Densho Digital Archive
Emiko and Chizuko Omori Collection
Title: Jimmie Omura Interview
Narrator: Jimmie Omura
Interviewer: Chizu Omori (primary); Emiko Omori (secondary)
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: March 21, 1994
Densho ID: denshovh-ojimmie-01-0025

<Begin Segment 25>

CO: How are you feeling today about all this?

JO: Well, subsequently I learned that through contact -- I was in a bowling league so I had contact -- that the attitude and the feeling was tense every time we bowled against another team, nobody spoke to me, actually. And it became so bad that I decided I'd give up bowling. Then a well-known Issei woman told me one night that she had contact with many Issei in the community and they all asking me to shut up. Well, didn't say it in those words, but that's what it amounted to. And she said to me that, "You tried so hard," she says, "and the people don't appreciate it. So don't do anymore."

How do I feel about it? In 1987, I finally communicated with my sister in Japan. Up to that time we didn't know if she was a victim of the atom bomb or not. And I don't read Japanese and she don't read English. Therefore, the letter was in Japanese and I would have to have that translated. So at first I had the minister at the Buddhist church translate it for me. The second time I went there, he told me he can't do it no more. He treated me, at first he was very jovial, very friendly. The second time, he didn't even smile; he was grim-looking. If I asked a question, he says, told me to let him finish the letter. And at the end he says he can't do it anymore. So I called up the Methodist bishop who was a Japanese from near here from the Pacific School of Religion. I didn't know him, but I had a very good friend who was close to him. He wasn't in but his wife, who is a Korean, recommended her minister, Christian minister, Methodist. And they did the honors the next time. And they gave me a pep talk, you know, they said that this was volunteered by them, that they recall my name, when I was editor in San Francisco and he was in Sacramento. And he gave me this pep talk about he doesn't care what his congregation says, anybody in his congregation said. He's, he's his own man, he's gonna do the thing that he thought was right and all that sort of stuff, you know. Now, all of this was volunteered to me. And then next time I called him, he says he can't do it for me anymore. So, but he says he'll recommend his, the lady who does the flower arrangement in the church. And she did it for me. And I was supposed to send her my response, which I did, to her home. And she didn't, there was no answer. And I included a photo. So after a considerable length of time, I told her that if she wasn't going to do it, to return the material back to me. There was no answer. So I called up the Christian minister and asked him to do something about it. There was no answer. So the problem is that I had to find someone in California who would do it for me and I did find someone here in Oakland. So if you ask me what I feel toward the Japanese in Denver, I have no use for 'em. I feel sorry for 'em, but I don't want to associate with them, and we don't.

CO: What about the Japanese American community in general?

JO: That's what I mean. The Japanese American community in general, you'll never see me down there. You haven't seen me for many, many years. Maybe a decade or more. I don't attend any of their festivities.

CO: And how do you feel about not ever becoming, being a journalist again?

JO: Well, I wasn't a journalist to start with. I sort of got pushed into it. I didn't have the tongue for writing that some people like Larry Tajiri has. He could pound out things with you talking or me talking around him. And he could hear what we're saying, even, and respond to it in-between. I couldn't do that. I was one of these guys who had to struggle to write an editorial because you think deeply and think about what the words meant and all that and what effect it would have. So it wasn't easy to write an editorial.

CO: And how do you feel about the American government?

JO: Well, as far as the American government is concerned, they already know my opinion because the FBI, the Justice Department ruled that I was loyal to the United States but not always agree with government policy. And I think that's a tribute to me.

CO: If you had it to do again, would you have done something differently?

JO: I would have done better. I think I pulled my punches on the JACL and the government too much. 'Cause I wasn't actually out to slay the dragon, I was just stating a point.


CO: Jimmie, do you have anything else that you'd like to add?

JO: Well, yes, I hope that in the not too distant future that the Japanese American society will be able to come together again. I don't like this gulf between those who are opposed to the JACL and the JACL. I'm not for the JACL because I believe in my heart that the JACL betrayed the Japanese American society. But I think our ethnic society must come together and work together.

CO: Has it been hard on you?

JO: I would like to say one other thing: that those years were tough. But I think I have received my reward in the good people who have opened the doors, invited me in, have entertained me and have done many good things for me.

CO: Jimmie, tell us about your book you're working on?

JO: I've been working on that book for ten years and I hope I'm close to finishing it. But I'm not one to gloss over what happened. So if it's ever written, you would know exactly what the document shows and what I personally know and how I feel toward the entire episode.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.