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Taken: Oregonians Arrested after Pearl Harbor


How Was This Possible?: Masuo Yasui

Masuo Yasui was born in 1886 and moved to Hood River in 1908, where he and his brother opened a small store to serve the hundreds of immigrant Japanese laborers working in the nearby logging camps, sawmills, and orchards. Over time the Yasui Brothers' store became a very successful business venture as well as an important social center for the local Japanese community, with Masuo Yasui using his English fluency as an advisor and resource to his fellow immigrants.

Immediately after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Yasui Brothers' store was closed and the family was not allowed to take any supplies from the store or withdraw any of their funds. As a leader in the Japanese community, Masuo Yasui was arrested by FBI agents five days after the outbreak of war and charged with being a "potentially dangerous enemy alien."

Masuo Yasui had his hearing at the INS camp at Fort Missoula, Montana, in February 1942. The defendants were not allowed legal representation at these hearings. Masuo's son, Minoru, a 1939 graduate of the University of Oregon law school, was an eyewitness at his hearing and related:

The proceedings were a complete farce. The official for the Alien Enemy Control unit pointed out that my father was an influential leader in the Japanese community in Hood River, Oregon; that he had extensive property interests; that he had visited Japan for a summer vacation for three months in 1926, that he had been awarded a medal by the Emperor of Japan promoting US-Japan relations; and that he had been instrumental in obtaining a position with the consulate general of Japan in Chicago for his son.

Based on this original

Rose Festival issei
uploaded by Oregon_Nikkei
Close-up of issei men gathered for the inaugural Portland Rose Festival, 1907. Masuo Yasui is standing in the front row, fourth from left. ONLC 214, gift of the Takeoka Family. More »

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