Densho Digital Archive
Frank Abe Collection
Title: Art Emi Interview
Narrator: Art Emi
Interviewers: Frank Abe (primary); Frank Chin (secondary)
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: August 1993
Densho ID: denshovh-eart-01

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

<Begin Segment 1>

FA: Okay, Art, you were a good friend of Min Tamesa's. After the crucial meeting of the Fair Play Committee when they decided on the third bulletin... [interruption] when you ran into Min Tamesa, what did he tell you?

AE: Well, after the meeting, I talked to him privately and we got to know each other pretty, pretty good. And he told me that if he was in Paul Nakadate's shoes and if, if he had talked to him like he had talked to Paul Nakadate, and looked at him like he did, he would have either hit him or run away. And so... see, Min was a very down-to-earth person, and anytime anybody would get a little astray from any, any subject or any matter, then he would be the one that would be able to bring that person down to earth again. I mean, he was that solid. Very nice, very honest, very simple person. Simple by, I mean, he was not a person that was disorganized. He was a person that knew exactly what was going on.


FA: So you ran into Min Tamesa, Art. What did he tell you?

AE: Well, after the meeting, my brother Frank had talked to Paul Nakadate and the others. And Min told me that if Frank had looked at him like he had looked at Paul, and talked to him like he did, he would, he, Min, would have either hit him or run away. And so the thing was that I guess everything was pretty well straightened out at the meeting, and there was no wishy-washy feelings about it. It was either do it or let's do it the right way.


FA: Art, why did you stick your neck out to support the Fair Play Committee?

AE: Well, I believed everything that we talked about. Frank and I, we talked about it. And I was all for it. I mean, there's no question in my mind that I would have done anything any differently. And I believed in it so much that the consequences didn't mean anything to me. What had to be done had to be done.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

FA: Art, just go ahead and give me, tell me your answer again. Start with the words, "I expected to be arrested."

AE: Well, I was all set to get picked up like the rest of them. And I told my wife that I'll have things packed, if I have to go I have to go. And there was no question in my mind that I wouldn't be picked up, but being in the background of the whole thing --


FA: You talked to your wife about it and your bags are packed, but...

AE: But fortunately, I wasn't picked up.

FA: Talk about it again.

AE: I generally worked in the background, I never was a frontrunner, and that pleased me fine. And fortunately for that, I wasn't picked up. So the other fortunate thing was that at that point where I wasn't picked up and the other leaders were picked up, there wasn't anybody that I could see that could take on the meetings, continue the meetings, inform the parents what was going on, negotiate with the attorneys, and then keep the whole thing alive. So I was very fortunate to be in a position where I could help them do that. So then after that, after we all went to trial, then I was surprised at the lies that were told by Jack Nishimoto, and my confidence in the government was utterly destroyed. So...

FC: You personally knew that what Jack Nishimoto had said, testified, to be a lie?

AE: No, Frank told me.

FC: Oh, Frank told you.

AE: Yeah.

FA: You sat through the trial.

AE: Yes, but it's a very faint memory now. I can't recall anything definite about it. And...

FC: Tell us the last time you saw Kiyoshi Okamoto.

AE: Oh, that must have been about thirty years ago. He looked like a man that didn't conduct himself as a well-dressed man at all. I believe he was prospecting, and at that time I saw him with a old jeep. And he was a -- if you could call it an old prospector, he was it. But he was the, he was the brain behind the initial Fair Play Committee. And then from there, Frank talked to him and the germ of the idea was spawned.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

FA: Art, you supported the Fair Play Committee, you could have been arrested. Why did you do it?

AE: Well, when Frank and I talked about all this, there was no question in my mind what I was going to do. And so it didn't matter at all about the consequences. And later in life I made a picture to my kids, that you decide what to do, right or wrong. Draw a line right down the center, one side is right, one side is wrong. And then decide which side you should fall on. Now, that'll easily solve your problem. There is no gray in between. It's either right, or it's either wrong. So that was the decision I -- it wasn't even a decision. I mean, there was no question in my mind about it. It was a thing that had to be done. And Frank and I went on a midnight excursion through all the latrines, actually, where we put up these bulletins to have a meeting at a certain place at a certain time. And nobody else knew about it except Frank and me. That, who put it up.

FA: The Heart Mountain Sentinel editorialized, they said that these people operate in the cover of night in latrines. They were talking about you. [Laughs]

AE: Yeah. But the thing is, we went because, simply for the fact that we didn't want to be intruded on. We wanted to get the bulletin on, and the bulletin was for the public. So there is no hiding anything.

FA: Let me ask you again, in terms of -- tell me again what you expected, and how you risked arrest, and begin with the words, "I fully expected to be arrested," or something like that.

AE: Well, I fully expected to be arrested with the, like the rest of them, only they were picked up first. And I told my wife that, "Okay, I'm ready to get whatever they do to me, but this is what I believe in and it's gotta be done." There is no question in my mind that I would do anything else differently. What's right is right, what's wrong is wrong and the government is wrong.

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