Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Tomio Moriguchi Interview II
Narrator: Tomio Moriguchi
Interviewer: Becky Fukuda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 9, 1999
Densho ID: denshovh-mtomio-02-0016

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BF: Do you -- I mean, you strike me as a very patient, low-key individual, your personality. When you sit in some of these meetings and you're faced with people who aren't looking at the facts or are going a way that you know is not going to be sustaining, what do you usually do? Do you usually go kind of uh-huh, and then decide, okay, I'm not going to work with them in the future, or is there a side to you where you ever just sort of stand up and bang the table and say, "Listen"? [Laughs]

TM: No, I don't bang the table very often. Only at the family meetings. No, I -- you try to use outside, friendly persuasion and if that works, that's fine. Our method has been, let's go out for a drink and talk it over. If you get through, fine. If not, there's other organizations, other projects, other things to go out there. And that's been my way. And maybe that's not right. But I think I've been around long enough to know there's certain things you just can't change or, the energy needed is not worth the result or something.

BF: Kind of choose your battles and --

TM: Yeah. Well, like getting back, the family battle, I can't leave. So that, you just know that you have to stay there and fight the battle. But the other battles -- and you feel, looking back a little bit, that if you're credible enough, you do your homework, then you could persuade your thoughts because the thoughts of the others are usually not all that firm either.

BF: But prove yourself...

TM: Yeah.

BF: ...and have your words.

TM: Credibility takes a little while. And you don't sit there and say, I want credibility. Just after a lot of things, and it just comes about, I guess.

BF: I'm intrigued, when you said that about, that's, the family is the one place you, you sort of change your tactics a little, a little bit?

TM: But you learn. It's all similar in some ways. And looking back also, I think what I learned in the family environment, I've been able to use in especially Nikkei and Asian types of organizations.

BF: Like what? What sort of things have you learned?

TM: Oh, getting back to the patience at issue. And the fact that whatever we do has to make money because the family, there's no way you're going to say, "We want to do this just for the long run." We, short run, we may be willing to lose some money, but in the long run, we're not going to take any project on that's not "profitable" in one sense or another. So those are influences that hopefully, I can bring to the table.

BF: You know, when you work with non-Nikkei organizations, do you see that as being a difference where -- I mean, this more being able to understand the bottom line. And do you see, do you -- in some ways, do you see mainstream organizations more receptive and more understanding of some of those philosophies, or do you see the same sorts of things?

TM: That's an interesting -- I was thinking about that the other day. And organizations that attract or ask people like me to serve are usually very well run, well thought through. So I'm, selection of myself or people like me or different people, different color or different persuasions, is just a symbol or -- how do you say? -- how you say, because they think that way, they're successful. So the organizations I go to, I don't have to bang on the table because they're basically organizations I enjoy because they're thinking more broadly, they feel they need different views, they need different persuasions. So in some ways, that's why they're enjoyable because they're very dedicated, very professional. And, and it feeds on each other. So you're comfortable there, and then so you do some things that you're probably overappreciated. And then, so if some other organization ask you serve, it makes you feel good. And I guess ultimately we pick and choose. It's kind of like getting married or something. You kind of subconsciously just start to pick and choose. And I think that's the way it is because I'm sure not going to -- if somebody from the Central Area, PDA or somebody called, I would no way in hell serve because I didn't think that economically they would be able to handle and things like that. So I guess I have picked and choose subconsciously maybe.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.