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

<Begin Segment 1>

Stephen Fugita: So, last time we were talking about what the community was like in the late '30s, and so forth. So maybe we can pick up with what your academic position was, and what your career pattern was evolving in the late '30s. You had this very successful MA thesis on social solidarity focusing on the Japanese American community, and then you got a temporary position, teaching position at Washington, as I understand. So, maybe you could pick it up there and tell us what happened.

Frank M.: In a way I was lucky on that MA thesis in that, the departmental chairman was a man named Jesse Steiner, who had made a name for himself in community studies. He was a product of the University of Chicago, which was the outstanding sociology department of that time. In his background, however, he had been a missionary in Japan, so he had Japanese interests. He came over here and got into sociology at Chicago around 1917 or thereabouts. Made a name for himself in community studies and came to Washington. He was by that point a well-known sociologist. He encouraged me to do this study of the Japanese community when I talked to him about it, and therefore, he was perhaps the instrumental person in getting me started on my project. In addition, there was a fellow named Forrest LaViolette who has written on the Japanese Americans, who came out of Chicago also, and was interested in doing a study of the Japanese Americans here for his doctoral dissertation at Chicago. So he came and joined, he invited me to join him in a joint project of field research, I working on my MA thesis and he on his doctoral. So -- and he in addition said I could live at his home, where he and his wife had a small house, but he had extra rooms where I could stay, and as a matter of fact eventually another graduate student moved into another room, also. So we had this setup where he and I spent hours talking about sociology, almost morning and night, because we lived together. And talking about the Japanese American community, and I'm sure living with him helped a great deal in shaping up the ideas that I would work on. I don't think he gave me so much the ideas exactly of what I (should) do, but he encouraged me to think about things that I otherwise might not have dared to work on. So that turned out to be a very successful Masters thesis for reasons of encouragement from both Steiner and LaViolette.

At that time also, the University of Washington sociology department had a very active graduate program of teaching. And from the university's standpoint that was good because they got a lot of cheap teaching done, of the introductory classes. But for the graduate students, it was a kind of experience that not many students in the country got, of fairly heavy teaching loads, while working on their doctoral or graduate studies. So by the time -- oh, and then, because both Steiner and LaViolette were from Chicago, they encouraged me to go there for my doctoral dissertation. And by the time I got there then, I had quite a bit of background in sociology of a kind which other students did not necessarily have. They had hoped to get for me a scholarship or fellowship in the Department of Sociology, but it didn't work out. Steiner was very upset about that. He said, "You know, you've got all the background for getting scholarship support." But they did arrange means for me to get a scholarship at the International House, and within the department a small scholarship, and so on.

And so, although I didn't have any money to speak of -- this is the Depression period, as you know, and my father had died some years back, so I didn't, I had to, I was pretty much on my own. And then I worked in the summers in Alaska, which is another story by itself. I had a good job there, I could save several hundred dollars, in a way that young people often didn't, were not able to do in that time. So then I had enough means to get to Chicago, pick up my studies there, and by the second year I was there, I had a fellowship that carried me, and so on.

SF: You started Chicago in 1939?

FM: '39. Yeah. And in the meantime, I had done this MA thesis, and it was published, luckily, again with Steiner's assistance. But, the thesis essentially got buried, as MA theses do, at that time. However, it was the means by which I later got into other things, which I otherwise would not have gone in.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

SF: When you went to Chicago, there must not have been too many Asians, so-called Asian Americans there.

FM: I was the only Asian (American). I think there were some Chinese students, possibly. But in that period, China was sending over some of its younger people who were wealthy enough -- they came from wealthy families, all of them -- to come to this country and study. China had the policy of trying to encourage their young people to study abroad. Japan might have had a similar policy, but at that point, Japan had turned into a nationalistic orientation. So it was not internationally minded, and therefore was not sending its students across. There were not, therefore, any student I can remember, of Japanese background, living as a graduate student at the University of Chicago, although there were quite a number of Chinese. Now, as for black students, there were two I can remember, three, at the University of Chicago Department of Sociology. And they were all very good students; otherwise they could not have gotten into the Department of Sociology at that time. But I was the only Asian (American). I was certainly the only Japanese American. And, historically, there had been one other Japanese American that I knew of, from Hawaii. There probably were others, but I... there just were not very many of us going into sociology.

SF: Well being the only Japanese American at that time in sociology, what was it like to be in this kind of elite, white-orientated, institution?

FM: I never thought of myself as being very special in that regard. I simply thought of myself as a graduate student among graduate students. And I was competing against guys who came up from, through their own schools, wherever they had gone. One of the best friends I have now is a guy who went to Dennison in Ohio, and came to Chicago. Others came from the East Coast, you know, New York City, or wherever. And my thought, my orientation was that I competing against these guys. I had no trouble making friends with them, feeling comfortable with them. So that was the way I felt about it, they were simply graduate students, and I was one of them.

SF: So being Japanese American didn't impact your academic career, or your housing situation?

FM: Not in, not at all in terms of self-identity, no. I didn't think of myself as Japanese American, in that context.

SF: Did the worsening international relationships, somehow affect anything?

FM: Yeah, except that in Chicago -- it's a curious thing -- the orientation was towards Europe. And I was not thinking of what was happening on the Pacific side, but there was a lot of concern about the rise of the Nazis. In fact, one of my friends told me that, "You know," he says, "Out on the East Coast, the concern is that there is going to be a Nazi invasion of the East Coast." And this kind of orientation, being in Chicago, we weren't concerned about that, perhaps. But he told me of how this type of concern existed in the New England states. And it kind of opened my eyes to think that, that would be the kind of thinking that would be prevalent in some part of the United States. Now if I had lived on the, remained on the Pacific Coast, I perhaps would have been more aware of the rising tension between Japan and the United States in that period. But for whatever reason I was not. And you know, as a graduate student you're so buried in your studies, that you don't pay too much attention to world events, unless they're right in front of you. And the newspapers were full of the Nazi stuff, not so much of the Japanese, and therefore that was the orientation I had.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

SF: So you came back to Seattle in 1941, is that right?

FM: After going through the graduate program at Chicago, then there was a question of whether I might be able to find a job somewhere and, Steiner again figured in getting a position for me at the University of Chicago at the lowest level of the faculty. It was called an "associate instructorship." An instructor is something you don't hear much about any longer. But in those days why, Instructor level -- which is just below assistant professor -- was a standard position. And an associate instructor was simply someone who had not yet completed his doctorate, and was given a faculty position however. And that was...

SF: Why did you decide to return to Seattle without finishing up, as opposed to...?

FM: Well it was not uncommon to take a position without having the doctorate, however, the expectation was always that the doctorate was fairly forthcoming. And that you were close to completion. And that was the expectation in the Department of Sociology. The problem was that, once I got here, then the Pacific tension was on us, and the sense of war, pending war was very, definitely present. So that kind of affected our mentality I'm sure, we were thinking in terms of a wartime crisis, rather than being in a normal academic environment.

SF: So how did the increasing tension when you get back to Seattle, how'd that impact...?

FM: Again, I wasn't thinking so much of war as such, coming. In fact, you know Pearl Harbor was a total surprise to me, and to us, as well as to the rest of the world, I suspect. There was knowledge that Japan and the United States were in serious conflict on international issues, but the... it was not expected at that point that war would break out as suddenly as it did. However, as I say, there was a certain sense of tension because of the war in Europe, which was heating up very badly, or going very badly for the Allies. That was the major concern at that point.

SF: At that point, what did you think your academic career would focus on, in terms of content? You had this outstanding thesis...

FM: I had specialized in social psychology at the University of Chicago, and become very much interested in the Meadian social psychology that Herbert Blumer and the people at Chicago taught. I wasn't thinking so much of content in terms, any other terms then in terms of the field. Which I assumed would be social psychology and related subject matter. I had done this Japanese study, as a master's study, that is the Japanese American community study, as a master's study. But, especially because of the anti-Japanese feeling around the country at that point, I had not felt that that was a topic that would be suitable for, or I didn't think of it as the topic I would choose for a doctoral dissertation. That is, it wasn't... I suppose I felt that being Japanese, of Japanese background, that anything connected with Japan was looked upon somewhat questionably and therefore that it was not a good topic for... I didn't think of it consciously that way but I have a feeling that sub-consciously, that was the kind of orientation I had about it. Generally, I think Japanese Americans will want to hide in a sense, something of -- to some extent -- their Japanese background because of the unpopularity of the Japanese nationality at that point.

SF: When you came back, at this point, did you have much connection with the community?

FM: Not, not a great deal, not immediately. I was concerned with getting started at a university, in the academic world. And I didn't have too much time, therefore, for getting back into the community affairs. So I did not have a great deal of contact with it. However, I had been going around with my present wife, Michiko -- she and I had started going around together some years back -- and she was, she and her family lived in the community. My mother and sister lived also in the Japanese community, or this area of the Japanese community, and so I chose to live here. And in that sense, yes, I was in touch with the community.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

SF: With the advent of Pearl Harbor, how did that impact your whole kind of life course, planning and projecting?

FM: Right. It impacted it very markedly. In the first place, it upset me greatly to have the event occur, because it raised in my mind immediately the question of how I would be received on campus. As it turned out, when I went to classes on Monday morning, students, in a sense were amazingly supportive of me. They, it was as if they sensed the difficulty of the position which Japanese Americans were now caught in; and they were sympathetic with me in a way that I had not anticipated, and I was really grateful for that kind of reaction among them. But the war moved rapidly, and the events in the community moved rapidly. The FBI came in and arrested a number of Issei leaders, and jailed them, therefore, the anticipation that things of this kind was happening around the community. There was concern about the anti-Japanese hysteria that was rapidly growing. And by the next two or three weeks after Pearl Harbor, we were constantly looking at the newspapers for attacks upon the Japanese American, or Japanese immigrant and Japanese American population here on the Pacific Coast -- the anti-Japanese feeling that was being generated in the mass media.

