Densho Digital Archive
Japanese American Museum of San Jose Collection
Title: Eiichi Sakauye Interview
Narrator: Eiichi Sakauye
Interviewer: Jiro Saito
Location: San Jose, California
Date: February 8, 2005
Densho ID: denshovh-seiichi-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

JS: Well, that kind of brings us up to the, at the beginning of the war, and this is what you described as what took place prior to World War II. Now I'd like to kind of turn to that. How old were you when the war began?

ES: When?

JS: Yeah. How old were you when the war began in 1941?

ES: I was thirty-two years of age.

JS: Thirty-two years old? Okay. And when Pearl Harbor, or a few days after Pearl Harbor took place, could you describe to me what it was like in San Jose as a whole?

ES: Well, after Pearl Harbor, we were stunned. And our parents were Japanese aliens, and we Niseis were barely getting up there, twenty-one years of age or better, to have any clout in the city, local government. So there's nothing that we could do, and we just feared what's going to happen to us. And when plainclothesmen come to your home and start searching, what are they searching us for? Makes you wonder. We as the Nisei who were over twenty-one years of age, we tried to express our rights as American citizens as we had learned in school. I for one, when we got raided, questioned the officer, rights of American citizen to enter our private home.

JS: Who raided you?

ES: It was three men. He didn't say where they come from or nothing, they just wanted to search the house. I questioned him, "Who are you? Who are you representing?" Because I knew, I thought I knew my constitutional rights. Anyway, they came to the door and I couldn't get any answer. They pushed me back with the door and went through the whole house opening every door, every closet, and went out to the back door. So only burglars go out the back door, enter the front and go in back door. So they went all through the building, our building, opened everything, then they start driving out. So I got in front of the car and saying, "Wait a minute. I want to know why you're here, or identify yourself." They wouldn't identify themselves, just about run over me. So I, immediately I called the sheriff, because I lived out in the country, and the sheriff wouldn't, was, wouldn't give me no answer. So then I called the FBI, Louis Dewine here, and asked them, "What's this all about? What's happening?" And he told me to come in, so I went to where he had his office, second floor on the main post office building, and we had a long talk together. And he didn't ask me, "Do you know of any person of Japanese ancestry who would commit crime or sabotage or subversive activities?" I said, "No. My parents are aliens, and they are not able to get American citizen. They're loyal residents; they pay their taxes, they stay out of the crime and so forth, so I don't understand what this is all about." Then I questioned him about what are, or what is going to become of us, or what is, "What is behind all this?" To think this over, in 1940, we had a census taken. So from that, these three gentlemen -- I call 'em gentlemen, I don't want to call 'em something else -- came to, right to the house, our place to the family, because when that census taken, they knew where you lived, whether you're alien, and what are these things you belong to, everything is there. So that's how a lot of our parents were taken in to Crystal City or other, Bismarck, and that's what happened.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2005 Densho and The Japanese American Museum of San Jose. All Rights Reserved.