Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Kunio Otani Interview
Narrator: Kunio Otani
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Rebecca Walls (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 31, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-okunio-01-0033

<Begin Segment 33>

AI: Well, now taking a leap forward in time: in the '70s, the redress movement started up, and was quite active here in Seattle. As I understand it, when that first started up, some people weren't too sure about whether it was even a good idea.

KO: Well, that's right. And I was one of 'em who felt that maybe the time wasn't right, or possibly in my mind I felt that, maybe there was never a right time to ask for redress.

AI: Because?

KO: Well, I was afraid that it would create a lot of negative feeling. But actually, I think it became just an incidental memory, after it all took place. Because you never hear it mentioned, except when there are other minorities trying to get some redress, for different reasons. So I give those people who went ahead with the project a lotta credit, for having the fortitude to tackle what I thought was a tough problem, I'm sure it was. They had to convince the Congress to pass the laws. And it's amazing that they had the kind of clout they did, that they did get it passed through.

AI: Well, then it was quite a long time before it really happened. When yours came in the mail with the letter, what was your reaction?

KO: Well, I wasn't gonna' send it back. [Laughs] That's for sure. But I, well, we knew it was coming, and you just hoped that the things didn't get fouled up to the point where you weren't gonna' get your redress. But I think a lot of good came out of it, the money that they received. Because it all went back into the economy, I'm sure, because everybody had places where they could use the money. Unlike my mother, who put it in the bank, and kept it there. [Laughs] It was put back into circulation, and in the grand scheme of things, it was a minimal amount of money for the government. But it was a good gesture I think.

AI: Well, your mother's one of the few Issei still alive to receive her redress. Did she say anything about it, about what, how she felt? Or did she have any comment on it?

KO: Not that I recall. I think she was willing to accept it, just like everybody else.

AI: Before we move on, any other thought that you have about this period of time? About the incarceration, or war years, or anything that you think should be remembered? Or passed on?

KO: Well, I think it's, in a few years, it's just gonna' be a minor detail in the history of this country. But I think it's a important detail because, as I mentioned before, it shows you what can happen to even a citizen of a country during war time. And especially if you're a identifiable minority. That's never going to go away, as long as you live. I think we've proven that we're as loyal, or as good a citizens as anybody. And I think that's something to be proud of.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.