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-01-0025

<Begin Segment 25>

EO: Now, just to back up a little bit, here you were, dragged out of bed, taken to a jail, came back, there's a riot, and now you've been taken to another jail. Has anybody talked about having a lawyer for you or a legal hearing? Have you had any opportunity here to defend yourself in this? And how is it that they picked you up? I mean, who accused you?

HU: I think more like Kimball, Kimball himself. Of course, Tayama and Kimball were like that, too, you know, together. So whatever Kimball said, I think Tayama won't object, I guess. In other words, put me away for good, they're both happy, I guess. And Tayama is always afraid anybody accuse him direct. And he knows that people know what he's doing, down in, before the war and in the camp, too. Everybody's an open book, he's doing there. And...

EO: Well, had they talked to you about having a hearing or...

HU: No, never. Never have a hearing. Then about January 1943, early January, they elected second negotiating committee. In other words, the first negotiating committee in jail with me, and so we're about thirteen people in the Lone Pine jail, now. Three of Issei went out. And Wakayama, he was talking big outside, but I guess he'd been scared. You know, he said, "Oh, if there's any problem, I have a good lawyer." In other words, he had a civil liberty union one time use as a sample of suing the government for violating constitutional right and so... but he backed off that too, I guess. So he's trying to avoid contact with my family or anybody involved in that thing. And December 8th, I think the camp lawyer, Throckmorton his name, he said, "Write, write down what you think you was in for." I said, "You didn't charge me for any crime. Now how the hell I could write why I am in for?" And so I just give him a blank paper; I couldn't write anything. "You didn't charge me anything with." So again, he said, "Write anything," he said. Then same time, second negotiating committee, Otamoto, Murakami and Eikanda and a couple others, came over to the jail. "Write anything so that you could be transferred instead of staying in jail in some other big place and you have a much easier life." Well, I noticed that second negotiating committee is with Ralph Merritt, new director, in other words, they worked with him. Not worked, worked for us, no, I noticed that. Because a lot of young men in camp, they've been detained afterward, they told me what happened in the camp, you know. And they was going after the second negotiating committee, to, "What you going to do about those people that are detained in there and living there?" But I think that Ralph Merritt is very powerful in the WRA, he's a German descendant. So do Dylan Myers, a German descendant. And here he's pretty powerful in WRA organization, see. So, in other words, instead of working for the people, they become working for administration. And December... I think the 10th, the MP give me a slip...

EO: Is this December or January?

HU: Huh?

EO: Is it December 10th or January 10th?

HU: January 10th. Yeah, January. They passed a little slip to everyone who was in there, thirteen of us. And about, oh, just before 8 o'clock, they said, "Everybody hurry up and" -- we're having breakfast, you know -- "hurry up and come outside. Take your belongings, pack your belongings and come outside." Then some of them said, "Oh we're going back to camp." They was happy. I said, "You'd better eat your stuff or take your food. I don't think they'll take you back to the camp," I told them. But some of them still in the bed, so I'm a early riser so I pack my things and go out. I see the buses waiting there and in there, there are three people, young people was in, on the bus. So they're going to transfer us to someplace else, I thought. Eventually they all came out, and all together, sixteen of us.

EO: And who were these other people? Did they bring more people from camp?

HU: Yeah, those three people was detained in Independence jail.

EO: But then in your... where you were, at Lone Pine, there were originally eight of you but then, but there were others already in jail?

HU: Yeah, right.

EO: And what were they in for?

HU: Well, I think the men like...

EO: They weren't in there because of the riots? It was something else.

HU: No, there's some connection. Like Ben Kishi, he's one, when December 6th, he was going after Tayama, but he's just a front only. He's a different .. he would show up, but he never intend to. And he was going to strike those JACL, who was it that in... I forget the name. Togo Tanaka. But he knows Tanaka. Tanaka was standing there and he warned Tanaka, "Be careful." And then he said, "Oh, we're going to go after Tanaka. He took the bunch of young people, they don't know anything, they follow him." Then, naturally, Tanaka was the other side, so they won't find in his apartment. "So we go after Tayama," they said. Tayama wasn't in the hospital, he was already shift to the army base, you know. Ambulance took him away from there, so those kind of people, they arrest him. And several other people going at the second negotiating committee, so eventually they been informed to the administration they're coming after us too much, so they arrest them. I noticed the FBI record, they recommended who to send to the Moab.

EO: So basically there were people who were supporting you and the other negotiating committee, they had been arrested as well.

HU: Yeah, the second negotiating committee working with Merritt, they're not working for the people, people think they was working for release us, but no. They're doing a different thing; they're cooperating with the administration. I think Merritt scare 'em off. You know, Merritt told the Manzanar people, "I'm your father, you're my children. You listen to me." That's the way, see. "If you talk against or work against me, you get punished." Yeah, that worked. [Interruption] Myer signed this piece of, slip of paper, "We're going to give you, we're going to transfer to other place and we're going to give you speedy hearing." He signed that paper. But when we went into the other camp, the paper's gone. Yeah, they took -- you know, they looked all inside.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 1994, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.