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-01-0015

<Begin Segment 15>

SS: Well in the first place, I felt that the name, "Camp Harmony," was ridiculous.

FA: Why?

SS: There was no harmony in there. Everybody that had any brains was disgusted with being put in there. And they were particularly disgusted with the JACL self-appointed leadership. The government having appointed the JACL to be our spokesman. No vote was ever taken on such a thing and as far as I could see, everything the JACL stood for, or was for, I was against.

FA: You were against professing loyalty to America?

SS: I thought under the circumstances, it's ridiculous. After all, if the common sense standpoint was that we should remain loyal to any government no matter how outrageously and unfairly it treated its citizens. Being loyal to such a government was a betrayal of American principles on which this country was founded in the first place. But that never seemed to get through to the JACL.

FA: How did you see -- in Camp Harmony, how did you see them asserting leadership inside the camp?

SS: Well, they were the ones who were telling the government what to do. Those people. The white officials in Puyallup were certainly not the best educated or the most sensitive kind of human being. They were gasoline station operators and people on that operating level.


FA: How about the JACL leaders inside camp? Jimmy Sakamoto was a newspaper publisher. How about some of the others?

SS: Well, Jimmy Sakamoto, which was the publisher of the only paper. He did that probably because he was blind. See, what they do? Oh, in camp they started... you had to be careful in what you said. One by one, they were ordered by the WRA, the War Relocation Authority. The WRA issued orders to the Nisei lawyers and one by one, they were shipped to other camps. So that the only Nisei lawyer left in camp was Sakamoto's buddy and pal, Clarence Arai. Although later, that couple, I heard, disagreed between themselves. I don't know the details of that.

FA: But they shipped out Kenji Ito. They shipped out Tom Masuda?

SS: That's right.

SF: Where did all these lawyers go? Where were they sent?

SS: They were sent to other camps.

FA: And why do you think that happened?

SS: Huh?

FA: Why do you think that happened?

SS: Well, what they wanted to do was to give Clarence Arai the monopoly of the trade from the Seattle group. I'm sure that was a deal cooked up between Sakamoto and his friend Clarence Arai. I remember years later I discussed that matter with Bill Mimbu who was one of those who was shipped out under the same type of rules. And I know Bill Mimbu certainly didn't feel very friendly toward either Sakamoto or...

FA: Inside Camp Harmony, what was Jimmy Sakamoto's role?

SS: He was supposed to be... well, I don't think he had an official role, but he used to go up to the administration office, offices every morning and presumably the W -- oh, wait a minute. He did that when we were in... he had, the offices were in Puyallup. We were all on the same level. But anyway, the thing was set up to be profitable for Sakamoto. And also, to prevent any lawsuits being instituted against them by the other evacuees in camp.

FA: So he had a position of leadership inside the camp.

SS: He had the monopoly on the legal business.

FA: Clarence Arai did?

SS: Clarence Arai, yeah. All the other lawyers were shipped to other camps.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.