So yes, we were very seriously concerned about that. But in my own mind and in my, in the minds of most people, we were thinking in terms of the draft possibilities for the young men, we were not thinking in terms of evacuation or anything like that. Michi and I had been engaged to get married anyway and so we decided to move forward our marriage date. We got married at the Christmas break, in 1941, and had a very short honeymoon, again, under circumstances where we felt we shouldn't go very far away from Seattle. So we took our honeymoon down in Tacoma, of all things. And at that point also, if I remember correctly, for the Issei, there was a curfew that was coming in for them, and there were increasing restrictions faced by the Japanese community. So yeah, by that, the end of December, at the time when we got married, why, we had a very definite sense that the Japanese community could be in for trouble.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

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.

<Begin Segment 6>

SF: And, around February, Executive Order 9066 was issued. Of course, most people didn't have any idea at that time, that 9066 was being signed by Roosevelt, is that right?

FM: That's right. And in the middle of February, what was prominent in the minds of the people in the community, was the fact that the so-called Tolan congressional committee was due to come out here and have hearings. And the presumption was these hearings were the critical events which would determine what was gonna' happen to the Japanese American community. So the focus of attention was on, "Organizing to rebut any arguments for..." you know, "forced migration out of the area of the Japanese population." That was the kind of attitude that existed in the latter part of February, when, as you say, according to the knowledge we now have, why, it was a forgone conclusion by February 6 as a matter of fact, that the evacuation was gonna' take place. We did not know that, the Japanese people did not know it.

SF: How did the community try to deal with the Tolan committee?

FM: The effort was to organize all the arguments in favor of, in support of the view that the Japanese Americans are a loyal population, they're not going to hurt the country. There were these stories of espionage and sabotage in Hawaii that were difficult to deal with, because people simply did not have any information as to what the facts were. But as I recall there was a man named Gullicksen who was Chief of Police in Honolulu, who had a statement in the newspaper sometime in February, to the effect that, to his knowledge there was no sabotage activity on the part of the Japanese American population in Hawaii. And we picked up on items of this kind, that is the Japanese community did, and tried to bring these things to the attention of the congressional leaders, or political leaders, that there was no basis to the charges of espionage, sabotage. Some of the things that were being reported we felt sure were wild stories. For example, The Seattle Times, sometime in December I think it was, carried a picture of a farming area north of Seattle here, where Japanese farmers were alleged to be. I know they had their farms there -- and the allegation was that they had cut out in a wheat field, or in a grass field, an arrow pointing to the Sandpoint Airfield, which was north of the city. And The Seattle Times then had this picture of an arrow cut into the field. Well, it was not an arrow cut into the field, it was some kind of a depression, looked like some kind of an arrow and it was allegedly pointing to the Sandpoint Airfield. And here this was on a Japanese American farm, and therefore evidence of sabotage. And we were of course terribly upset that stories of this kind were being spread in the newspapers. And that was part of the reaction of the Japanese American population.

But, we were caught in the circumstance where we didn't have enough hard information as to what in fact was true. For example, regarding sabotage and espionage in Hawaii, all kinds of allegations of that, especially coming from people like Secretary of the Navy Knox, who were prominent and authoritative persons, difficult to countermand. And therefore I think the Japanese American community, or the Japanese community was concerned with the question of how to deal with this type of news broadcasting and news publications that were coming out.

SF: Do you think that at that point, there was some uncertainty about whether there may have been some, say Isseis, or some Japanese nationals that may have done something like this, and no one really knew, and maybe the government had special information and...

FM: I think there was serious concern of that kind. In the background, at least of my thinking, was this fact; that all through the 1930s, the Japanese community not only here in Seattle but all along the Pacific Coast, and their newspapers, were essentially behind the kind of news reporting that came out of Japan. Well the 1930s, as you know, the period in which the military and the Nationalists in Japan were on the rise, and everything coming out of Japan tended to have this orientation of, Japan is justified in its Manchurian invasion, justified in its Nanking attack and so on. And the Issei population essentially favored that point of view very firmly, whereas the American newspapers and the American thinkers were condemning Japan for its nationalistic activity on the continent. Now on my part, and I think most Nisei who were thinkers, our feeling was that Japan was in the wrong. And we tried to argue with the Issei about this, but the Issei were very firmly convinced that Japan was in the right, and the United States was in the wrong about this. As a result, and unfortunately, there is really very little that is known about, talked about concerning that aspect of the Japanese community today.

Now you have to, this is a very complicated business. After all, you have to realize that the Issei were people who, here in the United States, had been seriously discriminated against. They had never gotten, they were not eligible for citizenship. They were excluded from participation in the political affairs of the country. Therefore, in a sense, you could hardly blame them for feeling that they had to be loyal to Japan, since that's the only country they had. So, this is the dilemma of the Japanese community, it's a product of the, in a sense, the prejudices which they faced. Therefore, if you ask, "What was the basis for their nationalistic orientation, Japanese nationalistic orientation during the 1930s," you'd have to say, "Well it was a consequence of the way the American population attacked them and discriminated against them, that they should think this way." Nevertheless, the reality was that there was this aspect of the community. And when the evacuation came, or the war came, I must say I had serious questions in my mind as to whether there could possibly be people who would continue to think as they had been through the 1930s, and try to support the Japanese military in whatever they were seeking to do. This is the kind of contradiction and dilemma that you get in history as a result of discrimination, prejudice, and so on. But that's a very long and difficult story to explain. Nevertheless, in response to your question, I would have to say that, yeah, we were not absolutely sure just exactly what to think was true of the Japanese community. Intuitively, I think we assumed that, you know, the Issei people here were not going to undermine their own security by behaving disloyally in any way. And they had never given any evidence of disloyal activity. Their mentality, however, was such that you had some skepticism as to what in fact they might potentially be capable of.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

SF: On this sort of difference in perspective between the Issei and the Nisei, were there any other manifestations of this different point of view, based upon the discrimination history and different experiences, to Japan and so forth, between the Niseis and Isseis? Except for informal conversation, were there any kind of community forums, or any other manifestations of this difference in perspective?

FM: There were occasions when publicly, Nisei and Issei would get into a confrontation over their difference of view. But, I think Nisei, in a sense, felt that it was hopeless to try to argue with Issei about their view. And, also, that it served no purpose, and therefore... and in as much as most Issei meetings were Issei attended, and Nisei meetings were Nisei attended, there was, there were not that many occasions when there would be open conflict between the two groups. But there was a very definite sense that the Nisei attitude was different from that of the Issei, on the question of what to think about the Japanese nationalist policy in Asia. However, James Sakamoto for example, and perhaps some of the other JACL and Japanese American leaders, were economically dependent on the Japanese community. Now the Japanese community throughout that period before World War II was, continued to be dominated by the Issei. And therefore, some of the JACL leaders, like James Sakamoto -- who as I say felt himself dependent on the community -- was not ready to think ill of the Issei, and there is a kind of an apologetic tone that you find in James Sakamoto's editorial writings throughout this period. Apology for the Issei point of view. Again, as I say, the whole issue is so very complicated, that if one were to analyze it in a careful fashion, you would have to pit the whole history of discrimination, prejudice, and so on against the kind of orientation which the Issei at this point are taking, and try to understand that there's a consequence of history, rather than that, this is not something rising out of the irrationality, or the ill will of the Issei people. So, you see, as I say, it's not something that can be easily explained in an oral conversation such as this one.

SF: Okay. In some communities, I understand that organizations had meetings or gatherings where they would for example, in the late '30s, make, sort of like, care packages for the Japanese soldiers. Some with cigarettes and toiletries and things that we would send, for example, to our GIs. And send it over to Japan to support their efforts in Manchuria, China and so forth. So I was wondering, in the Seattle community, were there any things like that?

FM: Yes, there was. And this is part of the whole scene of the difference between the Issei and Nisei. I think Nisei, most Nisei tended to look -- to feel that there was something that they did not want to be involved in themselves. Some Nisei were caught up in the sense of support for the Japanese. But I would say that, at least the college-educated population I happened to be acquainted with, looked with a good deal of doubt about this part of the activity of the Issei population. Yet, as I say, you understood why the Issei would behave as they did. After all, the Issei were excluded from participation in the American political life, and so they had behaved as you would expect them to, in response to the needs of Japan.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

SF: Moving ahead a couple of months, or three months, how did you find out about evacuation, and how did that all unfold?

FM: Well the evacuation announcement came as a bolt out of the sky, because the Tolan Congressional Committee hearings were held in the last part of February, and we were thinking that maybe things would come out, resolve themselves favorably for the Japanese Americans as a result of the congressional hearings. On the other hand, when one attended the Congressional Hearings, one was aware of the degree to which the sentiment was anti-Japanese Americans, including Nisei, and only a rare voice here and there would be heard in support of the Nisei. Incidentally, one of the people who spoke out firmly and very vigorously in support of the Japanese Americans was Jesse Steiner. And here was my professor and mentor leading the way here in the Seattle area. Then there was one other person who came out favorably for the Japanese Americans, which surprised me. A man named Mayor Kane, of Tacoma, felt that there was unnecessary hysteria, of concern about the Japanese American population. Now Kane later became, I think he became Senator from the state of Washington, and became known as the pawn of the real estate interests, and had developed an unfavorable home for himself thereby. But my image of Mayor Kane of Tacoma was that he was a strong figure for what was right. And in a way it surprised me that he would've turned out to be what he was subsequently was thought to be. Simply because there were so few people who came out in the face of the general media, anti-Japanese attack, and came out in support of the Japanese Americans. So, yeah the expectation therefore was, that things were not going well. And then of course, suddenly in early March, we have this exclusion order being announced by General DeWitt. And thereafter the name General DeWitt became anathema for the Japanese American population.

SF: Did that, the realization that General DeWitt had done this in March, did this surprise people, the majority of people, or...?

FM: Oh yes, I think it came as a total surprise that suddenly there's this announcement that the Japanese American population, and the Issei, were to be evacuated. Going back a little further, in February I think there was concern that the Issei might be forced to leave. On the other hand, there was no expectation I think, that Nisei, as Japanese American citizens, would also be required to be removed. That was the shocking part of the DeWitt announcement.

SF: Well how did most people respond to that, most Niseis I mean. That, this total surprise, that they, American citizens, were gonna' be moved out?

FM: Yeah, I recollection is that there was a helpless feeling. That, you know, "What can we do in the face of this thing?" Perhaps there might have been some thought of rebellion against, or resistance against the order. But there was little evidence that this took on any kind of organized form.

