Densho Digital Archive
Steven Okazaki Collection
Title: Chico Uyeda Interview
Narrator: Chico Uyeda
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: December 8, 1983
Densho ID: denshovh-uchico-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

Q: When they bombed Pearl Harbor, what was your reaction?

CU: My own personal reaction? Well, I was brought up under what we called the code of Bushido, code of samurai. So consequently, I guess you might say it was one of elation. Of course, all my schoolmates, they ribbed me about it, the close ones. And the afternoon of the... well, we attended school Monday morning, and by ten o'clock the principal had issued a statement saying that, "All people of Japanese ancestry go home." Okay, then General DeWitt of the Western Defense Command put on a curfew that there will be no Japanese people out after 6 p.m. So we were confined to our homes.


Q: Can you start with when you were seventeen and the teacher sent the kids home, can you describe that?

CU: Well, we were sent home, and of course, parents were scared. They didn't know what was going to happen. They worried about what would take place. And when they got the edict from the General DeWitt of the Western Defense Command, we would have an imposed curfew. Six p.m. to six a.m. we weren't allowed out of the house, it was house confinement. And there was a lot of discussion in the family as to what would take place, and all my martial arts equipment, my folks felt that by having things like that, it might cause a great deal of harm to the family. So they took it out in the backyard, burned it up. The family sword was given to a FBI agent to, for safekeeping. After the war I looked for it, could never find it. And other than that that, why, I guess it was general feelings, feeling of foreboding, what was going to happen, whether we would be deported, confined, or what have you.

There was one humorous aspect where my school chums came after me to go to see a drive-in movie, the first drive-in movie ever built. But what they did was, against my parents' wishes, they put me in the trunk of the car. We went to see this drive-in movie at which time I came out and I sat down inside the car, and there just happened to be an off-duty police officer in the next car and kept looking at me and kept looking at me. Finally he came out and he says, "What nationality are you?" So my school chum says, "Well, he's Chinese." So he says, "Well, okay. But if he's Japanese," he says, "he'd better be inside his house where he belongs." Other than that, there's not much of anything else.

Q: Did you get comments from the non-Japanese people?

CU: Oh, yeah, the feelings ran high. There were neighbors who were suddenly friends, who were suddenly not friends anymore. They didn't say anything or do anything, but the feelings changed completely around. So I guess you might say that they weren't truly friends.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1983, 2010 Densho and Steven Okazaki. All Rights Reserved.