Re: some U.S. observations and notes

From: Spike Jones (
Date: Fri Dec 21 2001 - 17:55:45 MST

Mike Lorrey wrote:

> Japanese have absolutely nothing to day about how the Japanese treated
> OUR citizens (and those of Britain, Australia, etc) who were
> non-combatants within Japanese control. They property was confiscated,
> stolen, or destroyed, and they more often than not died in detention
> from torture or maltreatment...

My former boss, Don Sakamoto, was detained during the war.
He had an interesting take on this. His father came to Taxifornia in
1910, made a few dollars, sent for a mail order bride from his home
town, Osaka. They had 12 children. Don was the youngest. The
family owned a farm adjacent to what is now the site of SR237, the
longest parking lot in Taxifornia. Don's job was to fetch water, hold
the lanterns, etc, so the older brothers could work the farm after
school and their other day jobs. He earned 25 cents a day.

When the war came, the entire family was ordered into an internment
camp, with the exception of the oldest two sons, who served the army
with distinction in Europe. Don's parents assumed they would all be
slain. They burned most of their possessions, none of which amounted
to much, with the exception of a ceremonial bamboo Samurai costume
and sword, which Don's grandfather bought in Osaka in 1860 for the
equivalent of 800 US dollars. (Hard telling what these would be
worth today).

They were taken to a camp in Arkansas. Don's parents were
surprised that they were actually fed, quite adequately, and their
medical needs were well tended. Don observed that even as a
seven year old child, he recognized that the family's standard of
living in the camp was at least as good as it was back home
before the war. They were further surprised that the Arkansas
locals harbored no ill will toward the detainees. Don and his
friends would routinely sneak out of the camp to fish in the local
streams. No one became upset over this. Evidently the locals
had suffered from a very poor economy before the war. The
camp brought in money along with the Japanese guests.

Whenever Don told stories of his childhood in the detention
camp, he always got a little smile on his face, remembering
the experience with fondness. Before the camp all he could
recall is hard work, school, hard work, sleep, etc. In the
camp he was given the chance to play with the other kids,
and have a carefree childhood, even if under unusual

After the war, detainees were told that they needed a sponsor in
order to return to Taxifornia, but an agent contacted the Sakamoto
family and told them that rule didn't apply to them, since they were
owners of property. That also surprised them, since they had not
been able to pay the property taxes during their internment and had
assumed the government or the locals had taken everything. But
they were given train tickets back, and found their farm fallow but
intact and their home just as they had left it (with the charred remains
of the Samurai costume in the back yard). Nothing was missing from
the house, no evidence of any forced entry. They were told they
still owed the back taxes to the state (remember this is Taxifornia),
but were given time to produce a crop and pay it off, which they
did. {Don tells of being disappointed to learn that the family still
owned that damned farm.} Don's father was quite surprised at
how well his family was treated during the war. When his eldest
two sons returned from Europe, the town gave them a hero's

Don went to Fremont High School, and then to San Jose State U,
became an aerospace engineer, and worked his way up thru the
ranks to manager. Two of his friends from those days who had
similar experiences were Sam Araki, who made it to VP of
Lockheed, and Norm Mineta, former mayor of San Jose currently
serving as the US Secretary of Transportation. The property that
was once the Sakamoto farm is still in the family, and today, altho
still undeveloped, it is worth a cool fortune.

I am a volunteer noodle cooker at the local Buddhist Oban
festival nearly ever summer. Three years ago, both Araki and
Mineta showed up, and both treated SakamotoSan like a long
lost brother.

Don expired last spring, but not before both he and his wife
received generous checks from the US government for having
detained them during the war, considering that being elementary
school aged children, their lost wages would be only a few dollars.

{end of long pointless story} spike

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