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

[Ed. note: Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

FC: Min Yasui has arrived in Minidoka. What's the weather like when you go visit him?

JA: I would say it was quite cold, and I had to make a couple of visits before I was able to meet with him.

FC: He wasn't home the first time?

JA: No, because then I'll come back and say, "I'll come back again," and I did meet with him.

FC: How? What happened when you met with him? Why did you go see him?

JA: Well, number one, the reason is I wanted to know because he was a resister to start with, and I wanted to find out... I had a strategy of my own and I thought I'd put it past him, being an attorney, I thought maybe he could give me a little verification or give me some direction or see, or tell me, "You're going in the right direction." Yeah. That was the basic reason.

FC: What was your strategy?

JA: Well, actually, I lost my citizenship -- given 4-C. That was the biggest thing, 4-C, okay? And --

FC: You, you interpreted the draft classification of 4-C as a loss of your citizenship?

JA: Yes. Because --

FC: Would you say that? "I considered... because I was classified 4-C, I considered that I, the government had taken away my citizenship." Something like that.

JA: Or whatever they did so they could put us into a concentration camp, and I wasn't able to vote anymore... as a citizen that's one of the biggest things. That's the thing you take when you die -- you can't take anything else, but that's the only thing. And that was my main thing. With no cause, no due process, you got put in camp, and I was held there.

FC: Okay, let's back up. Again, say, "I was classified" --

JA: We all were.

FC: Oh, okay.

JA: Yes. We were all classified... see, we were classified once 4-C. 1-A to 4-C. And you were put in camp, and then again, before the segregation -- you know, when you got that question 27 and 28 -- you were given classification again, you were given the 4-C, okay?

FC: And 4-C meant...?

JA: Enemy alien, not obligated for military service.

FC: Did Yasui agree with you?

JA: Well, actually, I told him that, the first time -- I mean, to begin with, I wanted to know a little more about him, and then know why he did it. So I told him that with this selective service reinstatement of volunteering, selective service that was coming up, I said that I have a way that I can beat this thing and that was to prove myself an alien. And to prove myself an alien, I had to apply to the Spanish consul, or the Spanish embassy that I am an alien and I want to be repatriated, and they accepted me, repatriate, okay? Then at the same time, at camp, I, when the naturalization act came up I said I wanted to be repatriated. So WRA, WRA accepted. So Spanish embassy, WRA both accepted my repatriation.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1993, 2005 Frank Abe and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

FC: What does "repatriation" mean?


JA: Repatriate means that I as a enemy -- as an alien, want to be, want to go back to my own country. Expatriate means, as a citizen of United States you will expatriate, meaning that you want to leave the country, expatriate.

FC: Did Yasui agree with the strategy?

JA: Well, actually, I told him that that's what I was going to do and, "I will fight the case and when it comes up, when the... let's see... citizenship comes up, I will bring up the documents from the Spanish embassy, and also from WRA to prove to the government that I am an alien, and under 4-C, that I had no obligation." Or anybody. In matter of fact, anybody in camp, everybody held in camp given 4-C, they didn't have any obligation. That's right out of the selective service classification.

FC: So as a strategy, how was this going to work?

JA: Okay. The thing was, strategy was that I will claim that I had no obligation, but to prove that I was an alien I had to have a document or something by the third country or somebody, third party telling me that I am okay to be repatriated. So they're accepting me as an alien, okay? That's the main thing. So Spanish embassy accepted me as an alien. WRA, they also accepted me as an alien and that's the document that I wanted to take to the, my day in court, to say that, "Here it is; I'm an alien. And 4-C, I do not have any obligation." Meaning all the rest of the people in camp, if they're in camp, classified 4-C, they had no obligation. The funny thing is, two camps -- Minidoka and Heart Mountain -- where JACL was very active, we got the biggest sentence. We in Minidoka got more than Heart Mountain did. But Poston and Tule Lake, Gila River, all the others, the judge says, "No case," or whatever it is, "You go back home." Because they didn't cite that they were 4-C, "enemy alien," with no obligation. But why did they...

