best decision you could make for yourself.


TY: I understand why the U.S. government removed 120,000 Japanese Americans from the coastal area in the way they did. I think foreigners would think that Japanese people are so unpredictable, and they don't know what we would do with the bushido values we carry. Japan launched a surprise attack at Pearl Harbor. Japan could plan something with people who live on the coast and invade the mainland. They must have thought the Japanese could invade the mainland by collaborating with the Japanese living in the Pacific Coast region. Those Japanese on the coast would guide the Japanese army into the country. That is probably what they thought. It is understandable that the U.S. government was suspicious. And that was the beginning of the tragedy. Reasonable Americans would think it is wrong to lock up those people in camps. Why did it have to happen to American citizens? It would have made more sense to keep the Japanese Americans where they were, enroll them in the military and make sure they are loyal to the U.S. government. Such a policy would have avoided the incarceration. I don't understand to this day why the U.S. government had to rush building camps and incarcerating Japanese Americans. Besides, life in the incarceration camps wasn't particularly harsh. You could have meals in benches with other fellow Japanese and could do anything. You could live a trouble-free life if you play by the rules. I have to give the U.S. government credit because although we didn't know what would happen to us, our daily life was peaceful in the camp. Then, the "loyalty questionnaire." That was a tragedy. They asked us to choose right or left. The questionnaire forced people to move from right to left. I don't know, maybe more than half. People who were right and who were left. I was considered as left. I said I will not answer the questions. I didn't see the reasoning behind it. Why now? Why didn't they do it before they sent us all to camps?

I1: You would have been right if the questionnaire had been administered prior to the incarceration, correct?

TY: Naturally. The questionnaire to test the loyalty should have been administered before forcing everyone into a camp. All Japanese Americans would probably have declared their loyalty to the U.S. government. They are of Japanese descent but were American citizens by birth and living in the States. Of course, they didn't want to fight against Japan. But if they had to choose between the two countries, then those who lived in the United States would have chosen to live as an American. My elder brother was drafted and went to war in a military uniform. I would have done the same. If I had been drafted, I would have gone to war with a gun on my shoulder. I wasn't even given that choice and was left in limbo. In the midst of limbo, we were questioned whether we were loyal to Japan or to the United States. Why did the government do it? It would have been okay if we had not had the questionnaire. As a result of the questionnaire, many were sent to Tule Lake and segregated there. There were different groups of Japanese with different opinions in the camp. Some took actions that were against my beliefs. The loyal groups were very extreme. If you did something they did not like, they reported you to the authorities. People were labeled as a "dangerous element" and sent away to a different facility. Those who were loyal to the U.S. government reported to the authorities. It was a problem to live with people like that. We asked the authority to separate us. The government created the segregation camp. They administered the loyalty questionnaire at each camp to keep the loyal there and send those who pledged loyalty to the Japanese government to Tule Lake. This kind of segregation should have been clearly made in Tule Lake as well. But Tule Lake did not segregate people. I don't understand why they did not.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

[Translated from Japanese]

I2: Segregation wasn't clear. The government built a segregation center, but it was actually not a segregation center.

TY: That's right. It caused tragedies. People like Mr. Kai emphasized this point. We chose to go back to Japan, and we needed to be segregated and be with people who also decided to go back to Japan. He questioned why he needed to live with people who were loyal to the U.S. government. He knew it was a problem and requested to be segregated again. He requested to be moved to another facility. Representatives from each block formed a committee to negotiate with the authority. In addition, many parents complained and claimed they used to receive plenty of milk and afternoon snacks for their children, but they were not getting enough in Tule Lake. We were also requesting improvements for us.

I1: The WRA was against the segregation or sending the disloyal to Tule Lake until the end. Based on documents, Mr. Myer kept arguing that this should have been done before sending Japanese Americans to camps when the army proposed the segregation idea. This was the same point you made. Why didn't they do it at the beginning? The government had exactly the same information they previously had. He strongly argued about why the government kept pushing the WRA to administer the questionnaire while they hadn't done it before incarceration. There was an issue with the incarceration policy to start with. Incarceration of Japanese Americans wasn't the original plan. The government simply wanted to remove Japanese Americans from the coast and send them inland. The government realized that they did not have any place to accept mass-removed people and rushed to build the structures and camps. It required a huge amount of money and work. The government was moving toward releasing Japanese Americans from the camps, but they needed to separate the loyal and the disloyal. It seems like the government tried to fix a previous mistake and pressured the WRA. They bulldozed the pass for the plan at the end.

TY: I respect what the United States stood for. The United States treated us, a minority race, unequally during the war, but I still consider the States as a kind-hearted nation. I have never wanted to speak negatively of the States. There are many good things about the country. Japanese were gathered in one place, and disagreement among us became very clear. Arguments about loyalty and disloyalty came up among those Japanese people. That made it difficult for the camp authority to control...

I1: They made the very decision to incarcerate the Japanese Americans.

TY: And Japanese Americans kept creating many issues and disagreements among us. The authority didn't want to take sides and gradually started to keep a distance and not to work on the issues.

I1: Were you angry at the Japanese Americans more than at the United States when you were active in the Houkoku youth group?

TY: The problem was among the Japanese Americans. Japanese Americans were asked where their loyalty lies, and we answered. We expressed whether we were loyal to the United States or to Japan. You are supposed to act upon your beliefs. The U.S. government should have respected that. But when we were sent to Tule Lake, people who were loyal to the United States were still in the camp. They refused to leave Tule Lake, and the WRA didn't do anything about it. It didn't make any sense. Why did we have to be labeled as disloyal and sent to Tule Lake for segregation? It didn't matter where we were sent to if we lived together. It would not have been a problem if the government, at an early stage, had made Tule Lake the place designated for people who were loyal to Japan. The name segregation center itself is a lie. Tule Lake segregation center did not send the loyal away. They did not administer the questionnaire, did they?

I1: Maybe it was because there were many people who did not return? Or they just wanted to stay there...

TY: That might be part of it. The Tule Lake incident happened because there were loyal people remaining at the camp.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

[Translated from Japanese]

I2: What is the Tule Lake incident?

TY: There was an incident at the food warehouse at Tule Lake. This incident drew international attention. This was a big issue.

I2: Do you mean the camp started facing a food shortage?

TY: [Shakes head]

I1: Or conflicts among the groups in the camp?

I2: We are aware of conflicts among the groups, but I thought the riot was organized against the administration.

TY: All leaders such as regional leaders and block leaders were loyal to the Japanese government. There might have been some people who tried to stay in the States. Some people might have stayed there to dodge the draft. People were there for different reasons. One thing I can say is that people who answered the loyalty questions in other camps clearly voiced what they stood for. Tule Lake was the place where original incarcerees were mixed with people sent from other camps because of their belief. It was muddy and mixed, and we had to watch our back every day. We repeatedly asked Mr. Best to send those who were loyal to the U.S. government away and make the camp clearly a segregation camp.

I1: But he didn't listen.

TY: He did not listen. We heard that Mr. Myer was coming. We wanted to hold a meeting with him immediately and demand better living conditions in the camp and appeal the necessity of re-segregation. That was on November 1st, and interviews were on November 3rd. The food warehouse incident occurred on the evening of November 4th when the leaders were having a meeting. That would not have been a big deal. Taking away two truckloads of food wasn't a big problem. We tried to calm down the situation but, instead, we were captured and severely tortured. You were referring to the jail and the stockade yesterday, and it must be about a group of the motor pool people. That is where the first incident occurred. Someone stole trucks. Those who stole the trucks came to the warehouse to steal food, while people were panicking about the disappearance of the trucks. The robbers were caught by Kobayashi when they were about to take off. Bob Hayashida was in charge of the motor pool and was sent to the stockade.

I1: That was where you heard about the motor pool incident?

TY: Right. That was when I heard about the stolen trucks for the first time. I realized there was another incident before the warehouse break-in. The administration tried to tie the two incidents together and started to blame us for that. We didn't know anything about the first incident at all. Not until we met Bob Hayashida at the stockade and were told there was a previous incident. No one must have known about it. The motor pool people complained that they got into trouble and were sent to the stockade because of the incident.

I1: It was the WRA that first caused the trouble, but...

TY: Right. They tried to shift the responsibility to us Japanese. They tortured us until the morning, saying, "Fess up. You are the troublemakers." They kept telling us to confess but it was their very people who actually did it.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

[Translated from Japanese]

I2: There is an FBI report about your torture. This report is based on the testimony by the former Internal Security Officer at Tule Lake Clifford Payne. There are slight discrepancies between the report and what you told Dr. [inaudible] about what you saw and experienced.

TY: How so?

I2: I am going to read the record now. Could you share about your interpretation of what happened? I am going to read from the beginning. "Security Manager Mr. Cole and I along with two other officers were standing and watching the military standing by and getting ready to enter into the WRA office to take over the responsibilities. I proposed to go to the female residence area just in case some women might need assistance." One name is anonymous as XX. "We got in a car parked in front of the WRA office, went onto the road by backing up, and were going to drive toward the camp stores. The headlights lit up three Japanese people when we got on the road. Those three were running toward us from the camp store. I heard them screaming, 'Let's get Best.' It wasn't that threatening, but I thought it would be trouble. The three came running toward us. XX and I jumped out of the car. I heard XX screaming, 'Take your gun out.'" "XX is..." is he a different person?

I1: I didn't translate this part.

I2: I see. "XX was equipped with a baseball bat. There was only that one bat at that time. The Japanese people were still coming toward us, but they slowed down to walking. I pointed my gun at them in the headlights. They suddenly shouted, 'We don't know anything.' We captured them. XX joined us. He was equipped with a .45 millimeter automatic pistol that he brought from the WRA office. I put my gun back in the holster. I wanted to keep my arms free in case of fighting. The Japanese guys must have noticed that I put my pistol back to the holster. They were walking four feet ahead of us and suddenly started to talk to each other in Japanese. They suddenly turned around and came toward us with their fists up. My attention went straight to the Japs who were coming toward me." It is interesting that he started using the word "Jap" from here. "My attention went straight to the Japs. I heard XX fire three shots from his automatic pistol." There is a missing part, and it goes on. "I hit the Japs with my fist." Skipping some and, "XX told me later that he beat the Japs with the tip of the automatic pistol. I definitely saw XX beat the third Jap with the baseball bat. All three were conscious, but they were all beaten up, especially the one whom XX hit with the baseball bat. We caught these three, had them stand up, and took them to the WRA office. In the WRA office..." Let's stop here.

TY: First of all, there weren't three people. That's wrong. It was only Todoroki and I.

I2: That's right at the beginning.

TY: I didn't know Kobayashi at all. We were asked to go to the warehouse and calm down the people there. We were running in the dark. About six or seven foreigners suddenly came out and came toward us. We didn't do anything. I didn't realize at the moment that they were all armed. We were not. There's no way that we were going toward them. They suddenly came out in front of us in the dark. No headlights. It was pitch dark. We were hit with their big fists in an instant. We got beaten up. We were both taken to the office. Our noses were bleeding, and we were covered with blood. They said, "You are the troublemakers. You started the disturbance." We were repeatedly kicked and beaten. In the middle of this, another WRA officer brought Kobayashi. Kobayashi was told to hold up his arms as we were, but he refused. He refused and said "Why do I need to do that?" "What? Who do you think you are?" He was hit by a baseball bat.

I1: He wasn't injured until he got hit by the baseball bat?

TY: Right, he wasn't injured. Tom Kobayashi was a big guy like a wrestler. I first met him there.

I2: What about the statement that you shouted: "Let's get Best?"

TY: We didn't say that at all. I don't understand.

I2: I think it was from the interview with Murakawa, I read that you went to see Mr. Best on November 1st, and he refused to meet with you. I assume that you didn't get to see him there but still wanted to talk to him. So, you said something like, "Let's get Best" in English, but those white security officers interpreted it as, "Let's get Best." You meant something like "Let's contact Best and meet with him."

TY: Mr. Myer. All the leaders including Mr. Kai and Mr. Kuratomi along with 2,000 to 3,000 residents got together for his visit. It appeared as an organized demonstration to the administration. We thought we might be able to arrange a meeting with Mr. Myer if a large number of people requested it. We wanted our delegates Mr. Best and Mr. Myer to get together and discuss the issues we had. But we needed to get permission from Mr. Best. We needed to be on the same page.

I1: So, it is reported that the Japanese Americans were screaming, "Let's get Best" on November 4, but even if someone had said that, it was not meant to be "get" as in "capture."

TY: It was not.

I1: The quote could also be from something that was said on November 1st.

TY: I went into the office alone empty-handed. I didn't want the crowd to make a scene. About five or six people were in the office. They asked me what I came for, and I said, "I'm looking for Mr. Best." I told them that I came to ask them to sit down with our delegates to discuss the issues. They asked my name, so I told them that I am Tokio Yamane and my residence was on seven. They told me that there was no need for a meeting. I insisted, "How about limiting the number of delegates to a few?" They denied the request. They said that there was no need for a meeting and that Mr. Myer wasn't there either. I gave up and told our people about it. We were dismissed and left.

I1: So, the person who wrote the report on November 4th knew that you were in the office on November 1st. He knew you had been there previously. It could be possible that his quote was from the previous case.

I2: Did you want to discuss the re-segregation and demand better living conditions with Mr. Best?

TY: Correct. We sent Mr. Kuratomi to solve the problems, but there hadn't been any solutions offered at all. So, the representatives and residents from each block stood up together and went to talk to the administration. We wanted to have the issues resolved. But the administration didn't find it necessary to hold a meeting. They might have found the large group of people challenging or threatening.

I2: Was it Mr. Kai who thought the large number would bring a better result?

TY: Yes. Mr. Kai, Kuratomi and the other delegates contacted their block members to gather. "We are going to organize a demonstration tomorrow, so please follow us." "Let's go." We ended up having approximately 2,000 to 3,000 people including women and children. It was large.

I1: It was a large number but wasn't like a riot.

TY: Not at all.

I1: It was peaceful.

TY: There were little children there too. [Laughs]

I2: The idea was that if you got a large number, then Mr. Best would listen to you.

TY: Yes. We had sent our delegates and had numerous negotiations with WRA and Mr. Best, but there wasn't any improvement on the issues. We heard that Mr. Myer had come or was coming, so we gathered in a large number for a chance to negotiate the issues with him. But we didn't see Mr. Myer. There were five or six people in the office, and Mr. Best identified himself. This was my first encounter with him.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

[Translated from Japanese]

I2: When was your first encounter with Mr. Best?

I1: He just said that was his first encounter with him.

I2: I mean when was that?

TY: I went to the office alone and requested to arrange a meeting with Mr. Myer and Mr. Best if they were there. Our delegates would like to talk.

I1: So you met Mr. Best but future negotiation was rejected.

I2: Did you just see his face?

