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-02-0002

<Begin Segment 2>

CO: Okay, so we get to what happened in... do you remember Pearl Harbor day?

MK: Yes, I remember Pearl Harbor day very well. It was a Sunday. And my sister and I were doing some chores. And when the radio said that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, well, we were, we were really shocked, and you know, and we looked at each other and said -- my older sister, that is -- and we said, "Gee, I wonder what's going to happen now." You know, we just didn't know. We were, we suffered a lot of discrimination even before Pearl Harbor, so we feared that we might suffer some discrimination, which I thought was only natural at the time. And that I kind of felt sorry for -- well, not sorry -- but sympathy for all my friends that were going to school and I, who were going to school at the same time, that our school had a very hostile reaction toward us. And that when I went to high school after the war, well, people used to come and pick on me and every day was just a battle of defending myself. They used to call me "Jap" or "Chinaman" or "go back to where you came from" and stuff like that, you know. It wasn't very good, so with that kind of pressure, I was forced to quit high school without graduating that year, and I worked on a few farms before we were evacuated. But I can safely say that when I was going to school, my high school, that no teacher ever stuck up for me or the principal never said to the students that we were good Americans or anything. We were just, what do you call, unfortunate, we were caught in that situation. I still remember I wasn't very happy with it.


EO: Since you were American, do you feel... and you say you had been discriminated against, but did you feel when Pearl Harbor happened that somehow you were going to be held responsible or did you feel guilt, or... I mean, your first response?

MK: Yes, when I, when I heard that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, because of the discrimination our family had before the bombing, I kind of felt that there were going to be racial tension because when my father took the kids down to the city of Sunnyvale, people used to yell at us, "Go on home, you Japs," and stuff like that, you know. And my sister really resented that. It really hurt her. To me it was just those, those people are, just don't know what they're talking about. I felt that I was American and probably... I never thought that I was going to be evacuated but I thought that, that we might have some problems.

CO: Your father was not rounded up?

MK: No, my father never, never belonged to any organization or anything. We used to belong to this Mountain View Methodist Church and we used to go every Sunday and everything and that was a place that, we felt accepted, you know, the Japanese Methodist Church. And my father, no, he never was, belonged to any organization.

CO: So, tell us about the assembly center.

MK: Well when we, the first thing I knew about the evacuation was we had meetings at the Japanese school in Mountain View. You see, the, all the community, even though we didn't live in Santa-, in Mountain View, all the communities around that area went to this central place to hear the older Nisei tell us what's going to happen. And when I went there with my brother, who found out that there was a possibility of the evacuation and all that, we already knew that curfew and everything like that because the signs were posted on the telephone post near our place. And when they start talking about the evacuation, our community was very pro-American and they said, "Well, instead of going to camps and being evacuated to the camps, we'll, we'll go a place like Utah and have our own community over there." That was first thought of by the older people, older Nisei. But I think two or three of them went to Utah that winter and saw how much the snow and all that harsh climate over there and said, "You people can't realize, it's almost impossible to relocate over there yourself," so say, well, that was the advice they said, that we'll do what the government suggests.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1992, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.