FC: How did giving up your citizenship... did giving up your citizenship --

JA: I didn't give it up. The government is the one that, you know, took it away, or whatever they did to meet their whatever, to put us in camp. So the thing is, the government did that. Not me. I didn't give it away. The government took it away with no cause, no due process. That's what I'm challenging. The thing is, if they could do it to me, then what about the rest of the America?

FC: But by accepting being alien, how did you hope to restore your rights as an American citizen?

JA: It was up to the government. It was up to the government. They violated the Constitution or whatever they did, they did it in violation. Therefore, it's up to them to right whatever wrong. Therefore, I'm always putting the monkey on the government's back. "You correct it. You said this -- you correct it." See? I never said, "I'm an American." I never said that. Yeah. Because they made me an alien, therefore I am an alien. Okay? Other people claimed they're American citizen, therefore the government would come down and say, "Hey, when we tell you to jump, you better jump. How far, that's up to you." But in my case I didn't have to. Why? Because I'm an alien. If the laws, the Constitution applied, why didn't it apply to us? Everything. Why didn't it apply to us? It didn't, so what was I, alien or citizen? If I were a citizen, yes, it applied, and I could vote, I could do whatever, but I couldn't vote, I couldn't get out, I couldn't go to school, I couldn't go out to work. I was just held.

FC: So you felt by accepting, having the papers to demonstrate you were an alien, that the government had declared you an alien...

JA: Yes. They accepted me, the WRA, on the other hand, Spanish embassy.

FC: ...that this would force the government to reconsider?

JA: That's right. It's putting the monkey on their back and saying, "No, no, wait a minute. You're still a citizen." Well, then, if I were a citizen, what am I doing in camp? Why can't I get out? Why are my constitutional rights, etcetera, constantly being violated?

FC: Do me a favor and say these words: "I hoped with my strategy, to make, force the government to reconsider my citizenship status."

JA: Yes.

FC: Say those words.

JA: Okay. With my doing, I hoped the government will reconsider my citizenship status. Make a definite, you know. We didn't know -- lot of people didn't know who they were. They were in limbo.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1993, 2005 Frank Abe and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

FA: You were in Minidoka, you heard of Min Yasui.

JA: Uh-huh.

FA: What did you hear about Min Yasui?

JA: Well, I heard of him as being one of the three who fought evacuation or curfew or whatever they did. That's the thing. And I thought, "Well, hey, gee. They got something." And in my case, at the time, when they were fighting the government, I was too busy closing off my dad's business, signing off my school, university, and doing odds and ends. Oh yeah, the real estate, we had to get some lessees. And it was so... that Mr. Dolby, he was the acting consul-general for Spain on behalf of Japanese aliens, and he became the one that took over my property.


FA: So you're in Minidoka, and you hear about Min Yasui's test case.

JA: Uh-huh.

FA: Tell me again, what'd you think about that?

JA: Well, I thought it was good. I thought he had, these guys had a lot of gumption, and from what was going on in camp, by the time he got back I wanted to meet with whoever. And the one that came back to camp was Min Yasui.

FA: So then what happened?

JA: Well, I tried to get an appointment, I went over to meet with him, he wasn't in. So I probably went a few times until I did get the appointment to meet with him. Yeah.

FA: Then what?

JA: And then what I wanted to do was to talk about what was going on in camp, and this is how I felt. And I thought that here, here we are in camp, and there, they called for the volunteers, then also called, they're reinstating, you know, the selective service. And I just couldn't see myself going along with that knowing what I did know. That we as a -- what shall I say -- evacuee, have no obligation for military service, and that was the main point. The main point was that I am an alien, okay? Therefore I did not have any obligation.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1993, 2005 Frank Abe and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

FA: So you finally got to see Min Yasui. Tell me again, why did you go see him, what did you want from him?

JA: Well, what I want was he, his being a attorney, I thought maybe that I could get some clarification on a few things. And why he did his thing and that I'm gonna pick up from where he left off and pick it up in camp, and to bring it to court. Number one, it wasn't too much as the induction, it was the citizenship, loss of our citizenship status. That was the main thing. And the only way to bring it up, to have my day in court was to say I'm not going, not answer the draft. Okay? Then I will have a day in court, at which time I'll bring up the documents to prove that I'm an alien, that the alien does not have to meet the military obligation. Therefore, nobody in camp. And that was my strategy, to pass out --

FA: Jim --

JA: Yeah?