SF: There were no meetings?

FM: No, in fact the one meeting that I recall -- held by the JACL -- after the -- let's see, it could not have been after curfew was called. But, it was a meeting here in the community, at which the question was raised as to how the Japanese American population, or the Japanese community should respond in the face of the evacuation order. And this was before, this was at a time when the evacuation order also carried the proviso that if the Japanese population chose to move out voluntarily from this area themselves, that was permissible. The meeting was called therefore, to consider the possibility that we would move as a community. And I remember James Sakamoto speaking very hopefully of this area in Missouri, where he said he knew there was a possibility of buying out property and making a community, an ideal community, democratic community of Japanese people. We would, in a sense, move bodily this community from Seattle to Missouri, and recreate our lives in a new scene, where we would demonstrate our loyalty to the country and this kind of thing you see.

The reason I remembered it is, that in sociological theory, as I had learned by then, there is the theory that in the face of extreme distress why, people often have utopian dreams of what they might do to resolve their difficulties. And I saw this as that kind of dreaming, about what we might do in the face of the difficulty. I also foresaw that this was not a very realistic possibility. But it seemed to us then, as about the only way in which we could react to the disaster that was confronting us, namely of being forced out of our homes, and being sent we, God only knew, where.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

SF: What was the thinking about where people might be sent, or under what conditions, about that point?

FM: Yeah, I think... I think the thing, the thought was, that we did not know what was going to happen. We had all kinds of guesses as to what could happen. There was the picture of the concentration camps in Europe, to which the Jews were being forced into. And there was fear that that kind of thing might happen. On the other hand... it was simply a situation in which people didn't have a realistic sense of what could develop out of this situation. In the face of that kind of circumstance, I think people concentrate on what is immediately in front of them. You live your life from day to day, dealing with the problems that immediately face you. If the, given the evacuation order, the question is, "What shall we do with our property?" "How can we deal with the financial problems that might emerge?" And so on and so on. You're -- I think the focus of attention comes to be fixed on the immediately addressable problems, and that's the way we tended to look at it.

SF: How stressful do you think this period was, as compared with the period where people actually were going into say, the Assembly Center? This kind of, not knowing what was going to happen, and the uncertainties?

FM: Yeah. Well, incidents would happen which distressed people, no doubt. But... for example, we'd read about these stories of where, people are forced to give up their homes and so on, and then they're gonna' try sell something and people come in and cheat them out of what they could possibly get. And things like this certainly happened. And you would have immediate reactions to that. But, it's hard to talk about what happens to people, given an event of this kind, because it's the immediate situations to which you are reacting at, that, given that kind of circumstance. Rather than thinking in terms of, thinking of the injustice in a larger sense or, thinking, being concerned of, "Whoa, what's going to happen to us in the future?" You are concerned about that, but then there's no basis for thinking about it in any realistic way, and so you just worry about it and deal with the problems in front of you. I think this is the way people, most of us, reacted.

SF: So, how was the actual evacuation itself?

FM: As far as the actual evacuation is concerned, we...our minds (were) fixed, for example, on the question of what to do with our, with the furniture, our property -- how to store it, how to lease it, how to rent it, or whatever could be done in order to get, you know, not lose everything, which we were threatened with. And I think that was the main focus of attention as to what could be done to save ourselves from total loss.

SF: Was there much help from the government, like the WRA here? Or was the community so huge...

FM: Well the, yeah, not so much the WRA, the WRA was not something that we knew anything about at that point. But there was so-called Federal Security Agency, (and some other) agencies that were out there which were sending out announcements of what to do, and so on. But I think it was evident also, that the government itself was not very clear as to what it was going to do. Especially now, in retrospect, it's very clear that the government was totally confused on many issues as to just... and many agencies were acting in conflict with each other, or overlapping each other, and so on. So that there was a great confusion, both at the governmental level as well as in the community, as to how to act. And one dealt with these problems as best he could. You studied the announcements which indicated that the government would store property for you if you took it to a certain place and this sort of thing. But by and large, people tried to take care of their affairs on their own, feeling that was the easiest and best way to deal with matters.

In our case, for example, Michi's parents had a home that they were renting out to some white people, and the attic was, there was an attic where everything could be stored, but was of a private character. And that's what we did. Subsequently we found that people, the renters got in there, and kind of picked out what they wanted, this sort of thing. But you had to take your chances with what was possible. And many people did that sort of thing. If there was a hotel owner who had storage space, he would allow his friends and relatives to store goods there. And things of this kind.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

SF: Would you characterize the relationships among the Japanese Americans at that time as becoming more cohesive because of the stress, or was the stress such that it made relationships more tense and difficult?

FM: I think it did make things, relationships more cohesive. But there was very little opportunity for organized response to what was happening. There simply was not time enough to think about how to organize in response to this situation, and therefore, essentially what you had were people responding as family units. And people who were close to each other as friends who would respond as small groups of friends. Rather than that there would be a large scale organized response to the kinds of problems which were developing. The JACL came into the picture fairly prominently at this time because they became then the intermediary between the Japanese community and the government. Or put it the other way, the government chose the JACL to be the intermediary, and therefore JACL was looked upon as the source of information and advice as to just exactly how to deal with some of the problems that were developing. But on the whole, people were responding individually, or family-wise, rather than on an organized basis.


SF: Frank, you were mentioning that the JACL was sort of selected by the Government to "represent the community." How did community people feel about the role that JACL played during this period, getting ready to be evacuated?

FM: I know that in places like San Francisco, for example, there was a stronger anti-JACL feeling that was developed, groups of people who had stronger anti-JACL feelings. Here in Seattle I don't know that there was that kind of a group feeling. But on the whole, a lot of people felt that JACL was simply kowtowing to the authorities, and responding as collaborators often are depicted as responding. And therefore, there was not a lot of strong, favorable feeling towards the JACL through this period. The JACL leaders, insofar as they were representing the federal government and the military in carrying out the evacuation orders, necessarily took on authoritarian character about them. And people in the community responded antagonistically to that, or unfavorably to that. On the other hand, the JACL was the only organized group that could organize the affairs of the community in any fashion. The Issei community organizations had been totally shut down, so -- and the JACL was the only Japanese American organization that existed. So there was kind of an ambivalent feeling, I would say, towards the JACL under these circumstances. People were grateful to have them running things in some sense, but also critical and unfavorably disposed to them, insofar as they were representing military and governmental orders.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

SF: How did the actual evacuation movement to "Camp Harmony," or Puyallup, go?

FM: People were asked, well, required to assemble at certain places where they would be moved onto busses and so on. You've seen all these pictures of people, the evacuees, getting on busses to be shipped out of their community. Our... Michi's parents lived not too far from here, up on 15th, and near the Providence Hospital area. And they had to go, what, four blocks from their house to the embarkation point, where the busses were lined up. And it was kind of a feeling of people being... that we were cattle being herded together, to be herded out of the community. It was a feeling of -- a very distressing feeling -- of being forced out of our home, forced out of what was our due rights, to ship onto via busses, to God knows where. We didn't know where we were going, what we were gonna' have... we were told we were being sent to Puyallup, but Puyallup was known simply as the fairground, we had no clear sense of what would be, what would meet us there. So the attitude I believe was one of... That point at which we were loaded on busses and shipped out, I think that was one of the worse points of our experience for us, in that we got the sense of being, as I say, herded like cattle out of our homes and where we felt we had a right to be.

SF: How was your reaction to Puyallup when you first got there? I mean, here was this fairgrounds that you'd known about, but had no idea what the facilities would be like and all of that.

FM: It's a funny thing that one should have such mixed feelings about a situation like this, but the, Michi's family, with whom I was moving, were moved under the grandstands of Puyallup fairgrounds. There were other people who were moved into newly constructed shelters. They were very flimsy affairs, but nevertheless they were constructed -- kind of shacks, in a sense. The under-the-grandstands part of the fairgrounds were probably the worst area for living quarters, because it was damp, dark, musky. A terrible situation to find oneself in as a place to live. So we went in and I think we felt terribly envious of those who were getting better quarters. You had the feeling of, "How come they got off so much better than we did, and we're being treated so badly?" This is the kind of concern you have on the one hand. And at the same time you realize that everybody is faced with this same kind of misfortune of being driven around to share quarters of a kind that you had never experienced before. The toilets probably were among the worst -- the toilets and showers -- toilets, probably were among the worst things you had to experience because, they were just rows of open toilets. I think for the women it must have been extremely hard to put up with. And then the other very bad part of it had to do with the dining hall. You were forced to eat at long tables where people just were crowded into, with relatively poor food, under circumstances where you had no privacy of course, and you felt like you might be prisoners in some kind of jail being fed wholesale. So the physical features and the physical accommodations of the camp were such as to lead us to feel, perhaps, as badly as I ever have felt in my life about the way I was being treated.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

SF: So this probably for most people was the most difficult period, compared to the WRA phase?

FM: Yes, I would think so. In fact I can tell you that when we went to WRA camp subsequently, there was a group of people whom I encountered -- who as it happened, I knew -- who felt that they needed to express gratitude to the WRA for treating them as they were being treated, after the experience in the Assembly Center. The feeling was, "We could have been forever driven like cattle in the circumstance that we found ourselves in the Assembly Center. Lo' and behold, we come to this WRA Center, and these people, the administrators from the director down, are sympathetic, warm people, who are trying to do things for you in the best fashion possible." They wanted to express gratitude to these WRA administrators for the kindness they were rendering. This is the kind of reaction that at least some of the evacuees felt subsequent to their initial experience with the Assembly Center.

SF: Was the difference between the way the WCCA, I guess, versus WRA rantings, does that have something to do with the military, the Army connection with the WCCA, or the civilian Federal bureaucracy with the WRA, is that a major factor?

