I think before the order came out that we all had to leave the west coast, more active Japanese leaders of the communities were being rounded up and sent to camps. They had special camps for those people. In fact, they were the first camps that they built to get all the leaders and anyone they thought was a spy or working for the Japanese government or whatever they were all being rounded up.
So the Buddhist church leaders, a big majority of them were rounded up. I’m not sure if the priests and ministers were being rounded up too or not, but they were one of the first to be rounded up and they were being sent to these camps. And the poor rest of the families they had to fend for themselves. And anybody that they thought were somehow involved with Japan, or sending money or handling finances and things [was also rounded up].
But still, before any of this all this all happened, people that was of army age they were all still being drafted at that time. My stepbrother was in the service, there were a lot of people in the service and a lot of them had a rough time. This fellow that ran a restaurant that we used to go eat, he was saying that when the president or someone came to visit the camp, they were all rounded up and kept away from the rest of the troops, and they were part of the military service.
And then there were some [that were] educated in Japan, came here, drafted, but then [they weren't] fluent in English—[they] could speak English and understand it, but [they weren't] raised over here—so [they were] discharged from the service. See there are some like that, but others they kept in the service. You don’t know what their reasons are.
And then, when we were in camp, I know we were there more than a year, the government came out with a questionnaire for all the residents—whether you were going to be loyal to the US or not. It was a yes or no question. So, a big majority said yes, they were going to be not loyal to Japan, but loyal to the US. All the people that said no, they were being kept at Tulelake, and the people that said yes were all being shipped out of Tulelake. [Grandma] was sent to Arkansas, I was sent to Utah, others went to these other camps in different places. That’s what happened at the end.
But then…while I was still was in Tulelake, the Army had sent Japanese recruiters, serviceman recruiters for the language school. They came to the camps and each block, I think they visit each block, and gave a pitch for volunteering for the language school. And anybody that donated--they had all these agitators that were against the US [that] were really ostracizing.
That was the beginning of trying to recruit people for the US Army Language School. That’s what they found was important, that they had these interpreters. There was a lot that volunteered. And there were others that were already in the military services. If they were fluent in Japanese, they were transferred to the language school. That was it for people at camp.
(An excerpt from my first interview with my grandpa, January 14, 2017)
1. I should do more research into who was rounded up first and where they were sent. I have found some sources that have said that the community leaders were sent to Crystal City, but I still have to do the real research.
2. Can you imagine how easy it would be to see who is sending money to whom and trace people's relations and actions nowadays given the internet and social media?
3. If you don't trust your soldiers, why keep them enlisted? Also, the hypocrisy! We've decided that you're no longer considered a citizen and we don't trust you, but please work for us? I understand why people who volunteered to help the US Army Language School were given a hard time.
4. On the other hand, that is some strong loyalty if despite being branded essentially a criminal you want to help the people who are imprisoning you. I can empathize with that attitude...