Densho Digital Archive
Frank Abe Collection
Title: Jim Akutsu Interview
Narrator: Jim Akutsu
Interviewers: Frank Abe (primary); Frank Chin (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: August 28, 1993
Densho ID: denshovh-ajim-02-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

FC: Did your family suffer because of the stand you took?

JA: Yes, my mother did. Yeah, they cut her off, very... that's one of the reason she took her own life. She said, "I can't even go to church anymore." Because the Issei women, they said, "We don't want you here." So she was really picked on. Me, I'm pretty callused. And, "If you're going to do it, go ahead and try it." That's my attitude. So I never got into a fight, nobody spit at me. Sure, they gave me a lot of silent treatment, well, to me, that doesn't hurt. And there was so much that had to be done to reactivate the youth group, and break the discrimination of workplace here, engineer, no engineer got, architect or anything. Sure, as a janitor or dishwasher, fine. Gardener, not as a pro. So I fought the city hall, almost got thrown in jail again. [Laughs]


JA: I believe that my mother suffered because of the stand I took.

FC: What happened?

JA: Well, she got ostracized. Got cut away from the Issei community. And the last thing that happened was, she was told to not come to church anymore. So she told me, "I can't even go to church." And it was shortly thereafter, she took her life. Not the way it was written in No-No Boy. But the terrible thing is, some of the people... it was an incident. Shortly there-, that same day my mother died, there was a nurse -- her brother died of, let's see... appendicitis. He didn't go abroad. She couldn't stop talking about how my mother killed herself. And there was a young lady there trying to stop her, she wouldn't stop. That's how it was. 'Course, it was hard for me to take, but I just swallowed it, and that's it.

Male voice: Would you do -- knowing now what happened, if you had the chance to do it again, would you do it all over again?

JA: If the same condition, yes.

FC: It was worth it to you.

JA: Oh, yeah. I mean, it has to be contested. It has to be.

FC: Did your mother ever tell you, "Quit it. Forget it. Don't do it"?

JA: No, no. She, she knew what I was doing. And, of course, I had a good person behind me, Dolby. John Wesley Dolby, he was the consul for Spain. And he used to tell me, "You're being violated very much."

FC: Did your mother understand what you were doing?

JA: Oh, yes, uh-huh.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1993, 2005 Frank Abe and Densho. All Rights Reserved.