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tv   American Artifacts Japanese American National Museum  CSPAN  August 12, 2021 1:46pm-2:16pm EDT

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happily without hearing you play the hagar slacks tape on tv, but, she said, you should know that tape is my grandchildren's favorite and i've never quite figured out why that was but about a month later i got a letter from old mr. hagar was still alive offering me a free pair of custom-made hagar slacks. that's an experience i never had before in this business. >> watch the full program at each week american history tvs american artifacts takes viewers behind the scenes at archives, museums and historic sites. next, a tour of the japanese-american national museum in los angeles' little tokyo. our tour guide is bill shishima who was born in little tokyo and spent three years at a relocation center during world war ii.
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located near downtown los angeles little tokyo is one of three remaining in california where as many as 40 japan towns thrived prior to world war ii. >> los angeles first started way back in 1781 when 11 settlers came from mexico to get land for the king of spain. in 1841 the first recorded japanese landed in fairhaven, massachusetts. he was a ship wrecked sailor from off the coast of hawaii and the whaler ship picked up five japanese men and four of them were left in hawaii, but he was brought to fairhaven, massachusetts. so he's probably the first recorded japanese to be here. and then in 1850 los angeles was
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incorporated. at that time we had about 1,600 people in a square mile of 28 square miles. today we're about 4 million population and a square mile is about 469. but california was the site of the immigrants from japan, the port of entry was san francisco, and the first colony was up there in northern california at goat hill, about 30 miles south of sacramento. it was an ill-fated tea and silk colony. they lasted about two years. so that was the first organized colony from japan. los angeles, little tokyo, started when we had also a ship wrecked sailor from the san diego area, he came up here and then in 1885 he started the first japanese-american restaurant here in little tokyo.
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>> common ground, the heart of community, in this instance we're talking about the japanese-american community here in the united states. the japanese were enticed to go to hawaii. the sugar plantation people came to japan to recruit workers. they said, gee, if you work three years in the sugar plantations of hawaii, it's equivalent to working ten years in the factories of japan. so close to 1,000 people way back in 1885 went on a three-year labor contract to the sugar plantations of hawaii, but when they got there they found out differently. they had foremen or lunas that had whips, they used the leather whips on the workers, so slave-like conditions. so many of them got out of their three-year labor contract, escaped to maybe the coffee plantations or the pineapple plantations and some of them went back to the cities, others were enticed to go to the mainland. many of you heard of benjamin
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franklin, he was a great statesman, however, he wanted to keep america white. so way back in 1751 benjamin franklin says he didn't want the plaques or the asians here blacks or the asians here in america. and in the 1850s, america wanted to build a transcontinental railway from new york to california, but they couldn't get enough workers, so what did america do? they went to china to recruit the chinese to come and build the railroad. after the railroads were built, they didn't want the chinese here, and they had the anti-chinese movement. as early as 1879. every dog has his day, red gentlemen to yellow gentlemen. chinese were excluded in 1882.
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this is an actual reptile remnants of world war ii. this is one-third of the original barrack that was in heart mountain, wyoming. that was the camp i was incarcerated in. we'll go on the inside and see a structure. during world war ii, we had ten camps in seven western states. they were all similar but not the same. the smallest camp was about 7,000, the largest camp around 19,000. i was incarcerated in heart mountain, wyoming, about 60 miles from the east gate of yellowstone national park. i was 11. came out at 14 years old, so basically three years and three months.
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i'll show you some of the illustration. this is by austel pac. she was married to a japanese person and she came into the camp, and she wrote the book "lone heart mountain" and this is an illustration of it. here is a hot potbelly stove. we had coal fed into it. and california they fed oil into it. in arkansas, they used wood as a fuel. so, those are some of the differences of the camps. by the way, we use all military terminology so we lived in barracks. and then we ate at the mess hall, so we were fed three meals a day. this is what really broke up our family unity. as a family, we sometime ate breakfast together, but by lunchtime and dinnertime, forget it. we were regulated by the dinner gong.