TY: Yes. We did exchange a few words. He asked my name. I said, "I am looking for Mr. Best." He replied, "I am Mr. Best." I said, "Please meet with a few delegates of ours." He said, "I have no intention to meet." I insisted, "How about limiting the number of delegates to a few?" He replied, "I have no intention."

I2: Do you remember what exactly Mr. Best said in English?

TY: Me?

I2: Do you remember how Mr. Best expressed he had no intention to meet with you?

TY: I don't remember. He was apparently irritated by the large number of demonstrators. He told me that he had no intention to meet and negotiate with our delegates.

I2: Why were you chosen to deliver the request?

TY: It wasn't that I was sent as a negotiator. I was just asked to find out where Mr. Best was and whether we could talk to him or not. I was just looking for him.

I1: You were there to tell Mr. Best that negotiators were coming later.

TY: Yes. They told me to ask Mr. Best to meet with our delegates if I saw him.

I2: There wasn't any violence in this process like you went into the office with your fist up.

TY: Not at all.

I2: It is also hard to believe that you went there as you were having a conversation with Mr. Todoroki.

TY: Well, there was one occasion that we were talking to each other in Japanese.

I1: What were you talking about?

TY: I think I said something like, "Everyone, go back to the camp." That must have been in Japanese.

I2: Was it on the 4th?

TY: It was on the evening of the 4th.

I2: Who was "everyone"?

TY: It was right before those white officers suddenly came out in front of us. I had no idea where the warehouse was. It was pitch dark.

I2: About what time was it?

TY: I think it was around 8 o'clock. It was winter and was very dark outside.

I2: You were in Block 4 at that time as you mentioned yesterday.

TY: We were having a delegate meeting there.

I2: You ran from there?

I1: You went out to look for Mr. Best.

I2: Here is Block 4 on the map. Do you remember which direction you went running?

TY: I think I went in this direction from here, and I got beaten up around here.

I2: Toward where army was stationed or where the administration was? You were running toward the area where the white officers lived. It was in the opposite direction of the warehouse. The warehouse was on this side. You were supposed to go in this direction but went over there by mistake.

TY: I went in this direction. Going straight here. We weren't sure where and asked, "Where is the warehouse?" I was told, "Go straight." "Over there." It must have been around here. There was a school or something around here. We must have been beaten up around here.

I2: In between the school gates?

TY: I don't remember exactly because it was very dark. But we didn't run that far.

I1: It was darker because it was in the school. There must have been some lights if it had been near the residential area.

I2: Mr. Kai asked you to go because you were a fast runner.

TY: That is one of the reasons. But also it must have been easier for Mr. Kai to pick me because I was very close to him among the young people in the Kai group.

I1: You were close with Mr. Kai back in Fresno, and you also went to Jerome together.

TY: I went to his Sunday school there.

I1: What about the three shots fired from the automatic pistol described in the report?

TY: I don't know. They were armed, but they didn't shoot. I just remember being hit with a big fist. Right in my face. It left a spot on my face, and it was more noticeable in the winter. Those white guys were huge. Todoroki flew in the air when he got beaten.

I2: How big was Todoroki? [Laughs]

TY: Small. He was a tiny boy.

I2: How old was Todoroki?

TY: He must have been about my age.

I2: Around twenty?

TY: Around there.

I1: Skinny?

TY: Yes, skinny. He was a Kibei and could not speak English well.

I2: No one was hit by the baseball bat at that time, correct?

TY: No.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

[Translated from Japanese]

I2: The report has discrepancies right from the beginning. Can we move on? "I ordered the Japanese to lie on the floor in the WRA office. They refused, so I hit my Jap with my fist."

I1: It could be a mistake.

I2: It could be. It is terrible if it was my Jap. "I hit the Jap with a fist. He fell but was still conscious. XX hit his Jap..." Here it comes again. "He hit his Jap in the head with the baseball bat. He fell on the floor. He sat down there and leaned against the desk. XX tried to push him with the baseball bat three more times. The bat hit the desk diagonally and only brushed the Jap. He aimed at the Jap with the last stroke, but ended up hitting the desk and broke the bat. The Jap screamed, 'Don't hit me anymore.' He didn't lose consciousness from being hit. Several WRA officers and about twelve other people witnessed the incident, but I don't know their names. I think Albert Cole was there." Skipping ahead and, "We left the three on the floor with WRA officers watching them. XX, XX, Delbert Cole (I think) and I left the office."

TY: I never lay down on the floor. I was standing against the wall with my arms over my head.

I2: You didn't refuse either.

TY: No.

I2: Did the bat break on the desk? [Laughs]

TY: The desk had nothing to do with it. The desk was far away.

I2: You didn't lean against the desk either.

TY: No, no.

I2: It is important to have an accurate statement about how the bat broke. If it broke by hitting someone, that means the person was hit with a strong blow.

TY: I was like this [standing straight with hands up and back on the wall]. The bat was long. If you swing the bat it would first hit the wall instead of hitting the head directly. The wall first. The person who hit him was a big white guy like a wrestler. Small Japanese person would fly in the air and lose consciousness if he is hit with a fist by those guys.

I2: You didn't lose consciousness?

TY: No. We were fighting between surviving and dying. We were desperately trying to survive. We couldn't do anything. We couldn't fight back. We were not armed. They were a bunch more than ten big guys. Everyone laughed as we got beaten up. They were laughing and watching.

I1: It does not make any sense that they didn't know who was there.

TY: I remember there was this person but cannot remember his name. Not necessarily a police officer, but a WRA security officer was among them. He was sent to the hospital by Mr. Best to let us know that we were unconditionally released when we were hospitalized during our hunger strike. He drove me back to my room on seven in his Jeep and said to me, "Stay out of trouble." After a few days, he caught rabbits and brought them over to me. "They are delicious. I caught them." [Laughs] "Wild rabbits are delicious." There was someone like that too.

I2: The report continues. We stopped at the part where they left the WRA office. It goes on and then, "Delbert Cole asked who the Japanese leader was when they came back. XX answered, 'I didn't know anything.' XX grabbed the shirt and swung the broken bat again. He said 'Tell us now.' XX said, 'I didn't know' once again." He must have meant "I don't know."

TY: What does that mean? Who the leader was?

I2: They asked who the leader was...

I1: They asked you or your friend.

I2: And one of you must have said, "I didn't know anything."

TY: We had nothing to do with it.

I2: You wanted to tell them you had nothing to do with this incident.

TY: Yes. They repeated, "Confess, confess," and tried to make us guilty for the warehouse disturbance. We said, "We don't know anything. We heard that there was a riot at the warehouse and were asked to bring people back to the residential section in the camp. That's all and nothing else."

I2: "The army lieutenant said, 'hit him.' XX followed the order and hit XX in the head with the broken bat. XX fell and collapsed on the floor. He lost consciousness for a little while. I reached out to him and shook him until he regained his consciousness. I pulled him toward his legs. I never kicked him." It goes on and then, "He refused to provide information. XX started slapping his face and then hitting him in the head and on the face with the fist. It wasn't severe enough to lose consciousness." It goes on and then, "XX was behind the desk but leaned forward and said, 'Tell us, or I will make your eyes come out of your head.' XX refused to talk. XX hit him in his eyes severely. He hit too hard that he injured his fist." The violence goes on so Mr. Murawaka must have decided not to translate, but "It is true that XX was hit severely. Hatred toward XX was heightened. That is because XX was the Japanese leader who had beaten up XX." What is this part?

I1: I didn't translate this part.

I2: Did Mr. Kume do this part?

I1: I think so.

I2: We will skip ahead. It continues, "Furthermore, I never heard that some other Japs besides XX were beaten up or tortured." It goes on and then, "We ended the meeting and violence with XX at 2:30 in the morning on November 5, 1943." I assume that means they ended the torture. It sounds like they went to another room. "XX and other Japanese hostages were sent to the hospital by soldiers." "Sent to the hospital"? [Laughs] "I think that those who needed treatment got appropriate treatment. XX's head was badly swollen from the beating. He must have received some medical attention. I don't know what happened to them after they left the office." The report ends right here. It was reported by the FBI on February 18, 1944.

TY: By whom? Is this a report from that American?

I2: Yes. It is a report by the FBI.

TY: I noticed discrepancies. But as I said, they clearly admitted that they hit us with the bat.

I1: Did you notice any incorrect statement about locations?

TY: Torture continued until about three in the morning, and we were being beaten and kicked. We were tortured while kept in the same position (standing straight with hands up and back on the wall). Todoroki was brought to the room later. Rather, Kobayashi was brought in. He was asked to take the same position. He refused and said, "I didn't do anything wrong, and there is no reason to obey you." Martin, a big officer, immediately hit Kobayashi. I clearly saw the bat breaking into two pieces. Tom Kobayashi was right next to me. And Todoroki was here. There was almost no space between us. Three of us were put close to each other. We were left without any medical attention until the morning. MPs came in the morning and we were handed over to them. There weren't any soldiers while we were being tortured.

I2: WRA?

TY: Only WRA officers.

I1: Security officers from WRA?

TY: They must have been security officers at WRA.

I2: It is strange. He says, "It is true that XX was hit severely." I don't know who was most severely beaten, but the report states the hatred toward XX was heightened, "because XX was the Japanese leader." I'm wondering if this Japanese person beat up a security officer.

I1: Among us three?

I2: It appears that way in the report.

TY: That must be Tom Kobayashi.

I1: Right. He was a big person...

TY: He got into the fight with the guys who came to the warehouse to steal the food.

I1: I see.

I2: That means this person knew the people who went to the warehouse to steal.

TY: That must be it.

I2: So, they weren't completely strangers. We can read from this that one of the security officers was involved in the stealing.

I1: They might have thought Kobayashi was the person who dared to fight against them.

TY: As time went on, the story was formed where Japanese did something wrong. We were just defending ourselves and our family. That was the environment. They tried to blame Japanese for everything.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

[Translated from Japanese]

I2: Then, you were confined in the bullpen for two weeks. November 5th...

TY: Yes. We went there on the 5th, and the tent was already up. There were three makeshift beds and a blanket on the ground. We saw soldiers there. The tent was surrounded by barbed wire fences. Soldiers with firearms guarded it on all four corners as well.

I1: No one in the tent? Only three of you?

TY: They were outside the tent.

I1: Did you three talk about anything in the tent?

TY: The only topic we discussed was how to die as a Japanese person with dignity. We didn't know what would happen the next morning.

I1: Did you get to know more about what happened in the motor pool area?

I2: It must be at the stockade...

I1: Is it when you went to the stockade?

TY: I didn't know anything about what happened in the motor pool at the time. I didn't know anything. I didn't know where the warehouse was, and met Kobayashi there for the first time. I had no idea.

I2: Mr. Kobayashi was injured. He must have been lying in the bed all the time.

TY: Kobayashi kept saying, "My head hurts." He was physically strong and didn't wear out that easily. Fortunately, one week passed, and it was really cold there. It stopped bleeding rather quickly. It was probably infected. He said, "There is something wrong with my head" and asked me to check it. I found something yellow oozing out. I pushed it with my finger and a lump popped out from his head. It was a chunk of pus. He said he felt better after that.

I2: That was pus.

TY: It was a chunk of pus.

I2: His skull must have been fractured.

TY: I'm not sure. If his skull had been fractured, I would assume it would have been more serious like continuous bleeding or death at the end in the stockade. But it didn't happen at all.

I2: It was an external injury.

TY: He kept complaining something was wrong with his head though.

I2: Where is Tom Kobayashi from?

TY: I don't know. He must have been from Los Angeles or somewhere.

I2: While you were there in the bullpen, did you have guns pointed at you twenty-four hours a day?

TY: We were escorted to the cafeteria for breakfast, lunch and dinner by an MP. We had meals with an MP. We had a tray and helped ourselves, and sat down with the soldiers to eat.

I2: Where was the bullpen located? Was the bullpen near the stockade? Where was it? Was that inside the stockade? Where was it?

TY: It was somewhere else, but I don't remember clearly. I don't remember seeing any buildings nearby.

I2: Was there only one tent?

TY: Only one tent. We walked about three to four minutes for meals. To go to the cafeteria. They had a mess hall there.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

[Translated from Japanese]

TY: More and more people suspected as potentially dangerous were arrested in the camp.

I1: How many were eventually arrested?

TY: I think all of the buildings with fifty people in each were full. I think there were five buildings.

I1: About 200 people?

TY: It was over 200 people.

I1: I see. We were talking about the hunger strike after yesterday's interview. We heard that there was another hunger strike. Is it possible that people in another barrack were on a hunger strike as well?

TY: What do you mean by another barrack?

I1: I mean if it was possible that people in a different barrack were holding a hunger strike at the same time as you were.

TY: I wasn't aware of it. Not at all. Bob Hayashida and others from the motor pool were there too, but he did not participate in the hunger strike. They all had already been released.

I1: There were four barracks. Did people have freedom to move among the barracks?

TY: We were free to go in and out of the buildings and take a shower anytime.

I1: You were able to move around among the buildings in the stockade.

TY: Yes, we were in there. Explanation was offered at the beginning. They told us that the stockade was built in compliance with the international laws that regulate how many square feet should be allocated per person and so on. There was a mess hall. But we didn't have any cooks. We needed to figure out who would cook. I volunteered to do it. I got vegetables and meat from the military section and cooked. We still had plenty of food in the refrigerator when we went on a hunger strike. I locked up the mess hall to keep everyone away. I remember eleven of us were on a hunger strike.

I2: It's odd that you are not aware of another hunger strike if that really happened in November of 1943.

TY: I never heard of it.

I2: Some people claimed that they were on a hunger strike. I'm afraid they are all passed away, and we are not able to verify it.

TY: That's strange. I initially thought that people from the motor pool might have been arrested somewhere else and gone on a hunger strike. But Bob Hayashida was in the stockade.

I2: It could have been during the time you were in the bullpen. Possibly during the two weeks you were there.

TY: Could have been. People from the motor pool...

I2: I remember that to be in November. That seems to be the only possibility.

TY: So...

I2: You were in the bullpen for two weeks since November 5th. Then, you were transferred to the stockade.

TY: Right. I was transferred.

I2: How long were you in the stockade?

TY: Until August 24th. I was unconditionally released on 24th.

I1: The number went up to about 300 at one time...

TY: About 200 to 300 people.

I1: But the number went down gradually and eventually went down to eleven, correct?

TY: The FBI and Dies Committee showed up randomly 24 hours a day and took anyone kept in the stockade to another place for individual interrogation. As a result of the questioning, the number went down. We were the last ones left there. [Laughs] Besides three of us, Kai, Kuratomi and active young guys in the Kai group like Kazama were left there.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

[Translated from Japanese]

I2: You had some kind of a map of the stockade yesterday.

