Harry Ueno (aka Dick Miwa)

December 6, 1942 Manzanar uprising.

In Manzanar altogether about nine of ten times they questioned me. Every time they call me in and they ask me, who do you think is going to win the war? That's a foolish question. I don't pay attention to those kind of things. I got no respect for some of those guys.

We went into camp by the bus... I had two other families in the room all together. Two other families: one a bachelor and another family is a step-mother and a son. They were all grown-up people. The only privacy you have is pull the rope and they put the sheet down, that's the only way.

...On one side, you take Joe Kurihara -- he went overseas to France to fight for the United States. Joe was a citizen, natural-born American. And he volunteered and he showed his loyalty to the United States. Everything he showed. And yet the government don't recognize that. So to him, what move he could do? Volunteered and don't show any results. Why should he repeat again?

...I think it was the wrong decision at the beginning of evacuation when the JACL said they would ask our people to cooperate and not resist. But Japanese don't resist. Maybe Yasui tested the case, but very few of us would resist. He was a single man. If I was a single man I might do what he did. But if you have a family, you have to think for your family, too. I don't think we would resist, but still we don't say we cooperate. No, we don't.

...Even today I see once in a while in the paper they say: pay Japanese reparation. That's ridiculous. It doesn't pay back for a lost son. They don't know what is right or wrong. They should teach the people what the Constitution means. Lots of people don't know. They think they know, but they don't know.


Minoru Yasui

March 28, 1942 Curfew violation.
June 21, 1943 Supreme Court decision.

In mid-December, 1941, I received official orders to report for active duty with the United States Army at Camp Vancouver, Washington. I held a reserve commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. The instructions ordered me to report for duty on January 19, 1942. So I went down to the Union Pacific Railroad station to purchase a ticket back to Portland, Oregon. But the ticket agent wanted to know if I were a "Jap." When I foolishly answered truthfully that I was of Japanese ancestry, he responded that he could not sell transportation to a "Jap." Despite my showing him travel orders from the U.S. Army, I could not persuade him to issue me a railroad ticket. I finally had to make an appointment to see one of the attorneys in the general counsel's office for the Union Pacific Railroad in Chicago to obtain authorization for me to buy a ticket to report for active duty with the U.S. Army. I had to point to the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States to persuade that lawyer that I was a citizen of the United States, on the basis of my birth certificate alone.

...at 8:00 P.M., March 28, 1942, after having asked Rae Shimojima, my assistant, to notify the FBI and the local Portland police, I started to walk the streets of Portland in deliberate violation of Military Proclamation No. 3. The principle involved was whether the military could single out a specific group of U.S. citizens on the basis of ancestry and require them to do something not required of other U.S. citizens. As a lawyer, I knew that unless legal protest is made at the time of injury, the doctrine of laches or indeed the statute of limitations would forever bar a remedy...

So on March 28, 1942, I began to walk the streets of Portland, up and down Third Avenue until about 11:00 P.M., and I was getting tired of walking. I stopped a Portland police officer, and I showed him a copy of Military Proclamation No. 3, prohibiting persons of Japanese ancestry from being away from their homes after 8:00 P.M.; and I pulled out my birth certificate to show him that I was a person of Japanese ancestry. When I asked him to arrest me, he replied, "Run along home, sonny boy, or you'll get in trouble." So I had to go on down to the Second Avenue police station and argue myself into jail. I pulled this thing on a Saturday and didn't get bailed out until the following Monday.

...At the end of April 1942, military orders were posted for all residents of Japanese ancestry, aliens and nonaliens (a euphemism for citizens), calling for them to report for evacuation and processing at the North Portland Livestock Pavilion.

...So before the deadline to report to the North Portland Livestock Pavilion, I packed my files and my few belongings and left for Hood River. I had given the military my address and invited them to arrest me... After I was home for a few days, I received a call from the military offices in Portland saying that the MPs would be coming to get me on May 12, 1942, and that they would escort me to the North Portland Livestock Pavilion. I indicated that I would cooperate but would go under coercion only. Sure enough, on May 12, 1942, a sedan with a second lieutenant, a driver, and a jeep with four MPs came to our home in Hood River at the appointed time. The lieutenant said, "Let's go," and I complied in my 1935 Chevy.

...At the North Portland Assembly Center I ...remember Benny Higashi's and Don Sugai's families. Both men were married to local Chinese American women, and both had two children. The wives, LaLun Higashi and Pil Sugai, endured camp with us. Even though they themselves would have been exempt, their children would not, because they were half Japanese. The children, in each case, were two and four years old.

...Judge [James Alger] Fee sentenced me to one year in jail and a five-thousand dollar fine... I wanted my attorneys to apply for an appeal bond so I could be free pending appeal. (They subsequently did, and it was refused.)

...At first the guards would not let me out long enough to take a bath or to get a haircut or shave. At the end of several months I was stinking dirty, although I tried to wash myself in the washbasin with rags. My hair was growing long and shaggy, unkempt and tangled. My facial hair was growing in all directions, untrimmed. And my nails were growing so long that they began to curl over on themselves, both on my hands and feet. I found I could chew off my fingernails, but the nails on my toes gave me trouble. It was not until after Christmas that I was given permission to take a bath and get a haircut and shave, and that seemed like such a luxury then. Thereafter, they permitted me monthly baths and monthly hair trims.

...I learned that during my absence the military draft had been reopened for Nisei, and further volunteers were being sought for both the 442nd Infantry Combat Team and for the Camp Savage military intelligence school in Minnesota. Because of my infantry training, I immediately volunteered for the infantry, and many months later was advised that I had been rejected.

...I had not seen my father since February 1942, nor my mother and younger brother since May 1942, or my younger sister since Christmas of 1939... I applied for a temporary leave from Minidoka for thirty days to visit them.

My official records at the Minidoka WRA administration evidently indicated I was not a very desirable individual... A charade of a hearing was held for me, and the result was mixed, with the civilian hearing officer recommending that temporary leave be granted and the two military officials recommending that I be kept in custody. I offered to test this matter by a habeas corpus proceeding, and the project director relented by issuing me a thrity-day temporary leave in October 1943.

...I remember going with Joe Grant to the FCI [Federal Correctional Institution] and meeting a young Nisei who had just turned eighteen years of age, who had refused to register and refused to conform to draft-board orders. He had been indicted, arrested, and was being held, pending trial.

We said to him, "Son, you're ruining your life. you're still a young man, and you'll have a criminal record that will hold you back for the rest of your life. Please reconsider and cooperate with your draft board."

He replied, "Why should I when the government has taken away our rights and locked us up like a bunch of criminals anyway?"

We responded, "But, you've got to fulfill your obligations to the government. When you fulfill your responsibilities, you'll be in a much stronger position to demand your rights."

To which he said, "Look, the government took my father away, and interned him someplace. My mother is alone at the Granada camp with my younger sister who is only fourteen. If the government would take care of them here in America, I'd feel like going out to fight for my country, but this country is treating us worse than shit!"


John Tateishi, And Justice For All, Random-House, New York, ©1984.