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anytime we heard the dinner gong, we ran to the mess hall, lined up, ate, then went out to play and went to school, so we didn't have a chance to discuss family matters over the dinner table because we didn't eat together. then the latrines. the woman in heart mountain complained, so they put partitions, still no doors. so, in camp they said, gee, they have to use strategy just to use the bathroom. they had to go to the end stall. it's the least amount of traffic. no, it backfired. everyone went to see if someone's in the end stall, so it got the most traffic. but on the men's side, we didn't have any partition, so we had to sit next to strangers and do our personal business. this was probably the worst thing of camp life. and then we had the shower room. the shower room was about eight feet by ten feet. on one wall we had four showerheads.
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another wall, another four, so about eight showerheads in a room of about 8x10 with no privacy, you see other people taking a shower then. the woman didn't have showers in heart mountain. they had bathtubs, so still you could see the seven other woman taking a bath. so, no privacy. here is the pile of coal. that was one of my job as make sure we had enough coal to keep us warm throughout the evening. but as you notice, anytime we had any wind, we always had a dust storm, because the camp was on raw dirt. they got the bulldozer, scraped away the sagebrush and tumbleweeds and plopped down the barracks and that's where we lived. so anytime we had any wind, we always had a dust storm. there was a partition here. this used to be the smallest room, 18 feet by 20 feet for a family of two or three. this was the largest room, this is where my family was incarcerated, my two parents, my two brothers, my sisters and
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myself. there were seven of us in the size of a garage, and we only had one lightbulb. we had one potbelly stove to keep us warm, but in water. what did we need water for? well, to bathe. to cleanse ourselves. to cook, to drink. but we had no water here, so we had to go to the public laundry room or the public latrines or go to the mess hall to get a latrines to do our business. so, initially there was another unit beyond here for family of four or five and then it duplicated, so a total of six units and about six families, about 25 people lived in one barrack, which was 20 feet wide and 120 foot long. initially we didn't have any insulation, so very cold.
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we happened to get one of the coldest winter in wyoming history, minus 28 degrees. so, we suffered the first winter, but by the second winter, we had insulation called cellotex, a small piece left up there about a half-inch thick insulation that we had. and most camps did not have a ceiling, but we did have a ceiling, so it cut down on heat as well as sound. so, some people said, gee, us kids were fortunate that our parents wouldn't dare raise their voice because they would be heard throughout the 120 feet of barracks. one week's notice right there. okay. on the exclusion orders there was 108 of these exclusion
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orders that general john dewitt issued moving 120,000 people japanese ancestry from washington, oregon, california, and arizona. right here we have a world war i veteran. he's protesting, but he was labeled as the enemy alien, so he was protesting, but he had to go into the camps even though he fought for america during world war i. little-known fact is that we had about 2,200 japanese latinos, japanese latinos from these white named countries, central america and south america. president roosevelt requested of all the countries to send people, japanese ancestry, here to crystal city, texas. brazil had the largest japanese population, but they refused to cooperate with president roosevelt. peru kidnapped around 1,800 japanese peruvians went through the panama canal and brought them here to crystal city,
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texas, and the central american countries also had about 400 of them incarcerated here in crystal city, texas. president roosevelt wanted prisoners of war. so, during the war, sweden, being a neutral country, sent a ship here to long island, new york. there they got 5,000 japanese, some japanese latinos and some japanese that wanted to go back to japan from tule lake camp or so-called troublemakers, so they got 5,000 of them boarded the ship. the ship went around africa to india. there they met a red cross ship with 5,000 americans that were stranded in japan and they exchanged prisoners of war there. >> back from her fourth wartime journey of mercy, the swedish exchange ship arrives in new york harbor, aboard are 663
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americans home from nazi internment and prison camps. >> in the camps they try to make it as normal as possible. so, when someone passed away, they trying to give them a respectful funeral service. but sometimes they could not get fresh flowers. so, sometime these flowers were made of paper, so they had origami flowers, so they tried to have normal situation as normal as possible. for example, right here, they chose the high school prom queen. she didn't have a beautiful crown. but at least they went through the procedure of electing a prom queen. during world war ii "life" magazine presented this. i sort of snicker at it because it could be either/or japanese or chinese or korean or vietnamese.
