Densho Digital Archive
Frank Abe Collection
Title: Dave Kawamoto Interview
Narrator: Dave Kawamoto
Interviewers: Frank Abe (primary); Frank Chin (secondary)
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: August 1993
Densho ID: denshovh-kdave-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

FA: And how were you when Pearl Harbor broke out?

DK: About twenty-five, twenty-six.

FA: Really? So you were much older. And so when you went down to try to -- after Pearl Harbor broke out, you, did you try to enlist? And then tell me what happened.

DK: Well, some of the wrestling friends of mine, they want to volunteer, so I tagged along. And my turn came, I went up to the, the officer that was registering and I told him I would like to register in the Air Corps. Which I was, that was registered at that time. And he says, "We're not taking Japs." That's about three times he would repeat that. I didn't even have a chance to say I was born here.

FA: How did that make you feel when you were trying to volunteer and you were turned away?

DK: Well, I tried to find a place to hide. It made me feel, feel so humiliated.

FA: When, when you were, when evacuation orders were being talked about and they were posted, did you look to the Japanese American Citizens League for leadership, and what did you feel about their, their leadership and their response?

DK: Well, at that time, I think everybody went to the JACL office. But by the time I had gone to the office -- I left it as a last resort -- well, they were all gone; nobody was there. It was vacant, and nobody was there to help us. So we had to go find our own answers for what was going to happen. Went to the police station...

FA: But in terms of overall actions of the JACL around the time of the incarceration, then did you feel that they provided strong leadership or not?

DK: I would say no. They didn't provide any kind of a leadership.

FA: And how did you feel about that, Dave?

DK: Well, I thought that was pretty shameful for a group proclaiming to be our leadership, not there to help us.

FA: And you certainly expected that of the JACL?

DK: Well, I think everybody did at that time. That was the only organization that was organized to help us, but they weren't there to help us.


FA: The JACL at the time of evacuation, did it provide the kind of leadership that you expected?

DK: JACL did not provide the help that I expected, counseling and guiding. Especially the Issei people. They were the first, I mean, the first generation. I think they were taking it the hardest, and I believe that they're, more than we, wanted guidance and help from the JACL.

FA: Did the JACL provide the leadership, the kind of leadership for standing up for your rights, that you expected?


DK: Well, JACL didn't provide the help that I had hoped that they would. So we were less, more or less on our own. And went to the police department first of all, and find the rules and regulations. By doing so, like for instance, my radio, they took it to the radio shop and they cut out the shortwave coil. All you had to do was just unsolder one wire and take it off, and that was it. You didn't lose the whole radio for it. So I made a gain there.

FA: Did you attend, were there any community meetings in Mountain View, the JACL, JACL meetings, and did you attend those?

DK: Concerning the meetings of the JACL, it was held in San Jose. I belonged to the San Jose chapter and I attended several of their meetings, but they didn't provide any kind of a leadership that I expected, so I didn't follow up on any of their meetings.

FA: Dave, who spoke at those JACL meetings, for the JACL?

DK: Oh, it was usually the president that spoke up for the meetings.

FA: Min Yasui, Mike Masaoka, Joe Grant Masaoka, they come to these JACL meetings in San Jose?

DK: Well, if they did, I didn't know about it.

FA: Who was the president of the JACL in San Jose?

DK: [Laughs] Oh, I forgot.

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