Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Hank Shozo Umemoto Interview II
Narrator: Hank Shozo Umemoto
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: February 6, 2019
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-462-12

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Another topic that people don't talk much about, but when you look at some of the reports, things like sexual assault, or other kind of... it'd be like, yeah, sexual assault or someone physically beating someone. Any stories like that?

HU: Yeah. I had a friend, he's dead, but he had a sister, older sister, and she worked at Manzanar hospital, and she was pretty sexy looking. So one day, this guy, I won't mention his name, but he and a couple of other guys, they just took her into this closet and raped her. And we knew about it, but it was something that was not talked about.

TI: So this was at the hospital, she worked at the hospital?

HU: Yeah. She was about maybe sixteen, seventeen.

TI: And these young men were older than she was, or the same age?

HU: Maybe, yeah, about same age or one or two years older. Things were happening, but they don't, they just don't talk about it.

TI: And you said, so some people knew about this, did any of the, kind of, the adults know about this?

HU: Probably. Well, maybe not. I guess we knew about it, but...

TI: And when you about something like that, what happens? Do people try to help the victim in any way, to console her, or what happens?

HU: Nothing. You hear about it, you say nothing, do nothing. It's just one of those codes that...

TI: What about, to the young men who assaulted this woman, like when you see them, do you say anything to them?

HU: No. It's one of those things... yeah, there was another girl that got raped, but it's something that, I don't know, today, you make a big fuss about it and report it, go on the Megan's list or whatever, it's all publicized. But in our generation, we knew it happened, and when it happens, we just don't say anything, and we don't act any differently.

TI: But everyone kind of knows, right?

HU: Yeah, just knows.

TI: Now, so when people know and don't talk about it, we're in Manzanar, say, and there's like a social, like a dance or something, how did people act there?

HU: That's a good question. Yeah, I went to one of those dance, and the girl that got raped, the guy who raped the girl, he went to the girl that he raped and asked for a dance and they were dancing.

TI: Hmm. And could you tell any facial reaction when that happened with the woman?

HU: Yeah, they don't talk, they just, they don't talk. They just dance, but they don't talk.

TI: I mean, that sounds... and why do you think that young man asked her to dance? I mean, it seems like it's kind of, like what you said earlier, if he did this, it would be more like just try to stay away from it, but he asked her to dance, that seems...

HU: Maybe he got a lot of guts. [Laughs]

TI: And when you see that, what did it make you feel when you saw that? Did that make you surprised?

HU: That makes it interesting, he raped her, and he was dancing.

TI: And did you know the woman at all?

HU: Yeah.

TI: Did you ever ask her about that?

HU: No.

TI: But you knew her brother.

HU: Yeah.

TI: How was it for him? I mean, so he knew, right?

HU: He knew, but he didn't talk about it or anything.

TI: And do you think that was... so you saw a little bit of that, do you think that was happening throughout the camp, similar types of things like that?

HU: I would say so, except that they don't talk about it. I'm sure that it was going on.

TI: Yeah, so these are the stories that the community never talks about.

HU: Yeah.

TI: And we kind of know it's out there, and so that's... now, did you ever hear stories of maybe, not so much teenagers, but happening with older adults, similar types of things?

HU: No, I haven't heard anything.

TI: That's okay.

HU: I've heard of couples going into a barrack room and doing it, but...

TI: Yeah, but that was more consensual, right?

HU: Yeah, yeah.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.