| affiliates | credits | links |
by Jeanne Watatsuki Houston and James D. Houston
p.7-8 They got him two weeks later, when we were staying overnight at Woody’s place, on Terminal Island. Five hundred Japanese families lived there then, and FBI deputies had been questioning everyone, ransacking houses for anything that could conceivably be used for signaling planes or ships or t hat indicated loyalty to the Emperor. Most of the homes had radios with a short-wave band and a high aerial on the roof so that wives could make contact with the fishing boats during those long cruises. To the FBI every radio owner was a potential saboteur. The conspirators were often deputies sworn in hastily during the turbulent days right after Pearl Harbor, and these men seemed to be acting out the general panic, seeing sinister possibilities the most ordinary household items: flashlights, kitchen knives, cameras, lanterns, toy swords.
If Papa were trying to avoid arrest, he wouldn’t have gone near that island. But I think he knew it was futile to hide out or resist. The next morning two FBI men in fedora hats and trench coats--like out of a thirties movie--knocked on Woody’s door and when they left, Papa was between them. He didn’t struggle. There was no point to it. He had become a man without a country. The land of his birth was at war with America; yet after thirty-five years here he was still prevented by law from becoming an American citizen. He was suddenly a man with no rights who looked exactly like the enemy.
p.58-59 That’s how I remember him before he disappeared. He was not a great man. He wasn’t even a very successful man. He was a poser, a braggart, and a tyrant. But he had held onto his self-respect, he had dreamed grand dreams, and he could work well at any task he turned to: he could raise vegetables, sail a boat, plead a case in small claims court, sing Japanese poems, make false teeth, carve a pig.
p.83 When a soldier goes into war he must go believing he is never coming back. This is why the Japanese are such courageous warriors. They are prepared to die. They expect nothing else. But to do that, you must believe in what you are fighting for. If you do not believe, you will not be willing to die. If you are not willing to die, you won’t fight well. And if you don’t fight well you will probably be killed stupidly, for the wrong reason, and unheroically.
p.89 Kimi ga yo -- Japanese national anthem
p.90 Kimi ga yo wa chiyoni
yachiuoni sa-za-re i-shi no i-wa-o to
na-ri-te ko-ke no musu made.
May thy peaceful rein last long.
May it last for thousands of years.
Until this tiny stone will grow
Into a massive rock, and the moss
Will cover it deep and thick.
p.133-134 “[The] word went out that the entire camp would close without fail by December 1. Those who did not choose to leave voluntarily would be scheduled for resettlement in weekly quotas. Once you were scheduled, you could choose a place--a state, a city, a town--and the government would pay your way there. If you didn’t choose, they’d send you back to the community you lived in before you were evacuated.
Papa gave himself up to the schedule. The government had put him here, he reasoned, the government could arrange his departure. What could he lose by waiting? Outside he had no job to go back to. A California law passed in 1943 made it illegal now for Issei [first-generation Japanese immigrants] to hold commercial fishing licenses. And his boats and nets were gone, he knew--confiscated or stolen. The women and children still with him had enough to eat. He decided to sit it out as long as he could.
p.159 You cannot deport 110,000 people unless you have stopped seeing individuals. Of course, for such a thing to happen, there has to be a kind of acquiescence on the part of the victims, some submerged belief that the treatment is deserved, or at least allowable. It’s an attitude easy for nonwhites to acquire in America. I had inherited it. And my feeling, at eleven, went something like this: you are going to be invisible anyway, so why not completely disappear.