FM: Yes, I think there was a very definite difference of that kind. The military was oriented towards getting the evacuees out of the exclusion zone as rapidly as possible. And their concern was not to be necessarily unkind to the Japanese people, but they had no -- they were treating the Japanese people essentially as objects that needed to be gotten rid of, out of a military zone. This was the attitude, I'm sure, that the military were functioning under, and they didn't care just exactly how they did it. The assumption was that there was a military emergency, and that there was a necessity for evacuating the Japanese population as rapidly as possible from this exclusion zone. Now, in the light of our knowledge today, why, there's clear evidence that there was no reason to, in the first place, to exclude, to evacuate the Japanese people. But the military mind functions in that way, I think. They assume that military orders have to be executed immediately so to speak, and without any great concern as to how it affects people and humanity, and that's how they reacted. Now the WRA was established as a separate Federal agency, and in lieu of other possible ways of organizing it, they organized the WRA essentially as the Indian Affairs Commission had been organized in the Department of Interior. So, the attitude is of a radically different and socially-minded orientation. Still people dealing with people as if they were dependents rather than as independent individuals. But, of treating them as people who might be held in a -- what are these Indian camps...?

SF: Reservations.

FM: Reservations, yeah. People who would be held in reservations, rather than prisoners in a detention area. I think the evidence is clear that the WRA was oriented in that direction. Once they get the evacuees into the centers, why, they no longer are able to function exactly in that, within that kind of an orientation. But WRA orientation was more humane than, certainly than that of the military, and there was a difference of that kind.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

SF: One thing that you mentioned before, was this concept of inu, or persons who...

FM: Informer.

SF: Informer. Was this kind of talk, and was this kind of concern more prevalent in the pre-evacuation days, the Assembly Center days, or in the incarceration camp or internment camp, WRA days?

FM: It's partly a function of the length of time people were together in the Assembly Centers. At "Camp Harmony," for example, we were not there long enough to -- Michi and I -- were not there long enough to know exactly what kind of sentiments developed there. But if it -- we left fairly early, Michi and I -- but if what Shosuke says is true, that there was a feeling that the JACL leaders oughta' be denounced for their activity, why, it wouldn't have been accompanied by feelings that they were inu, and therefore that they should be attacked accordingly. That was the kind of sentiment that developed in the camps.

So, we went to Tule Lake. And the Tule Lake residents were composed largely of the Sacramento population, and a fair part of that population were from the farming areas. Now the people from the Sacramento farming communities came from areas where the Japanese population I would say, had been mistreated -- the Japanese immigrant population -- had been mistreated more badly than almost anywhere else in the Pacific Coast. They were isolated, they were segregated, they were discriminated against, and that I think was the long-term historical experience of the Japanese farming population in the Sacramento Valley. Places like Florin, and Walnut Grove, and so on, were historically known to be that kind of a situation. And I think, for them, there was a stronger feeling of suspicion that the white people would mistreat them, and then anyone who cooperates with the white people, are people who are suspect, because the whites are not a trustworthy population. This, I'm sure, tended to be the kind of prevalent attitude among the Issei farmers of the Sacramento Valley. With good reason in a sense, for feeling that way.

At Tule Lake therefore, there were a lot of people of this background, who felt sure that there must be inu around, who would worm their ways into the hearts of the Japanese community and disclose to the authorities things that the Japanese people -- that is the immigrant, i.e., the evacuee population -- were, might be thinking of. Try to use this kind of information to get advantages for themselves. And these were the people whom they charged with being inu. So there was a widespread feeling in the relocation camps, that there were inu prevalent. Going back to your question, I don't know of the inu concept having been bandied about much before the evacuation or at the Assembly Centers, although, in places like Santa Anita where the Assembly Center remained for six months or more, there probably was the inu feeling. But certainly by the time we got to Tule Lake and people were there for an extended period of time, the sentiment grew very markedly that certain people were those who were collaborating with the administration, and they were charged with being inu.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

SF: At Tule, who were the folks who were most likely candidates to be suspects, and what happened to them? How did the people treat them and react to them?

FM: Well, the people who were among the suspects were, Protestant ministers, for example. And it's not altogether clear why that should be so, except that the Protestant ministers still communicated with the Protestant churches outside, got assistance from the Protestant churches outside, and so there was a suspicion of connection perhaps, with the white world. And the idea that they taught a philosophy that was different from that of the Japanese orientation. This kind of thing, perhaps, was the basis.

SF: I've heard that sometimes the -- some people have the perception that the Buddhist priests were not treated as well as the Protestant ministers in camp, for the kinds of reasons you...?

FM: You mean by the WRA?

SF: Yeah, did you see any sort of...?

FM: I had never thought of that. But I suppose if one was a fervent Buddhist church member, you would feel that, because in a sense Buddhist leaders were, in quite a number of cases, sent to these camps, to Missoula, Santa Fe, and elsewhere. Whereas I don't know of any Protestant minister who ever was. So yes, I suppose there must have been some feeling that Buddhist ministers were treated worse, or suspected more by the white administration, and treated not as well.

SF: Do you recall any specific cases of where some suspected inu were attacked by certain groups?

FM: Yeah, Protestant ministers were attacked. Beaten. That I know of happening. Going back to your question of who were the inu. Our research group that was assembled at Tule Lake, consisted of people, composed of people like Tom Shibutani, Haro Najima, and so on. All of whom were former University of California, Berkeley graduate students. Or, not necessarily graduate students, but students. And I, of course was part of that group. We were among the inu simply because people didn't understand what we were doing -- we had publicly announced we were engaged in research -- but then, that would have little meaning to people such as those who were at the camp. So, the fact that we were in contact with the white administration, as we often were, must have made us suspect.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

SF: So, how did the Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Project portray itself when it said, "We're involved in research?"

FM: How did it do what?

SF: How did it portray its mission, as it were?

FM: I think we were fairly straightforward in clarifying our mission. The evacuation was a forced migration of a population, and the question was what would happen to this population because of this kind of circumstance? And that we were trying to study what the effect of this detention, the evacuation and detention was on the population. We simply indicated that that was what we were trying to study. And people seemed to accept that as not an unreasonable proposition. But, the suspicion, nevertheless, existed that we were doing something other, more underhanded, than we were claiming to be.

SF: So it must have been hard to be an unobtrusive observer occasionally?

FM: Oh yeah. We tried. [Laughs] We pretty much openly did what we needed to do. We attended meetings and we made no effort to hide what we were doing. We obviously didn't keep notes in public, things like that. And when there was a riot going on -- there was a potential work stoppage, a strike that was brewing in the farm crew one time -- and Shibutani and I tried to dress up in apparel which would make us least apparent as someone other than a worker who was milling around with the other farmers. But as one of our colleagues, who was with the farm crew, said later, "You guys just stood out, like sore thumbs!" [Laughs] And I guess that was probably true. But on the whole we made no pretense of what we were doing, other than that we were trying to get information, as much as we could, from the community.

SF: Did the average guy, average internee, would they shy away from you? Did you notice a certain kind of distance or careful watchfulness?

FM: No, I never got the feeling that anyone shied away from us. I did get the feeling that they were not openly telling us what they felt from time to time, unless they happened to be friends of ours, or people whom we felt trusted us. There were occasions when I tried to get interview responses from people who were alleged radicals in opposition to the administration, and talked to them freely. There was one Kibei I remember, who had a shelf of books, Marxian books, as well as others, and he was obviously an intellectual radical opposed to the federal government. He was Kibei, also. So, I got the feeling that he very strongly anti-administration. But he talked with me without hesitation. And at the same time as I say, he wasn't telling me everything he felt, I thought.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

SF: So, maybe we could go back a second and talk a little bit about the structure of J.E.R.S., and how it came about and...?

FM: The...?

SF: The Japanese Evacuation and Resettlement Study.

FM: Oh, study. Yes.

SF: Yeah, a little bit about Dorothy Swaine Thomas as a principal investigator, and so forth.

FM: Well Dorothy Swaine Thomas was Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley in 1942 when the evacuation came. She was a lone figure on the campus because there was no Department of Sociology at that time. There was, in fact, hostility on the Berkeley campus against developing a Department of Sociology there, her own field. So she's the single sociologist out of Berkeley, but a very prominent one, nationally. Her field was migration. And therefore, she became interested in the evacuation as a forced migration, and the question of what would happen to people who were driven out of an area, and forced to move because of the evacuation. At least that was her alleged interest in the event. She also had students like Tom Shibutani who were taking courses from her, who approached her on the idea of doing studies of the Japanese community before the evacuation, as a term paper subject matter. And that was how she got drawn into a steady interest in this kind of thing. She therefore -- and being a person of stature, she had access to organizations like the Social Science Research Counsel, to get support for a project that would follow the evacuation. And having gotten funds, she also lined up a number of the most prominent anthropologists, political scientists, and so on on the Berkeley campus, and organized the study. She then got in touch with people like myself and others who might be willing or interested in participating in the study. And...

SF: Did she get your name from Steiner, or how did you get to...?

FM: Oh, yes.

SF: 'Cause, since you were up here in Washington...?

FM: Yeah. And going back to my master's thesis, I think that she knew about me from that social solidarity study, because it was published, as I told you, with Steiner's assistance. And having gotten that piece, she then got in touch with Steiner, whom she knew, and with Cal Schmid, who's also in demography at the University of Washington, whom she knew. And through them got the recommendation that I would be a good person to work with them on this study, and that's how I got drawn into the project. So, in our case, we had to go down from "Camp Harmony," Puyallup, down to Tule Lake, because that's where the headquarters of the research project was to be. And she drew several people from the Cal student population -- Japanese Americans -- into the project at Tule Lake. Also in certain other camps like, Gila River and Poston, where some of the others, the Cal students, went. Anyway, we got organized in Tule Lake, she would come up every now and then to supervise the project. And her husband -- who was the famous W. I. Thomas -- would come with her, and they would join us at the camp and we would discuss the ideas of the research project.

I think some of us were distressed from the outset that Dorothy Thomas' approach to the project was different from what we had learned was the way sociology research ought to be conducted. Our notion of research was to have some idea of what our attention should be concentrated on, and that there might be some hypotheses or theories that we would work from, in organizing the project. Whereas Dorothy Thomas turned out to be -- well, she was out of her field in a sense, in this project, because her background is essentially quantitative. And if she had had quantitative data to work with why, she would have been fine. But this is a non-quantitative study, qualitative research of more of an anthropological kind, for which she was very poorly equipped. However, her orientation was that of an empiricist. That is, she has always believed that the way to do research is to get data that you could -- hard facts so to speak -- from which you could make some analyses. Whereas in the sociology textbooks we were being, as graduate students, we were taught that the way to do research was to have some theories or ideas with which to develop hypotheses. And that you would focus your attention then, on these hypotheses. This is the kind of approach that Dorothy Thomas disdained. So her idea was go in there, and look for whatever appeared to be of importance, and make notes on those observations. The observations then, which we would write down, would then become the hard data, the hardest data available to her, from which then, she would make her analyses ultimately. So, the instruction she gave us was, go in there and look for whatever appeared to be significant events, and significant activities in the community. And write up those things. One of our researchers at one of the camps who was of anthropological background said she felt like a foreign correspondent. Because all she did was make observations and write down notes, but there was nothing very systematic in the way that the research was going on, and she felt very distressed about the way the research functioned.

