Densho Digital Archive
Whitworth College - North by Northwest Collection
Title: Fred Shiosaki Interview
Narrator: Fred Shiosaki
Interviewer: Andrea Dilley
Location: Spokane, Washington
Date: 2003-2004
Densho ID: denshovh-sfred-02-0003

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AD: One of the phrases you used when Rose and I came and talked to you, we were sort of asking you about what, what kind of general sentiment was felt at the time, and you used the phrase "being under a cloud," that the Japanese American community was, felt like it was really under a cloud. I don't know, maybe, maybe restate that and kind of describe...

FS: Well, I think, you know, talking about what, what, how we felt, and certainly I think the whole, whole Japanese American community in Spokane sensed this, that we were under the gun, that we were being watched, that they expected some sense, there was some feeling that, that people thought we were disloyal and that we were involved in this, in this attack on Pearl Harbor. And that more than anything scared, people were afraid that there would be some kind of retaliation against this Japanese American community in Spokane. And that was the cloud: don't do anything, don't do anything that would antagonize people. Don't do anything that'd make you stand out. But I'm too sure this isn't just a Japanese mentality, is that "the nail that sticks out gets pounded down" kind of thing.

AD: Talk more about that. What do you mean by that?

FS: Well, you know, Japanese are -- I think, and not being really Japanese -- they tend to be very conventional. They like, they like uniformity, they like conformity and stuff like that. So that's the idea. Under the circumstances, under the circumstances of war, I think they said just pull it in. Don't, don't wiggle your ears, don't make funny faces, don't antagonize anybody. I think that was the sense.

AD: What, how did you guys consider yourself in terms of, sort of, did you consider yourselves American? Talk about sort of patriotism and how you, how you perceived yourselves in America during that time.

FS: Well, I guess growing up in that neighborhood with all the other, with the Caucasian kids and stuff, always considered myself an American. I don't think I ever considered myself anything else, but I was certainly aware, even in those days, being young and dumb, that my parents could not be American citizens, and that was, it was a kind of a thorn in my side. But as far as I was concerned, there was never any question about where my loyalties were.

AD: Did those feel questioned, did those loyalties feel questioned after, after Pearl Harbor and sort of all the events?

FS: No, no, I don't think I did, nor did anything I say or do ever reflect that.

AD: But I mean, did you feel like other people were questioning?

FS: Oh, I'm sure that some people thought that, that we, there might be something wrong with us, that we might, we might be enemy agents, we lived down by the railroad tracks. And the people who lived in the railroad camp across the, across the tracks there, they moved them out of there. But they, they had, most of those people had moved to the railroad for thirty or forty years, and they closed up that railroad camp and moved them away.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.