TY: Where did I put it? Take any resources you need. I will eventually die. [Laughs] I don't need to bring these materials to the other side.

I2: You should tell your grandchildren how important the documents are, so they will not throw them away. [Laughs]

TY: Is this it?

I2: Not that one.

I1: The drawing you did...

I2: It is of the stockade...

I1: There were four buildings and a mess hall ...

I2: There was a mess hall.

I1: It was an A-4 paper size document.

TY: Is this it?

I2: That's it. Which building in this stockade map were you in?

TY: This one. We were in this one.

I1: This one? How big was it, and how many people were in it?

TY: Beds were placed like this. It must have been twice as long as this.

I1: Is that the size of one building? Lengthwise?

TY: It extended this way. There were 25 beds lined up in a row on each side with space in between.

I1: It must have been a long building.

TY: It was a long building. Well, these were barracks.

I1: Originally?

TY: These buildings were barracks for soldiers to stay.

I1: They threw out the soldiers.

TY: They threw them out and built the stockade.

I1: So, they enclosed one part of the barracks and turned it into the stockade.

I2: There were, one, two, three, four, five, five barracks, and each barrack had fifty beds?

TY: Fifty beds.

I2: So, that would be...

TY: 250 beds.

I2: 250 beds. So, about the same number of people as beds were there? One bed per person?

TY: Right.

I2: Everyone misunderstood this as well. People didn't understand how 250 people were put together in a jail.

TY: Soldiers used to live in these buildings. It was nothing like the bullpen. They were actual buildings with windows and doors.

I1: What about heating?

TY: There were heaters with coals.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

[Translated from Japanese]

I2: How was daily life in the stockade?

TY: There wasn't much to do. Bob Hayashida used to throw balls.

I2: Baseball?

I1: Like playing catch?

TY: We had balls provided for us. There was a waiting room for MPs right next to here. There were always a few MPs there. Supplies sent from the camp were delivered to that room. We received letters there too. We were able to exchange letters with family members. This is the mess hall. And this side, you could see the camp in distance. There were tall fences here, and these sections were separated. We could see people waving to us at the fences.

I1: Were you able to identify them?

TY: We weren't. We couldn't see the faces clearly.

I1: Showers were here. What about meals?

TY: We had meals at the mess hall here.

I1: Did you cook meals specifically for Japanese?

TY: I cooked everything. I could only cook simple meals like hamburgers, steak, eggs and ham, or vegetable stir fry. They gave us rice, and I cooked it. Bread was also provided.

I1: Did they provide as much food as they did in the camp?

TY: Soldiers and people in the camp had similar meals. It was ordinary food such as sausages, ham, eggs, vegetables, and so on. [Laughs] We had coffee too.

I2: There were originally fifty people in the building you were in, correct? Eleven people from the same building went on a hunger strike?

TY Eleven people from this stockade were the last ones left.

I2: Last? What about the other buildings?

TY: Everyone in the other buildings was gone. It was a bunch of people viewed as potentially dangerous by the authority like those who were registered in the Japanese military or former schoolteachers. We were all potential troublemakers, and some were involved in organizations. One of us was Mr. Kai, the Buddhist priest.

I1: How many meters did you say it was? The length of this....

TY: This was very large.

I1: Wasn't it? This is two meter here...

TY: On the bullpen side was only 10 meters long, but this area was big. Those big buildings were all there.

I1: That's right. The length of a bed was approximately 1.5 meters, and let's say they were 50 centimeters apart from each other. That's two meters. One building would be 50 meters long with 25 beds lined up. There were three buildings.

TY: It was a very large area.

I1: It was a lot larger than I thought it was.

TY: They said these buildings were built in compliance with the international laws.

I1: Is that so?

TY: So, each person...

I1: The square footage per person was regulated by the standards...

TY: It was up to the standard. You could calculate how big it was.

I1: We should be able to calculate. That's right. Square footage per person determines the size of the building. So, you spent your spare time playing baseball and such?

TY: Everyone was just lying around.

I1: Did you have any serious conversations with others?

TY: No. We didn't have anything to talk about.

I1: Didn't you talk about what you should do next, what you would do when you return, or whether you should contact your family or not?

TY: Highlight of the day was the daily treat delivery for us from the camp. We shared the food or cigarettes that we received. We didn't fight. I was very busy working at the mess hall and telling the younger guys to "peel potatoes, chop onions." [Laughs] There wasn't anything special about inside. Many people were coming in and out. There was an office for MPs, and there was a building for interrogation on this side.

I1: Just outside of the stockade?

TY: Yes. This side. MPs came to pick up people to interrogate and took them to the building. Dies Committee investigators or FBI agents were there. It could be at midnight. They would show a photo and ask, "You did it, didn't you?" We would say, "What is this? [Laughs]

I1: The FBI was also there?

TY: Yes.

I2: What kind of investigation did they conduct with you?

I1: Similar things?

TY: I was asked why I ended up being there.


TY: I answered, "I was suddenly attacked, tortured, and put into the bullpen." That's all I told them and nothing else.

I2: Why do you think you were confined there for eight months?

TY: I think it is because I was the first one to get arrested after the incident. Todoroki was too. The leaders in the camp, Kai and Kutaromi, were hiding. They finally tuned themselves in at the end. They were searching for the two all over the camp. They were able to hide and dodge the search for a long time.

I2: How were they able to hide?

TY: It was a big place. It was hard to spot them if they went underground. Other people helped them too.

I1: One of them was hiding in the female only residence area. He hid in a cardboard box when someone came to look for him. The searcher picked up the box and found him.

I2: That was the end?

I1: That was the end. I heard that's how they found him.

I2: How many people were in the stockade when you went on a hunger strike?

TY: There were less than ten. We...

I2: Several people were released from the stockade along with you when the hunger strike ended?

TY: Yes, over ten people. We were sent to a hospital at the end. The hunger strike was over, and we were all released together, right?

I2: What do you mean by all?

TY: We all got together to go on a hunger strike. We didn't know if we could go on like that any longer. They stopped the daily delivery of snacks and supplies on the previous day. This was the biggest reason for the hunger strike. We asked why we were not receiving cigarettes and newspapers and were told, "We are no longer receiving deliveries."

I1: Did they tell you why?

TY: They didn't. We kept asking but they didn't give us an answer. I was pretty close to one MP, and we talked to each other. He once told me, "I cannot tell you exactly what, but we found something we didn't like written in a letter and found something enclosed." "That's why we can no longer receive deliveries." They stopped the daily delivery. If we hadn't done anything, we would have been locked up there for one full year. We didn't know if or how long we would continue to be kept in the stockade after the one year milestone. We decided to go on a hunger strike to win unconditional release. Kai and Kuratomi proposed it.

I2: Those two didn't get arrested until the end, right?

TY: Right. They were confined after they came out from hiding. [Laughs]

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

[Translated from Japanese]

I1: So, you were released in late July or early August of 1944? You were there for eight months, so you were sent there in November...

TY: That's right.

I1: November, December, November up to July. Eight months at most.

TY: I was there from November 4th to August 24th.

I1: Until August 24th?

TY: It was on August 24th and was almost September. October and November, it was almost the end of the first year within two months.

I1: It was in 1944, wasn't it? So, you were still there when the denationalization bill was passed.

TY: I don't anything about that. I don't know.

I2: The denationalization law was enacted in July.

I1: On July 1.

I2: On the 1st. But the more important thing is when the announcement came to Tule Lake.

TY: We were not informed that we were allowed to renounce our U.S. citizenship by law.

I1: At Tule Lake?

TY: When we formed the youth group at Tule Lake, we all agreed that we didn't need U.S. citizenship to go back to Japan. Everyone was talking about renouncing their U.S. citizenship and going back to Japan as soon as possible. We were not pressured to do it or when to do it. Then, somebody drafted an application form for renunciation and distributed it. We were encouraged to voluntarily sign and fingerprint it.

I2: Do you mean some Japanese people incarcerated in the camp drafted the application?

TY: Must have been. We submitted the forms to the authority to express our intention to renounce the citizenship. WRA officers clearly told us, "We do not have such a law. There isn't any law to allow citizenship renunciation." [Laughs]

I2: What month was that? Do you remember what month that was?

TY: It was after I was released from the stockade.

I1: The law was already enacted?

TY: It was after the hunger strike and the youth group was establishment.

I2: When was the youth group established? What month was it?

TY: I don't recall the month. We didn't expect the government to act on it. We simply wanted to express our intention to renounce our citizenship.

I1: Is that right? You didn't consider it as a formal application.

TY: Right.

I1: That's right. The official applications were submitted as a group.

TY Unconditional release was on August 25th, 1944. I was sent to Santa Fe on December 27th, 1944.

I1: So, you must have renounced your citizenship during that period. Your renunciation needed to be approved to send you to Santa Fe.

TY: I never heard that my application for the citizenship renunciation was approved. I was sent to the enemy alien camp.


TY: So, that means...

I1: You were not aware that the denationalization bill was passed. You didn't know if you submit an application, it could be approved by the Attorney General and your citizenship could be revoked.

TY: I didn't think about that at all. I didn't know. I was sent to Santa Fe and was told Japan lost the war there. We were gathered for the emperor's announcement. I finally realized that Japan lost. After a while officers from the Department of Justice came and asked me, "You expressed your intention to go back to Japan and renounce your U.S. citizenship. Is that correct?"

I1: What month was it?

TY: It was in October of the year the war ended.

I1: Didn't you have a hearing to confirm your intention to renounce the citizenship?

TY: No, I didn't. The youth group at Tule Lake was re-segregated, and we were assuming citizenship renunciation would be required to go back to Japan. We just wanted to show our intention to renounce the citizenship.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

[Translated from Japanese]

I1: Were you sent to Santa Fe in December?

TY: I think it was on December 27th. December 27th to the enemy alien camp.

I1: The Department of Justice detention facilities were exclusively for aliens. The denationalization bill was created to revoke citizenship. The Department was not able to take U.S. citizens to the facility until the citizenship is renounced.

TY: There must have been some work done by the government behind the scenes. They sent us with U.S. citizenship to the enemy alien camp.

I1: I am assuming that you submitted some kind of document to express your intention to renounce your citizenship, probably one or two months after being released from the stockade. You didn't consider it as the formal application or were not aware that the new bill was enacted. It was simply to declare your intention for renunciation.

TY: Correct.

I1: That document was somehow approved without your knowledge, and you became an enemy alien. You were sent to Santa Fe without a hearing. That was perfect.

TY: I was asked once again if I would renounce my citizenship at Santa Fe.

I1: That was at the end.

TY: At the end.

I1: It was right before you went back to Japan. They were supposed to have another hearing.

TY: They asked me if I was certain I would go back to Japan. I answered yes. They asked me if I was truly going to renounce my U.S. citizenship. I answered yes. They told me to sign a paper. That was the first time that I signed a form for the Department of Justice.

I1: That is an issue. They did hold a hearing for renunciation, but it was, I think, in January of 1945. You already had been sent to Santa Fe before that without confirming your intention with you.

TY: Right.

I1: You just submitted a paper. That's amazing.

I2: The document was created by somebody in the youth group. You were told that there wasn't a law to allow renunciation when you brought it to the WRA office. You were not sure if that document was considered an application form.

TY: I don't know if the document has ever reached the Department of Justice.

I1: The hearing was to confirm that your application was submitted under your free will, but it never was held.

TY: It was right before I was about to go back to Japan. I had an individual official meeting with a Department of Justice officer. I was the first person to be called.

I1: At the end?

I2: At Santa Fe?

TY: At Santa Fe. DOJ officers came, and we were wondering why they were there. I said, "I will go see them because they want to talk to me." They asked me, "Do you intend to go back to Japan?" I said, "Yes, I would like to go back." They asked, "The record shows that you expressed your intention to renounce your U.S. citizenship. Is that correct?" I answered, "Yes. That's correct."

I2: Was it after the war ended?

TY: It was after the war. It was October, right before I went back to Japan. I signed the paper and was about to leave the room, I was held back. "Please sit down." They said, "If you change your mind before you leave for Japan, let us know immediately." I asked them how to tell them. They told me to raise my hand like this but not to my young friends. They told me to be sure to make my hand visible to the MPs or Department of Justice officers, as it was a facility run by the department. Let the officers know. It could be after you get on a train. You could also let the soldiers know. It could be even just before you step onto the ship at the port. Let us know if you change your mind. They told us over and over again until the end.

I1: It was in October, but I don't see anything reported on the hearing. Why wasn't any report on the hearing? Who conducted the hearing?

I2: Did you see anybody who raised his hand?

TY: No.

I2: Nobody?

TY: I didn't see anybody but I heard that some people changed their mind about going back to Japan or renouncing their U.S. citizenship after talking to the DOJ officers. Some people still had their parents in Tule Lake and didn't want to make their final decision until they talked to their parents.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

[Translated from Japanese]

I1: The administration was still operated by WRA. The military was taking over the security section under the agreement with the WRA. So, it was not under martial law. Martial law was not declared. The administration did a lot of cover-ups to hide issues like the torture.

TY: Unarmed people were pushed into a coal mine and tear-gassed.

I1: And it would be a big problem if it is not under martial law.

TY: It sure would be. They had many issues they didn't want the public to find out.

I2: When was the correspondence made to discuss that martial law was not declared?

I1: I am thinking about the same timeframe. So, it was in 1944. They must have been a discussion. Are we under martial law or not?

TY: Why were we handed over to the military?

I1: That's right.

TY: The military had nothing to do with us. It was not under martial law.

I1: All the books I have read mentioned that it was under martial law. I never questioned it and kept writing, "Martial law was declared, and the military stepped in." However, now I am surprised to see this conversation among MPs, "Are we under martial law?" "No, we are not," "We are not?" I mainly referred to the resources from the Department of Justice this time and didn't do much research on the military documents. I looked at them at the end and thought "wow." I missed to see that in the past. This is a document Roger Daniels and others often refer to. He must have read the document but hasn't seen this part. So, even he writes, "under martial law."

I2: It seems hard to miss.

I1: It seems so. I assume he has seen the documents, but maybe he didn't pay enough attention to them. He might not have been interested in this area. I just wanted to find out what kind of agreement they had. What was the agreement between WRA and the military? That's how I started to dig deeper...

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

[Translated from Japanese]

TY: I had only one, two... four teeth left in my mouth.

I1: Were they broken at the incident?

TY: It was all swollen for a month, and all my teeth were loose.

I2: Are they all implants?

TY: They are all artificial, customized.

I2: You came back to Japan after the war ended. Did you have dentures made in Tule Lake? Was it at the hospital in Tule Lake?