In many ways, however, there was no possibility of doing things other than the way that Dorothy Thomas encouraged us to work. Namely for us to decide for ourselves, what was important, and then to go and make observations such as we could, on those events. If it had been possible to carry out survey research and have polling questions for example, that would have been very nice, especially for someone like Dorothy Thomas, who loves to work with statistics. But that was just simply an impossibility at the center. And furthermore, given that no one knew what would turn out to be of significance at these camps, in a sense, the idea that you should go out and each person decide for himself what was of interest and importance, was not an... was not such a bad idea in itself, simply because there was no way of of knowing ahead of time, what kind of hypotheses or theories would work as research subject matter. But anyway, I can say that Dorothy Thomas' approach distressed most of us because we had the feeling that we were just kind of floundering in our research, trying to decide for ourselves what to do research on. However, each of us in our own way gathered information about whatever interested us, and we'd write it up and send it in as daily journals to Dorothy Thomas.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

SF: In retrospect, knowing what you do now, how might you have structured the study so that it had conceptualizations, or theories, or adjusting...?

FM: How much might we have done?

SF: Yeah, how would you have done things differently, now that you know...? Supposed to be kind of a hypothetical question.

FM: If another event of this kind came along, I think I would know how to organize it. At least, from the standpoint of my own interest. I think I would organize it around what you might call collective behavior theory, because what happens tends to be not organized behavior in the usual sense -- that is, organized, institutionalized behavior. Rather, it's organized, collective behavior in the sense of riots, and rebellions, and protests, and things of this kind, as the most likely events to occur under these circumstances. And that would be one of the foci I would choose. I think that that would make the most sense, as a matter of fact, the best study that came out of Dorothy Thomas' project, I think was The Spoilage study, which is the study of the Tule Lake center under segregation. And, although Dorothy Thomas herself had no theoretical conception to work with, the data that I see there, lend themselves very nicely to a collective behavior kind of analysis. So, that is the way in which I would organize it. It turned out to be a whole series of protests, riots, strikes, assassinations and so on. If you try to understand why people would behave this way, I think collective behavior theory probably is the kind of thing that would best lead to an understanding of that kind of process.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

SF: My recollection is that Tule was kind of a different camp, even from the beginning because, what you were suggesting about the kinds of people that were in Tule Lake. Maybe the administration and how they treated the folks at Tule. Anyway, apparently it was a major event, surrounded the whole question of registration at Tule Lake. And you were there until after, I guess, right after registration took place. What were the main things that led up to this very, very strong reaction to registration at Tule, and what were some of the main things that happened around this infamous registration issue?

FM: You're raising the question as to why Tule Lake had this very strong reaction against registration, more than at virtually any other relocation center. And, that's a kind of a complicated issue, and I want to go into the background history of it, because I think this is important to understand why there was the kind of reaction there was at Tule Lake.

The administration was headed up by a man named Sherrill, who came as I recall, out of the Indian Affairs Commission. A very liberal-minded... One of the finest people I can imagine to head up a project, as he did at Tule Lake. And he brought with him two or three people of his own background, or similar background, into the organization. He also had under him certain other people who were what we call bureaucrats, more oriented toward running things in the usual style of federal agencies given this kind of circumstance. But this kind of division of the administrative staff was fairly typical. I think Sherrill was probably more liberal-minded than virtually any other project director around, but the WRA administration was also filled with a lot of people who simply were there as federal employees, and we call those the bureaucrat types.

The problem of Tule Lake I think was in part, the size of the camp. Poston had more people, 18,000 in total. But, as I recall Poston was divided into three camps, physically separated camps, whereas Tule Lake had almost 16,000 people, all in one place, and in one local site. The administration therefore, was more centralized into one camp, and the problem of dealing with a large population, a larger population, under circumstances where the administration really didn't know just exactly how to administer something as new as a relocation center was, I think aggravated the problem of administration, the size of the center. Minidoka by contrast, as I recall had about 8,000 people, a little more than half of the size of Tule Lake. And size I think made a difference, because if you got feeding problems, that is mess hall problems for example, it tended to balloon out into a major difficulty in a camp like Tule Lake. Whereas at a smaller Center, you would have it under control a little more, because you were not feeding, trying to feed as many people.

The other factor at Tule Lake, I think, was the kind of Japanese evacuee population that was drawn there. Many of them came from the Sacramento Valley farming communities where, as I say, I think the people had been subjected to more severe discrimination and segregation than virtually anywhere else on the Pacific Coast. And if we could have, could make studies of what the attitudes of the evacuees was, by background factors such as the amount of discrimination which they had suffered prior to the evacuation, I think there would have been found a direct negative correlation, that the stronger -- or direct positive correlation -- stronger the antagonism previously experienced, the stronger their antagonism against the WRA administration within the center.

Therefore at Tule Lake, which opened as a center in the first of June, by the middle of August of that same summer, we had a major outbreak. What was called a Tule Lake Farm Strike, occurred at Tule Lake middle of August, only two and a half months after the camp opened. It was a wildcat strike, in that it was not a well-organized strike, and for that reason, the strike came to an end as suddenly as it occurred. It occurred on a Friday morning, when the farm workers gathered because there were complaints about the kind of terrible breakfast they'd had. "Farmers can't work on the kind of breakfast like the kind we had," was the kind of argument. And that spread over into questions of, when were they gonna' get clothing, when were they gonna' get paid, and so on -- as they had not, in the period when the strike broke out. And this wildcat strike over that weekend was the most dramatic sociological experience I've ever gone into, or had, in the sense that people are just wild with anger over what was happening to them. And then, Monday morning, everything broke up when one of the Issei farm leaders, a very small, quiet, very bright man, gets up and says, "Well," he says, "Let's go back to work." and, "The administration has promised us certain kinds of corrections of the difficulty which have developed here. Let's find out from, to see whether they will fulfill what they are promising us or not, instead of striking." Then some Issei farmers yell, "Sansei, Sansei!" "Approve, approve!" with his idea. And then the whole thing breaks up and the wildcat strike is over, well, whereas the strike leaders are trying to hold the workers there, they're unable to do so because, it breaks up so suddenly. And as I say, I think it was a great demonstration of what crowds are like.

But, given that event, why then we get a series of ten -- I've written them all up in a series of reports -- about ten strikes and rebellions, and protests of one kind or another which developed at Tule Lake, ending up in mid October, late October, in a camp-wide strike, because the mess hall crew struck. I guess it was a -- yeah. And if you have the mess hall crews striking throughout the camp, why that brings everything to a halt. Because the way they struck was to say "We will not feed you, except at the times when we ring the gong, and if you're not around the camp, you're not gonna get fed." [Laughs] And the director said, "This is a Communist plot to..." You know, because it was so cleverly designed to bring everything to a halt. It was a general strike of the community.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

FM: Anyway, this is background, out of which the registration strike event occurs at Tule Lake. The whole series of strikes and rebellions and so on which occurred from August 15 through the last of October, about two months and a half of resistance that occurs. And then, suddenly, the resistance ends because people get so tired of all this tension that's in the camp. But, then registration comes in, let's say, toward the end of January, three months later. Nevertheless, there's this underlying sense of dissatisfaction and unease that was built up in this period of resistance and continues in, although there no longer is any resistance in these months of November, December, January. Nevertheless, there is this underlying tension that is still there.

The question is "Why did Tule Lake have this kind of problem?" Part of it could have been that the project director was such a liberally-minded guy, that he tried to handle these people in a reasonable, rational fashion, and they were not disposed to be reasonable and rational, and therefore, his attempt at liberal dealings with them just escalates the resistance, the reaction, the rebellion. The rebellion should have been suppressed, so to speak, and you would have had to use strong-armed tactics to do that, and if they had been suppressed, why they might have reacted more (normally), [Laughs] reasonably. Whereas, given the freedom to react against the situation as the project director, with his liberal orientation allowed, then the reaction, the rebellion, escalates and creates this underlying sentiment. That would be part of my sociological analysis of why this thing developed the way it did. Anyway, things at Tule Lake, with respect to segrega-, uh, with respect to registration, had this kind of unfortunate background to it. And when the army came in with their registration crew, the people were, so to speak, uh, were ready to dispose to look with great, uh, skepticism about this whole process and ready to react against it. And that was part of the problem.

SF: Could you describe what this, the army registration crew, was like? I mean, how did they, how did people find out about it?

FM: Yeah. Yeah.

SF: And how was it handled?

FM: Well, I -- it's a little hard for me to give you an analysis, because subsequently I studied these things and I know what happened and the background, and I want to separate that from what I observed at that time, which is something different, of course, because I didn't know exactly what the background circumstances were. But observationally, in terms of what we saw, it was as if the -- well there was a sense that the WRA had been saying "We've got to close these centers down." And I'm having trouble separating out what I know now from what was going on at that time, and maybe the two things are a little mixed up. But the WRA was trying to close the centers down, because of the belief that detention was not a good way to deal with the evacuee population. That detention only aggravated their sense of antagonism against the WRA and against the whole experience that they were having. Whereas the WRA's notion was that if people could be put into normal community life, they would become a part of the American scene, wartime scene, better than if they were isolated in their detention centers. That was the idea that the WRA came to by the, by the fall of 1942. They then discussed this, the idea of relocating the evacuee population, closing down the centers ultimately, relocating the population into non-exclusion areas in the Mountain States and in the Central and Eastern states.