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it could be any of those, but i sort of snicker at it because this is how you could tell the difference between a japanese and a chinese. heart mountain camp was infamous for the protesters. right here is the court trial in cheyenne, wyoming. 63 members of the heart mountain camp were -- got draft notices. they resisted. they said unless you free our family, then they will not serve uncle sam and the united states army. but the courts said, no, regardless of the family situation, they have to report to the service. they refused, so they got federal penitentiary service two to three years. so, a total of 85 protested from heart mountain, wyoming. a total of about 300 protested from the 10 camps. when we were in incarcerated in the camps, everyone got one of these.
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they told us to go to the haystack and fill it with hay. this was our temporary mattress. the military was not prepared to house 120,000 people so initially we had to make our own mattress. it didn't smell too good, and sometime it poked us, but eventually we got standard distribution of mattresses. sometime you see the tin can lids nailed to the floors. why? because they had knot holes in them. and the knot holes, anytime you had any wind, the dirt will come in through the floors, so to prevent that we put the tin can lids to cover the holes. and being from california, we didn't have winter clothing. so, in wyoming the snow country, we were issued these world war i navy pea coats. since everyone got a pea coat, people had to identify their own. this happened to be jim's pea
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coat. everyone got a pea coat. so, these were all adult sizes. i was a young kid of 11 years old, so what i wore, it looked like the jacket was walking. i was a young kid of 11 years old so, of course, we had the boy scout movement. in fact, heart mountain camp had the largest boy scout movement of all the camps. we had seven boy scout troops and brownies and we had thousands of kids in organized sports to keep us active in the camp. this happened to go into the camp during world war ii and initially when it went into camp, it had an american flag and a japanese flag, but it wasn't popular to be japanese, so they changed the japanese flag to american flag there. everyone 17 or older had to fill
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out a loyalty questionnaire. where were you born, where were you educated, what newspaper do you subscribe to. but the controversial question was question 27 and 28. basically it said, will you give up the loyalty to the emperor of japan? people did not know how to answer that. 17 years old. probably never been to japan. never had loyalty to the emperor of japan, but they didn't know how to answer that. how could they give up the loyalty to the emperor of japan if they never had it. but they could only answer yes or no. so, people were confused on that. and then the real other one was that are you willing to fight for the military wherever called for. and, again, they're 17 years old. does that mean, yes, you're willing to fight for america and go today or would they wait until you finished your high
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school and get your high school diploma and go fight for america at a later date, so those were the two controversial questions number 27 and 28. this is about the saito family. they had four boys, three of them says they're going to go fight for america. the father protested. he said, why should you fight for america? we were incarcerated behind barbed wire fence and armed guards, no charges against us. no due process of law, but just because we look like the enemy, we're incarcerated, so why should you fight for america? well, these three boys insisted they're going to fight for america to prove their loyalty to america, so they went overseas. one of them got killed. so, the brother wrote to the father, feel proud that your son gave the supreme sacrifice for his country. so, he was really sad about that. but then two months later, he got killed. so, now the father was really concerned so he asked the department of army to return the third son from combat area.
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he was refused on the ground that he had one more son at home. but fortunately he did get home. okay. initially the 142nd regimental combat team were issued the circular patch there. the arm and the sword with dripping blood. they said that's not us. so they given permission to draw up their own patch. so, they drew the red, white and blue background with the liberty torch, so that represents the 142nd regimental combat team. this is one of the models of one of the ten camps. this is the camp located about 200 miles north of los angeles. and this was the only camp that had an orphanage. right here we have three barracks here. there's about 101 orphans, they were recruited from san diego
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all the way up to alaska. and orphans, you think they are a threat to the military? but 101 were incarcerated here. manazar camp had a population of 10,000 people here. and way in the back here you see this statue or obelisk, so that was in the cemetery. so they go to a pilgrimage to manazar camp and you see the picture up here. young people, third fourth generation, now go up to the camp about april or may of the year and remember to them what happened during world war ii. i feel america is the greatest country in the world because president reagan signed the civil liberty bill of 1988. he gave us an official apology from the white house. everyone that was incarcerated in camp during world war ii got official apology from the white house.
