Densho Digital Archive
Frank Abe Collection
Title: Fred Hirasuna Interview
Narrator: Fred Hirasuna
Interviewers: Frank Abe (primary); Frank Chin (secondary)
Date: 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-hfred-02-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

FA: Fred, I'm here for one reason, and that's to hear your story. This is, this is your stage, Fred, to tell me what you want to say. This is, I'm doing the story of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee, the draft resisters. What do you think about my doing that?

FH: I, the way I understand it, this whole thing is going to be bent towards supporting the draft resisters. The whole project. And you want my side of the story. Well, I'll give you my side.

FA: Please, go ahead.

FH: You want to talk about the draft resisters?

FC: What's your opinion of the draft resisters?

FH: Well, I think this; I think there were sixty-eight people involved in that group.

FA: Sixty-three.

FH: Sixty-three. All right. And I'm, I'm going to say this. That I bet, among those sixty-three people, there are some who really didn't want to go into the draft. They didn't want to go into the war, period. There were others who would rather go to prison rather than go to war. 'Cause in war, you face injury, death, and all the rest that comes with military service. What I'm saying is that group at Heart Mountain is not uniform in their desire to protect their constitutional rights, you know. Because I think there's, if they really believe in the constitutional rights, they would not have supported evacuation, which was a violation of our constitutional rights. But they did go into camp. Why did they go into camp? Because they followed the rest of the crowd. And when it comes to the Heart Mountain group itself, I think there's, they selected sixty-three of them, and as I said before, in the sixty-three, I'm willing to bet you anything that sixty-three did not go because they supported their constitutional rights.

FA: Do you, do you know that for a fact?

FH: No, I don't know. What do you know for a fact?

FA: I've, I've talked to them.

FH: Well, what does that mean, you've talked to them?

FA: I've interviewed as many of the sixty-three draft resisters as are willing to go public. Every one of them tells me they resisted the draft because they wanted to defend the Constitution.

FH: They told you that. How do you know they're telling you the truth?

FA: How do you know they weren't?

FH: Just for the same reason that you don't know.

FA: I don't want to get into opinion.

FH: Just a direct question, it doesn't mean -- I can tell you all kinds of lies face-to-face. You don't have to believe me, and I don't have to be right.

FA: Fred, what is the JACL?

FH: Oh, that's the other thing. I understand that you are not pro-JACL, Frank Chin is not pro-JACL, for what reason I don't know. But I think this: the JACL did a great deal to ease our problems in evacuation. They counseled cooperation with the army. What else could we do? Franklin Roosevelt in February 19th, I think, 1942, Executive Order 9066, he gave General DeWitt free reign to do whatever he pleased with the Japanese group on the West Coast. And we know that DeWitt was a racist. He's the one that said, "A Jap is a Jap no matter where he was born." And they left it to that man to decide our fate. JACL went along because there was nothing else we could do. What would have happened if, like Frank Chin said, we had just stood on our heels and, "The hell with you guys. We're not gonna go." And they came in with the army and forced us to go, risking injury to women, children, little kids, you know. But you want a question.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1998, 2005 Frank Abe and Densho. All Rights Reserved.