So that was the background out of which the registration arose. Then there is the notion that, at the time that the population is removed from the detention centers, the question of the Selective Service, the draft of the American citizen males should be brought up. And therefore, a decision is made that there should be a separate combat unit formed to which Japanese Americans would be recruited and a policy is established of having them, having Japanese Americans in the centers volunteer for this unit. JACL was particularly instrumental in developing that kind of an idea.


FM: Let me add one thing. To the population as a whole, the evacuee population as a whole, this kind of background was not clearly known. Certainly, it was not known that JACL was involved in trying to organize a combat team. Although, there was some information of that kind being voiced, nevertheless, it was not clearly understood. And it was not understood that the WRA was trying to close down the centers for the reason that they felt detention was not a good solution for the evacuees. But the evacuee population was made, it was made clear to them, that the policy was to clear the evacuee population for clearance to move out of the centers whenever they would. And, secondly, that as they did so, why, that the Japanese American citizen males would be subject to selective service draft.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

SF: To kind of follow up that point, on the military side of the questionnaire, was it generally understood that this was, if you answered a certain way, you would be subject to the draft? The draft was a possibility? Or was it that you could be asked to volunteer for the 442, or you could volunteer for the 442? Or was all that very hazy as to what it meant to answer, say "yes-yes"?

FM: The... yes, it was a little hazy. There was a question of volunteering for the, the combat unit. And, on the other hand, "yes-yes" did not, I think it was fairly clearly understood that you were not necessarily volunteering for the unit. But "yes-yes" would mean that you would make yourself subject to the draft by agreeing that you would be willing to serve in the Armed Forces.

SF: At that point, would you say that the majority of people in the camps were favorably disposed to volunteers, or people volunteering for the army, or would they say that, "The volunteers, they're stupid," or "they shouldn't do this, we should not send our people to support the army"?

FM: Well, at Tule Lake, the attitude was that volunteering was not a sensible course of action, that... I don't think there was very much sentiment in favor of volunteering. The issue was, as a matter of fact, more like "should we answer 'Yes' to the question of 'Are you willing to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States?'" "Was that a reasonable kind of reaction?" "Given that the Japanese American population had been forced out of their homes, and deprived of their citizen rights, why should Japanese Americans then be, express willingness to serve in the Army?" There was this kind of issue that was debated publicly, and privately. But I don't think there was much sentiment for volunteering at Tule Lake. Minidoka was a little different in that regard. But there was this other kind of issue as to whether, you know, it was reasonable to say "yes-yes" because of the draft possibility. On the other hand, I think there was a lot of sentiment, among Nisei at least, Japanese Americans, that wanted -- didn't want to voice disloyalty to the United States, and didn't want to say, "No." Although, although it was felt there was a lot of ambiguity to these questions. In fact, more than ambiguity, it was they were very poorly phrased questions. For example, the issue, one of the questions, was stated in the form, "Do you forswear allegiance to the Emperor of Japan," and so on. Well, if you had never felt any allegiance to the Emperor, why should you forswear [Laughs] your allegiance? This kind of thing. So, the wording was very poor, and there was a lot of sentiment that the whole thing was very poorly handled, which I think it was, in many ways. But, again, it's -- my interpretation is, that it's the way the military and the bureaucracy functions in a wartime period. You hastily do a number of things which, under more careful consideration, you might have done quite differently.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

SF: What did the administration communicate to the internees about registering? Did they put out bulletins that, describing what the implications were? Or did they bring in Army teams to explain what the...

FM: Yes. Yes.

SF: 442 was gonna do?

FM: They brought in the army teams... Well, let's take the other side first. The WRA explains this clearance program. There're essentially two programs involved: the clearance program and then the military draft program. The clearance program, the WRA explains as, that, "We want to assist you to move out of the centers as rapidly as possible and that this is the most efficient way of doing this." Now, what the WRA did not adequately anticipate, was the resistance which so many evacuees felt to clearance, to leaving the centers. The attitude in the centers was, "Since you evacuated us, you are responsible for taking care of us, until we are allowed to go back home." And here, the -- therefore, the interpretation is, "Here you're now trying to get rid of us, to relieve yourselves of the responsibility of taking care of us, which you really should, given the kind of action you've taken towards us."

So, now, for many Nisei, like myself and others, why clearance to get out of the centers was exactly what we wanted, and we would have -- you know, we're happy to look forward to that possibility. For many of the Issei, however, the attitude was, "If you drive us off into these communities, what kind of hostility, what kind of segregation, discrimination are we gonna encounter? You give us no guarantee as to our security under these circumstances." So, that attitude is totally different from that which we, the many Nisei, felt, and it was totally different from the kind of interpretation which the WRA gave to the nature of the registration. The assumption there was that people would be glad to be out of the centers, and that was not true at all. Then, of course, the issue of the draft, and the military service, and also the question of the loyalty question that went with it. That was a moot point all around, and a lot of discussion of that. But, for most of us, the feeling was well, there's... you know, "It's not a fair question directed to us, but what can we do? We want to get out of these centers. That's what we'd like to do. And we'll say 'yes-yes.'" I think that was the attitude of many of the people who were at the centers.

SF: In terms of support for the concept of the 442, at that particular point, would you say that the majority of people were, sort of, in favor of -- or, the majority of the people were against the idea of the Niseis volunteering for the 442? Or they were, most people were sort of indifferent, or pulled in two directions, or...?

FM: I, well, from the way things happened at centers generally, I would say yes, most people were not for the idea of volunteering for this 442, or the combat unit. At Tule Lake, it was vociferously against any participation in the draft, or the -- this is not true for all the residents of the -- but the vocal argument was, you know, "Why should we serve in the military, given that we have been deprived of our rights?" This kind of attitude was widely voiced in the community, or at least it became part of the issue as to what should be done with respect to the registration. And part of it, as I say, has to do with the kind of people who were at Tule Lake.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

SF: Were there meetings where people had forums to discuss the way people should vote on the registration?

FM: Yes, absolutely. As you know, in the centers, the centers were organized into blocks, and there were block meetings all over the center, almost every night, or every other night or so, over the issue of what we should do on this question. Now, the Kibei became the forerunners, the leaders of the anti-registration movement at Tule Lake. And this is clearly demonstrated statistically, in that, in so far as you are able to separate out the Kibei from the non-Kibei Nisei, you can see that those who registered "no-no" are very much more predictably Kibei background than those who were Nisei, non-Kibei. And the Kibei, then, are most opposed to the registration at Tule Lake. The Issei are kind of in-between the two. Nisei, Issei, and Kibei separated out fairly clearly. The Kibei reaction was that, "We should not register at all, because registration puts the Kibei-Nisei, or people who want to resist the administration, uh, registration, into a very difficult position. So if we refuse to register, then they cannot charge us with having been disloyal. They cannot charge us with having agreed to enter the army," or doing anything positive of this kind, which they suspected was simply a ruse to get people out of the centers. And therefore, the argument was, "Let's not register."

At one meeting that I recall, in our block of block residents, the issue came up of whether the residents of the block -- and this proposal was going all around the seventy blocks or so in the center -- of total resistance, refusal to register, resistance against the registration program totally. Which was led by a Kibei resolution -- that everybody should refuse to register. That is, they were circulating a petition from the Kibei organization, which the Kibei wanted everybody to sign, refusing to register, and refusing until certain demands were satisfied, such as, "We are allowed to go back to our homes in California," something like that. Now, I, that was the one occasion in which I, which I left my research stance and got involved in the meeting, because I felt that that was not something I would agree to. I felt that registration should be an individual matter, that individual persons might be made to listen to arguments, pro or con, but they should not be forced to sign a petition that would prevent them from, you know, doing what they felt they should individually do with respect to the issue of registration. So I spoke up against that, and I recall hearing a Kibei behind me saying, "Let's bag this guy and throw him in the ditch, and beat him up." You know, this kind of thing. So there was a lot heated sentiment, all around, and some people did get beaten up as a consequence of expressing their feelings one way or the other on the registration.

SF: You mentioned that had immediate consequences for you, that night in the, in your barracks.

FM: Oh, yeah. Much more dramatic than in my case, although our case was dramatic enough. Because of this kind of expression, this kind of, remark that I heard, and mother and sister, who were sitting behind me, also heard, they got concerned that some guy might come, come and pull me out of the house and beat me, or something like this. And so, my mother came over later in the night, around midnight or so, with a hot, pan of hot water in one hand, and a long hairpin type of thing in her other hand, and knocked on our door. [Laughs] We thought that, here it was, you know, somebody knocking on our door. But it was my mother who had come, fearing that, you know, some people might attack us and she was concerned about that. And so she had come to see what, what our situation was.

My friends had an even more dramatic situation. He was on the farm crew, as one of our research members, and he lived in a block, where as it happened, the police decided they would go and single out one single block where the resistance was greatest, and arrest those people who had refused to cooperate with the registration. And this was Block 42 in our camp. And they went -- and this is one of the blocks where, I think, the people came from Clarksburg or Florin, or one of those Sacramento farming communities. Anyway, there was wholesale resistance in the block, against the idea of registration. So the police moved in, that is, the evacuee police and the military moved in, encircled the block, and arrested some thirty-odd guys who had refused to register. And that was, you know, the thing that aggravated the registration about as much as anything. The registration issue, as much as anything.

Now, my friend lived in this block, and he was afraid that everybody was, had picked him out as an inu in the block and that they were gonna come after him. And he had brought home from his, the job at the farm, one of these long sugar cane, beet, knives for topping the beets. And he said he brought it up his pants so that he -- he was a little stiff-legged walking, but [Laughs] he could bring it home without being observed! [Laughs] And he had a hammer, and his wife had a hammer, and they boarded up, or put braces against their door, and so on, in anticipation of an attack. And it was, the sentiment was so heated, that one -- you know, this is a very sane guy, ordinarily, and a very courageous guy, but he was sure that something was gonna happen, and he was not gonna simply let himself get beaten up. Anyway, this was the type of feeling that was around the center.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

SF: So this, after you spoke up, this ultimately led to your being pulled off the...

FM: Yeah.

SF: ...research project? Is that right?

