Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Masahiro Nakajo Interview
Narrator: Masahiro Nakajo
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Sacramento, California
Date: April 4, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-nmasahiro-01-0013

<Begin Segment 13>

RP: So, what was the camp like after the riot? In the days, the day after...

MN: Oh, okay. I guess every, everything kind of settled down. Then we heard that there's a group, kids' family, that Matsumoto family in our block is big family. And from Roy -- he's one of the kids that was same age -- he says, "Well, I think we're going to another camp." And that's, we found out that that's where they got segregated. That they're going to another camp. And found out that they're going to Tule Lake. So, then after the, my sister, half-sister was in Tule Lake too at that time because she had to follow the, her husband that was alien. So he wound up going to Tule Lake and going back to Japan, see. So after they got there, some of the Tule Lake people that was there originally, they went to another camp to make room for these segregation people.

RP: And part of this segregation, the reason why they segregated people was based on their answers to the "loyalty questions."

MN: Right.

RP: Right.

MN: Yeah.

RP: And so can you share with us what you recall about that?

MN: Actually, I don't remember too much about it. All I know is the questionnaire, if you answered "no-no," you go, you get segregated, okay. You could be sent to like Tule Lake. But you could say, "yes-no."

RP: Did your dad have any thoughts about going back to Japan?

MN: No. He never had no desire to go back so we, we left it at "yes and no."

RP: Yes and no?

MN: Yeah, "yes-no." "No-no," you get segregated.

RP: Right.

MN: So, it was a question. "Yes-no"... is it "yes-no"? I don't know.

RP: No was the, or the second question was the "loyalty question," do you forswear allegiance to the emperor of Japan and...

MN: Oh, that's...

RP: And allegiance to the United States?

MN: Yeah, that's no I think.

RP: Uh-huh. And that question got changed because many Issei didn't feel comfortable giving up their connection with the only country they had.

MN: Yeah.

RP: So, uh-huh. And you said that your dad was kind of an outcast from his family because he came to America?

MN: Yeah, he was the only one that came, left their family and came to America. So he wasn't the youngest and he wasn't... he was in the middle of all the brothers. So he didn't want to go back. And that's why they, he was an outcast. And he knew that my mother wanted to take us to his ancestors in Kagoshima but they wouldn't accept us. Because our father's an outcast and his kids, see. Actually, being nephew you know. Yeah, but no, they had nothing to do with us.

RP: Getting back to your half-sister, you said that she had married this --

MN: Yeah.

RP: -- Japanese national.

MN: Yeah.

RP: And when did she get married? Before camp?

MN: They got married in Manzanar.

RP: Oh, they did get married in Manzanar.

MN: Yeah.

RP: And do you know her husband's name? Do you remember who he...

MN: All I know is his last name is Imamura. But I don't know what his first name.

RP: So he wanted to go back to Japan and so...

MN: Yeah, yeah, 'cause he didn't have no papers.

RP: So they, so your sister, half-sister goes with him to Tule Lake.

MN: Yeah, Tule Lake, but see, she was already pregnant. So they went to Tule Lake. Then the baby she had was a boy and he was born in Tule Lake. So he'd be my half-nephew.

RP: And did they go to Japan or did they...

MN: No. Well, see this is where things... we didn't want to, our sister to, her to go back to Japan with a baby, just born baby, with them. Because at that time Japan was gettin' real bombed and people are starving. And we didn't want... if she was by herself with the husband, fine. But with a baby, that's why we talked her out of it. So I think they annulled it, the...

RP: Marriage?

MN: The marriage, yeah. And he got deported to Japan. But through lawyer we had her stay.

RP: Oh, you had to hire a lawyer to...

MN: Yeah well we had this Japanese lawyer, Aiso.

RP: Aiso?

MN: Yeah, John Aiso.

RP: John Aiso.

MN: Yeah.

RP: Judge John Aiso.

MN: Right. I think they hired him.

RP: And you hired him to allow her to stay in the country?

MN: Yeah, I think so. I think my brother did that. My brother looked into it. Then the family, father, mother, they looked into it.

RP: Wow.

Off Camera: Was she able to come back to Manzanar then? After her husband went to Japan?

MN: No, she was still in Tule Lake.

RP: She stayed in Tule Lake and.

MN: Yeah, yeah.

RP: Wow, that's a pretty powerful story.

MN: So, let's see, this nephew, their only son, and he carried the father's name, is Gary Imamura. But the half-sister, she got remarried after the camp had closed and everybody got out of the camp. And while in Van Nuys, my father went sharecropping with a Chinese farmer. Had asparagus farm.

RP: Right.

MN: And that's when my half-sister was with the family and helping out. And she met this worker, farm-worker that worked for my father, harvest the asparagus. She got married to him. So they lived in El Monte for a while.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright &copy; 2011 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.