Densho Digital Archive
Steven Okazaki Collection
Title: Gordon Hirabayashi Interview
Narrator: Gordon Hirabayashi
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Date: October 25, 1983
Densho ID: denshovh-hgordon-06-0004

<Begin Segment 4>

Q: The other non-Japanese in Seattle, what was their treatment of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor?

GH: I think, on the whole, there was nothing that warranted any kind of wholesale move like mass uprooting. I think there were the usual prejudiced people, and you know, they hysteria that swept that area, I suppose it was all, all up and down the coast. But a real fear that the West Coast might be the next attack. Most of the people with any kind of military knowledge know that an attack of the kind that took place in Hawaii can only take place under certain kinds of circumstances, and another 25 miles away from home, it'd be very difficult. And there's no opportunity to have a landing. They didn't even land in Hawaii. Because that takes a logistic difficulty, details, that are just phenomenal. But hysteria ignored all those logics.

Q: Can you describe some of the hysteria or racial incidents that occurred?

GH: I never ran into any. By that I don't mean me personally, but I never knew of any personal incidents. I'm sure there were some insults and verbal abuses, but I didn't run into any. I know there were some, I read about some. But considering the kind of hysteria that swept the country, I think the incidences were relatively infrequent.

Q: Aside from your concern for the Issei, do you recall your emotional reaction to the attack on Pearl Harbor?

GH: No, not really. I... sadness, almost a fatalistic acceptance, "Here we are in war again." But it's the first war I've ever been in, so not knowing what all to anticipate. And as a minority, likely to... and as it happened, likely to be grouped with the enemy group. A certain amount of anxieties on that aspect, but my primary concern was what was gonna happen to our parents. Because legally and technically they were "enemy aliens," quote.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1983, 2010 Densho and Steven Okazaki. All Rights Reserved.