FM: We, Dorothy Thomas decided that Shibutani, I and others of our research group, could no longer function effectively in the camp, and that we'd better be pulled out before we got hurt. Now, one of my colleagues on the research, in the research group, stayed on for several months thereafter, and he just decided he wanted to continue his research there. And he didn't get hurt or anything, but it was a very, you know, it was a kind of -- well, he felt he was more accepted. This guy happened to be of Kibei background himself. He felt he was well enough accepted not to be under the gun that much, and wanted to stay on, and so he did. So it was not all that critical a situation, actually, but given the circumstance, it was felt that we would not be effective as researchers, and so that we were pulled out.

SF: Were you worried about Michi? I mean they could...

FM: Oh, yeah. Well, yes I was. That she should not, you know, get involved. Although the beatings usually took place with respect to the males. And there were not all that many beatings. But the two or three, four that happened, were of male persons who were picked out and selected as object of the antago-, hostility of the rebellious group.

SF: What other violence was, occurred around this period in Tule, and were there other kinds of beatings of particular folks, beside the threatened beatings of the research group?

FM: Oh, yeah. The beatings that actually took, occurred, were not, not any of them related to our research group. One was an editor of the paper, Tule Lake paper. Very nice guy, very intelligent guy, who happened to live in a block where there were some rather violent Kibei, and they decided that they didn't like this guy's attitude, which was that, rather like mine, that, you know, you shouldn't force people to register or not register, that was their private right. And so -- and because he was somewhat of a public figure, in the sense of being editor of the Tule Lake paper, why, that, he was a kind of a leader who oughta get beaten up for expressing himself. Another guy who got beaten up was a Protestant minister. So there were instances of this kind. But, but it was not, there was not a wholesale warfare between, where the one group is against the other.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

SF: So most of you got pulled out of the, off the project. And you went back to -- you went to Chicago at this point?

FM: Yeah, Dorothy Thomas, as I told you, was a migration specialist interested in the question of what would happen to the evacuees. And so, as the evacuee population was then increasingly, or more and more rapidly, moved out of the centers into places like Chicago, Cleveland, New York and so on, she was interested in following that population of the resettled, so-called resettled population, and that's what we were pulled out to do.

SF: But what kind of things did you do to gather data...?

FM: Well, we went then to, our group went to Chicago and we carried out interviews of those who were now living in Chicago and -- interviews to find out what their background was like, what their experience in the centers was like, and what they were doing at, to resettle in Chicago, reestablish themselves in Chicago.

SF: How stressful do you think that initial resettlement period was for the average internee? I mean, here they had been stigmatized for months or years, and going back to an uncertain, unknown setting like Chicago...

FM: Uh-huh.

SF: ...for most of them, right? And the war's still going on.

FM: Yeah.

SF: What was their sense of things at that time?

FM: Yeah, I don't get the sense that it was extremely stressful. It had to be stressful in the sense that this is a totally new area into which they were drawn. Chicago is not, in my judgment, an attractive city. And because the evacuees were coming there without much means financially, it was hard for them to find decent housing and so on. However...


SF: We were talking about, yeah, resettlement.

FM: Yeah, I think it was stressful in the sense that it was a totally new experience for most of them. Having to find housing, having to find jobs, and so on. But on the other hand, it was not a kind of stress that people reacted to with breakdowns of any serious measure, degree.

SF: How did the... how was Chicago in terms of discrimination and in terms of getting jobs and housing, and so forth?

FM: The... there was discrimination enough, I'm sure. That is, one couldn't always find... one couldn't always be sure that, for example, in looking for housing, that people wouldn't turn you down because you're non-Caucasian. I'm not sure that there was any great -- well, there was hostility against Japanese, or uncertainty about Japanese, persons of Japanese ancestry, to some extent. But my impression was that people didn't run into a great amount anti-Japanese feeling. One reason was that labor shortage, there was a shortage labor. And so anyone who would work was, in a sense, considered desirable. Japanese Americans were not getting the great, the really good jobs, but if it was, if they were filling in a niche that had come open because there were not enough workers, why people were -- the employers were glad to have them. And Japanese Americans were considered very good workers, by and large, and therefore... So the evacuee population was getting jobs and found, they found residences without great, grave difficulty, but their circumstances were still under, were those of people who were not in, in some kind of favored group of any kind.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

SF: As I understand it, the WRA had this policy of discouraging people from clustering together, or hanging out together, and recreating Nihonmachis.

FM: I guess so, although I was not aware of there being such a policy as such. But, yeah, there was a kind of sentiment that it would be desirable for the Japanese American population to become more assimilated into the larger population. I think there probably was that kind of aim.

SF: Was that sentiment only from the organizations like the WRA and the larger society, or was that a sentiment among different elements among the Japanese community? Say the...

FM: No, I think it was more from the WRA point of view. As a policy matter, they probably were encouraging trying to gain acceptance into the larger population as much as possible, to avoid the type of discrimination and exclusion which actually had happened on the West Coast. But I don't recall it as a strong and distinct policy of the WRA. After all, they were drawing people into Chicago, and drawing them into New York, and... otherwise, they should have had a strict policy of sending them to Podunk, you know, wherever, rather than letting them concentrate in certain centers.

SF: So when the internees went to places like Chicago, would they immediately seek out other Nihonjins or Japanese? Or did they try to recreate the sort of community institutions that they had on the West Coast?

FM: I don't think there was so much a question of recreating the community institutions, as of finding help in finding jobs and apartment houses and the like. And in that sense, yes, there was seeking out of friends and people who would be able to help you. And as a matter of fact, we met people whom we hadn't known, seen, or heard from for a long time, suddenly turning up and greeting you as friends, simply because they were looking for someone who could, you know, give them information, help them find a place, and so on. In that sense, I think there was more clustering than had happened for some time, simply because this was the way in which one found assistance in getting jobs and getting places to live and the like.

SF: So, at that particular time, did you think that most Japanese Americans, because they had gone through this common experience, that they were more -- I don't know what you want call it -- there was a greater sense of camaraderie or obligation...

FM: Yes.

SF: help people?

FM: I think there was, yes. You know, we were all in the same boat in that sense, and I think there was a sense that we had a common identity of that kind. But, there was also -- there was no sense of need to pull together as an organized body in trying to help each other out. You looked for friends and relatives and others who were of the same background, simply as a kind of -- a means, a crutch, to get over a difficult period. But it was, I don't think that there was any strong sense that this was gonna lead to, you know, permanent or long term recreation of the kind of community that we had before, anything like that. I don't think that there was that type of sentiment.

SF: So along those lines, what do you think the average person thought about what was the future of the Japanese American community? Here, they had been in Seattle's Nihonmachi, and then uprooted. And now they're in a place like Chicago. Did people think that they were going to, that that was the end of the community, now they were gonna become plain Americans out in American society, or what was going to happen to their former...?

FM: I regret to say I can't tell you what I -- I really have no clear sense of what the kind of view was. Part of it is that, during the war, given the wartime circumstance, things are so unsettled, and the world is changing so rapidly, or the world itself is unsettled, so to speak, that it was -- I don't know that people thought in terms of long term expectations so clearly. I don't have the sense that they did, and so I have no clear sense of an answer for the question you're raising.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

SF: Well, you yourself, as a sociologist, say in around 1950, did -- would you have predicted that Japanese America, circa 1998, would still...

FM: Yeah.

SF: viable, in the form it is today?

FM: Okay, after the war, for one thing -- and in my case personally -- I was not looking for a job in any particular location, but one of the places where I was naturally gonna look for was in Seattle, at the University of Washington, because that was where I'd grown up, I'd always been happy with the Seattle environment. And my friend Steiner, and some other people were here. So I inquired about a faculty appointment here, and Steiner again came to my aid, and helped line up a job for me, and he made it possible for me to come back. So, in my case, I came back here, and my wife Michiko, her family came back here, so we were all happy to be here. Ah, let's see, your question was what?

SF: Yeah, as a sociologist...

FM: Oh, yes, as to what I expected in a way of the future of Japanese Americans in the country. I didn't expe -- my honest opinion was that the Japanese American society would now steadily disperse into the larger community, and that there was, there would be minimum chance of it's recreating the community, kind of community life that in fact has occurred. I didn't... I saw churches cropping up again, when we first got back here. You know, the Methodist Church, and the Episcopal Church, and so on. They were reestablishing themselves, and my thought was that temporarily this might occur, but that as soon as the Issei were gone or no longer were around in any number, that the churches would decline, and that the Nisei would disperse into the larger community. I would not have anticipated many of the, well, organizations like the JACL persisting. Certainly the athletic, sports organizations, basketball teams and things like that reforming. So my thought was that the continuance of the Japanese community hinged largely on the presence of the Issei, the immigrant population, and as they declined, that the community, the so-called community, would pretty much disappear.

If I were as wise a sociologist as I am now on that matter [Laughs], I think I would have thought differently, but I felt sociologically, and I'm sure I was thinking in Robert E. Park terms of how this kind of thing happens, that people, the Japanese Americans would lose their sense of identity, steadily, and become more and more diffused into the larger population. So I was totally wrong about that particular anticipation.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

SF: So, now knowing what you do know about the Japanese American community, how would you explain why it's tied together as well as it has?

FM: Yeah. [Laughs] That is a very tough and interesting question. I guess any -- for one thing, the racial factor is obviously a factor. Asian populations in general -- Chinese, Korean, so on, as well as Japanese -- have a sense, in each case, has its own sense of identity separate from the Caucasian population, simply because of racial consideration, I think. The recognition that we are racially different from the larger population, and may not be fully accepted into the larger population, immediately sets us off, I suspect. However, obviously, it isn't ever a question of race alone. The nationality or the ethnicity is a factor. We don't cluster with Chinese, as much as the Chinese and the Japanese cluster within and among themselves. So there's an ethnic factor involved here, and it's hard to understand just exactly what it is that draws us together. One thought I have always had is that, those people who grew up associating with other Nisei, more than with the larger Caucasian population, are likely to come back and maintain their association with other Japanese Americans, would occur. That, I think, is in fact what has happened, but the Japanese Americans, the Nisei of my generation, were in many instances, much more in touch with other Japanese Americans than they were with the Caucasian population.

