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-01-0019

<Begin Segment 19>

FA: At Minidoka, did you meet Min Yasui?

SS: Oh, yes. I had occasion to meet him.

FA: What did you know about him at that time?

SS: Oh, well, he was, he took it on himself to go to my, the home of my friend, George Fujinaka who lives in, lived in, now still lives in Portland, Oregon. And this Yasui... George wasn't home when Yasui showed up and when George got home, he learned from his parents that Yasui had, had shown up and he had... let's see. Oh yeah, Yasui had told George's parents that, "You know Japan is losing the war." The aim was to try to get George to cease his resistance to being drafted.

FA: George was a draft resister?

SS: Oh, yeah. He had written them a number of letters -- some of which I helped him compose -- defying the government. George, his was a conditional refusal. He said, "I will serve like any other American if you will treat me exactly like any other American with all the rights that they have to live wherever they please and I want that rule applied to not only me, but to my parents. If you're willing to meet these conditions, I am, I will serve like any other American citizen. But when I'm deprived of essential rights as citizen, I will not go."

FA: So Min went to his parents' barracks?

SS: Huh?

FA: Min Yasui went to his parents' barracks?

SS: Yeah, yeah.

FA: At Minidoka and told them what?

SS: Told them that Japan, that, "Japan is losing this war and doing what your son is doing today is a mistake," or something to that effect.

FA: Now, Min Yasui had already tested the curfew laws. And had gained quite a following at Minidoka.

SS: Yeah, yeah. But he lost that. So we considered him as a guy playing both sides of the street.

FA: Can you elaborate on that?

SS: Well, at the time the war began and he tested the, he violated the curfew laws. This one wasn't, wasn't exactly the same, but roughly the same thing. It was submitting to unreasonable government demands without giving George rights, full rights as a citizen and George, his stand was, "Give me all the rights that any other citizen has in my position and I will submit to the draft."

FA: Did you ever talk to Min Yasui in Minidoka?

SS: No, I never talked to him.

FA: Were you aware of the civil liberties league in Minidoka that sprang up in Min Yasui's defense?

SS: At Minidoka? No, I had never heard of it. How powerful was that? I didn't even know it existed.

FA: It was small.

SS: Very small.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.