Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Shosuke Sasaki Interview
Narrator: Shosuke Sasaki
Interviewers: Frank Abe (primary), Stephen Fugita (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 18, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-sshosuke-01-0010

<Begin Segment 10>

FA: Around this time, mid-30s, you saw the rise of the old social, of the Nisei in Seattle and you saw them organizing the Japanese Progressive League, Progressive Citizens League, the Japanese American Citizens League...

SS: I didn't... I paid almost no attention to the Japanese American Citizens League. It was weak. About all it ever did was organize dances. Nothing serious. For me, I was determined that I was going to spend my spare time doing something other than just dancing. I never learned to dance and I haven't to this day. Naturally I wasn't very popular with the girls. They considered me just a bookworm.

FA: Did you go back to engineering at the University of Washington?

SS: Well, I went back eventually, but not to engineering. There must have been five or six Japanese when I started the engineering school at the UW. Of that five or six students, only one graduated as an engineer and all the rest of them either dropped out or changed courses.

FA: So what did you go back to?

SS: So, and so there was no employment available for Nisei engineers those days. And so I decided to take, major in business. Figured that I could use that myself.

FA: At that time, I know you were also watching the rise of tensions with Japan.

SS: Oh, yes. Yeah.

FA: Did that concern you?

SS: Oh, yes. It worried me very much.

FA: What did you see and why did it worry you?

SS: Well, I knew that if a war broke out, there would be no mercy shown to the Japanese in the United States. And my father -- when he was still living -- that was one of the things he used to worry. He said, "If there is a war imminent between the United States and Japan," he said, "I think the family should move down to Mexico. At least you won't be murdered by mobs."

FA: He felt that?

SS: He felt that, yeah.

FA: At that time, you saw the Jimmy Sakamoto and the Japanese American Citizens League in Seattle continue organizing to profess their patriotism and Americanism.

SS: Yeah, yeah.

FA: They were no longer organizing dances by that time, 1939.

SS: No, they were still organizing dances.

FA: Really?

SS: Yeah. That's what I remember, the only activity of the JACL. It permitted Nisei to meet Nisei of marriageable age and that was a way of letting them see members of the opposite sex.

FA: Even as late as mid-1941, you weren't aware of them organizing to profess patriotism, wave the flag?

SS: They started doing that after the, about the time the war began.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.