TY: They were made after returning to Japan. I asked the dentist in Santa Fe what I should do. The dentist said I wouldn't be able to do anything if I had the loose teeth pulled. I was told it would require a long time to have dentures made for me and it could not be done right away. I was told to live with the loose teeth until I go back to Japan to take care of them. I went to see a dentist as soon as I went back to Japan. The dentist glued the good teeth and the bad teeth together with gold. They were expensive but didn't last long. Japanese dentists at the time didn't know what they were doing.

I1: Even gold didn't solve the problem. [Laughs]

TY: I took my time to see a dentist while I was in Zushi and have it taken care of. I was on a liquid food diet for a long time, and it was hard.

I2: Do you know someone named Teiji Takebayashi in Zushi?

TY: Takebayashi?

I2: Mr. Takebayashi had been in the military after the war and recently retired. He had a number of jobs including working as an interpreter Yokosuka and Zushi. His currently lives in Ikeko, and a restaurant there is named Takebayashi House.

TY: I was young back them, in late teens to early twenties. Everyone besides the members of the youth group was older. I might have known the names but didn't have a lot to do with them.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

[Translated from Japanese]

I1: Some people claim that they were pressured and forced to renounce the U.S. citizenship. They are probably not people like you but, for example, the ones who were actively advocating for the re-segregation. It's possible that the person who drafted an application for renunciation encouraged people to sign the paper. I'm not sure if anyone was forced to sign though.

TY: The youth group never forced anyone to renounce their citizenship. Renunciation was something we had against the administration...

I1: You were just posing? You weren't really going to do it?

TY: It was half and half. It would have been fine either way.

I1: You would be fine if your request is granted.

TY: Right.

I1: Were you assuming it would not be granted?

TY: We had already told them that we wanted to come back to Japan, and that we did not need to hold onto our U.S. citizenship. U.S. citizenship kept issues from getting resolved like the re-segregation issue. We just wanted to be physically and mentally Japanese by shedding what we didn't need.

I1: But you were aware that there wasn't a law to allow renunciation.

TY: We were told by a WRA that there wasn't a law. There isn't any renunciation law under the U.S. laws. [Laughs] We asked to make one if there wasn't one.

I1: Let's go back to what we talked before. Besides the Dies Committee, the FBI agents said, "We are sorry for you." The Spanish Consul told you he couldn't help you because you were U.S. citizens. Did it push you toward renunciation? Did you think you could get some help from the Japanese government by renouncing your U.S. citizenship?

TY: I didn't think that way.

I1: You didn't.

TY: Right.


I1: ...[inaudible]

TY: We were still young and didn't know what would be happening in the world or how laws would affect your life. We were immature. Our situation was drawing international attention. The Japanese government requested Spain to assist us. They asked Spain to meet with us to find out what was going on. That was a big deal. We did not want to bring shame to the Japanese government. We were determined to be good Japanese citizens.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

[Translated from Japanese]

I2: Did the Spanish Consul come to visit you during the hunger strike?

TY: While I was in the bullpen.

I2: When you were in the bullpen?

TY: Right, when I was in the bullpen. The Tule Lake incident became big news in the U.S. The media reported that Japanese people started a riot. The news was forwarded to the Japanese government by the Spanish Consul. The Japanese government notified the U.S. government through Spain that such mistreatment of Japanese citizens would be retaliated against American prisoners of war held by the Japanese government.

I1: Were you grateful to the Japanese government?

TY: Yes. I felt more patriotic toward the Japanese government. They were concerned about us and went out of the way to ask the Spanish Consul to meet with us while the U.S. government did nothing for us.

I2: Did FBI agents also come to see you while you were in the bullpen?

TY: No, they came while I was in the stockade. FBI agents and the Dies Committee people. They came when I was in the stockade.

I2: Did they tell you that you would not be released immediately because the WRA had to save its face?

TY: It wasn't the WRA, but the U.S. government.

I2: The U.S. government?

TY: To save the face of the government.

I2: Was it right after you were confined in the stockade?

TY: Right. We were the first ones to be confined. We three were always the first.

I2: So, you were told that you would not be released soon and ended up being confined for eight months?

TY: Right. They told us we would not be tortured again because the case drew international attention. But the U.S. government has to save face. They said they were sympathetic for us and told us to be patient and stay put.

I2: The best way to save the face of the government was for the U.S. government to prove that you were guilty. But the government didn't try to do it.

TY: They didn't. WRA tried to frame us and hold us guilty. The FBI or military did not do that.

I1: I find it very interesting. In this recorded phone conversation between military officers, they mentioned that the FBI was conducting an investigation on WRA officers as well as on you. I can see the army was keeping a distance and observing what the FBI was investigating. [Laughs] The FBI investigated on both sides and must have found out something about the misappropriation by the WRA officers. It just wasn't made public. Findings were not revealed.

I2: Did you receive a cigarette from the Spanish Consul while you were in the bullpen?

TY: It was so good. He asked, "Is there anything you want?" I told him that I would like to have a cigarette. He gave one to me, and it was just great under that kind of circumstance. We didn't know what would happen to us. "Is there anything you want?" "I would like to have a cigarette." He lit it for me. It was so good. His kindness touched my heart. It was just humane. We had been treated very harshly up 'til then.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

[Translated from Japanese]

I2: Can we talk about leaving the stockade now?

I1: Yes.

I2: You left the stockade and formed a youth group.

TY: Kai and Kuratomi's groups had power and control with strong leadership at Tule Lake until we left the stockade.

I1: Until leaving the stockade or entering the stockade?

TY: I meant until the incident. Groups of those who were loyal to the Japanese government come to the camp from all over. Kai group had total control over everything like meetings and so on. Kinzo Wakayama was competing against them. They were from Wakayama prefecture and had young members. There weren't any serious head-on fights with each other. Then, the incident happened. The ones viewed as potentially dangerous were sent to the stockade and confined. The last eleven of us went on a hunger strike and were released unconditionally. We found the camp climate completely different when we returned after we were released. New leadership was established to take over the Kai group while we were gone.

I1: Wakayama and his people?

TY: What was that?

I1: Wakayama and his people?

TY: No. Not them, but a group of Issei who were demanding immediate repatriation to Japan. Young people were also forming a group in an attempt to go back to Japan.

I1: You mean Sokuji Kikoku Hoshidan and Sokoku Kenkyuu Seinendan?

TY: We were released and went back in the midst of the power shift. We were asked to attend one of these youth meetings. Which one was that? I think it was in the 27 mess hall. I was invited to attend a meeting. They told me they were forming a group and naming it Sokoku Kenkyuu Seinendan. Their goal was to prepare young people for going back to Japan and immediately getting to work for the country. They discussed the needs for educating Nisei who didn't know anything about Japan. They need to learn the Japanese language, customs and other things. I agreed with them and encouraged them to go forward. They asked me, "Do you have any objection to the formation of Sokoku Kenkyuu Seinendan?" I answered, "No objection, I agree with you." They asked me to join them.

I1: So, other people proposed to form the group, but it wasn't officially established until you and others came back from the stockade.

TY: We discussed forming a preparatory committee and who should be the chairman. We decided to appoint Isamu Uchida from Kumamoto in Kyushu. He held the forth dan in judo. Yoshinaga was appointed as the vice chairman. I forgot who the relation officer was. Tamura became an inmate director. I was asked to be the athletic director. And Yoshiyama from Osaka. He betrayed us later on. He was the relation officer.

I2: What do you mean he betrayed?

TY: Yes. He was doing fine at the beginning. But as he discussed and negotiated matters with the administration, he shared everything with them, even things that should not be shared.

I2: Shared with the administration?

TY: Right. There was a problem like that. Anyway, I asked what should be the main purpose of the youth group as we began acting as a group. We agreed that the main purpose should be educating the youth to be valued citizens in Japan.

I2: Who came to you to talk about the group?

TY: I wondered who it was. I think it was someone whom I met in the stockade. Someone who had left the stockade before I did.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

[Translated from Japanese]

I1: Here are the group policies. Mr. Sasaki had this. It looks like a rough draft. I see detailed revisions written in.

TY: We all were young and didn't need many words. I said, "Let's show that we are truly united in spirit by shaving our head. If you don't shave your head, you are not a member." We should be clearly distinguished.

I1: How short was the hair? Was it completely shaved?

TY: Well, it was only a crew cut first, but it became...

I1: It became shorter and shorter?

TY: We agreed to have a skin head. We wanted to establish clear visible division between the loyal and disloyal. We thought skin heads would be pretty obvious. We woke up at five in the morning to train ourselves both physically and mentally. We gathered in an open space and exercised. Then we bowed toward in the direction of the emperor's palace in Japan to pay respect. We ran in the camp shouting, "Hey-ho, hey-ho." [Laughs] We were in high spirits and ready to work hard for our health to win the fight. We also ordered uniform with the logo of "Hokoku" (serve the nation) through Sears Roebucks to demonstrate group spirit.

I2: How did you put the Hokoku logo? Did Sears Roebucks put it for you?

TY: Yes. We created a sample image and sent it to them. They put it together for us. [Laughs]

I2: Sears Roebucks must have been wondering what that was all about.

TY: I was flipping through the mail order catalog and saw a bugle. I said to Sasaki, "You can play a bugle. Why don't you play it for the march to drum up our fighting spirit?" He agreed, and we immediately ordered the bugle.

I1: What is this with the Hokoku logo? Is this something Mr. Yoshiyama did? This is hand-written and hand-made, correct?

TY: This is not important. This is one of the first hand-made ones.

I1: You placed an order for the official uniform after that?

TY: That's right.

I1: Was the design similar to this?

TY: Yes. Right. This frame wasn't in the design.

I1: Is that so? Was it only the letter?

TY: The letter was red. You know that gray-colored cloth. What is that called?

I1: Sweatshirts? T-shirts?

TY: We put the logo Hokoku in red here.


TY: "Azuma is next [to be arrested]," we said. Azuma was the leader. We had instructions in place. "Do this and that." We were prepared to replace the leader with the next one when Azuma was arrested. The administration was surprised because they could not break us up no matter how many times they tried. Girls started to join us and made it more challenging to the authority to handle. [Laughs]

I1: They had to transfer people to Santa Fe over and over again.

TY: Right.

I1: They also began transferring to Santa Fe and Bismarck. This one is to Santa Fe and the next one is to Bismarck.

I2: Could you repeat the story again because it was interesting? On the tape. The administration thought that they could have control over the situation by arresting the leaders.

TY: Yes. The administration arrested and transferred leaders to Santa Fe in hope to break up both the Hokokou Seinendan and Sokuji Kikoku Hoshidan. We clearly anticipated the crackdown and knew there would be interventions eventually by the camp administration. We had the next leader appointed to take over the structure. We also instructed the person to have a successor lined up in case of his arrest.

I2: You could see what was coming ahead, and the next step was already prepared.

TY: Right.

I1: That's amazing.

TY: I had been involved in track and field as a runner for a long time. I always had someone to replace me in case something happened to me. I learned it from my high school track coach. You cannot reach great accomplishments by yourself. You need to be prepared for what is lying ahead of you.

I2: Was the coach in the picture with you?

TY: Mr. Bicknel?

I2: What was his name? He was in the picture, right?

TY: He passed away the year before last. This one. This person. Another one here together. He was a good person. His wife was collecting maneki neko welcoming cat figures. I once visited their house. They welcomed me in, and I saw the entrance and rooms filled with these cat figures. [Laughs] I asked her where she found them, and she said she had ordered them from Japan. She was very happy when offered I to mail her the cats I owned.

I2: It is amazing that the teachings of your track coach at high school in Fresno helped Houkoku Seinendan to keep going at Tule Lake.

TY: My personality could be a part of it too. I once made a mistake after returning to Japan. I retired from the occupation army. I received a large sum of retirement allowance. The army gave me a lot to show their appreciation for my hard work. I built a house in Hiroshima. The lot was something like 230 tsubo (about 8,184 square feet). I built a traditional house on the lot. A traditional house was almost impossible to build at that time. Onuki Construction in Kure City in Hiroshima did business with the occupation army, and I hired them. They ordered real roof tiles from the Shikoku region. Everything was built with high quality materials like window frames made with brass that must have been leftover from the army. My brother's friend lived in the neighborhood when I settled down. He was running his own business and did some work for the railroad. He asked me to be his co-signer. I agreed without thinking much. He asked me to sign the paper, and I signed and sealed without reviewing the details. He was killed in a traffic accident about half a year later. He got into an accident over a bridge. The court and bank came to my house and said to me, "The person you signed the paper for passed away. Therefore, you must burden the debt." I said, "Why do I have to do that?" They said, "You sealed the paper to be the individual guarantor." They said, "You sealed to agree to be responsible for any debt." I was in the States and didn't know anything about the system. My house and money, I don't remember how much, but a fair amount of money back then, it was all taken from me. I learned to be careful when co-signing a paper. It was ridiculous. I worked hard for that. But it was a learning experience. I lived in the States for just a while but learned a lot there too. Any experience could be an advantage when you learn from them.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

[Translated from Japanese]

I2: Could you talk about your high school days since you mentioned it? We would like to have it on the tape. We are going back a bit. First of all, could you talk about your life in Japan prior to your life in the United States and then why you left for the United States?

TY: I lived with my mother, elder brother, elder sister, and younger sister in a house in Hiroshima. My mother's younger sister's three daughters were living with us too. My mother took care of us all by herself. My elder sister left for Hawaii to live and work for the company called Sumida Company owned by our relatives because she did not want to be a burden to our mother. It was a big store. Before entering junior high school, my older brother moved to the mainland to live with the mother of the three girls living with us. I also moved to the U.S. when I was in eighth grade. I was a star track athlete in Japan at that time. I was a champion in the 100 meter and 200 meter in the Chugoku Shikoku region. I left for the United States following my elder sister and brother, and I was hoping to ease my mother's hardship. I went to the United States and left behind my younger sister and three cousins. I went to my sister's place first, but we didn't get along with each other. Then, someone from Hiroshima prefecture asked me to work for him. I started to live with them, work at the restaurant he owned and went to school there. I was a so-called "schoolboy." I worked and went to school. I did sports also. I had to attend a special English class at first, but around 1939, 1940, or 1941 I was accepted to attend a regular high school after about one year. People asked me to participate in a relay event at the local Japanese American field day. A physical education teacher at the high school spotted me when I was practicing for the field day. He said to me, "Wow, you are fast. Can you run the 100 meter for me again? " He liked how I ran, and I was recruited to join the high school track team. The high school had about 490 students, and it was supposed to be the smallest high school in the States. There were many black students and some white students. The track team was not doing well. Basketball and football teams were really good but not track. I was told that the track team had been great once but no longer. The coach said, "I am interested to see how it will work with you joining us. Do your best." I won all the races in 1939 and 1940. The other teammates, who were practicing with me, became taller, stronger and faster than I was in the second half of 1940. They were all black. I thought my mission was accomplished, and I was no longer needed for the team. I was ready to leave the team. The coach said to me, "Don't talk nonsense. You are like the founder of this track team. Everyone worked hard to catch up with you and hiked up to this level. Why don't you remain on the team as a relay member?" I joined the relay team and won another series of medals and trophies for 400 meter, 800 meter, 1600 meter and medley relays. We were broadcast on the radio as well as reported on in the newspapers. I visited them a while ago and told the coach and friends that I had lost my trophies and medals when I was sent to the camp. They sent this to me then. They told me that my hard work and work ethic created a strong team. I raised the bar where it still is. They are always thankful for my effort. They said, "Our team is still strong. We want you to visit the school again." The coach's wife sent me another letter before he passed away. These are all good memories.

