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-01-0020

<Begin Segment 20>

EO: Okay, so now you told us who Fred Tayama is. Who was Joe Kurihara?

HU: Joe Kurihara, he born in 1895 in island of Oahu. Then about seventeen or eighteen years old, he volunteered to join the United States Army in the second, World War I.

EO: World War I.

HU: Yeah. And he went overseas for twenty-five months, fought for United States. And he come back, and he attend the University of Chicago, and he's a licensed navigator. And he's a licensed accountant, a well-educated man. And when the war started, he was navigator for Portuguese tuna clipper. Tuna fish. Going to, all the way to the outside of Costa Rica, that, what was that island that's way out a thousand mile away from Costa Rica. And the tuna fish is quite a bit around there. Used to be they used a long pole to fish the tuna fish. They don't use a net, you know.

EO: So you got to know him. How did you get to know him?

HU: He, he come and started to contact me after I organized the mess hall, you see. I didn't know him. But he started to come over to my place and contact me. And one time he came over and we see the... "Let's go see the Tayama." He want to debate JACL and his idea in an open forum.

EO: And what was his idea?

HU: His idea is, in the camp is all, regardless of Nisei or Kibei or Issei, they're all Japanese. So we have to work for the good of whole community. And don't try to separate because he's a Issei or he's a Kibei or Nisei, you know. His idea is that. And Tayama is well-known from outside for informing the people. So, "Let's go see the Tayama," and then we went over and see the Tayama. And we proposed those but he can't answer right away. Then we said, "By the way, you are well-known for informing the people." We tell him that, him direct. And, "Slocum said you're the good informer for Nihonjin." He said, "No, no, not me; Slocum is the informer." So we went to the Slocum's home and said, "Tok, we hear you're informing the people. Why are you in the camp and why are you informing all the innocent people out here?" He said, "No, no; not me. Tayama, he bring a half a dozen slips here Tayama saying inform the people." I took one of them and take a look and he was informing two block leaders, Issei.

EO: He was informing on these people to the administration.

HU: No, FBI. You know, I tell you that in Manzanar, jail is just like a ordinary barrack where live. Half is for the jail. And right in the middle is the chief of police room there, not to big; it's narrow. That's a interrogation room, too. Then the front, is, they had a bench and a table so whatever the policeman or visitor, they could wait in there. See whoever they wanted to see, chief of police or whatever. But the way I hear afterwards, not while I was in Manzanar, but afterwards, the young people tell me every time the people, informer come over and see the police or either FBI visit Manzanar, that's quite often they come, you know, and they call whoever they want to see, the informer, they talk in the small room there. And the people in the jail, they get a little cup or something, they could hear everything they talk. And they could see who they are. You know, I mean, they could recognize who they are, see. So, they didn't know. The administration don't know, but I hear from those people so it must be true. You could, thin, one wood panel there, you could hear all the words they're talking about. So when the riots start, fifty people were informers. Lot of them, I don't even hear the names before. But the administration know whoever brings all the information, the FBI knows, and administration probably got all the names and ballot number. So they sent an ambulance there with two MP in behind and they took 'em out to the army camp and the next day they move over to the Mojave Desert, another army base there.

EO: Death Valley.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.