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but this was not president reagan's signature. oh, that's president george bush. even though president reagan signed it in 1988, it was not implemented until 1990. so, we got this official apology and we got a reparation of $20,000, that sounds like a lot of money but are you willing to give up three years of your life for $20,000? i wish my parents got it. he lost his hotel and grocery business and he had to start all over again at 50 years old. i wish he got it. but he was long gone by 1988. it was a great feeling. i got $20,000 from the government. but i still felt my parents should have got it, because he had to suffer all those years
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after he was 50 years old. he had to raise us five children. i put it into this museum to build. i put my $20,000 plus to tell our story that this never happens to anyone again. anywhere. just because we looked like the enemy, we were incarcerated even though we were young american citizens. after world war ii i just had to finish up my education. i graduated from the local high school, belmont high school and went on to los angeles city college, eventually graduated from the university of southern california as a teacher. so, i put in about 25 years in teaching. and hoped that we learn from our mistakes what happened to us during world war ii, but still i feel america didn't learn its lesson because after 9/11, what happened to the american heroes, american muslims, american people looked down upon them because they look like the terrorists. so, that's what happened to us
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during world war ii. we looked like the enemy during world war ii and then after terrorists attacked the twin towers and the pentagon, they looked down upon the american muslim just because they look like the terrorists. so, they would have to learn from our world war ii lessons that it should not happen again. this is the national center for the world war ii monument. and we have about 850 names here. people of japanese ancestry that fought for america during world war ii. and you see the letter m-o-h behind some of the names. that signifies the medal of honor. there was only one person that fought during world war ii that
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got the medal of honor. but in 1999, they asked president clinton to review the records of world war ii and after reviewing it, president clinton upgraded 20 more people of japanese ancestry to receive the congressional medal of honor, so now we have 21 person of japanese ancestry that received the medal of honor during world war ii. and shall we say the biggest name that got it was inouye, he lost his arm fighting for america and he is now the senator from hawaii. senator dan inouye. so, also we have a catchall memorial over here. from the spanish-american war to vietnam, iraq, everything right here. catchall. we have about 100 names here that gave their life during did the vietnam war.
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and then we have about 250 names here that gave their life or in the korean conflict. this is the monument for the 142nd regimental combat team, it was the most decorated unit in military history for its size and length of service. they got over 9,000 purple hearts, 7 distinguished presidential citations and there's over 16,000 names here. they're randomly placed by computer, so you cannot find someone's name, but we have an index over there by the computer to locate anyone that fought during world war ii. so, there's the units they fought with and the various ones throughout world war ii. here's the list of medal of
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honor winners during world war ii. 21 names and the various decorations that they received. >> you can learn more about little tokyo and the history of the japanese in the united states at the japanese-american national museum website.
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. paulina bren recently discussed her new book with the new york historical society. the mid 20th century all female hotel afforded young women including poet and novelist cynthia platt and actress grace kelly, liza minnelli and nancy reagan. the opportunity to pursue independent lives. >> look at the women who stayed there, the socioeconomic diversity, but certainly that did not happen until the 1950s, i discovered. but the socioeconomic diversity happened very quickly. that's one of the fascinating things to me. the women ranged from debutantes to really women who had run away from home in rural ohio. and they were living next door to each other now. and that in itself is very
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interesting. and then the 1940s, in terms of this new woman, as i say, when these guest editors start to come in. it certainly also impacted in terms of sort of its intellectual cache and its place in new york, in a new york intellectual society. and then the 1950s, this new woman, particularly fascinating. this is the decade where the barbizon is named the doll house because of all the models. this is when grace kelly is there, many actresses in the late 1940s, early 1950s, are at the barbizon. yes, it is a doll's house. it is a place where it is famous because of these beautiful young women. men hang around at the coffee shop trying to pick up women
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pretending as he canadian hockey player. i 19, there is all of this absolutely. when you dig into the young lives of these later famous women, the kind of conflict they feel. the way sexuality plays into this era. it is fascinating. the it has many phases. >> watch this program and thousands more any time at declared a national historic landmark district in 1995, little tokyo near downtown los angeles has been the center of japanese culture in southern california since the early 1900s. "american history tv" toured little tokyo with bill shishima, a docent at the japanese-american national museum. mr. shishima was born in little tokyo in 1930 and spent three years at hart mountain relocation center during world


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