I2: So, you didn't have a lot of difficulties with English since you came to the United States?

TY: What was that?

I2: Any difficulties in speaking English? Did you have a hard time with English when you entered the high school?

TY: Well, I only lived within a limited boundary. I didn't need to speak English when I ran. Everything was simple when I worked at the restaurant. It was taking orders and cooking. That was all. I didn't need speak much English even though I was in the United States for a while. [Laughs]

I1: What about studying in high school? How was studying in high school?

TY: I wasn't really trying to be academically advanced. Being average was fine with me. I focused on conversation more than writing. I told myself I only needed to be able to make myself understood in English. I didn't care if I was speaking broken English.

I1: Did you study English while you were in Japan?

TY: There was a school called Fraser School.

I1: In Hiroshima?

TY: It happened to be in Hiroshima. My elder brother went there to study English before he left for the United States. I went there for about two years to study English as I thought I would have to go to the United States in the future.

I2: Did you have classes every day?

TY: Every night. About two hours every night.

I2: Were you born in 1920?

TY: 1922.

I2: 1922 in Hawaii, correct? Then, you moved to Hiroshima when you were three?

TY: My father became ill. He was hospitalized in Hiroshima, but he passed away shortly after.

I1: So, you have great memories in high school. You were adjusting to American life well. If nothing had happened, you would have...

TY: I would have lived in the United States. I would have been in the army if I had been drafted. I would have lived a normal life as an ordinary American.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

[Translated from Japanese]

I2: Where were you and what were you doing when the mandatory mass removal was ordered?

TY: Was it on Sunday? I was still in school. I think it was in April. We were sent to Fresno Assembly Center where the horse racetrack was. All the Japanese people were ordered to go to the temporary assembly center. We were asked to gather at the Buddhist church at a certain time. Everyone was there, and the administration sent buses to transport all of us to the center. We were only allowed to bring one suitcase. Nothing else. Only 500 dollars to bring with us.

I1: What did you put in your suitcase?

TY: Only underwear. Nothing else. All I could pack was some clothes.

I1: Were you alone, not with your sister?

TY: I was alone and went to the bachelor ward.

I2: How did you explain it to your track coach? How was the farewell with the coach?

TY: He told me that he was sorry but there was nothing he could do. I had the last meet, the West Coast Relay. We all were supposed to go to Fresno Assembly Center in April, but I went there a month later in May. I was under the constant surveillance of the Department of Justice agents and police officers. The West Coast Relay was in 1941, when the war started. I ran, won the race and received a medal. I went into the assembly center accompanied by my coach. I was an exception.

I1: How sad. Didn't you say that you were admitted to go to college?

TY: Fresno State College asked me to enroll with them after I graduate from high school and offered a scholarship. I was told the school would take care of all the finances.

I1: It is a completely different path, isn't it?

TY: Yes. [Laughs]

I2: You had adjusted to American life well and had a future path ahead of you.

TY: I am not confident I would have lived a satisfying life even if I had gone to college in the States. I actually think that I was able to do what I wanted to do because the war broke out. I went through a lot of changes, came back to Japan and learned a lot during the process. I am thankful for the unpleasant experiences that happened to me. Some people think it's wrong if I say this though. [Laughs] I was very fortunate that I was able to come back to Japan eventually.

I1: I sense that you would have done well wherever you went. [Laughs] If you had stayed in the United States, then you would have done well as well.

TY: I got along easily with local people when I went to Thailand to work for Yakult. It was a good experience for me to go there and work for Yakult. It was also a learning experience to work on various projects with the occupation army. These days, the kids in the neighborhood like me and come to me. I take good care of them, you know.

I1: Could you talk about when you found out about the attack on Pearl Harbor?

TY: I remember it was on Sunday. I was just about to go to the Buddhist church. I was eating my breakfast, listening to the radio. Then I heard a radio announcement, "This is not a test. This is real. Do not turn off the radio and keep listening." I was wondering what was going on. "This is real. Pearl Harbor was under attack by an unidentified country and was suffering major damage." They repeated it over and over again. There was a connection problem between the mainland and Hawaii. A little bit before noon, for the first time, it was reported that the attacking planes had rising suns on the wings. Therefore, it was Japan that was attaching Pearl Harbor. The second and the third wave of bombing was continuing. "The enemy country is Japan." "The U.S. President will declare war against Japan now." Then, "The President of the United States has just declared war on Japan. The war between the United States and Japan has just begun." The news was on all day long. My friend called me and asked me, "Should we still go to school tomorrow?" I replied, "Not going to school is one option. But I think it is no use escaping from the situation. We are right here in the States no matter where we go. It is not us who are attacking Pearl Harbor. We should go to school and ask our teacher what to do." My track coach came to see me and told me, "This has nothing to do with you. You are all American citizens. Just come to school as usual."

I1: He came to tell you that?

TY: Yes. Then, I told everyone, "Let's go to school tomorrow because the teacher said so." We gathered at the Buddhist church and went to school together. We all didn't have any troubles in any classes. At lunchtime, all the students were called together at the auditorium. We were told, "The war between the United States and Japan has just begun. Therefore, we will conduct the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States and sing the national anthem." No one looked at us differently or gave us a dirty look. There were, though, several occasions where those who didn't get along got into an argument and yelled at us, "We have to be careful about what you Japs do. Jap boys." Then, the mass removal order was issued on February 19 or 29. School officials told us, "Until the actual removal notice comes, all of you are entitled to come to school." On the very last day before the removal, the school hosted a special farewell party for us. Then, we went to Fresno Assembly Center. My coach told me, "You have one big meet to run. I will go ask for a special arrangement for you to stay here now. Remain here." I think the meet was sometime in May. I ran the race, won it with a new record, and headed to Fresno Assembly Center in my coach's car.

I2: Did you return home once instead of going to the Assembly Center directly from the stadium?

TY: No, I went directly from the stadium.

I2: So, you brought your track gear to the Assembly Center with you?

TY: Right. I brought it with me.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

[Translated from Japanese]

I1: There are two things I want to ask. First of all, what did you think when you heard about the Pearl Harbor attack?

TY: Well, I was educated in Japan and didn't want to believe that Japan attempted a surprise attack on a big country like the United States. But it was indeed a sneak attack. That gave the States a reason to openly fight against Japan. We found out later that the United States was pressuring Japan. The U.S. was warning Japan against its aggression over and over again. The U.S. government told Japan that the relationship between the two countries would be back to normal if Japan ceased the invasion. Japan didn't listen. Then, the surprise attack in Hawaii.

I1: I don't think that Japanese people necessarily considered a surprise attack sneaky. There is a history of surprise attacks, like the Hiyodori Goe attack and so on.

TY: I was excited when I heard the news that Japan sunk several American battleships on the radio. I thought it was great. I can't explain why. We did it. Then, when I calmed down and thought about it carefully, I wondered why Japan started the war that they wouldn't have a chance to win [Laughs].

I1: That was your honest feeling then and there.

TY: That's when I realized that there was Japanese blood running through my body [Laughs].

I2: Were you already working under Mr. Kai's...

TY: Yes. I attended his Sunday school. People at church knew I was an athlete and supported me greatly.

I1: Internment of people in Dutch Harbor by the Department of Justice or FBI began at about the same time as the outbreak of the war. Did you know about it? For example, was Mr. Matsuda rounded up there?

TY: What was that?

I1: Were you aware of any FBI arrests or house searches at, for example, your sister's place? Did you hear anything about enemy aliens?

TY: Nothing happened to Mr. Matsuda.

I1: Is that so?

TY: The FBI immediately arrested someone named Araki. His wife was very pretty. She used to come to cheer me on at a meet. I knew them well. She came to my place crying. I asked, "What's wrong?" She answered, "My husband was arrested." So, there were a few incidents in our neighborhood. The FBI was keeping an eye on the people considered as potentially dangerous. They came and took them away quickly.

I1: Mr. Matsuda wasn't even marked.

TY: Was there a group called Kokuryukai in Japan?

I1: Yes.

TY: There was someone who must have been a member of that group. There was also a kendo master.

I1: Mr. Kai, well, he was Nisei. He wasn't on the list then.

I2: I didn't know Mr. Kai was Nisei.

TY: He wasn't targeted at the time. He was a Buddhist priest.

I1: I wondered if they arrested any Buddhist priests.

TY: It all depended on their background in Japan.

I1: Is that so?

TY: The FBI had records of what they were doing in Japan, like this person was involved in the military, and so on.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

[Translated from Japanese]

I2: You went to Jerome with Mr. Kai and others, correct?

TY: Yes.

I2: What did life in Jerome look like?

TY: It was very hot and humid. Is it tropical?

I1: Is it like a swamp.

TY: It was like a swamp. It was full of poisonous snakes. The facility was good there. It had the best buildings among the camps I have been to. Floors were elevated a little from the ground. Rooms were neatly constructed with wood. I found out later that those buildings were built for sick and wounded soldiers. Then...

I1: Were the buildings new?

TY: Yes. They were new. It rained a lot. There was a big ditch in each block. It rained that much. There were a lot of reddish crabs in those ditches. And also...

I1: Turtles. [Laughs]

TY: It was very cold in the winter. There was a coal burning stove in each room. The administration gave us one batch of coal at the beginning but nothing more after that. We told them that it was very cold. They told us to go out to the surrounding forest and cut down trees. "We can lend you tools." We went out there and realized it was full of snakes. Rattlesnakes. They made a bell like sound when we went close. They must have been about ten years old. There were also red and white snakes, king snakes, and watermark snakes that had camouflage pattern to blend in the water. We found these snakes in a coil at the entrance when we woke up in the morning. It would be an emergency if you got bitten by those. The hospital told us they would buy a snake for a dollar.

I1: Buy snakes?

TY: Yes. Those Okinawans were catching snakes to make money. They hollowed a bamboo stick and put a thread through it to hook a snake. Snakes coil up. They hooked up snakes and pulled them up. They had a snake wrapped around the stick and brought it over. That was one dollar.

I1: Amazing, Okinawans.

TY: Some people grilled and ate the snakes. They were delicious.

I1: Are they edible?

TY: It tastes like the Ajinomoto seasoning. It was pretty good. Some people grilled and ate them. Others sold grilled snakes. The administration had a plan. They were trying to have us clean up the place for a future army hospital.

I1: Is that why they brought Okinawans there?

TY: Firewood was cut... and all.

I1: They had you cut trees.

TY: They had us cut trees and catch poisonous snakes. They had us do all those things.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

[Translated from Japanese]

I1: I went to Jerome once. No buildings remain today except for a little of the filtration plant. Other than that, it is all farms. There is a monument in Rohwer but not in Jerome.

TY: It was an awful place.

I1: Is that right? I saw many trees with twisted roots there because it is a swamp.

TY: The elders went into the swamp and collected tree roots. They shined and polished them to make various tools. I remember one elderly person gave one to me. That was a walking stick.

I1: It must be solid wood.

TY: Solid. I remember now. I brought my stick to Tule Lake. I don't remember but I was told that I was holding the stick on November 1.

I1: You were? You were holding it?

TY: Yes. It is in a book written by Michener. It says that the administration officer thought that I was holding the stick to attack. It states I was a troublemaker. [Laughs] That was a beautiful stick.

I1: People held exhibitions to show their bumpy tree root artwork. The kanji character for bump is an unusual one. When the officers were narrowing down people of potential danger, they stamped "secret" right next to the character. I thought they simply could not read it. I remember Jerome had a lot of trees with twisted branches and roots. It looked like a nice place when it is peaceful, but I assume it was different during the war.

TY: They administered the "loyalty questionnaire" there.

I1: Do you think the environment had any effect on how people answered the loyalty questionnaire? Was there any mental influence depending on the place you were in? Any difference if you were in a decent environment like Minidoka, or in some place very uncomfortable?

TY: In Jerome, Mr. Kai had very strong influence. People who lived together before the war gathered there together. The same group went to Tule Lake. It was well-organized. Others weren't organized like us and were more individuals than a group. So the Kai group had the most power because it was united from the young to elders.

I2: How many were there in the group?

I1: Kai group. How many members did the Kai group have?

TY: The group members were mainly young people from Fresno. There were about twenty of us. Then, the Hawaii group, led by Mr. Kazama from Hawaii. Another group of people from Okinawa. Let me see... Mr. Oshiro, Ige and others. There were about ten Okinawans.

I1: Did they all join the Kai group later?

TY: Yes. There were a total of about forty young people in the group. Forty young people.

I1: It was quite a group.

TY: Kazama, Ige and I often stayed with the group.

I2: Were they all Kibei?

TY: Yes. Almost everyone was Kibei. Some people are regular Nisei. In a place like Jerome, those leader figures spoke English. Japanese was better in a camp. There wasn't even one violent incident. We went to Tule Lake. Kai encouraged us to go back to Japan together, and many answered 'no' to the questions. We were all sent to Tule Lake. The first thing we witnessed when we went to Tule Lake from Jerome was a dance party in the mess hall. The original Tule Lake incarcerees were having fun. Ige and Kazama from Okinawa broke into the party and told them, "We are at war now. It is a life or death situation. How can you have a dance party?" It wasn't a head-on fight. We just told them to stop dancing and said it is not time to have fun. We called the party off. Since then there weren't any recreational activities at Tule Lake. When I met Bob Hayashida at the stockade, he told me, "You were holding a stick that time."

I2: [Inaudible]

I1: Did you just grab the stick? Were you carrying it all the time?

TY: I was carrying it all the time. Everyone was carrying his artwork to show off. It didn't mean anything. He told me that it looked like I came in to fight with the stick. It was threatening. "We immediately recognized that you were the famous track athlete, too. So, we immediately called off the party and went back silently." He said, "You were very threatening." [Laughs]

I2: Was it at the dance party?

I1: It wasn't a raid. [Laughs]

I2: What happened to the walking stick?

TY: I don't know. I must have lost it when I went to the stockade. I didn't have it when I went to the meeting to demand better living conditions. I probably stopped walking around with the stick after the incident at the dance hall.

I2: Did you make it by yourself?

TY: I did. I found a good root. So, I learned how to polish from the elders and polish the root every day. It shines when you polish.

