Densho Digital Archive
Emiko and Chizuko Omori Collection
Title: Shosuke Sasaki Interview
Narrator: Shosuke Sasaki
Interviewers: Chizu Omori (primary), Emiko Omori (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: September 28, 1992
Densho ID: denshovh-sshosuke-02-0005

<Begin Segment 5>

CO: So, when December 7th came, what happened to you and how did you feel?

SS: Well, December 7th I was out on the Jefferson golf course. I didn't know that the war had... we were out there from the morning, eight o'clock, seven or eight, something like that. And I didn't get home until one o'clock. And as soon as I came home, my mother told me, "The war has begun."

CO: I'm sorry. Could you tell me that again? Where were you on...

SS: On the golf course out here. The Jefferson golf course, right near here. I was there with three other friends. None of us were aware that the start of war had begun until we got home, about one o'clock. And at that time, that war was preceded by the United States... the United States was extremely eager to get into that war. She did everything possible to provoke Japan into doing something that would give the United States an excuse to start the war. I think that World War II was something that was totally unnecessary. Japan was practically on her knees begging for some kind of agreement so that that we could escape war. And the United States, the attitude of the United States was to get Japan into a war, that they would have no difficulty disposing of Japan as an adversary, and then that would enable the U.S. to get into the European war with both feet. The only thing that, that didn't go according to the expectations of the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration was the devastation caused to the American navy at Pearl Harbor. They never, it never occurred to them that they'd find that their fleet had been sunk. And, of course, that was a great blow to the ego of most Americans and so that, that was a racial war fought for racial reasons with intense fury. And I think within the last twenty or thirty years at least, there have been quite a number of books that have documented that war and is, the fact that it was basically racist by the United States trying to put a non-white nation down or in what they figured was in, was "in their place," as they would put it.

CO: Well, so...

SS: The...

CO: Then you went to Jefferson, and then what happened? You got home now...

SS: Well, I got home, my sister came over with her first-born child. And I can't say that I was too worried of, the war had started. And none of us really worried too much. We figured, well, whatever happens happens. I remember my father, when he was living, he used to tell us, "If a war should begin, go to Mexico." That, "If you stay in this country, you could be mobbed and hanged." I remember when the war first began, the local newspapers were very sane about it. They ran editorials urging the people of Seattle not to take, take the war out against the Japanese residents in this country because they had nothing to do with the starting of the war, and so forth. And so the first, first month, four or five weeks, everything seemed reasonably, well, what could you expect? You know, no, at least in Seattle I didn't know of any assaults on the Japanese by mobs or even by individuals. Though I understand in California that wasn't quite a, quite that peaceful. The, the atmosphere began to become nasty only after the newspapers, the press, began whipping it up with a anti-Japanese slant. If the newspapers had not done that, maybe that evacuation would have been un-, well, it was totally unnecessary in the first place, but it might have been avoided. But that's one of the big complaints I have of the, of the American press, is that it's essentially irresponsible. What they put in the news and print, you know, they'll put in headlines, is done primarily to attract readers or subscribers so it can increase the readership, the subscription list of the newspaper, and that is what determines the profits of the newspaper. The greater the number of subscribers they have, the more they can charge per square inch of advertising space.

CO: Anyway, at that time, then, what happened in the community?

SS: Nothing, really. There were no anti-Japanese riots or anything. And then it was, they had the Tolan Committee hearings, the congressional committee hearings and so forth. And it was in reporting those, and then the remarks made by the politicians whipping up anti-Japanese feeling, that eventually made that, our imprisonment, our uprooting and imprisonment, a possibility. Had it not been for the irresponsibility of the American press in inflaming public opinion -- which really didn't need to be inflamed -- we probably would have escaped being put into prison like we were.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1992, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.