FA: What did Min Yasui tell you?

JA: Well, he said, "You better, you better take it easy." In fact, he says, "forget about it." And he said, "What you should do is go along with the draft." And he, and then the next thing, he told about the case -- his case, that you don't get any real justice. He said, "All you do is get, it's a kangaroo court at best, and therefore you won't get a fair trial." So he said, "You better just go along with it and just comply." So I said, "No, I'm just going to go through with it," and he tried to talk me out of it. But I told him, "Well, even if I have to do it alone, I'll do it." And he mentioned about, "You might get killed. They're pretty rough people." See? So I said, "Well, either way, in the battlefield or in jail, I've only got one life." But he kept telling me that I should forget about it and comply. So when, by that time, I kind of felt where he's coming from, so I just said, "Well, thank you very much," and that's it. Left.

FA: Given the fact that you had looked up to him as someone who had launched a test case and stood up for Japanese American rights, for your rights, he says, "Forget it," how'd that make you feel?

JA: Well, I just lost confidence in him. I just said, "Well, I'll forget you, and I'll go on my own." Just like I just said, you know, I'll go on my own, if I had to do it all by myself. But in the meantime, I've got all of these documents in hand.

FA: And I think I must have missed something, but you said that when Min tried to, he said, "Forget about it," he told you something else? I didn't quite...

JA: Like what?

FA: He said that you might get persecuted.

JA: Yeah, I just said -- I told you that.

FA: Yeah, I missed that. I'm sorry. Tell me again.

JA: Yeah, my --

FC: Who would beat you up?

JA: Yeah, they would beat you up or get killed.

FC: Who would kill you?

JA: The inmates.


JA: Min Yasui told me that I have a chance of getting beat up or even get killed in the federal penitentiary, and he said, "There are lots of tough people there and for what you're doing, they may harm you." So I told him that, "So? That's my chance. That I either get killed out in the battlefield or get killed. It's... but I'm going through with it."

FA: Why not go out and get killed in the battlefield, Jim? That's the, supposedly the honorable --

JA: Well, to me, okay, to me, there was a priority. To me, this was number one priority on my list. Because going out to field, to battlefield, all I have to say is, "Yes," and just go out and chance that you wouldn't get killed. But the thing is, the priority, this is the biggest priority. It meant the citizenship of any American. And therefore I felt that that is number one, and that's the thing I had to bring up, you know, at court.


FC: Did Yasui give you the impression that he had been beaten up in federal penitentiary?

JA: No. He didn't.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1993, 2005 Frank Abe and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

FC: What was it like going to camp?

JA: Like going to camp?

FC: What was it... the day of the evacuation, or the first impression of Minidoka.

JA: Well, the first impression when I got off the train, hot, dusty, and it was, "Wow, what a place," you know? And beyond that, I, being a hiker and camper, I could tough most anything.


JA: Snow will accumulate in certain place. It's so cold it just blows away, and it was, if I'm not mistaken, it was during, when it was very cold.

FC: There was snow on the ground?

JA: That's what I, just what I said. It could blow and it'll drift up on the building or something like that.

FC: How long, how far did you have to walk?

JA: Oh, it was quite a ways. Now, if you look at the album for Minidoka you could see from where I was, Block 5 to wherever he was up in the 20s, across from the high school. Probably a mile or so.

FC: Through the snow?

JA: Well, I would say cold but not through, you know, it wasn't piled up or anything. There it's so cold that everything is powder, it just blows away unless there's something to catch it.

FC: Was Yasui cordial?

JA: He seemed to have been, yes. All through, he was cordial.

FC: Offer you tea?

JA: I don't remember. I don't think so. [Laughs]

FC: Was, did he impress you as an intelligent man? An honest man, a leader?

JA: Well, as I talked with him, it just kind of died away.

FC: Were you looking for a leader?

