Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Frank Miyamoto Interview III
Narrator: Frank Miyamoto
Interviewer: Stephen Fugita
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: April 29, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-mfrank-03-0005

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SF: What were people talking about as some possible scenarios that would happen to the Japanese Americans?

FM: I think people were mainly talking about the arrests, the FBI arrests of the Issei. And grave concern about that, because the Issei were the dominant generation in the community at that point, and that meant that, for many families, their sources of livelihood were taken away. Then for the others in the community -- Nisei as well as Issei -- the economy was suddenly very badly suppressed. People were no longer trading with the Japanese as they had before. So in general, there was a sense of difficulty of the community, and I think that was the sense of it in the month of December. By January, the newspapers became fairly vociferous in their attacks on Japanese. Claims of Japanese Americans who were engaged in espionage, and sabotage, and this sort of thing, which we were extremely upset about. Upset that the newspapers would tell such lies, or report such stories without any basis.

SF: Was there any kind of organized attempt to rebut those, or to take some kind of counteraction?

FM: Nothing, no I can't say that there was any organized reaction to it at that point, at that time. The difficulty I think was, events moved so rapidly, that as soon as Pearl Harbor came, and the FBI arrests began, why, you were focusing on that. And then the next thing you knew, you had these reports of Secretary of the Navy Knox reporting that espionage had gone on in Pearl Harbor and that kind of attack developing, and then, the next thing you knew, why, the radio was carrying news of attacks by news commentators on the radio, attacking the Japanese as a danger to the West Coast, this kind of thing. Things moved, accelerated so rapidly that in a sense, the Japanese Americans, the Nisei, couldn't get organized rapidly enough to react against things that were happening.

SF: So the Issei leaders, for the most part, were moved out, right?

FM: That's right.

SF: And so, how did the JACL as being kind of, at least one of the more visible organizations at that time, what role did they play, how'd they react and how did the community focus on them?

FM: Yes, the JACL, this thing I do remember was that they reacted after the evacuation orders came, in a certain way which I will describe. But in that first month or two after Pearl Harbor, I have no clear recollection of just exactly how the JACL reacted. My recollection, such as it is, is that they were pressing for the JACL leaders -- among whom, James Sakamoto was perhaps one of the most prominent, but there were other JACL leaders. They were pressing for a Japanese American show of loyalty, a demonstration that we are, you know, Americans, not Japanese. This kind of emphasis was being urged. So in a sense there was a lot of flag-waving that was encouraged by the JACL at that point. That is my recollection of what was going on.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.