Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Frank Isamu Kikuchi Interview
Narrator: Frank Isamu Kikuchi
Interviewer: John Allen
Date: November 6, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-kfrank_2-01-0011

<Begin Segment 11>

JA: Did people there -- how did people view this whole experience? I mean, was it just kind of, ultimately, resignation, this is the way it's gotta be?

FK: I think there was a lot of that, in Japanese language they call it shikata ga nai, "it can't be helped," and they were just resigned, and hopefully that things would change. They knew it would end sometime, which it did. Good thing, finally, when the war was over, the government did you might say force us out of camp, whoever was there, because we may have well lived a whole generation there and then we might have gotten too dependent on "big brother" where we wouldn't have left. And we would have changed, where we would have been so dependent on the government for everything, and even though it was mediocre quality everything, you know, compared to outside, we would've lost our initiative, I think, if we weren't forced out to seek life on our own. So, in a way of speaking, it all went for the best that we were forced out, because it seemed pretty cruel, though, at the time, because here we are with hardly any reserve or any money, the war's over, the camps are going to close, so the government says, "You gotta get out, we're closing the camps." They gave each of us, anybody that was left, twenty-five dollars each and a ticket to wherever you're going to go, and that was it.

JA: Were some people allowed to leave prior to the actual closing of the camp?

FK: Yes, six months before the war ended, there was a pretty concerted effort to get people out of camps. And in the earlier days, the WRA's plan was to try to spread the people out all over the United States rather than have 'em concentrated on the Pacific coast like they were prior to the war. You know, prior to the war, there was 100,000 Japanese on the West Coast, and probably about just a small couple of thousand past that Western Command war zone #1. Most of the Japanese were on the West Coast, and they wanted to break up those communities and see if they could get 'em out in Chicago, New York, and wherever and spread us out, so that was their idea. So they let us go out six months before the war was over if you met three conditions: you had to have a job, you had to have a place to stay, and you had to guarantee that you wouldn't be a liability to the community you were going to. In other words, you had to post bond or have money in the bank or have some backing. And the other way around that if some big company needed a labor force, they would wrap that all up and provide you a place and you'd be working there, and you know, you'd be able to go out. And you would be issued this pass, they called it Indefinite Leave Pass, with your photo on it and would be able to go back East. On that basis, a lot of them did go, but young kids like myself that had never had a work experience, I didn't want to go out; I was scared to. But I think a lot of people that had been working at any kind of job prior to the war, they probably made an effort to go out. But would you say oddly enough or whatever, I think the vast majority of them come back to the coast.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.