I2: Did you carve anything?

TY: It was quite bumpy and looked very interesting. It was just wonderful looking.

I1: That's too bad. Hope you can find it. [Laughs]

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

[Translated from Japanese]

I2: The loyalty questionnaire was administered in Jerome. How did you answer the questions?

TY: I told them I did not need to answer them. It was absurd. Why now? Why did we have to do it then? I didn't get it. I would not say yes or no. I told them I was going to ignore the questions.

I1: So, they put down "no" for your answer?

TY: Right. There were a soldier and one or two Japanese there.

I1: Interpreter? Or someone else...

TY: I don't know, YMCA? Or JACL? Anyway, there were two there.

I2: In Jerome?

I1: While you were working on the questionnaire?

TY: Yes. Then, the Japanese person stamped the paper.

I2: It could have been someone from JACL.

I1: You were not aware that they put down "no" for the answers then?

TY: I didn't know. I didn't know.

I1: You found out for the first time when your sister sent it to you?

TY: Yes.

I2: So, you didn't know why you were sent to Tule Lake.

I1: Were you intending to go back to Japan?

TY: I made my intention very clear. I told them that I would like to go back to Japan. I told them that I had no intention to become an American soldier.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

[Translated from Japanese]

I2: Could you talk about the time you arrived in Tule Lake from Jerome?

TY: There was an American flag fluttering in the camp. We told them it was wrong to have the American flag in the segregation camp. That place was for those who were loyal to the Japanese government and trying to live as Japanese. It would make sense to have the flag if in a camp for those who pledge allegiance to the U.S. government. We don't want the flag in the place where we will live. Pull the flag down or we will not get off the train.

I2: Did you say that?

TY: Yes. After about half an hour or one hour, I would say half an hour, after negotiation, they agreed to pull the flag down. We agreed to get off the train. I heard that we were the only group that was successful in pulling the flag down, even though other groups made the same attempt before I had arrived.

I2: What do you mean by us? Mr. Kai and you?

TY: Yes, the group from Jerome.

I1: That's amazing that they actually pulled the flag down. It would have been almost unthinkable if it had been in Japan.

<End Segment 25- Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

[Translated from Japanese]

I2: There was the loyalty questionnaire in Jerome. You didn't answer "no" to the questions but were intending to go back to Japan. You were going to return to Japan with U.S. citizenship. You didn't think about renouncing your U.S. citizenship. You were just thinking about returning to Japan.

TY: No. I wasn't thinking about the citizenship at all.

I2: You had the questionnaire in Jerome. Did you submit any requests like for the improvement of the living conditions prior to the questionnaire when you were in Jerome?

TY: No. I never did.

I2: You didn't.

TY: I contacted the authorities for the first time when I was sent to Tule Lake. I hadn't done anything until then.

I2: Did you have any intention to return to Japan and live as Japanese right after you were sent to Jerome?

TY: I didn't think that way at all. Never.

I2: You didn't think that way at all. When did you start thinking about going back?

TY: That was after I was sent to Tule Lake. I was forced to live with those who were loyal to the U.S. government in a place where we were supposed to be able to live as Japanese. I thought it was wrong. Many problems emerged from both sides because of that. We needed to request the administration to re-segregate us to avoid future conflicts before it escalates.

I2: So, right or left, Japanese or American. Tule Lake had people from both sides living together, and you started to think that choosing one side was the best way.

TY: Yes. The administration didn't give us a clear answer or statement. The government was being ambiguous about it. I thought we needed to take the initiative for our own future. I wanted to go back to Japan. Not because I felt strong loyalty to the Japanese government. I was determined to go back to Japan because I am Japanese. I am one individual, and U.S. citizenship didn't make any difference.

I1: People were allowed to submit their request to be sent back to Japan while you were in the assembly center, but you didn't do it.

TY: Assembly center?

I1: Assembly center. While you were at the Fresno Assembly Center.

TY: There wasn't any renunciation movement at that time. We didn't know what was coming ahead.

I1: I don't think there was any movement, but you could have submitted a request. Some people did.

TY: Already at that point?

I1: But you didn't. You expressed your desire to go back to Japan for the first time when you were asked to fill out the questionnaire.

TY: Yes, because I was asked to answer.

I1: You said you wanted to go back.

TY: Yes. If it hadn't been for the questionnaire, we would have stayed in the United States. Everything got complicated because of the questionnaire.

I2: You wanted to go back and thought you had to. Did the fact that your mother lived in Hiroshima influence your decision? Or, did that have nothing to do with it?

TY: That was in my mind, but it wasn't the direct reason.

I2: Was there an influence by the Kai group?

TY: The Kai group got together and often discussed going back to Japan together. But we couldn't just go back without permission even though we wanted to. We could talk about it but were not going anywhere. It would have been great if the U.S. government had sent us back, but they were not coming up with any plans. So we decided to set our goal to go back to Japan and to express our intention. Issei didn't have U.S. citizenship and had nothing to renounce. We thought renouncing the U.S. citizenship would help Nisei to go back to Japan. We needed to separate black and white in order to improve our lives in the camp until we were allowed go back to Japan.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

[Translated from Japanese]

I2: But in the loyalty questionnaire, you intentionally avoided to clearly express your opinion. Could you tell me why?

TY: Well, how can I explain this... The loyalty questionnaire itself was an issue for me. I didn't understand why it had to be administered at that point. I asked Mr. Kai, "Why does it have to be done now? It would have made sense to have it done before we were sent to a camp. What is the government going to do with it after they sent us all to be in a camp? What would happen to us after this? I can't answer yes or no to a question if I don't understand the intention behind it." Mr. Kai told me to go with it. That is why I told them that I had no intention to answer the questions.

I1: It was different from answering no to the questions.


TY: "Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty, wherever ordered?" It was question 27. Then, question 28 asked, "Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any and all attacks by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance to the Japanese Emperor or any other foreign government, power, or organization?" That's what the questions are.

I2: Did you refuse to answer both question 27 and 28? You didn't answer?

TY: Right.

I2: How was your intention to go back to Japan questioned? Was there another question about it in a different section?

TY: Well, at that time, it was only about these two questions. I told them I didn't have to answer.

I1: There were many other questions. You refused to answer these two particular questions?

TY: Correct.

I2: And how did you express your intention to go back to Japan?

I1: I think it was in the same questionnaire.

I2: Was there a question about it in the questionnaire?

I1: They didn't only send people who answered no and no to Tule Lake. They also sent those who expressed intention to go back to Japan. There must have been a question about it.

I2: Did the questionnaire confirm the intention to go back to Japan?

I1: Other camps were closing down. Tule Lake was the last one left, and their initial plan was to send people in the camp back to Japan.

TY: So, at that time, they did not question if we wanted to go back.

I1: Question?

TY: I wasn't asked.

I1: I think you were. I think the questionnaire included one question asking if you wanted to go back to Japan. Some people answered yes to both questions but still were sent to Tule Lake because they said they wanted to go back to Japan. So, the question was asked. I don't remember where the question was placed, but there were at least 28 or 29 questions. The questionnaire asked your name, address, occupation and so on. Then, there were questions about your religion and educational background and academic records. There is also a question about your intention to returning to Japan. It could have been on a different page.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

[Translated from Japanese]

I2: When did you decide to go back to Japan?

TY: I made that decision after I went to Tule Lake.

I2: So you didn't tell the authority in Jerome that you wanted to go back to Japan?

TY: I don't think I did. I just told them that I didn't intend to answer the questions.

I1: So you didn't say you wanted to go back to Japan, but you were sent to Tule Lake because someone put down no and no for your answer to both questions.

TY: Yes.

I2: Did you agree to be sent to Tule Lake?

TY: We didn't have any other options when we were ordered to go. There was nothing you could do. At the same time, I didn't have any particular objection to going to Tule Lake. I was willing to go with my fellow pro-Japan people.

I2: You mean Mr. Kai and his followers all went there?

TY: Correct. I don't know how the others answered the questions. There were many ways to answer them. We all were considered disloyal and segregated.

I1: The administration decided that no answer should be considered as answering "no." We don't know if everyone was aware of that.

I2: Refusing to answer was considered the same as answering "no"?

I1: If the answers to the questions were not simply yes and yes, it was considered as no. I am not sure if people were aware of that. Even if they were aware, refusing to answer or a conditional "yes" was still considered answering "no." The military provision stated the answer should be considered as "no," even something like, "If you release me from the camp."

I2: You were certain you would refuse to answer the questions. You didn't hesitate over whether you should answer yes or no. You thought the questions were nonsense from the beginning.

TY: I told them that I didn't have any intention to answer. I remember seeing a fumie (testing photo or picture for people to step on to demonstrate their disloyalty) in Jerome. I saw it when I went there.

I1: When you went there?

TY: Yes.

I1: What did they make you step on?

TY: It was something Japanese. Some sort of picture to step on.

I1: That's amazing. I wonder what they had to step on.

TY: I don't know what it was, but it caught my eyes.

I2: Was it at the entrance?

TY: Yes.

I2: I wonder who came up with the idea. [Laughs]

I1: That might have been when Mr. Wakayama or someone else was asked to step on a picture of the emperor.

TY: There was something for sure.

I2: Did you step on it? [Laughs]

TY: No. I went around it. But I saw something there.

I2: You could have been marked as a person who didn't step on it. [Laughs]

I1: That's amazing. The number of people who were sent to Tule Lake by answering "no-no" is rather small. The majority was family members of those people and those who wished to return to Japan.

TY: It was tough. Many had family members, and conflicts split parents and children. I don't understand why the questionnaire was administered at such an odd time. It is a total mystery. I don't understand at all if it was for the government to draft more soldiers or to be prepared for prisoner exchange. They did have some reason, I assume. I guess it ended well. Japan lost the war and became a better nation.

I1: That's true.


<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

[Translated from Japanese]

I1: I'm sorry for skipping ahead, but there is a report that the first group of people who were ordered to transfer to Santa Fe refused the order. They stripped down to underwear, took off their shoes and refused to go.

TY: There wasn't anything like that.

I1: Is that right?

TY: We didn't know where we were sent to. We didn't know anything. We asked but couldn't get answers. We knew well in advance that we would be segregated to somewhere else because of what we did. But there were a total of about sixty to seventy leaders including both Issei and Nisei. It seemed a very difficult task to transfer that many people at once. They didn't tell us anything. We gathered and waited together at the open space. Then, the train arrived, and National Guard told us to get in. MP or National Guard. He said, "Sit wherever you want." We sat down, and the train took off. No one told us where we were going.

I1: Is that right?

TY: Yes. They decided to have a break once on the way. We stopped somewhere in this open space. I think it was in a dessert. We exercised a little. We did some exercise and stretched our back.

I1: It takes a long time to get there, doesn't it?

TY: It does. It took us a very long time. It took days, four or five days, I think.

I1: That long? Did you go through Los Angeles? I don't know how you go to New Mexico.

TY: There were seats facing each other. We had enough space for each person to occupy both sides.

I1: So, were you able to lie down?

TY: Yes. They served us delicious meals like sandwiches and chicken.

I1: I see. Was there a body search or some kind of instructions given when you arrived at Santa Fe?

TY: Nothing. Soon after we arrived there, we got on a bus and went up the mountain.

I1: Right away?

TY: We were told to pack one suitcase before we got on the train. WRA, DOJ officers and soldiers watched us packing with guns pointed at us.

I1: There was no need to check your luggage when you arrived?

TY: Correct. There was no space for the medals and other things. I could only pack underwear, socks, toiletries and such things in the suitcase. I packed and they said, "Okay. It's done." I left everything else there. I think everything I owned was lost there.

I1: Department of Justice documents say Japanese language education was allowed at Tule Lake. Exercises and other activities were also allowed. But according to the DOJ source, they said they notified you that such activities were not permitted.

TY: We were allowed to golf in Santa Fe. We could play baseball too. There was a driving range.

I1: So, it was good.

TY: Yes. They told us to feel free to ask for anything. Playing cards, Japanese hanafuda cards. We requested hanafuda cards ordered from Japan, and they got them for us.

I1: I don't think they actually came from Japan but from somewhere else.

TY: I don't know where they came from, but we did get them. We also got a mah-jongg game.

I1: You got mah-jongg too?

TY: They gave us mah-jongg too. So, we were able to spend fun time there. You would be in trouble if you disobeyed the authority. But if you kept quiet, you would be fed with decent food and be able to do whatever you wanted to do. We stayed there quietly and waited for the war to end.

I1: You were re-segregated from Tule Lake, so your goal was achieved?

TY: Right. So I said to everyone, "We reached the closest point to Japan on our return journey by coming to Santa Fe. We should not conduct any activities as the Seinendan youth group like we did in the past. Many elders from Hawaii and South America are here. We should not cause any disturbance for them. Stay calm and wait for the day when we are all able to go back to Japan. This is our quiet waiting place. Don't start any youth group activities here." There was some trouble on the day we arrived, but I didn't know what happened. I was already working in the mess hall.

I1: I see.

TY: I said to everyone, "Come to the dining hall if you are willing to help. We need to cook for 500 people." I gathered young people...

I1: Gathered them and ...

TY: Everyone came, washed dishes, peeled potatoes, and rinsed rice. Rice didn't cook right because it was high altitude.

I1: Altitude.

TY: It didn't cook right. It was really hard. I asked people from Hawaii, "How did you cook rice?" They said they cooked rice twice with extra water and make rice porridge. I said, "That's nonsense." So, I asked the head officer to provide us with a steam cooker. He gave us two.

I2: Pressure cookers?

TY: Pressure cookers.

I2: Was rice undercooked if you cooked it normally?

TY: It was undercooked.

I1: That place is very high altitude.

TY: So, people there said, "Everything is improved since the youth group came here. We get to eat something tasty." People from Peru were also happy. We made sushi and a Chinese pork dish and spareribs with Chinese sweet and sour sauce. They were all very happy.

I1: You talked about oysters yesterday. Did you get oysters?

TY: Fried oysters. Someone told me he wanted to eat Louisiana oysters. I told him that was a rather unusual request. He said, "I am from Hiroshima." [Laughs]. "I want to eat oysters. Are they available in the United States?" I asked someone who was in charge of the cafeteria. He told me Louisiana was the place for oysters in the States. In the United States. I said, "Everyone wants to eat oysters. Please order some." That person said yes and got oysters for us.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

[Translated from Japanese]

I1: Atomic bombs were tested in Los Alamos.

TY: It was near.

I1: Did you know about the tests?

TY: Yes.

I1: How did you know about it?

TY: We said, "Some strange light just flashed. What was that?" We read on the next day's newspaper that it was a new nuclear bomb and the test took place.

I1: You couldn't see a mushroom cloud?

TY: Mushroom cloud.

I1: You could only see the light?

TY: Some people saw it. People talked about clouds and light.

