Densho Digital Archive
Emiko and Chizuko Omori Collection
Title: Jim Hirabayashi Interview
Narrator: Jim Hirabayashi
Interviewers: Chizu Omori (primary), Emiko Omori (secondary)
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: October 2, 1992
Densho ID: denshovh-hjim-01-0006

<Begin Segment 6>

CO: Actually, we were talking about ways that people got around those laws.

JH: Yes, the fact that the Isseis were very astute about their position in this country and about the racism that was here, so that whenever laws were enacted against them -- and there were many -- they devised a variety of ways to get out of the law or to contest the law. And so the device of buying the land in the name of their Nisei children was one way they're getting around the alien land law. In my parents' case, the, the eldest child, this was in 19'... it was a little before 1920, I believe, that the eldest child was still a minor and this is why they appointed a legal guardian for her who was an American, and then purchased the name in her land -- purchased the land in her name. And that was what the county prosecutor was contesting, that it was only subterfuge to get around the law and he was successful in the case of my parents' land. But there were, there were people that contested the naturalization law as well, the most famous case was the Ozawa case. He was a man from, an Issei, but he went to the University of California. And he was probably the most acculturated, assimilated of the Issei, and he contested the 1790 law, but lost. And so...

EO: Japanese cases were taken to the Supreme Court.

JH: It was taken to the Supreme Court.

EO: Yes. We just wanted to get back and have both, to say your families. Because again, he got... to go back. They appealed that decision.

JH: Yes, it was appealed through the, I suppose it went through the State Supreme Court. I don't recollect now, I'd have to look up the record. But it did eventually go up to the United States Supreme Court and where, the ruling was upheld in about 1926, I believe it was. 1925 or 1926.

EO: This is your family's case. Ozawa was...

JH: This is the family's case.

EO: Ozawa was earlier.

JH: Ozawa...

EO: 1924.

JH: Yeah, something like 1924, yeah.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1992, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.