Densho Digital Archive
Emiko and Chizuko Omori Collection
Title: Harry Ueno Interview
Narrator: Harry Ueno
Interviewer: Emiko Omori
Location: San Mateo, California
Date: February 18, 1994
Densho ID: denshovh-uharry-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

EO: What you have discovered, just because you found this shortage of things --

HU: Yeah, then administration tried to cover up everything, you know, they tell a lie. And because of the sugar shortage, the block manager group even bring a complaint but they don't actively negotiate. They're afraid to speak up. You know, they just complain but they don't go any farther than that. But we're the ones direct complaint from people, you know. They don't go to block manager and cry about it. But we, the cooks, they think we're doing some, overuse the sugar or something else. Or take home. They think so. So we get blame for the shortage. But that's why we have to go after administration. Now, finally they set up what you call investigating committee from block managers and the mess hall, but they're not active. So I went over to talk to Kimball, and Kimball said, "Well, we have to use so many sugar for making soy sauce," he said. Well, that's why I put in a complaint. Soy sauce is a manufactured thing and outside, the citizens, they want to preserve during the fruit season, preserve some fruit, they could ask the ration board for extra sugar for preserving and they'd get it. And if they want to manufacture the soy sauce and the sugar, they could apply for that. And they'll get the permission for extra sugar. But they don't do that; they just take our sugar and shift into soy sauce.

So for the investigating, I went direct to the manufacturing person there. His name, I've forgotten his first name but his last name is Nakamura. And he said, "I've been making soy sauce prior to the war. And I'm an experienced soy sauce maker. Soy sauce, they use the sugar for color, the soy sauce color, not for the taste or anything. They use salt and soybeans and sugar to color those soy sauce color." So, I asked him, "How much soy sauce do you use the sugar in?" He said, "So far, I put up 1600 gallons and I used 275 pounds of sugar. And administration send me 300 pounds." In other words, three sacks of sugar. That isn't too much. And the way the administration, 275 pounds in the whole camp is not too much. In October, they're short 6,200 or 300 pound shortage. And they admit that. And they said, "We're going to replace in November whatever shortage was." But just word only. We never get any extra sugar, see. So the, I think the administration, Kimball, must be black-marketing that sugar. I don't think the ration board in Washington, they would do that. If they be short, we'd see in the newspaper. You know, we have to cut down the ration.

So they shift me FBI. I told the FBI, and they said, "You accuse the administration cheating the sugar." "It's true," I told them. I told them that. "And you're investigating me, you're investigating the wrong place. Go to administration and investigate." Then the next thing I'd see, two men from Washington, FBI, you know, directly connected with the ration board came over and said, "You know, you're accusing the administration. If there be any consequence, you, you are responsible if there be lie or anything." Well, if I be wrong, I'll take the, whatever the punishment I get, I told 'em. So the two men went to the administration and never come back to me. In other words, they find they're wrong. But FBI or WRA, the same, under the Roosevelt administration, they'd cover each other. They're never going to tell that they were wrong and people was right, no. And they find out they're wrong, but they covered up. And then they said they were pro-Axis and that's bull. You know, there never had been pro-Axis or pro-American. Some of the people, the flag-wavers, like Ned Kimball said Fred Tayama and several other people he named, you know, he said, "Those people are flag-wavers. We can't trust them." I've got article there. Probably you saw that, too, I think.

EO: So, what you're having is you are yourself having, having a run-in with...

HU: Kimball, yeah. After I went to the warehouse and talked to the manufacturer and come back and I met the supply department, his name is Yoshiro Kaku. He's a second-generation, and I talked to him. "If the administration is supposed to give us extra sugar in November, do they have any sugar stored up in the warehouse?" It's already November, see. So, "Let's go see it." And he opened up the warehouse and get the sugar pile here and there. So we was putting in how many sacks here and there, we didn't hardly have enough. Just maybe twenty or thirty sacks in there. That don't mean too much, you know. So, meantime, that Kimball put two Japanese onto tailing me all the time. He's a stooge for trailing me, you know. So every time I go to an administration meeting, block manager meeting, if I go there, he check on it. And every time, if I go in my working hours, I put somebody else in place me, ask him do extra hours so I could take his time and replace the, his working hours. So I always careful, you know. But two men always follow me, so while we were checking the warehouse, the mess steward there, Winchester, came over and jumped on us and tear off the record we was marking on. [Laughs] Then the very next day, some Japanese messenger came over, "Mr. Kimball wants to talk to you." "Okay, I'll be there this afternoon," I told them. After my work I went over to the office and they said, "Harry, you know, I got a good job for you in the outside. I had rich people outside there willing to hire you. And if your wife is willing to work, he'll hire your wife, too." Then he tried to convince me to go outside, quit the union, and go. Three hours he was talking. I said, "No. As long as war is going on, I'm afraid to take my family out." I know once I'm out he won't let me come back to Manzanar. I know that, see. So I didn't agree with him. So, he's looking chance to get rid of me.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.