I2: Did you see it? Did you see the light?

TY: I was in the mess hall. I just heard others saying, "It was like this."

I1: It was very close, and it must have been visible.

TY: And it was about a week after. The nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The news of the Hiroshima A-bombing was in the newspaper immediately. I saw the newspaper.

I1: What kind of article was it?

TY: Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

I1: Were you worried about your mother there?

TY: Yes. I immediately thought about my mother. She was in Hiroshima. A bomb was dropped. There was a picture of the entire Hiroshima city in the newspaper. Nagaregawa is the center area of the city. There was a big Christian church there. The church was burnt to ashes. My house was south side of the Hijiyama Park in the city. The front side of the park was all burnt but houses were remaining in the back side of the park. So I thought my house should be still standing.

I2: You saw that in the newspaper picture?

TY: Yes. Newspapers came to our place, and we were allowed to read them.

I2: Was your mother okay?

TY: I assumed she was okay. I thought she would have survived. I saw the houses still standing in the picture. But the other side was all burnt.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

[Translated from Japanese]

I1: How did you find out you were about to go back to Japan? Did they tell you the ship was to depart and you would be on it?

TY: When a DOJ officer came, he said, "We can schedule your return trip in the near future if you wish to go back to Japan." I asked, "Japan is far away. Would it be a while?" He answered, "No. It won't be long. It could be soon."

I1: Did the DOJ officer come for the hearing?

TY: He came for the confirmation.

I1: For the confirmation hearing?

TY: Yes. They must already have some plan at that point. I counted on the ship. We arrived Japan on the ninth day after we had left the Portland navy base by the army transport ship.

I1: Was it that short?

TY: On the ninth day. The sea was rough, and everyone got sick. It was so stormy that the captain ordered to head south. The ship was geared toward Hawaii. Then, they said, "That's Hokkaido." I think it was the ninth day. We saw several Japanese battleships anchored in Uraga without flags or cannons. There were also several submarines made of bamboo. We realized the Japanese defeat for sure.

I1: You heard about the Japanese defeat in the United States, right?

TY: Yes. In the voice of the emperor. The chief of the mess hall said to us, "Come to the mess hall. There will be very important announcement." I wondered what it was.

I1: Was it about the end of the war?

TY: It almost sounded like Korean, "Enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable." It was unfamiliar Japanese for our ears. Some listened to it, saying, "It is propaganda. Something is wrong." But that was the voice of the emperor.

I1: Some people are saying they didn't understand what the announcement was. You heard it, were told the Japan lost the war but couldn't accept it until you saw it with your own eyes?

TY: American newspapers and radios reported the unconditional surrender of Japan. The city of Santa Fe celebrated it with fireworks. The head of the Santa Fe Camp was a good person. He said to us, "You went through a lot of difficulties for a long time." "The war is over now. Let's be friends again as we used to be." [Laughs] He said it in his farewell speech.

I1: "Back to be friends again."

TY: That was a very American way of thinking. I've met a lot of great individuals in the States. You occasionally encounter someone strange, and things get tough.

I1: How was the officer at the final hearing? Was he a nice person too?

TY: Yes, he was. I almost always get nice agents. The FBI agent Smith was in Japan before the war.

I2: Did you meet that FBI agent in the stockade?

TY: Yes. I met him in the stockade. I met him about three times.

I2: They kept asking you to retract the renunciation of your citizenship until you boarded the ship. Is that correct?

I1: I don't think it was retracting the renunciation. I think it was retracting the request to go back to Japan.

TY: No, it was also about renunciation of the citizenship.

I1: Is that what you were told?

TY: Yes.

I1: It was not allowed. I mean renunciation requests made by Japanese were initially all rejected. I wonder what level of authority he had to mention that.

TY: The DOJ officer kept asking, "You expressed your intention to renounce your U.S. citizenship while you were at Tule Lake. Have you changed your mind?" I said, "I haven't changed my mind." They persistently told me to let them know if I changed my mind.

I1: They were talking about retracting your renunciation of the citizenship. Not about your request to go back to Japan?

TY: They were talking about both.

I1: Both?

TY: Both. They also told me to let them know if I changed my mind about going back to Japan.

I2: Were there any members of the Kai group on the same ship?

TY: Yes. A few were there including a young member, Kazama.

I2: Some members of the youth group in Tule Lake also were on board, right? How many were there?

TY: The first ship had about fifty people, I think. Diplomat to Europe Mr. Oshima and his group were on board. Ambassador to Italy, Mr. Shiraishi, his family and other diplomats were there too.

I2: Did you cook in the kitchen on the ship too?

TY: Mr. Oshima and other people wanted to eat Japanese food. So I said, "I will go see what we can do." I went down to the kitchen and found rice. I said, "Let's make rice balls for them." I remember we didn't have anything for toppings, and I used extra salt for flavor. We didn't eat much on the ship though. We couldn't eat much.

I1: Because of the motion sickness?

TY: The smell of the paint was overwhelming. That ship was very troubling for unexperienced passengers. The smell was everywhere on the ship. It pitched like this. Everyone went on deck for one hour every day to get fresh air, but it was very stormy.

I1: It was winter too.

TY: December is a big stormy month.

I1: It is rough in the winter.

TY: We passed by Kiska Island. The American soldier explained, "Japan once occupied that island." I asked, "What is happening there now?" He said, "Everyone died there. All the Japanese soldiers died."

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

TY: We finally arrived in Japan. A high-ranking American officer said, "We need your help here. Your bilingual ability is indispensable for rebuilding Japan after the war." He said to us, "Please work with us." I said, "I hear what you are saying, but we renounced our American citizenship and came back to Japan as Japanese. We will not immediately start to work for the U.S. government. We have no desire for that." Then he asked me, "What would convince you to work with us?" I replied, "If the Japanese government asks us, I will work with you." I told him that I had come back to Japan with my own will, and I couldn't just start working with him as he requested. I said, "It has to be requested by the Japanese government." A Japanese government official happened to be standing near us, and he told us, "What this American officer just told you is very true. We are desperately in need of bilingual staff. Please work with us." There was no reason to object, right? We needed a job to support ourselves in Japan, and we decided to work with them. I requested one thing, "All of us want to go back to our hometown once before we start working for you. I suggested they schedule the time and date to meet for further discussion. I told them we were not disagreeing to work with them. An MP escorted ambassador Oshima and other diplomats somewhere else. We were told to go to the Kurihama Center for the repatriates and get ready for the return trip to our home. They told us that the occupation army is arranging the train to send us home. We didn't have to arrange our own transportation. When we arrived at the facility, we saw repatriates from the Philippines. Bodies of dead children were left everywhere on the ground. They were all yellow. What was that yellow thing?

I1: Jaundice?

TY: Was that jaundice? Children were dead with their bellies swelled up. They were naked.

I1: Malnutrition.

TY: The bodies were everywhere. I asked the officer there, "Why are you leaving them there? If somebody dies, you should at least take the body out of the sight and bury it." He told me that he didn't have enough staff members to take care of that. I said, "This facility is full of parents and children. There are many people." I suggested the youth group members to take care of it by ourselves. We gathered the bodies in one place for burial or for cremation. We didn't know which. Finally, the official came and told us, "We will take care of them." In two to three hours, all the bodies were taken away. We figured we did not want to stay there for a long time. We wanted to go home. The occupation army soldiers came and told us the train was ready for us. He asked us to walk to the Yokosuka Station. So we walked to Yokosuka from Kurihama.

I2: That is a long way.

TY: Yes. We were all on board the occupation army's trains, one to go north and the other to go south. We decided to meet at the Daiichi Seimei building one month later and took off.

I1: So they weren't the trains for demobilized soldiers. It wasn't overcrowded or had people hanging onto the train.

TY: We had coffee and cola on the train. It was nice. Most of us got a job and got paid in a month and ended up working for the occupation army for four or five years.

I1: Do you remember how much your salary was? Monthly...

TY: It was 400 yen at that time.

I1: I don't know how much it was worth.

TY: 400 yen.

I1: Was it enough to live a decent life in Japan?

TY: Yes.

I1: Was it a little better than average? Middle? Or not much?

TY: Maybe average. We were hired as Japanese employees. I was granted the highest salary but don't remember how much I got paid. I completely forgot. Anyway, we had some spending money and were able to send money to the parents.

I1: So, that was decent pay.

TY: That must have been pretty good. We probably were making more than other Japanese people working somewhere else.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

[Translated from Japanese]

I1: So, you went home to make sure your mother and family were okay and went back to the Daiichi Seimei building one month later?

TY: Yes. I worked for the occupation army for four to five years. The occupation army started withdrawing. We had to start looking around for a civilian job like everyone else. People were leaving the army one by one. One thing is that the occupation army was a good employer for us. We were comfortable in the work environment. Our struggle with the Japanese way of living started when we left the army and went back to our hometown. We lived in the American way of living while we were working for the occupation army. Now, we had to live the Japanese lifestyle. We were supposed to follow all the customs. We just couldn't adjust ourselves. Right around then, the U.S. government contacted us and offered to reinstate our U.S. citizenship and send us back to the States. Most of us accepted the offer and went back. Some came to seek my advice, but I told them to make their own decision.

I1: That is when your elder sister went back, right?

TY: She went back much later. Maybe one year later. She came back to Japan about one year after we came back. She worked as a secretary for the director of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC) in Hiroshima. He was an American doctor. It was located on top of the Hijiyama Park. She was well treated there.

I1: But she decided to go back to the States?

TY: Yes. She thought that Japan at that time did not have a lot to offer for her children. She wanted to send them to the States for a better life. She contacted her friends in the States and sent all her children. Her children felt abandoned though, and it's still affecting their relationship.

I1: It seems like your elder sister thought she would be able to go back to the States sooner, right after she sent her children. She didn't expect it would take that long. She didn't know why but found out later on that she was on the watch list.

TY: Yes, she was blacklisted. She didn't have good luck.

I1: That's so hard. She didn't do anything wrong. She just tried to help you out. You said you were contacted by the U.S. government about reinstating your U.S. citizenship shortly after the war ended.

TY: It was early. Well, about four or five years after the end of the war. It wasn't offered while I was working for the occupation army. It was after I left the army and went back to Hiroshima. The U.S. embassy contacted me twice to find out if I wanted to go back.

I2: What year was it approximately?

TY: What year was it? Let me see...

I1: That was the year when you went back to Hiroshima, so...

TY: I went back to Japan when the war ended. What year was that?

I1: It was 1945. You went back to Japan at the end of the year.

TY: Then, I worked for the occupation army for five years and went back to Hiroshima.

I1: The war ended in 1945, and you worked for five years after that. It must have been around 1951 or 1952? It was around the same time that the juridical decision was made on the Goodman Trial.

TY: I went back to Japan in 1945, right?

I1: Yes, at the end of the year.

TY: The war was over.

I1: You probably started to work in early 1946.

TY: It was early 1946, so...

I1: Five years after that would be 1951.

TY: Five years and 1951. It was around that time.

I1: Around 1951 or 1952.

TY: They called me at home.

I1: From the U.S. embassy?

TY: Yes.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

[Translated from Japanese]

TY: When did the two Japanese people working for Mr. Collins come to see you? You were talking about it yesterday.

TY: Yes, Mr. Collins... it was in 1954, Showa 29.

I1: Did you keep that memo?

TY: Yes. "Attorney Wayne Collins fought for civil rights. Forced mass removal was unconstitutional and it was based upon racial discrimination. The renunciation was void from the time it was made. Three and a half years of incarceration was also unconstitutional. The conclusive judgment was made on May 20, 1959 regarding the renunciation. Attorney General William Rogers acknowledged the wrongdoing made by the United States and declared that the United States as a free nation would publicly work toward the restoration of citizenship." It goes on, "Mr. Collins was one of the few advocates for Japanese Americans in the most difficult years. Two Japanese American Nisei working for Mr. Collins came to Japan. They came to meet with renunciants who came back to Japan in 1954. They encouraged us to apply for the restoration of our citizenship. I also received two phone calls from the U.S. embassy to find out if I had any intention to have my citizenship restored."

I2: Is this before or after? Before this one? After?

TY: It was mostly before and after.

I1: Did you write this? Is "I" in this writing you? Or, someone else. What about "us?"

TY: Me. Myself.

I1: That was a diary.

TY: They came to visit several people. I heard from others about their meeting.

I1: There are specific dates listed in here. Are they from your diary?

TY: I had many memos I had kept. She sometimes tells me, "I need that. Send it to me." So these memos go between places [Laughs].

I1: I see.

TY: Why don't you visit my older sister when you have a chance? She has a huge volume of resources including some documents I had sent and some she created.

I1: I am still waiting for her to write the family history she promised when I visited last time. [Laughs]

TY: My older sister had special ties with Mr. Collins as she was trying to help me when I was arrested for the Tule Lake incident. She received information from him and relayed it to me.

I1: That's why your elder sister was a close friend with Michi Weglyn.

TY: She had a friend like that. She sent me cakes from New York several times. [Laughs]

I1: Is that right?

TY: She sent me New Year's cards too. It is unfortunate that she had passed away.

I2: Have you met Michi Weglyn?

TY: No, I haven't

I2: You haven't?

TY: I haven't, but she interviewed my sister and wrote about me in her book.

I1: Did you say you have met Mr. Collins?

TY: Yes.

I1: When was it approximately?

TY: It was after the FBI investigation at Tule Lake.

I1: In the stockade?

TY: Yes.

I1: Toward the end of the confinement?

TY: I was the only one who met him.

I1: Is that right?

TY: He came to see me because my sister asked him to talk to me.

I1: Was it a little before the hunger strike? Was that a long time before the strike?

TY: It was before the hunger strike.

I1: Was it right before?

TY: Right. It was about two or three months after I went to the stockade. It was earlier.

I1: Was there any word from him?

TY: Nothing in particular. He didn't want people to speculate that he was up to something. He asked me to just tell him how I ended up being there. He said, "Your sister is worried about you and your health. She asked me to visit you because no one else had access to this facility. I am in a position that I can come and visit. I will forward your message to your sister." He also said, "War makes people crazy." [Laughs]

I1: Did Mr. Collins say that?

TY: Yes. People do extraordinary things during wartime.

I1: What is your impression on Mr. Collins? He was viewed as an "outraged attorney," Someone who is always angry and fighting against racial discrimination.

TY: He was a fast talker but also a gentleman.

I2: About the statement by Attorney General William Rogers. What was released? Was that a judgment?

TY: He "acknowledged the wrongdoing made by the United States and declared that the United States as a free nation would publicly work toward the restoration of the citizenship." It is about the renunciation of the citizenship.

I2: What did you think about his declaration?

TY: I wasn't interested in such matters much. My sister sent me some documents.

I1: An official closing ceremony was held. It was to officially end renunciation trials. There was still more to be taken care of, but they tried to put an end to it.

