Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Henry Miyatake Interview V
Narrator: Henry Miyatake
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: October 14, 1999
Densho ID: denshovh-mhenry-05-0013

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: So how did that make you feel? That here you were concerned going in, you did it, the response was favorable, and so how did you feel at that point?

HM: Well, I felt, hey, maybe we have a chance in bringing this to the major population area and try to convince 'em that maybe something should be done in regards to the way we were treated and maybe rewrite some of the laws and so forth. And, well this is what Tony Hoare had suggested to me that hey, you're gonna have to do some legislative action eventually, and also if you want to go after some kind of compensation process. So I had felt Tony's suggestions and direction were very valid. He had a better sense of what the general population was thinking than I did. I was tending to be kinda biased, kind of a feeling that maybe they might have this strong discrimination feeling.

TI: Well, when you think about what you said, well after talking to this high school group that you might have a chance. I mean did you, at this point, I'm just curious looking back, when you -- after that presentation at the high school, and it went well, did you think it was going to be easier, or harder, the whole process, after talking to these high school students?

HM: Well, the -- that wasn't the only exposure. I had exposure to the Unitarian Church in Bellevue. Because they had invited me -- because this teacher was very active in the Unitarian Church, she wanted to bring it up to the discussion group for the adult discussion -- it was a very informal group. And then the leader of that group said, "Well why don't you make it available after the regular church session and you can make for the entire church organization and anybody that wanted to stay and listen." So I did make that presentation.

TI: But how did you feel about this one? Because there you'd probably come across World War II vets.

HM: Yeah. This was my thinking. Well, if I could have the high school people support me, well I want to see what these other guys are gonna do. And that was a very good meeting. The Unitarians are quite objective. I was very impressed with the questions they had and there was no feeling of World War II bitterness. I only encountered that in a VFW situation where it was -- the meeting was starting to get out of control -- "Well you guys bombed Pearl Harbor. You caused my brother's death at Bataan." That was a kind of an opening up period. But I never anticipated the reservation that I would encounter with the Nikkei population. That was a surprise.

TI: Okay, so after doing the junior high school, the high school and the Unitarian, you were very, you were optimistic?

HM: Yeah, I was getting overconfident in fact, that here we could convey this message to these people and they would be willing to support us. In fact the Unitarian Church minister came up to me and said, "If you're gonna do anything that requires any general population support, we'll be willing to go on record." And he was very open to the idea.

TI: And so, and then your comment was, you got more reservation from within the Nikkei community.

HM: Well, I had not encountered the Nikkei population group at that point. And this was the beginning part of '73. Well, as a coincidence here comes Cherry Kinoshita, she's a pro tem president for JACL meeting.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.