Now, in my case, I would say that my background of association was more with the Caucasian population within, than with the Japanese Americans. But that was partly because of my early experience, living in a Caucasian American community more than in the Japanese community. And also because, in the nature of my work, I lived in the relatively rarified atmosphere of an academic community, where I was pretty well accepted among Caucasian Americans, and therefore I assumed that I would be readily accepted in that area. I had little reason, in a sense, to remain identified as a Japanese American. But, for most Japanese Americans, they grew up within the Japanese American community. Their associates were Japanese Americans, Nisei in our case, mostly. And so in a sense it's not surprising that they go back to their association with other Nisei. And that having happened, the Sansei offsprings of that population have also associated to considerable extent with other Sansei of the Japanese American community. And it's that kind of associational background that I think is a factor in preserving the community. I think this is probably true in the black community as well, that the racial factor is a major thing, but also that one's associations have always been with one's own racial group or ethnic group, or to a large extent has been so, and you therefore continue association along those lines.

The other thing I would say is that the -- and I always thought this true, even when I was young -- that the Japanese American community, the Japanese community, socially is a more interesting community than the larger Caucasian community. That in the Caucasian American community, relations are somewhat more, somewhat impersonal. That people find it more difficult to organize things like baseball teams, for example. People don't hang together as readily and as easily. And therefore, that if you are interested in group activity of any kind, that the Japanese community is much more interesting community than is the larger Caucasian American, or the larger American society. And I think that this is a factor in why the Japanese Americans tend to hang together as they do, but something about Japanese society, or the Japanese style of relationship, easily draws them together into groups, whereas it is much more difficult to do so in the larger American community. And therefore, the Japanese community life is, in a group sense, more interesting than is the larger American community.

I look at my Caucasian neighbors -- I live in a Caucasian neighborhood. And what I see is that they, by and large, are not connected up with any groups or organizations. If they are in groups or organizations, it might be connected with their work, labor union, or an industrial group, engineering society, perhaps. But, other than that, their social life is largely constituted of those who happen to play golf, as they do, or those who like to do a few things, go out together to eat, as they do. But beyond that, they find it difficult to organize themselves into anything that might be the basis of social relationship, a larger social relationship. Now, in the case of the Japanese Americans, obviously we get together not only in our own ethnic churches -- I don't happen to be a member of an ethnic church -- but I think quite a number of Japanese Americans are members of ethnic churches. They get together in JACL. They get together in their sports organizations, golfing association, for example, or even business associations, a stockholders' group, things of this kind, much more easily than people do in the larger American community. And I attribute this, to some extent, to the Japanese culture, or the Japanese relationship patterns, which were brought over by the Issei from Japan.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

SF: I'd like to ask you a few questions about your own career after the war, too. So you came back, and got re-established at the University of Washington. Rapidly move through the professorial ranks at UW, became chairperson of the sociology department and eventually became acting dean. What accounted for your, sort of rapid mobility in academia, which is very unusual for a Japanese American?

FM: Well, to tell you the truth, my rise in the professorial ranks was far from being rapid. And the problem was not discrimination or anything like that, it was, it's simply that I have great difficulty writing, putting things down on paper. If it's informal writing, I do that with ease. But when it comes to academic writing, I do it with great difficulty, and it's a kind of problem of perfectionism. And a problem, basically, of insecurity. You may not think of me as an insecure person, perhaps, but my mother was not a, she was a worrier, I guess. And my father, he was a secure person, but he was a perfectionist. Now that combination [Laughs] didn't go well, as it turned up in me. If I had had a little more confidence in my own thoughts and ideas, I think I would have done better. And if I'd had less of a perfectionism, however, somehow the kind of sense that my father had of having things fully organized before he could act, then I might have done better. But, anyway, that's the nature of my personality, and therefore, I didn't write as easily and as rapidly as I needed to, to move up in the academic world as I might have.

SF: But that would've been a rare, an incredible combination of positive characteristics for academia, right? [Laughs]

FM: [Laughs] That's true. A lot of guys have that problem, right?

SF: Right, right. I mean...

FM: But I had it in, kind of excess, I think. I had more of it than... and so I rose through the ranks more slowly than, as many of my friends have. And, on the other hand, these qualities that I'm just talking about, also made me very good in certain respects. I, my fame as a sociologist was initially established as a critic. I was very good at doing reviews and I was very good at criticizing manuscripts of other people, and of recommending what to do with manuscripts that were turned in to publishers, and so on. So the publishers got to me as someone they could turn to. The journal editors got to me as a person who would be useful in helping them with that kind of thing. And organizations turned to me as a person who was reliable on certain kinds of organizational matters. And so I, in a sense I got up faster through that route than I did academically through my writing.

SF: The NIMH Council would be a good example.

FM: Exactly, yeah. And you've remarked one time on your surprise that I was president of the American, uh, the Pacific Sociological Association, so early in my career, actually before I'd become full professor or anything like that, I made the Pacific Sociological Association presidency. And the reason that happened was that, as a critic of papers, Ralph Turner became acquainted with my capabilities. He got me in as a secretary-treasurer of Pacific Sociological Association. That organization then discovered that I could do some things for it, and so I moved up the political ladder that way. So, although I wasn't efficient in the thing that would get me ahead most rapidly in the professorial ranks, I did have certain capabilities that got me up in, organizationally, in one way or the other.

My rise to the chairmanship was somewhat accidental. In fact, my rise through the administrative ranks were all somewhat accidental. The reason I became chairman of Sociology was we came into this turmoil, period of turmoil, in the academic world, of the Berkeley riots and so on in the mid-1960s. The student rebellion became part of the University scenes, everywhere. And prior to my chairmanship, the chairman of the department, chairmanship was held by people who were in their office for a long time, ran their office with considerable control and discipline, and laid out programs which would in due course be fulfilled by persistentive effort of everybody concerned. Whereas, under the protest, the student rebellion and the protest that generally developed around the campuses, all this was turned over, and the strong chairmanship became anathema to a lot of the faculty. Students rebelled against that kind of control, also. And so they began looking for someone who would run things with some feeling for what other people wanted, and democratically, but at the same time with enough organization so that the department would not fall apart. And I happened to be sitting there, so to speak, when they chose a man who was from Yale, who they thought would fill that kind of slot, and then all of a sudden, he decided he would not be able to come out. And, lo and behold, we were left with a vacancy, and the department then decided I would serve as a one-year term fill for this vacancy until they could find a new person.

Now in that slot, then, it turned out that we didn't find anybody satisfactorily, and so the department voted me in as chairman on a longer term basis. And from that position, I got to know the dean very well, and they liked what I did organizationally, and that was how I moved into the associate deanship, and so on. But I think that the initial feeling about me was that I was not sufficient -- among the departmental members. They did not vote me into the chairmanship initially because I was not as strong and positive a character as they were looking for, or that's what they thought of me. I think my Japanese American characteristics showed up in that regard. I'm not an assertive in the way that Americans look, want in a leader. But, once I was in office, why, they then discovered that I could run things very effectively in my own style. And the Dean, Dean's Office, discovered I was effective in that sense, and that was how I was drawn into the associate dean-ship, ultimately, because of that kind of...

So, to reflect on my personal history, I think I was, I didn't rise in the professorial ranks quite so rapidly, because of some lack of confidence in what I believed in, and so on. Which was partly due to my Japanese American background. You know, I was never sure of myself, of my acceptance in society, because of the prejudices, and the discrimination which I faced, in one way or another as I grew up. So I was not as sure of myself as I needed to be. I had, however, a sense of my own skills. I felt that I could express myself in writing better than many other people did, but I couldn't push myself to get it down on paper as rapidly as I needed to, to be a good academic person. Once in office, however, as I say, I think my Japanese American skills showed themselves. I think I dealt with people well, or at least in a fashion that people trusted me. I think I was organized well enough so that I could get things done administratively. And thereby, I get the recognition from people in positions of power and authority, and get drawn into this position or that, which brought about my rise in the professorial rank. So that's would account for my history, personal career. I think I had skills, and I had enough confidence in functioning in the American world that I didn't have doubts about myself as a Japanese American. But, on the other hand, it did affect me personally, because of the combination of characteristics I had, have, in getting publications into the works, sufficiently to rise rapidly in the academic ranks.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

SF: In your experiences [Interruption] as chairperson, and dean-ship, one of the issues must have been the rise of the Asian American movement. Students, Asian students must have made interesting demands on you, seeing that you were in this position of authority or responsibility, and how did that play out?

FM: Yeah. Yes. As it happens, the point at which I came into the chairmanship, it was that point of student rebellions, as I say. In fact, we've had the joke around our family that the student rebellions in our department started just as soon as I became chairman. [Laughs] And it ended around '71 or so, when I went out of office. [Laughs] So there's a direct correlation between rebellion and my chairmanship. But then I went into the dean's office at the point where the Asian crisis, the Asian protest emerges. You know, the Asians waited until the Black protest had run its course, and then, having become aware of their own ethnicity, they move in. And I had become, come into the dean's office at that point where I was called upon to run the ethnic programs because of what was assumed to be the skills I had in that area.

Yeah, I was called on to help organize or help establish the Asian American Studies program. But I didn't think of it as something separate from what else, what else I was doing, namely, helping run, establish the Black Studies program, and helping establish the Chicano program, and the Native American program, and so on. It was all part of the same pot, and so I never thought of myself as being particularly a leader in the Asian American Program so much, as that I was trying to run all these ethnic studies programs which were, perhaps, the most, the greatest headache of the Dean's Office in that period.

In fact, the dean, a guy named George Beckman, came to look upon me as a key member of the Dean's Office, I suspect, because the program that was causing -- uh, the set of programs that, which were causing more headaches for the Dean's Office than almost any other, were in that period, were the Ethnic Studies programs. And I was the guy who was intermediary as the associate dean in the Office running those programs. So when he went on to the provostship, and he had an acting deanship to fill, I was a little surprised that he called on me to be the acting dean. Here were three other guys in the Office who were -- and at least one of them who was much longer in tenure in the Associate Dean's Office, who might have been picked as acting dean, but he called me in and said, "Would you take over the acting deanship, until we find a dean?" And he roped me in, because he said, "It shouldn't be more than six months." I think if he'd said it was going to be a long term experience, I would have begged off, because the deanship is not a thing to do as an acting person. But, anyway, I thought this would be an interesting activity, and so I went into it. But, as I say, I think he called on me to do so because the Ethnic Studies programs were so -- in his mind, and probably in actuality were -- among the more difficult.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.