Densho Digital Archive
Steven Okazaki Collection
Title: Minoru Yasui Interview
Narrator: Minoru Yasui
Location: Hood River, Oregon
Date: October 23, 1983
Densho ID: denshovh-yminoru-01-0007

<Begin Segment 7>

Q: What was your sense of how the living conditions affected other people?

MY: The congestion, the uncertainties, the worries that people had, I know I drove some people completely out of their minds. I particularly remember one young lady who used to come into my particular cubicle and sit there for hours just staring. Others, of course, tried to make the best of it. There was a lot of karuta going on, a lot of go being played, the ladies were doing embroidery and so on. But it was a period of just sitting and waiting to see what would develop. The worst part is the uncertainty of what was going to happen.

Q: What was your emotional response watching this happen?

MY: Well, it infuriated me because it seemed to be a tremendous waste of human talent and energy that could have been used for far better purposes. Here are a whole group of people who were actively living a life and contributing to society, to be all of a sudden locked up in complete idleness was the height of folly, it seemed to me. It infuriated me.

Q: Were there any non-Japanese people who had joined in your family of friends there?

MY: Yes. Definitely as far as non-Japanese are concerned, the spouses, and in most cases, I would say in all cases that I can recall, they were the wives of Japanese Americans, primarily Nisei. In one or two instances, I remember a Issei married to a non-Japanese person, the wife then would join the husband, and particularly so if there were small children. I remember the Sugai brothers who came in, George Sugai had a Chinese wife, Benny Higashi had a Chinese wife. There was another family whose wife was Caucasian, these families also joined the relocation center as well as the assembly center.

Q: Was there any, what's your sense of any special problems for them?

MY: Oh, I think very definitely, because they were deprived of liberty even as we were. And I think they felt the same sense of outrage, certainly the same sense of being frustrated in trying to do what was necessary to protect and to help their particular families. Conversely, however, anyone who went through that experience was accepted, it seemed to me, as one of the people who were being literally put upon, and consequently there was no feeling among the evacuees, in my knowledge.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1983, 2010 Densho and Steven Okazaki. All Rights Reserved.