JA: Yes, somebody to work with, because he had the background. And I have, he wasn't in camp long enough, while I was in camp when the, opening to the time I met him, and I saw what's going on and what's going on in the outside. And there were a lot of things that bothered me, like newspaper would write, you know, like Jerome county and another county fighting over to draft us to, on behalf of drafting a white American from there. Then also in the newspaper, Oregonian and Washington newspaper, they're wanting to use us to fill their quota. And here we are in a concentration camp and here they're, these guys are all fighting to fill their quota so that the white Americans don't have to be drafted. And there were things like that that came up over and over and over that bothered me.

FC: Okay. Do me a favor and say these words: "I was looking for a leader or someone to work with."

JA: Uh-huh. Yes. I was looking for a leader or somebody to work with.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1993, 2005 Frank Abe and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

Male voice: When you guys went to camp, did the government provide leaders amongst you, or did they appoint somebody?

JA: Well, JACL more or less appointed themselves.

FC: There was a camp administration there. Run the student government, etcetera.

JA: Yeah, and they took upon themselves that they are the leader and they only represented, what, only just 7 or 8 percent of the total Japanese American population.

FC: Were you a member of the JACL at the time?

JA: No.

FC: In Seattle, were you a member of the JACL?

JA: No.

FC: You knew that the JACL had been founded in Seattle?

JA: Oh, yeah. Yes, I knew.

FC: And why weren't you a member?

JA: Well, actually, they were inviting people; I never was invited. And I was too busy, involved in my own thing.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1993, 2005 Frank Abe and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

JA: Yeah, because there was so much misunderstanding that's going on, and number one, that's a misunderstanding between the resisters and the non-resisters, including the vets. And to me, I had something that I want to prove to the government that they cannot do this, this, this... I did not want to just blindly follow whatever they tell us to "prove your loyalty." What loyalty? I was loyal; why should I prove? Like answering that 27, 28? Yeah, I said 27, I said, "Sure, send me anywhere, I'll go." 28 I said, "No." Number one because I did not pledge allegiance to any other country, flag, whatever. And in 1943 I'm saying, "Hey, I changed my mind, I'm gonna pledge allegiance." I said, "What for?" See? Never pledged allegiance to anybody, any other country. So why should I, now, all of a sudden, pledge allegiance in 1943, staying in a concentration camp and having a 4-C.

FC: How many years did you... you were convicted?

FA: Yeah.

FC: How many years did you serve at McNeil Island?

JA: Well, we were given three years, ten months. We were the longest. That's why I say JACL was involved with Minidoka. The core of JACL was there. Hosokawa was over at Heart Mountain.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1993, 2005 Frank Abe and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

FC: After the war, after you're home from jail, how did the community accept you?

JA: Pretty cold. Yeah.

FC: What happened?

JA: Well, actually, if you read the No-No Boy, some of that did happen, but --

FC: Did they spit on you?

JA: Well, they never did. They knew who... they never did. I knew what I would have done. Yeah. And the people that would have spit on me, they knew what I used to, I used to handle myself pretty good.

FC: Were, do you know of people who had made the same stand as you, did you know of people being spit on?

JA: I don't know. But they've been given some pretty rough time. Guys that played basketball or baseball, they were given a rough time. But I don't know about being spit at.

FC: Were you given a rough time?

JA: Not really. Yeah. Not really. Only thing is the silent treatment. You know, like somebody that I know would be coming down the street, they'll walk across. I'll say, "Hi," to 'em, and they'll just... so by the time, certain time, you know which ones gonna evade you. So, to me, it didn't matter. There was so much things that had to be done after I got back. Nobody was in church, the church had just a little group. They had to reactivate the youth group, and to fight the discrimination for a job, they were the important thing. It wasn't being done. And as soon as I got back, I got into it, fought my way into the city hall --

FC: Did anyone ever call you, to your face, "coward," "draft evader," "draft dodger"?

JA: Yeah. Only just a couple months ago, a big JACL -- he's supposed to be a big JACL man -- I was trying to get money for Frank's thing down in California, and he came on and said, "You draft evaders." He's a big JACL man, he came right out. And I told him to take it back, he won't do it. I've got the total meeting on tape if you want to hear it. It's very interesting. Yeah. Even, only a couple of months... no, the time that I was trying to get the money for Frank.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1993, 2005 Frank Abe and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 10>

JA: My mother understood exactly what I was trying to do, and this was to contest the wrong the government did to us.

