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-01-0018

<Begin Segment 18>

FA: Real quickly. Minidoka. You talk about Minidoka now. What was your reaction when you arrived at Minidoka, Idaho? It's a bigger camp. Ten thousand people there.

SS: Yeah, well, eventually there were about 10,000 there. When we went there, I don't think they were, the first time we were put in there, there was about 7,000 there.

FA: What was your first reaction when you saw it?

SS: Oh, I wasn't surprised. I expected a desert area. And that's what it was. No green trees, dry. There was plenty of rattlesnakes and sagebrush.

FA: Living conditions, barracks?

SS: Barracks were better than the ones we had in Puyallup, at least. We didn't have grass growing up from, through the floor.

FA: Food?

SS: The food was better, definitely.

FA: Camp leadership?

SS: Well, at least we didn't see the... oh yeah. And Sakamoto had been told to stay away from the office area. So we heard from the people who worked in those offices that Sakamoto was no longer visible there in the mornings or any other time of the day. So, I saw no need for going along with the proposed murder.

FA: Loyalty oath.

SS: Huh?

FA: The loyalty oath, 1943.

SS: Oh, the loyalty oath. That was ridiculous. That was something proposed by the JACL in my guess, in my opinion. Nobody else would have cooked up anything that stupid.

FA: Why was it stupid?

SS: Huh?

FA: Why was it stupid? The loyalty oath?

SS: Well, they were asking -- in my case -- they were asking the Issei to renounce their loyalty to the only country whose citizenship they had. And I was in the same boat with the other Issei and I made no secret of the fact that I was going to say, "no." I was going to be one of the "no-no" boys.

FA: Did you, in fact, answer, "no-no"?

SS: No, I didn't have to. Because the day before I was supposed to go up for that kind of a questioning, they changed the rules. They dropped that stupid question. So if they hadn't, hadn't done that, who knows, maybe I would have gone to Japan.

SF: Didn't they change that question the day before that you went up?

SS: Yeah. "Do you renounce any loyalty to Japan," or something, or the government of Japan.

SF: The government of Japan.

SS: Yeah, the government of Japan.

SF: And so they...

SS: I refused to say, "I do." I refused to go along with that. I was not about to become a man without a country.

SF: But how did they change that question so that you didn't have to answer it?

SS: Oh, they eliminated that question completely.

SF: So you, so then you were officially kind of... just the question that asked about serving in the military, you answered that, "yes"?

SS: I didn't have to answer that because I was a Japanese alien.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.