Densho Digital Archive
Emiko and Chizuko Omori Collection
Title: Frank Miyamoto Interview
Narrator: Frank Miyamoto
Interviewers: Chizu Omori (primary), Emiko Omori (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: September 28, 1992
Densho ID: denshovh-mfrank-05-0008

<Begin Segment 8>

CO: So, tell us about the questionnaire that was introduced into the camp.

FM: As I said, the series of protests of late summer 1942 at the Tule Lake relocation center, set the stage for the later reaction which was to develop among the evacuees in February of 1943. The protest of 1943 came about because of a program that was initially introduced by the WRA, that came to be known as the registration program. This program called for the recruiting of Japanese Americans -- Nisei males -- to what was called the Nisei combat unit. And the reason why this Nisei combat unit idea emerged was that the WRA earlier had -- the WRA is the War Relocation Authority -- had earlier decided that the centers, these detention centers were not a good place for evacuees to be retained. That the whole detention program, as a matter of fact, was not a good idea. And therefore that the evacuees should be removed from the centers and dispersed out into the communities at large as rapidly as possible. In short, the WRA had decided very early that the centers should be closed down as rapidly as they could be. This meant that the evacuees -- all evacuees, Issei, Nisei, families -- should be transported out of the restricted zone into communities which could, would accept them and this meant moving the evacuees into the Midwest, to the East Coast, to the South and elsewhere. What the, the WRA did not initially, initially anticipate or understand fully was the tremendous resistance that developed within the evacuee population against this move. The need, or the demand of the evacuees, was to be returned to their former homes in California, Washington and elsewhere on the Pacific coast. They did not want to be shipped out to areas which were totally strange to them and which they did not desire to go to.

CO: So what do you attribute the WRA's misreading of the situation to?

FM: I think the misreading came from, the misreading came from perfectly good intent, so to speak. The thought was, "We don't want to keep these people in detention centers," which the directors particularly of the War Relocation Authority thought of as really very much like internment centers, like prisons, this was not a place that these people who were innocent of anything except the suspicion that they might be dangerous to the security of the country... these were not places for them to be. This was the kind of intent I think the WRA had, but the misreading then comes from not adequately understanding what the sentiment among the Japanese evacuees would be in response to such a resettlement program. The, the desire of the bulk of the evacuees was to be returned to the homes and the communities from which they had been uprooted and they were not willing to be transported eastward. Not only that... this whole problem touched on a basic feeling among evacuees concerning their trust or distrust of white people, the federal government, and of the entire structure that had been involved in the evac-, their evacuation from the West Coast. Having been forced out of their communities, the question was: How shall we look upon these people who've forced us out of our communities? Can we trust them? Should look on them with distrust? And as you might imagine, a large percentage of the people thought that they should not readily trust people who would do what they had done to them. So this then... so the mis-, the misreading that the WRA got involved in was in not fully appreciating what would be the kind of sentiment, attitudes, that would underlie a proposal such as that they should, the evacuees might be moved out of the centers and put in communities in the Midwest or elsewhere.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1992, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.