FC: But she never said, "Don't do it"?

JA: No.

FC: Any other members of your family?

JA: Well, my father was picked up shortly after the war, maybe the day, and I never saw him until probably sometime in '44 when he was released from Lordsburg, New Mexico.

FC: Okay, let's get that clear. "My father was picked up on the night of December 7th."

JA: Or the following day.

FC: Okay.

JA: My father was picked up either the night of December 7th, or the following day, and I didn't see him until possibly into 1944.

FC: How old were you?

JA: Oh, I was twenty-one. Let's see... no, twenty-two.

FC: Say it again, please.

JA: I was twenty-two.

FC: So only you and your mother went to camp, of your family.

JA: No, my brother.

FC: Uh-huh. Older, younger?

JA: Younger brother. Five years, six years younger.

FC: So you all shared an apartment?

JA: Uh-huh.

Male voice: When did, when were you let go? When did they let you go? When did they finally just abandon you and say, "Go on home?"

JA: Okay, I was in prison.

Male voice: Right. What was your last day in prison like?

JA: And that was probably... gee, I can't be exact. I can tell you, but it must have been in '46, sometime, November '46.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1993, 2005 Frank Abe and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

FC: You knew, you were in the same prison with Gordon Hirabayashi?

JA: Well, he was there. He was there but then he was out in the farm and we were in the main line. We were too, we were "dangerous."

FC: Oh, you were in the "big house"?

JA: Yes, yeah. We were in the main line.

FC: So you were considered...

JA: Very "dangerous," because for what the FBI reported. See, all of this report went from Min Yasui, I don't know what the route was. But it went to Clarence Arai, from Arai to WRA, to FBI. Because I got interrogated shortly thereafter about my repatriation. Clarence Arai, he was the head of the seditious committee for JACL. And I got interrogated. And he was saying, he told me that, "You can't repatriate, expatriate." I says, "Why? I'm an alien." And we argued about that.

FC: After, so you're saying that shortly after you had your talk with Min Yasui, you were called in or picked up --

JA: Called in by Clarence Arai.

FC: And he was... he was head of JACL internal security or something like that.

JA: I didn't know that. I found out after reading the Daniels, or Roger's book, I found out. He was my attorney to start with. You see, my will was made by him, December 26, 1941. So I took my physical shortly after the war. And I wrote the will, 26th.

FC: Are you saying that Min Yasui, Clarence Arai of the JACL, fingered you for arrest?

JA: Well, I don't know. But then there is a letter that went from, from the leave clearance officer that I'm not going. So as a suggestion and a favor to us -- meaning WRA -- do something. And the draft notice that came, here I was supposed to have gone, inducted May 21, 1944. Made out June 10, 1944. And I didn't get that until some time later. See, I had these documents with me.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1993, 2005 Frank Abe and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

FC: How old was your mother when she took her own life?

JA: Oh, she must have been in latter fifty, fifty or probably early sixty.

FC: And the church was a big part of her life.

JA: Yes, because she got, more or less, isolated, you know, the Issei people. They were pretty cruel people. Only had one person she could talk to outside. And she thought, well, she can go to church and have peace there. But she was told not to come anymore.

Male voice: What did you do for a funeral?

JA: Well... what's that?

FC: Was there a public funeral?

JA: Yeah, right, in the No-No Boy. They carried the coffin up the stairs, steep stairs. And the only place, across the street from grammar school, is the Nichiren church.

FC: Was the funeral well-attended?

JA: Yes. She was very helpful to the community, before, and probably not as much. She would help anywhere she's welcome.

FC: How were you treated at the funeral? Did the community continue to shun you?

JA: Well, to me, it was funeral, that's it. I didn't see anything out of the ordinary.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1993, 2005 Frank Abe and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

FC: At McNeil Island, did you meet any of the FPC boys?

JA: You mean the Fair Play?

FC: Yeah.

JA: Yes. See, they were in camp -- I mean, they were in the camp, meaning farm.


FC: What did you think of them? How did you, where did you meet them?

