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Taken: Oregonians Arrested after Pearl Harbor


What Lessons Have Been Learned?: Rev. Shigeo Okazaki

Shigeo Okazaki arrived Portland in 1915 at age 29. With a truck, he operated a delivery service that picked up and delivered luggage or imports from Japan. Shigeo later returned to Japan to train to become the leader of the Tenrikyo Church in Portland.

Rev. Okazaki's son John recalls:

As I lay in bed that night [December 7, 1941], the bedroom door opened and a flashlight was shining into our room. I saw a silhouette of two men wearing hats and talking to Dad...In the morning when I got up to go to school, Dad was not there and I was told he had been taken to the Multnomah County Jail. So begins the internment of Rev. Shigeo Okazaki.

The examiners at Rev. Okazaki’s Alien Enemy hearing found "particular significance in the subject’s profession as a Shinto minister...the Board is definitely of the opinion that adherence to Shintoism raises grave doubts as to the loyalty of any Japanese alien in the United States."

The Okazaki family was one of the few to have had prior contact with the FBI. On February 1, 1941, the FBI visited their home and searched the basement, looking for firearms (none were found). The FBI also investigated reports that there was a large aerial on the roof, but it was merely a single strand of copper wire that one of the sons had installed for better reception for their AM radio. The family had no idea that this FBI visit meant that they were already under surveillance.

Rev. Okazaki followed the route of many of the other Portlanders who were arrested, from Multnomah County Jail to Ft. Missoula, Montana; Ft. Sill, Oklahoma; Camp Livingston, Louisiana; Santa Fe, New Mexico; and finally to Crystal City, Texas. At Crystal City, he was reunited with his family, who were shocked to see him walking with a cane, the result of several strokes. He suffered from high blood pressure, a condition worsened in the high altitudes of New Mexico. His correspondence with his family had been sparse because he was required to write in English, which for him was limited. Finally released from Crystal City in April, 1946, he died the following month in Portland at the age of 59.

Based on this original

Oregon Inmates held at Santa Fe, NM
uploaded by Oregon_Nikkei
Oregon inmates held at Santa Fe, New Mexico. Circa 1943. ONLC 1751, Yasui Family Collection. More »

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