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Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Satsuki Ina Interview
Narrator: Satsuki Ina
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Emeryville, California
Date: March 14, 2019
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-474-2

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TI: So they were married, went to Tanforan, and then pick up the story from there.

SI: Okay. So then, from Tanforan, they were transferred to Topaz, Utah, more permanent facilities. And that's when my brother Kiyoshi was born, in December 1942. And while there in 1943, they were confronted with the "loyalty questionnaire" a questionnaire that required them to answer yes or no to several questions, and two of them had to do with whether they would bear arms against the enemy and whether they would disavow their loyalty to the emperor. And by that time, my parents had had my brother, were very despairing about the possibility of their life in America, and so from what I could tell, because my mother and father never really talked to me about the emotional process they went through, but through her diary and through my father's poetry journal that he kept, it was never for them an issue of loyalty. They were kind of shocked that this was what was presented to them, whether they were loyal or disloyal. And so when the issue of men being, volunteering or drafted into the segregated, the racially segregated military unit, my father gave a speech at a Kibei meeting. And it was this short five-sentence statement, he's a very quiet man, you know, he was very much like how you understand a poet. He was just, he had lots of things to say that he did in his writing, but in this, what they called a speech, he got up and he said something to the effect that the American government needs to respect our constitution, and treat us equal to the free people. And it was in the context of how to answer the "loyalty questionnaire." So my parents answered "no-no" to those questions.

TI: Just as a side note, so what your father said directly almost paralleled the wording from the Fair Play Committee in Heart Mountain in terms of the reasons to resist the draft. And so it's really interesting in terms of... because, yeah, you're right, the, what was called the "loyalty questionnaire," had that one question about bearing arms. And it wasn't necessarily a draft, but it had there, and your father, in some ways, did this a step earlier than the Heart Mountain draft resisters.

SI: And this is interesting, too, because there hasn't been much talk about this. But in Topaz, they actually had a petition, and the petition, which I found, clearly states that all of us who were signing this petition are willing to do whatever the government asks us to do as long as we have our constitutional rights returned to us. Essentially saying, "If we are free men, we will be willing to..."

TI: Bear arms.

SI: "...bear arms." I don't know about disavow loyalty, because they never had loyalty to the emperor. So that five-sentence speech that my father made actually led to him being charged with sedition. And sedition is, what it means is that this person has attempted to interfere with the recruitment of soldiers into the military service. So documents I found, one official was asking for clarification, whether he should be prosecuted, and somehow it got lost in the process. And so...

TI: In your research, did you ever find out how the government knew he said that at this meeting?

SI: Yeah, it's a really good question. Because in the documents, there were two things that happened. One is they arrested -- they didn't use that term -- but they gathered up the men that made speeches that night and had them sign a statement saying, one, "Here's what I said," and it was written in Japanese and translated into English, and then they signed it and agreed that, yes, in fact, they did make a statement. The other thing is, I also located additional documents that showed that there were people who were in the audience. Don't know if they were there in advance on behalf of the administration or whether this was a spontaneous decision. But this was another Kibei man who listed the nine men who had given their speeches and signed a document saying, "I attest to the fact that these men did speak up against the U.S. government," and then signed his name, and it's somebody that my family was very familiar with, whose name I really don't want to say.

TI: So essentially, yeah, so he was an informant.

SI: Yes.

TI: And, again, the words, and they were brief from your father, could be construed as he was just standing up for his rights. I mean, it wasn't really opposing, or saying that he would do harm to the U.S. government, I just want to clarify that, he was just, I mean, I always talk to students about presentism and how 1942 was very different than today. But today, someone would hear that and says, "That's just someone..."

SI: Freedom of Speech.

TI: Freedom of Speech, standing up for your rights as a U.S. citizen, and wouldn't say there's... what's wrong with what he said? I mean, that's what goes through my mind as I heard those words.

SI: Yeah, that it was really about, that the government should treat us "equal to the free people," that's the phrase. And then in my mother's diary, she actually writes, "Without our constitutional rights, we will answer 'no.'" And in that petition, it says, it was a very formal, well-written petition. And that it was very moving to me, words that, "Once we're treated equal to everybody else, we will do whatever the government asks us to do." So it wasn't this challenging... it was a demand, in some ways, but it was also just a really clear statement about an American citizen's rights reminding the government to declare their loyalty by answering these two questions rather than by their actions prior to that and during the time that they were incarcerated.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.