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https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/interviews/clips/907/

Interviews

Gordon Hirabayashi

(1918-2012) Fought the constitutionality of Executive Order 9066.

Bypassing the Constitution

His, his instructions—you know, the jury is told what to do by the judge. And so in my situation, the judge says, "You heard all this discussion about the Constitution and all that. That's irrelevant. Whatever the Constitution says, the thing that you must take into consideration is this Executive Order 9066 issued by the general in charge." And he reads it out. "Now, you're to determine to what extent this applied. Is this person of Japanese ancestry? If he is, did he comply with these restrictions? If he didn't, you must come back with a guilty verdict. If he did, then he's not guilty." They went in.

It didn't take them too long. As jury, they probably just took enough time to settle down and then review this, these things, instructions and so on, and say it's pretty cut-and-dried, isn't it? Why don't we take a vote on it before wasting too much time? Because they came out fairly rapidly. And, and then the verdict was guilty. And the judge asked, "Is this the way you all felt unanimously?" "Yep." And so that was it.


imprisonment incarceration resistance

Date: December 5, 1999

Location: Washington, US

Interviewer: Tom Ikeda, Alice Ito

Contributed by: Denshō: The Japanese American Legacy Project.

Interviewee Bio

Gordon Hirabayashi was born in 1918 in Seattle, Washington. As a student at the University of Washington, Hirabayashi was active in the YMCA and became a believer in social action and pacifism. With the outbreak of World War II and the consequential evacuation order of persons of Japanese ancestry, he chose to oppose the government's actions on the grounds of his personal beliefs as well as a constitutional issue.

Hirabayashi turned himself in to the FBI for violating curfew and was sentenced to prison for 90 days. With the support of the ACLU, his case was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court in Hirabayashi v. United States. In 1943, the court ruled unanimously against him.

Some four decades later, Peter Irons uncovered documents that clearly showed government misconduct in 1942 that directly affected Hirabayashi's court case. With this new information, Hirabayashi's verdict was overturned in 1987 and long over-due justice was restored.

He passed away on January 2, 2012 at the age of 93. (January 4, 2012)

James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

Life in camp as teenager

(1926 - 2012) Scholar and professor of anthropology. Leader in the establishment of ethnic studies as an academic discipline

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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

Gordon's parents' experience in prison

(1926 - 2012) Scholar and professor of anthropology. Leader in the establishment of ethnic studies as an academic discipline

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Yuri Kochiyama
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Yuri Kochiyama

Didn't have rights that whites had

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

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Yuri Kochiyama
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Yuri Kochiyama

Californians didn't know about evacuation

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

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Yuri Kochiyama
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Yuri Kochiyama

Conditions of assembly centers

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

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Yuri Kochiyama
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Yuri Kochiyama

Visit to assembly centers by E. Stanley Jones

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

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Yuri Kochiyama
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Yuri Kochiyama

Hiding what happened in camp

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

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Yuri Kochiyama
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Yuri Kochiyama

Issei are hard-working

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

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Yuri Kochiyama
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Yuri Kochiyama

Arrest of father

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

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Yuri Kochiyama
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Yuri Kochiyama

Camp as a positive thing

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

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Yukio Takeshita
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Yukio Takeshita

Involvement in JACL

(b.1935) American born Japanese. Retired businessman.

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Roy H. Matsumoto
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Roy H. Matsumoto

Finding work in the assembly center

(b.1913) Kibei from California who served in the MIS with Merrill’s Marauders during WWII.

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Roy H. Matsumoto
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Roy H. Matsumoto

Train ride to Jerome Relocation Center

(b.1913) Kibei from California who served in the MIS with Merrill’s Marauders during WWII.

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Peggie Nishimura Bain
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Peggie Nishimura Bain

Evacuation

(b.1909) Nisei from Washington. Incarcerated at Tule Lake and Minidoka during WWII. Resettled in Chicago after WWII

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Peggie Nishimura Bain
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Peggie Nishimura Bain

Conditions at Pinedale Assembly Center

(b.1909) Nisei from Washington. Incarcerated at Tule Lake and Minidoka during WWII. Resettled in Chicago after WWII

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