JA: Okay, really, I and Frank Emi were communicating back and forth. I wanted to find out what their strategy was. And he was saying he's taken the American stand: "I'm an American, and you did this, this, this, this. So we won't go until it's straightened out. Well, I thought that that wasn't enough. Now, Gordon and Yasui and Korematsu, they claimed American, and told the government, "You can't do," and they said, "If you're an American, you do whatever we tell you." So when I, during the correspondence between Emi and myself, I said, "Okay, then if you're going to go the American," and that's what they were doing, so I said, "Okay, I'll take the alien side." And so it's not that I didn't know what they were doing. And James Omura was the in-between people. I was getting the communication through Jim, or directly from Emi.

FC: You read the Rocky Shimpo?

JA: Yeah. But when I found out they were going to violate me, then I had to go on my own. I, the time was of the essence, and I didn't have time communicating with Emi or with Jim.

FC: Were you communicating with Emi before you saw Yasui? Or was that after?

JA: I'd say after. Because I heard of the Fair Play Committee. Now, that is, it all within weeks or so, so I can't say before or after. But I was in communication with Emi.

FC: So about this same time you were in communication with Emi.

JA: Yeah, right. And therefore they took one, so I took the other. So I just wanted to make sure with Frank -- that's one of the reasons I went down to California, was to listen to what they had to say all over again. And for that reason I took the alien status. And my strategy was that, that I disclosed to Min Yasui. And I didn't really -- I wanted, for sure, the document from the embassy and it was from WRA accepting me to be sent to Crystal City, Texas, to be deported as a repatriate. So once I got that, I was ready. Then this letter went from Stafford to the draft board as a suggestion as, and as a favor.

FC: And Stafford was...

JA: He was the director for Minidoka. I think it was either Stafford or the leave officer.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1993, 2005 Frank Abe and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

FC: Your brother; what happened to him?

JA: Well, he got called the first thing. And you know there's something... I don't know. There may be a little connection to see whether I had any influence over, on my brother. And sure, I had influence on him, so he wouldn't go.

FC: He refused the draft?

JA: Yeah. He was the youngest one. He just turned eighteen, and bang, he was really when the -- first thing, when the reinstatement of selective service. He and, I think, George Nakagawa or Smith Hayami -- they're the youngest, they just turned eighteen.


JA: He was the first of the -- when it was reactivated January 31st of 1944.

FC: Now would you say, tell us that he refused the draft.

JA: Yes. My brother refused the draft, also.

FC: Because...

JA: Because he was in the same position. We were never able to leave camp. School, work, and we still had the 4-C, "enemy alien." But if you look at my will, I have a card that was sent to -- after I took my physical in February, I made my appeal. You have ten days to appeal your classification. They classified you after you took your physical.

FC: Your brother go to jail with you?

JA: Yes.


JA: Well, my brother was called, one of the first one to be called for induction. He refused induction and was taken to county jail over in Boise. And he had to stay there from around April 'til October. I got picked up in July, and I got picked up and sent to Boise, Idaho. And there we had the trial and we were both convicted, same amount of time, to federal penitentiary, McNeil Island.

FC: Good.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1993, 2005 Frank Abe and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

Male voice: What did you think about on the boat trip back from McNeil Island back to the mainland?

JA: Well, the thing was, going was more. You know, the guys were talking, and as soon as we got on that boat, everybody just got quiet. And then, the biggest thing is when we heard that gate slam -- [makes sound effect] -- as we went inside. That kind of, you know, you get that kind of a cold feeling. But coming back was... didn't have much, but going in, yes.

Male voice: What did you think about what it would be like on the outside again, after three years?

JA: No, we knew what was going on. We weren't there that long, but coming back out of there, it was just like going back home. But I was expecting a lot of things that could happen within my own community, that being Japan, Japanese American. And I was pretty well-prepared for that.

FC: Prepared for...

JA: Anything. Physical or otherwise.

FC: But you weren't prepared for a great reception, a party, parade, welcome home...

JA: Oh, no, no, no. No. No, nothing like that.

Male voice: Who met you on this side of the water?

JA: We just took a bus and came home, and got off at Second and Main Street.

FC: You were alone, then. Nobody met you.

JA: Well, we just, I just... no, I don't think so, yeah. And I just walked home. And that's where your, John Okada's book starts.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1993, 2005 Frank Abe and Densho. All Rights Reserved.