Densho Digital Archive
Frank Abe Collection
Title: James Omura Interview I
Narrator: James Omura
Interviewers: Frank Abe (primary); Frank Chin (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 9, 1990
Densho ID: denshovh-ojimmie-02-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

FA: The Sansei have always been told, they always ask the Nisei, "Why didn't you resist going into the camps?" And the Nisei -- especially the JACL -- always said, "If you were there you would have known we had no choice." Did you have a choice?

JO: Sure we did.

FA: What choice was that? Can you give me, can you give me an elaborate answer as to what the situation was?

JO: Well... let's just say... well, I think you have to realize that at the time, hysteria was not part of the war, declaration of war. There was no hysteria at that time. In fact, the hysteria didn't rise until about the end of January 1942, so most of us had considerable time to reflect on what had happened at Pearl Harbor. And as far as I could see, that we all knew that the prospect of eviction from the West Coast was not an empty issue because it was preceded by eviction of the Issei people. And naturally, we suspected, or I suspected that the Nisei would become involved in the whole program. You had to understand that at first there was no actual effort to include the Issei. Just merely the -- I mean the Nisei -- just merely the Issei, but eventually we got tied in in that EO 9066 by President Roosevelt. Still, I would say that we had a choice. I mean, you could have said... the least a person could do is at least protest. There was no protest.

FA: Who did protest?

JO: I protested.

FA: Why?

JO: Well, because I guess I was bred up in, on the Constitution, knew a lot more about history than apparently most people, most Japanese Americans, and I felt that the, if the Constitution meant something, it certainly meant that the government cannot do what they were trying to do. So I protested.

FA: How did you protest?

JO: Well, I suppose you could say that I was requested by the Tolan Commission, Committee, to appear, and at the last minute, and I went before them as the last witness of the San Francisco hearings. And I, well, unequivocally opposed eviction of Japanese Americans.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1990, 2005 Frank Abe and Densho. All Rights Reserved.