Densho Digital Archive
Loni Ding Collection
Title: Kay Uno Kaneko - Hana Shepard - Mae Matsuzaki Interview
Narrators: Kay Uno Kaneko - Hana Shepard - Mae Matsuzaki
Interviewer: Loni Ding
Location: Hawaii
Date: December 2, 1985
Densho ID: denshovh-kkay_g-01-0011

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KK: In 1972, my brother Edison came to Washington, D.C. where I was living, and went to the Archives and did some research on my father's incarceration. And prior to his coming, I had, I was a leader of a Camp Fire girl group, and one of my members, the father was with the FBI in Washington, D.C. So I asked him about the records of people who were incarcerated during World War II, and he says, "Oh, it's after twenty-five years. It's closer to thirty years, they probably burned them." And I asked him specifically could he look up for my father's records, George K. Uno, and I got a note from him saying that the records were burned. But it was interesting, in 1972, my brother Edison came, and he went to the Archives himself, and he was able to find material. When you go to the Archives -- and I went later after I found out Edison could do that -- I went to find out about my own incarceration. And what they do is they remove all information about medical situations before they give you the record to look at. Anyway, in Edison's research, he found, and he documented my father's case. And in there, there are memorandums from, between the U.S. Attorney General Carr, and the Assistant Attorney General Tom C. Clark. And they were very interesting because Clark kept saying that my father, quote, "more important category for exchange purposes," unquote, that my father was, should be kept and incarcerated for this. In 1942 my father was referred for detention on the basis of suspected espionage, but in their research they could not find that he, they could not find that he really was a spy. And so, but for some reason they thought that he was worthy of being held for exchange purposes. And this was prisoner, U.S. prisoners exchanged for Japanese prisoners. And recently I had read and found out that even there were plans for evacuating, incarcerating all the Japanese in Hawaii and putting them on Molokai and keeping them for later on for exchange prisoner kind of thing. But that's just a little aside. But anyway, so the attorney general Carr said that there was no real reason to keep my father incarcerated, but Tom Clark said, no, he was important for exchange purposes and so he was kept in.


KK: What we found out from Edison's research is... and what Edison gave me, I have a copy of what he found out, that in April of 1944, Assistant Attorney General's memorandum to the FBI director, on recommendation that prosecution be instituted for espionage, and exchange is mentioned. Then in August, July, the U.S. Attorney Charles H. Carr sends a letter to Tom C. Clark, assistant attorney general, stating facts in the case do not warrant prosecution for espionage. But then later, a month later, in August, Tom C. Clark's memorandum to the FBI director states that it didn't suggest to, quote, "improve bargaining status for exchange purposes," unquote. Then later on, in October, there's another memorandum on consideration of order for reporting my father, even though Carr said there was no case of espionage. It was still recommended by Clark to be "being dangerous to public peace and safety," and he was put on the deportation list.

LD: That's pretty good. We'll go one more time. What I want you to do is explain it to me using quotes and using dates, support yourself, but basically explain to me. And what I want to hear is the unreasonableness of what happened. I want you to tell me how unreasonable all this stuff really is. How did you feel about it when you look at this stuff?

KK: Angry, mad, really mad. You see where my brother really felt that our rights were violated, my father's rights were violated. He had done nothing wrong, he had been working to better the food supply in the United States, and yet he is seen as a dangerous "enemy alien." And when we got this documentation that Edison had found in the archives in 1972, of course we were very angry. For one, it showed that through the memorandum in, well, was really before this, but these are the ones that are, say right now. In April, the assistant attorney general memorandum to the FBI director made a recommendation that prosecution be instituted for espionage, and that possibly he could be used as an exchange for prisoners and prisoner exchange. Okay. Then in July, the U.S. Attorney Charles H. Carr wrote a letter to Clark, and he tells Clark that, "The facts in the case do not warrant prosecution for espionage," yet Clark sends a memorandum the next month in August to the director of the FBI and states that, "Indictment suggests to," quote, "improve bargaining status for exchange purposes," unquote. Therefore, later on, in March of '46, Attorney General Tom Clark signs an order for the removal of my father, George Kumemaro Uno from the U.S. because it is, quote, deemed, he is, quote, "deemed dangerous to public peace and safety," unquote. It took many, many months and many letters, and yet, still in May of '46, my father got a letter from Thomas M. Cooey II, director of Alien Enemy Control Unit, denying any request for release, and reaffirming the attorney general's removal orders. But my father still believed in the American legal system, and through the ACLU appealed his stay of deportation, and so he never was deported, but was not released from camp until... what was it? September of 1947. And then, ironically, later on, in 1952, when Asians were allowed to become American citizens, he became an American citizen and led his graduating class in the national anthem.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1985 The Center for Educational Telecommunications and Densho. All Rights Reserved.