Densho Digital Archive
Emiko and Chizuko Omori Collection
Title: Mits Koshiyama Interview
Narrator: Mits Koshiyama
Interviewers: Chizu Omori (primary), Emiko Omori (secondary)
Location: San Jose, California
Date: October 2, 1992
Densho ID: denshovh-kmits-02-0010

<Begin Segment 10>

EO: Have you had a stigma attached to your life because you were a resister? Have you had to feel you needed to hide it, and have you had help from like, JACL?

MK: Yes, we had... there's a lot of stigma being attached to being a resister because to Japanese Americans, the people who went in the army and fought were the real heroes. And I admit to that, they're very, very brave people. But the stigma comes from, I think, Japanese American leaders always trying to use when we speak up, that we're against the veterans, and that's not true. We have brothers that were in the service and some of the people in our group had brothers in the 442nd. We were never against the veterans. That made it hard; we just couldn't speak up. And Japanese American leaders, wartime leaders that were against us, were always saying things about the resisters, you now, like we weren't good citizens and stuff like that. It put a lot of pressure on the families, the wives, the womenfolks, they didn't want their children to be stigmatized by seeing that their father was sent to prison and stuff like that. Even today, many of them will never say that, "My father or my husband was a resister." It's not that they're ashamed or anything like that, it's just that they don't want their children hurt, or their family hurt. That's what it is. And for many, many years, when the topic of the resisters came up, it was that since the Heart Mountain Sentinel and the Pacific Citizen, which is the newspaper of the JACL control people, they came down very hard on the resisters. And I'm sure that emotionally it left a scar on a lot of people.

CO: But you are speaking up... tell us why.

MK: I, the reason... even though -- I might, I might say that it left an emotional scar in me, too, I want to speak up because all the dissidents and resisters in the camps are left out of Japanese American history. And I want the Sansei and the Yonsei, the third and fourth generation, to really understand what really went on in the camps. According to the Japanese American writers, that everything was fine in the camps and cooperated and everything, but it's not true. There was a lot of dissension, a lot of people got beat up that were pro-JACL, and I want the young people to know the real truth. And if people like myself don't speak up, I don't think any, too many historians are going to write about that, the Heart Mountain resisters and, and other dissidents. I want to make clear that we were never anti-America or anything like that. We were brought up in American system and we believed everything in America. And we believed in the Constitution, that's why we stood up, stood up for our rights.

CO: Are you getting heard now? I mean, as we're willing to listen to this.

MK: Yes, I'm very happy, because the young people of third and fourth generation are more broadminded and they, they understand the issues, what we had to go through. And that I'm sure that I hear from a lot of 'em that they're very unhappy that our parents, their parents cooperated with the government and went through with the evacuation and incarceration without protest. And I can't blame 'em because if I was young myself, I would wonder why this happened. I'm not saying that we could have stopped the evacuation and incarceration, but at least our leaders could have protested and have it in the records that we protested this unjust treatment. But all the history writes is that we went along without protesting and I believe that's not really true history. I don't think that most Japanese Americans, I think that most Japanese Americans were very upset about leaving their homes, especially since we were in California, that most of the people in California didn't want to leave. And that I think the final fact is that people fought for redress. If all the people said that accommodating the government was the right thing to do, well why, why would they fight for redress? Redress proves that everybody was, most of the Japanese Americans were unhappy and that the evacuation and incarceration was unjust.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1992, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.