Densho Digital Repository
Katsugo Miho Collection
Title: Katsugo Miho Interview VII
Narrator: Katsugo Miho
Interviewers: Michiko Kodama Nishimoto (primary), Warren Nishimoto (secondary)
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: March 22, 2006
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1022-7-9

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KM: In the meantime, there was this conversation going on with Hiram Fong and my brother and somebody on the telephone who just happened to be Blaisdell, Mayor Blaisdell at that time. Mayor Blaisdell was running for reelection in 1958. At that time, the city and county was run by city councilmen. Nine city council members running all at large, the whole island. And Mayor Blaisdell, Mayor Blaisdell had been in touch with Hiram because he wanted to get in, keep in touch with Hiram. The mayor had to run with a slate of officers, slate of candidates for the city council. They wanted to work as a team, and he was lacking one more candidate to be on his team, preferably an AJA. I think Ernest Yamane and I, at that point. Well, at that point, I hadn't agreed yet. So these two had a conversation. Somehow, I think it was Blaisdell who asked Hiram, he said, "How about Kats's younger brother?" I don't know why they didn't ask Katsuro. But he was never trying to become a candidate himself. I guess he and Hiram felt one was enough between the two of them, to be in politics. Back then, one was Republican and one was a Democrat. So anyway, Hiram says, "Hoy don't you go run?" I said, "I'm not involved. As a matter of fact, Donald would come up and make me sign a card. And we talked about, for one hour, I think, my brother and Hiram argued that it was bad for the AJA community that so many of the veterans would become only Democratic candidates, that for the AJA community to have all of its veterans joining the Democratic party and becoming only Democrats is not in the best interests of not only the Japanese community but for the entire community of Hawaii. And this discussion took place over about an hour, I would estimate. But at any rate, I got convinced that maybe I should not, even though my sentiments were... and now when I think about it, politics at that point was strictly on a person-to-person basis. I had not been involved in party politics, I had not been involved in any kind of party movement, like the Republican Party or the Democratic party. On top of that, what kind of moved me was that... you see, my brother, being a member of the Democratic party, was on the outside of the Democratic party. There was this Jack Burns group who was dominating the Democratic party. And somehow, and I guess because he was a partner of Hiram Fong, who was the Republican leader at that point, the inner party of the Democratic movers never did completely accept my brother as a Democrat. And I felt kind of hurt and disturbed of the fact that my brother was not given a proper recognition or a place in the party system. I think even back then, annoyingly, I think, this had persuaded me to get involved with the Republican party. Because basically I did not approve of the way how my brother was being treated by the Democratic party members. I know he was being left out of a lot of party inner meetings and whatnot. And above all, I think this was basically... well, one of the major reasons why I joined the Republican party. Not only because it was bad AJA influence, but more on a personal basis that my brother was being on the outside of the Democratic party. By the time Donald found out that I had already committed myself to run as a city councilman, but Donald didn't speak to me for about one month or so, I think. But after that, it didn't matter. We, all of my friends accepted me for what I am.

MN: So they didn't have any hard feelings against you for becoming a Republican?

KM: No, no. Very few of my friends held it against me. Some of the people who I knew casually, never accepted me as a friend thereafter. There are some diehards, Democrats, who strictly, strong partisan workers and, soon, you get to know who they are. But those people didn't bother me. But the thing is that I soon found out that after I got elected in the first state legislature, that very often, I was very much outside the circle of the Republican train of thought. My friend, Jimmy Clark, and I, always ended up being the minority of the minority, which was a hard role, and as you know, Jimmy Clark ultimately switched parties. He tried to get me to go along with him, but my explanation to him was, "Jimmy, I don't feel it to be a personal choice." When I became a Republican party member and ran for politics, I had to depend on a lot of my personal friends who, in spite of their personal feelings, decided to back me up and support my candidacy. And their work as Republicans, I'm sure, they would not appreciate if I then switched over.

So after I lost in 1970, I was not involved with the Republican party functions or matters or what. As a matter of fact, becoming appointed as the referee, Judge Lum and I, we had to get the approval of Governor Burns. Governor Burns had put a freeze on employment in 1970. Yeah, 1970 it was a freeze. And any position like the refereeship was subject to the approval of the governor. And so Judge Lum had to obtain the approval of the governor to open up my position, the position of refereeship. And approved my appointment, so I am basically a Democratic appointee. Because although I was a Republican party member, in order to get a job in the state under the Governor Burns' regime, I had to get his approval. And I guess one of the reasons why I got his approval was because I've always been very friendly with his son Jimmy. And I think the governor knew that our relationship was very close, Jimmy and I. And the governor was very, always cordial, and for a time when he was out of office, I remember, there was a short period he was he completely out of it. He was not a delegate, he was not the delegate to Congress. And he was not a governor at that point. But during that period, there was occasions where I interacted or had a relationship with the governor and his family. So anyway, I got appointed with the blessing of the governor. And I don't think, when I didn't get my reappointment six years later, I don't think the people who were involved with the appointment process knew the background of how I got involved, how I got appointed. Because the only two people who did... the first renewal of the judgeship, the only two people who did not get reappointed was Barry Rubin and myself. And Barry Rubin was a strong Republican who was a candidate for house, as a Republican, before he became a judge. And they say that it's non-political, but when you have so many people appointed by the governor, so many people appointed by the house and the senate, the judicial appointment is not as non-political as it seems.

MN: Just for the record, what district did you represent?

KM: Fifteenth District was a multiple district, the biggest multiple district at that time, there were six of us. It covered all the way from Makiki, McCully, Waikiki, the biggest single district at that time. It was multiple districts. And so in a multiple district, very little party control, but I was reelected five times. I served eleven years. The first term was three years.

MN: And in those days, who were your fellow representatives from that particular district?

KM: From my district was James Shigemura, Hiram Fong, Jr., Dorothy Devereux, Eureka Forbes, myself, and Stuart Ho. And oh, Jin Ho's son?

MN: Stuart Ho.

KM: Yes, Stuart Ho, six of us.

MN: It was very mixed.

KM: Oh, yeah, it was very mixed. But then they made it into a single district.

MN: And that's when...

KM: That's when I got... they took away my AJA votes by putting three Democratic candidates. So that at the general election, my usual stronghold AJA votes was diluted because they had three AJA Democratic candidates.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.