I2: Everything wasn't finalized until 1965.

I1: About 300 people were still left in limbo. 300 were stateless. There were more including those who were not stateless. The determination was made not to deport the stateless. The renunciation issue was still unsolved, but the government tried to close the case. Mr. Collins was furious and refused to attend the ceremony.

I2: Did you have any intention to go back to the States? Was it a hard decision?

TY: No.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

[Translated from Japanese]

I2: Have you ever considered regaining the U.S. citizenship?

TY: I have absolutely no intention to do it. I am happy with where I am now.

I1: Are you happy that you came back to Japan?

TY: I owe it to the States. I am still thankful for what the country offered me. I had a great time in the United States when I was young. I went through a lot while incarcerated, but I am who I am today because of my past experience. I have never considered myself unfortunate. Always go straight forward, that's my way. War makes people crazy. It should never happen again.

I2: What did you do after you left the GHQ? What kind of jobs have you had?

TY: I left the GHQ and returned to Hiroshima. My sister had a house in Kure, Hiroshima. There was a shrine called Kameyama Jinja there. The British Commonwealth Occupation Force was planning to build a new building on the campus for high rank officers to socialize. They wanted to have someone to serve meals and tea at 10 o'clock and 3 o'clock. British people drink a lot of tea. They have a cup of tea in bed first thing in the morning. They sit down together over another cup of tea at 10 o'clock and again at 3 o'clock. Their social gathering over drinks starts at 6 o'clock in the evening at a bar. I was asked to build a facility and train employees including cooks and bartenders. Mr. Onuki from a construction company was assigned for the construction of the facility. I worked there to help with the project for about a year. I went back to Hiroshima after I left. Have you heard of Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance Company? They came to see me and said, "We've heard about you. We are to build a hotel in Hiroshima for tourists from overseas. We would like to offer you the manager position with the hotel." I asked, "What is your plan?" They said, "We would like to create a venue to host various events for foreigners and others. They told me that the city administration was behind the project and asked me to work with them. I was going to, but something happened to the company, and the project was cancelled. So, I was planning on opening up a restaurant in the middle of the Hiroshima city. While I was getting ready to work on it, I bumped into Fujimura. He is a son of Mr. Fujimura from Hiroshima. He was a baseball player in Fresno. His father was a baseball coach back in the States, and he played baseball. I ran into him along with Hirayama and Hancock. We said, "Long time no see. How are you doing?" We went out to eat together. It was such a coincident that the CEO of Yakult happened to be at the same restaurant. He kept talking about the States. We were overhearing the conversation. They were talking about marketing their products in the United States. They were also talking about introducing food service industry like 7 Eleven to Japan. They were discussing how to build the infrastructure in Japan for the new business. I was overhearing the conversation and got interested in what they were talking about. Our eyes met. He asked, "I haven't seen you around here. Where are you guys from?" I said, "I came back from the United States. I worked for the occupation army and am looking for a job in Hiroshima." He said, "Come work for me. Can you speak English?" I answered, "Sort of," and we laughed. I told him I would consider. That seemed to be an interesting job. He told me that they were launching the project and asked me to come to Tokyo to meet with him. I was to go to the Yakult head office in Tokyo, but he told me to check out the Hiroshima office first to find out what they do. He said, "Contact me if you are still interested in taking up my offer." I went to the Hiroshima office and started working there. It was very interesting. At that time, male employees were distributing the products, but they were not producing a big profit. We looked into it and found that they were taking the money and spending it for themselves. That was not working. We worked on a different business plan and thought housewives with some spare time could be good candidates for the position. It would be interesting to introduce housewives to the work force. Women don't do anything extraordinary. We thought we could trust them. They are also good at following rules. We thought it was the best idea and started recruiting and training female employees. We also launched door to door sales in Hiroshima, and it was a huge success. Until then ten percent of the population never thought about working outside.


TY: The business became very interesting. I decided to work for Yakult.

I1: Who came up with the idea to introduce women to the workforce? Did you? A similar situation was going on in the States during World War II. Men were on the battlefield and women, especially housewives, were introduced to the workforce. Was that inspiration for you? Or it had nothing to do with it?

TY: I didn't think about that.

I1: It was almost at the same era.

TY: The company was operating in the nationwide market. Fliers were distributed through each local network. That required a lot of time and energy. We introduced the franchise system. For example, the population in this particular region is 1,000, and that is your target audience to market the products.

I1: As much as possible.

TY: Yes. They can balance the job and the housework. They can hold a job, make money but don't have to give up family time. They can continue to keep the job for a long time. We set up small regional sections for them to work close to the customers. They got to know the clients and even their family members.

I1: Did they work on commission? Was it based on the sales volume?

TY: Yes, that was how. It was a big success. Yakult changed their distribution system nationwide and became successful. I am now eighty years old. I worked until I was about seventy years old. I retired as a vice chairman in this region.

I1: We could add this to what we recorded yesterday. Hope it doesn't get too jumpy.

I2: The tape is running out. So, you retired as a vice chairman of the region. How old were you when you retired?

TY: I retired at the age of seventy.

I2: You worked until you were seventy years old.

I1: We would like to ask you to say that again.

I2: Let's wrap it up.

I1: Could you talk about it again?

I2: In your own words. You continued to work for Yakult.

TY: We expanded our market to South East Asia and South America. I expanded the sale network of the Yakult products. I devoted my life to create a health-conscious society.

I2: Then, at the age of seventy...

TY: I am retired now and live happily with neighbors and grandchildren. The life is worth living every day.

I2: We have about forty minutes left. We don't have to end the interview yet. We still have some time. I wonder if we should briefly list up what he did for a living or talk about it in detail. It would be interesting, but we need to think about how to proceed.

I1: You mean you would like to talk about what he did in the chronological order?

I2: Yes.

I1: Like he did this from this year to that year after the war?

I2: Yes. What do you think?

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 36>

[Translated from Japanese]

I1: I forgot to ask about the vegetables.

I2: Vegetables?

I1: We didn't record that part yesterday. The occupation army came to Japan and changed the Japanese vegetable production. You were saying you did something to do with it.

TY: Lettuce was imported to Japan from the States while I was working for the occupation army. They were all wilted by the time they came to Japan. We were able to use only about one third...well about a half of what was shipped to us. Roots were bruised as they were shipped frozen. I worked with vegetables since I was a child. Three types of vegetable that were harvested in the United States, broccoli, celery, and lettuce did not exist in Japan. We had nappa cabbage but didn't have crunchy vegetables like celery. Celery and lettuce. They have a unique smell. They are good in stew. The climate in Nagano and Salinas where my sister lived is similar, and Salinas is known for its lettuce production. I thought we might be able to grow lettuce in Japan. I talked about it to an occupation army officer I was working with. He said, "It is an interesting project, but I don't think Japanese people would like it." I told them that we all were Japanese and liked them. We could also introduce salad dressing to go with it. We discussed who we should teach how to grow lettuce. It should be somewhere in Nagano, and it could be interested farmers or school laboratories. I asked them to get seeds from the States. I went to talk to people at Japan Agricultural Cooperatives in Tokyo. They agreed to plant the new vegetables in Japan. We conducted tests in their greenhouse. It was very successful. Then they tested in Nagano and then Chiba. People were very pleased. I started the project but the official record says the occupation army introduced it to Japan.

I2: While you were working there, the hearing regarding the wartime incarceration was held. You were in Fukuyama at the time. You didn't go to the hearing because you were busy with work?

TY: Right. The hearing was held in San Francisco. I think I was in Thailand, probably in Bangkok. There was a cholera outbreak there. Someone heard that Yakult products would cure the disease. They were saying someone ordered Yakult from the Yakult Hong Kong, drank it and the symptoms went away. The Thai government wanted to import Yakult products to Thailand. It was the beginning the Yakult Thailand. I think it was in the middle of the project when the hearing was held. That was such a long time ago. That hearing in San Francisco.

I2: In 1981. Do you think you would have gone to Geneva and testify if you had been available?

TY: Yes. Have you already seen it? My testimony is included. This one. My sister translated all the documents I created for submission. It is about my experience at Tule Lake like food stealing, beating, suicide, this is about Todoroki. This is about the Dies Committee. This is "life in Japan." These are the documents submitted to the hearing. You can take everything. I have another copy.

I2: Can we? We will make a copy.

I1: ...and his son look alike. What did you think when you heard that the hearing would be held?

TY: I wasn't really interested. They asked me to share my experience to preserve the real stories for the future generations. I wrote in Japanese, and my sister translated it into English. It was introduced at the hearing. I remember receiving a letter of appreciation from the hearing committee. It said thank you for your valuable testimony.

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 37>

[Translated from Japanese]

I2: Redress movement followed.

I1: Compensation.

I2: Did you know about redress movement?

TY: Redress?

I1: And official apology.

TY: I wasn't involved at all. I heard it from my sister as she was involved in the movement.

I1: The letter just came to you one day.

TY: Right.

I2: And a check of 20,000 dollars was enclosed too?

TY: Right. See the picture below? The check was in it.

I1: What did you use that 20,000 dollars for?

TY: I donated it.

I1: Who did you donate it to?

TY: What is that organization that helps children in poverty in the world?


TY: Right. I donated it all to them.

I1: What made you do that?

TY: It wasn't the type of money I could keep. That's what I thought. I never expected to receive it. So, I still receive things from UNICEF. I donated some to Afghanistan the other day too. They always send me something like this. [Laughs]

I2: Could you tell us why it wasn't the type of money you could keep?

TY: It was unexpected. I was not expecting that.

I2: But the money came from the U.S. government.

TY: What did I do to deserve it? The Unites States doesn't have anything to compensate me for. I didn't do anything to deserve it. Did I answer your question? I learned and gained a lot from my experience in the States.

I2: You were satisfied with where you were in the society when the money came. You experienced injustice at Tule Lake. But retrospectively, those days helped to shape who you are. You think you owe the States for that.

TY: That's right. I wanted to find a meaningful way to spend the money. What would be the best way? Should I donate to the Red Cross? That was a tough decision. Should I donate it to help people in starvation? I asked other people for advice. UNICEF was the one I chose.

I2: What did you think about the letter of apology?

TY: There wasn't anything to be apologized for.

I1: But you were beaten.

TY: Right. Things come up among people, and it just happened. The U.S. government doesn't owe me an apology. I renounced my U.S. citizenship with my own will. That is fine. They gave me options: "Which would you pick?" and I said, "I choose this." And I was able to do well in the way I chose. I am thankful to the United States. I want you to understand that I want to live with a positive mind instead of a negative mind. I came back to Japan with nothing. I couldn't have got where I am today by myself. Others helped me to get here. That's how it was when I was in the United States too. I wasn't fluent in English, but everyone helped me in many ways. I owe them a lot. I am grateful to both countries.

I2: Could you talk about receiving a high school diploma from your high school in Fresno?

TY: My sister told me that people who knew me well, like my coach and classmates, gathered together and discussed that I would have had graduated from high school with the classmates if it hadn't been for the war. The war sent me in a different direction, and I ended up going back to Japan without graduating. They thought I might feel that I had unfinished business there. So, they wanted to award me a high school diploma that I would have received. Ms. Bilco had political power in Fresno. She worked with school officials to award me a high school diploma. My sister told me that they were planning on the commencement just for me and asked me if I was interested in attending. I was very grateful for their kind thoughts. It would be great to see my old friends. I was happy to go. I went there. When I went there, I saw many people from Fresno like my old classmates, teammates and my track coach. Many people came just for me. Officials from the school district too. I was very moved by their kindness. Something like this happens only in the States. The Nichibei Mainichi ran an article about it. Commencement for one person. Japanese newspaper heard about it and come to report too.

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 38>

[Translated from Japanese]

I2: To wrap up our interview, could you give a message to people who are coming to the Tule Lake Pilgrimage, especially to Arabic and Islamic Americans?

I1: Some Arabic and Islamic Americans were arrested and confined in some DOJ detention facilities after the 9/11 just like some Japanese were arrested right after the war started. We don't know exactly how many or where they are detained. Have you heard that similar situation is about to be repeated?

TY: No, I haven't.

I2: You heard about it for the first time?

I1: I see. I think it is one of the reasons why Arabic and Islamic Americans are joining this pilgrimage. An official apology offered closure to what happened to Japanese Americans, but it is happening again to another group of people. We should learn from our past and make sure it will not be repeated. I think that is important. Do you have any thoughts about it? Many Japanese people watch the news on Iraq and Afghan. What is currently happening in the U.S. might not be broadcasted. Have you heard anything about it?

TY: No, I haven't. I don't know why the United States decided to go to Iraq, but it reminds me of what they did in Vietnam. It looks like they are getting into the same situation again. The United States always thinks it is their mission to help those who suffer from dictatorship by democratizing the nation. I understand that view, but I wonder if the receiving end shares the same goal to rebuild their own nation by themselves. It is just a wasted effort if they are not willing. Things are going in that direction now. The U.S. should sit down with Arabs to discuss future plans. Instead of getting into a war, they should discuss what is best for them as partners. They should explore how to motivate the people to work together for the better nation. It doesn't work if one is making effort but the other is not interested in working together. I don't understand why the States are repeating what it did in the past. Arabs should be more open and tell the United States what they want. They should lay down what they are willing to do and what kind of assistance they would like from the States. If they are not open and positive about it, the U.S. would end up wasting resources both financially and militarily. If Arabs see the U.S. intention to rebuild the nation for the people, they would join and work together. They need to step closer to each other to achieve the goal. I am afraid that the world is changing to the world with terrorism. Terrorists come from frustration. Frustration comes in the form of violence. Terrorist activities happen even in Russia. Even in Japan, some religious cults did something similar. The world would be torn if we they take over. We should talk to each other and figure out how to live in a more humane way. We all need to make an effort to make this world a better place. You would have consequences if we defeat enemies with force. You need to negotiate before force is used. You need to lay the groundwork and use collective force when negotiation does not yield a result. The U.S. cannot do it all if no one else is joining. That's what I think. It takes motivated people to build a better nation. That's essential. The States should not single out a group of people because their native county did something. That is not what the leader of democracy does. They should talk to those people.

I1: Could you face the camera and talk to the people who are coming to the pilgrimage?

TY: I don't what to say. [Laughs] I am already eighty-one. I had my best youth years in the United States. The war changed my life, and I was sent to a camp. I was tortured and went through a lot. My past experiences taught me how to endure hardship and stay positive, and helped to shape who I am today. I have been always trying to move forward, and I gained a lot from it. I am thankful for everyone in my life. I came back to Japan with nothing. But I was somehow able to have my own family. I live a happy life surrounded by my grandchildren. I couldn't have done it without help and support from people around me. I live each day with appreciation. I hope that you keep positive and live happily. Thank you very much.

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.