Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Bob Fuchigami Interview
Narrator: Bob Fuchigami
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: May 14, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-fbob-01-0030

<Begin Segment 30>

RP: One other, I wouldn't call it a controversy, but it was something that sort of changed the fabric of Amache for a while was this "loyalty questionnaire" and the repercussions of that questionnaire which led to segregation. And you had this huge transfer of people, both a group of "loyal" people going to Tule Lake and this larger group of "loyal" people coming to Amache. Can you share your...

BF: That was, that was a fiasco. I mean, I wasn't old enough to be involved in that, but they, they were trying to do a... they were using like a paper questionnaire where they would essentially say, well, a whole list of questions which were fairly innocuous at first but there were questions twenty-seven and twenty-eight that were very controversial. Essentially saying, "Where are your loyalties?" and, "What's your allegiance?" type of thing. And one was where they, they asked -- and these were directed at men, women, children, Isseis, Niseis -- and if, if an Issei said, "No," he would essentially be a person without a country. Because he wasn't allowed to become a citizen and yet they were saying, "Where are your loyalties?" and, "What's your allegiance?" So, that created a real problem for them. And then the Niseis, on another questions, it's like, "Have you stopped beating your wife?" type of thing. Well, if he says, "Yes, I've stopped beating my wife," then it implies that you were beating your wife. It's, it's a catch-22 type of question. And, but people in Amache essentially went along with saying "yes" on both to keep the family together, and so they, when it came time to transfer the people who said, "yes-yes" or "no-no," transferred the "no-nos" out of Amache, there were a hundred and some odd that they sent to Tule Lake and then in turn brought about nine hundred from Tule Lake to Amache. People... and so we, we were reunited with some people that we thought we'd never see again, because they, when they split the people up in the Marysville/Yuba City area, the people living in Yuba City, by and large, ended up in Merced and Amache, and the people in Marysville were sent to Arboga, to a camp, and then on to Tule Lake. So in, in once sense it was nice to see some of the Marysville people in, in Amache, some old friends.

RP: Do you remember specific families?

BF: Yeah, specific families that, like the Hatamiyas and, and others that we just had, didn't think we'd ever see again.

RP: How did the, the group from Tule Lake affect the chemistry in the camp? They were loyal folks, but...

BF: Yeah... camps differed, whether it was Manzanar or Tule Lake or Topaz or whatever. Although the conditions were similar in terms of barracks and so forth. Some had more, more Issei and Kibei who, who resented the treatment more than -- and voiced it and acted upon that -- than others. In Amache, over half -- we had about 4,000 from Merced and about 3,500 from Santa Anita -- that, that group from Amache, from Merced, were, by and large, people from farming communities and not as well-organized, perhaps, and not, and not as vocal in terms of, of the treatment that, that we had been receiving. And part of it was because of Lindley and his more compassionate approach, and his administration. I mean, there were other people within the Lindley administration who were, who were more receptive and compassionate. And, so, so that was perhaps behind it, the, the imbalance in ratio between those who went to Tule Lake and those who came. There were, there were... I know one particular person, personally, who was going to be a draft resister and then he changed his mind and decided to, to go ahead with the, with the army. And he, but when they went for a physical, he was rejected anyway. But, he's a man that eventually married, and his son ended up in West Point.

RP: What changed his mind about...

BF: At first he, he was resisting going in because he was the eldest son and the father had died. So he was faced with, with having to look after his mother and a younger brother. And family came before army. I mean, if he went and got killed, who would, what would happen to his family? Then for whatever reason he changed his mind and, and proceeded to go for his physical. And people who, who said, who either became draft resisters or even the people who said, "no-no" had very varied reasons for, for their responses and for their actions. And it, it's easy to just sort of lump people together, but Japanese Americans are no different than members of any other racial group. I mean, they're, they have their reasons for doing what they're doing and they're not all the same. There's a saying that S.I. Hayakawa used to use. He said, "Cow number one is not the same as cow number two is not the same as cow number three, etcetera, etcetera." And while we always look at cows and sort of, sort of say, "Well, they're all Holsteins or Guernseys or whatever," and lump 'em all together, they're not the same. That's the same with dogs or cats or people. We look at 'em, but that's what they did with Japanese Americans. They just said, as a group. They just treated all Japanese Americans the same, or all Isseis the same, or all Kibeis the same, or whatever. And I just look at my family and I just think, my God, look at the differences just within our family. And what happened to, to us and our interests and our... and I'm sure it's the same with, with your family or anyone else's family. You look back and you say, "We were all raised in the same family, we all had the same family name. But look at how different we really are."

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.