Title: Testimony of Elmer S. Tazuma, (denshopd-i67-00204)
Densho ID: denshopd-i67-00204

Members of the Hearing Commission:

My name is Elmer S. Tazuma. I reside at ___________ in Seattle, Wash. I have lived in the United States 60 of my 65 years. I would like to talk a little about my family and what I would like to see done so that what happened to us would not happen again.

In 1928, just before the depression my father bought a little Dime store on Jackson St. The depression nearly wiped us out, but by 1941 we thought we were about to see the fruit of our struggle. However, Pearl Harbor and the subsequent events completely destroyed all the ten long years of struggle in one swift sweep. We were not the only ones that suffered. All of us suffered one way or another. But that is not what I wish to talk about. I wish to point out that which is not obvious to those who are not Japanese in America. That we are Americans first and Japanese by accident.

I once saw a post war movie of Japan where a black lady, who was born of a Japanese mother during the occupation. This black lady was trying to make her way in Japan as a singer and though her voice was good, she could not get people to listen to her. Finally in desperation she shouted at her audience. "Damn you," she said. " I May be black outside but inside I am all Japanese." After listening to her, the audience finally caught on to her real feeling and gave her a standing ovation and accepted her as one of themselves.

Most of us have lived here for 40 or more years. We look like Japanese, but inside we are Americans. We want to be treated as Americans first and not the other way around.

Some effort should be made to make people realize that some Americans come in different colors.

If this hearing can accomplish just that, we would be more than fully compensated. As far as I am concerned this and only this should be the purpose of this hearing. No amount of money could equal that.


Elmer S. Tazuma