Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Judy Murakami Interview
Narrator: Judy Murakami
Interviewer: Carolyn Nayamatsu
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date: October 13, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-mjudy-01-0007

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CN: So your Aunt Ruth, and Ruth is your father's sister, was living in the Twin Cities, then you were able to go there.

JM: Right. My Aunt Ruth, this is my father's older sister, she went from Portland to Berkeley, California, and married Earl Tanbara, so she was Ruth Tanbara. At the time of Pearl Harbor, she and earl were in their early thirties and they had no children, and they were both working. They were getting ready to register for evacuation, and somehow somebody who was doing some of the paperwork recognized my aunt from school. And one thing led to another and he actually offered my uncle and aunt a position in the Midwest if they would come out to the Midwest and help relocate the Japanese Americans from the various camps around the country. And so I think they had a chance to go to a couple different places, but they chose Minnesota to come to. And that's why they moved out here during the war, and their main objective was to help build goodwill within the community for Japanese Americans, because Minnesota didn't have very many and very few people knew anything about Japanese people. And also there was Camp Savage at Fort Snelling, which was also in the Twin Cities, and there were a lot of Japanese American young men who were working with the language school and trying to learn Japanese for the Military Intelligence School. And they wanted to provide them with some kind of, some Japanese Americans who could kind of help them in adjusting to being in Minnesota and vice versa for community to accept the Japanese Americans.

CN: And before I forget, when you said your immediate family ended up in Heart Mountain, does that include both sets of grandparents?

JM: No.

CN: Okay, so where did they go?

JM: well, my grandparents on my mother's side ended up going to Minidoka with all the rest of her siblings, except for... my mother had, in my mother's family there were six, and one of her brothers who was just below her in age had gone to Oregon State and had graduated in law. He had not passed the bar exam for Oregon on his first try in 1938 or '39, so he went to Japan for a trip, and he more or less got caught over there in Japan by the atomic bomb. And because of this dual citizenship law which meant that children of Japanese-born parents, regardless of where the Japanese-born parents were living, were still considered Japanese citizens. So he was considered a Japanese citizen and also an American citizen. But because the Japanese considered him a Japanese citizen, they drafted him into the Japanese army. And we're not really quite sure whatever happened to him. I don't know if he was in prison camp, or I know he went to China and maybe to Burma, but he, again, never wanted to talk about it because it was so unpleasant for him. But eventually he ended up staying over in Japan. He married someone in 1945 or '46, and he did very well. Because he knew English and Japanese he ended up being on cable news. He ended up being friends with the crown prince and playing tennis with him and working for the Asahi Evening News on the English side. And they still, my uncle has passed away but his daughter and his wife still live in Tokyo. But on my father's side, his parents... I'm not, to be honest, I don't remember if they, I believe that they went to, they probably went to Minidoka also with the other Japanese from Portland because they were from Portland also. And then I think that they were able to come camps because Ruth Tanbara, Ruth and Earl Tanbara were located here in Minnesota. And they actually went to, when they came out of the camp they actually went to Chicago and to Wisconsin first.

CN: Oh, they did?

JM: Uh-huh.

CN: No wonder your mother and father felt isolated, I mean, they had no friends. I mean, their friends that they thought they would end up in camp with, they ended up in a different camp with other families?

JM: That's right, they didn't, that's true.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.