George Takei Was Sent to a Japanese-American Internment Camp at Age Five
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George Takei Was Sent to a Japanese-American Internment Camp at Age Five


-You were just in Pittsburgh
for Steel City Con. How does it feel — Much has been written
about the fact that, you know, Star Trek was not
anywhere near as popular when it was airing as it is now. Is it still surreal to you that fans are so deeply
connected to that show? -It’s 53 years old. We went on the air in 1966,
canceled in 1969, exactly 50 years ago,
and here we are, 53 years later, with another new Star Trek
spin-off with Patrick Stewart and another movie being talked
about by — with Tarentino. I mean,
it’s an amazing phenomenon. -And people must still be
so happy to see you when they go to something
like Steel City Con? -I greet my fans like this.
[ Laughter ] -You know how to please them.
So… -We have lived much longer
than we expected and prospered
in so many wondrous ways, like all these fans. -That’s fantastic. This show, “Terror: Infamy” — this is much more serious
subject matter, and, uh, it’s based on the internment
of Japanese-Americans. Uh, there’s a supernatural
element to it, but this is a very real
issue for you — not just being
a Japanese-American, but you were interned as a child
from the ages five to eight. Is that right?
-I’d just turned five years old. A few weeks after that, my parents got me up
very early one morning, dressed us hurriedly up —
my brother a year younger and my baby sister
still a baby, an infant — and, uh, my father
said to my brother and me, “Wait here in the living room while we do some
last-minute packing.” So the two of us were
just looking out the — gazing out the front window, and suddenly we saw two soldiers
marching up our driveway carrying rifles
with shiny bayonets on them. They stomped up the porch and, with their fists,
began pounding on the door. I — the way I remember it, the whole house
seemed to tremble. And my father came out
and answered the door, and, literally at gunpoint, we were ordered
out of our house. And so my father gave my brother
and me little packages to carry. He hefted two heavy suitcases, and we followed him
out onto the driveway and waited for our mother
to come out. When she came out, she had
our baby sister in one arm a heavy duffel bag in the other, and tears were streaming
down her cheeks. It is a picture
that’s burnt into my memory. -What did you think
was happening when being that young
in a situation like that? What were your memories
at the time of what this was and why it was happening? -That morning
was a terrifying morning, but then we were taken — you know, the camps
were just being built, so they took us
to Santa Anita Race Track, a nearby race track. We were herded over with other
Japanese-American families to the stable area
and assigned a horse stall for us to sleep in. From a two-bedroom home,
front yard, backyard, on Garnet Street in LA, to a horse stall. For my parents, it was a degrading, humiliating,
painful experience to take their three children
into that smelly horse stall, still pungent with the — and I still remember that smell,
but, for me, I thought it was fun to sleep
where the horsies sleep. -Yeah.
[ Laughter ] -You know, horsies slept here.
-Sure. -I can smell them. -Now, how surreal was it
for you to return to a set that was built
to evoke this time and having such specific
memories of it? I mean, obviously,
you’re coming back in a much better
perspective on it, having the control
of telling this story, but was it hard for you
to walk onto a set and see those camps again? -Remember,
I was a five-year-old kid, and they built
on a 6.5-acre plot of land an exact replica
of the internment camps. The barracks were exactly
the way I remembered it. There was a little crawlspace
down below, and I recognized that
because we adopted a black dog, cute little dog. We named him Blackie. And whenever something
scared him — you know, when gunfire
was going off — he got scared, and he would
crawl under the crawlspace, and we crawled in after him, so, you know,
I remembered the details. The — The set designers
did tremendous research. The strips of wood
that held the tar paper on were exactly
the same dimensions, so it was, to me,
a kind of a nostalgic return because of my childhood
experience, but, as a teenager, I learned a lot more
about the reality — the harrowing experience that it
was for my parents, and so, uh, with both the adult knowledge
and the memory of a child, it was eerie,
kind of, the feeling.

100 Comments

  • Shanster Goodheart

    What accent is that? Obviously, it's American but it almost sounds English. Is it transatlantic? It reminds me a bit of James Earl Jones.

  • Shan Hussain

    Another fifty years from now, a successful and beloved LatinX celebrity will be telling a story of their horrific memory of being separated from their parents and being placed in a cage with other kids who did nothing wrong.

  • Hazel Moloney

    I'd known Mr Takei had been interned in these camps as a child but I had never heard the story of the experience in his own words. Thanks for this.

  • Andrew Lee

    Meanwhile Japanese abducted close to 10 million Koreans, Chinese, and other peoples into murderous slave labor and still deny it to this day. What's inexcusable are Japanese Americans who suffered through the injustices of internment to defend Japanese war atrocities

  • Allie S

    Remember Trump supporters the American people thought they were doing the right thing, by placing the Japanese Americans into those horrible places, but not anymore. Now that time is considered one of the low points in our history……. Now what will society think of Trump years from now, when the children of the Southern Border grow up, and tell of their histories in our detainment centers? ……….. Slavery………Concentration camps…………Detainment centers… will the list go on? Only you can stop it in 2020.

  • Unique Bali

    This is really sad, we must never forget what had happened in order not to repeat this again. What ever the reason and the cause of it, as human being, we must be able to treat others not by their race, ethnicity etc. We are better than that.
    It is correct that during the war 1941 – 1945, bad things happened. South East Asia suffered alot by the cruelity of the Japanese militery. As an Indonesian, I was told by my grand mother again and again how bad it was, she was in her thirties during the war with 5 children including my 4 years old dad, because my grandfather joint the force to fight against the Japanese, their traditional wooden house was burnt down by the Japanese militery, they got almost no food to eat, my dad must slept outdoor for months, my grandma's cousin was forced to serve for the sexual needs of those Japanese soldiers, many of these young women and girls died, commit suicide, later become mentally ill or just gone nowhere to be found.
    War is cruel , many people suffer, lets make sure we don't do it again.

  • Mark Plain

    The term "Concentration Camp" was first coined by the British to describe their own "Concentration Camps" to 'concentrate' the civilians in the Anglo Boer War of 1900/1901. In these camps run by the British over 50,000 people starved to death.

    .
    When the Nazis applied a similar civilian "Concentration Camp" that resulted in an unbelievable horror. The British (and the West) decided to review their history and rename any 'concentration camp' to 'internment camp' to disassociate their respective history's.
    .
    If we were to call the current camps where migrants are held, "concentration camps" politicians would throw their toys in anger. Which shows you the power of a label and association.

  • deborah chinn

    Mr. Takei, America owes you more than we could ever repay you! Thank you for your artistic service to this country and the world despite what this country put you through. Please forgive those who knew not what they were doing to fellow members of humanity!

  • marc scott

    So sorry George………………….but where's the counterpoint of your experience. You weren't bayonetted, or beheaded by those terrible Americans. Americans, Australians, N.Z, Singaporeans, Chinese etc….were, by your real homeland. You were in a camp, not a Japanese/Nazi concentration camp…stop with the drama, and balance it out. You prospered in the USA. No black/or whiteface has in Japan…..cause we are impure Gaijin, f#ck off with your selective historical drivel.

  • Kathleen Flacy

    America will never live down the shame nor the ignomony of disregarding the fifth amendment– "No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation," and the 14th Amendment– " All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." It's no use having citizen's protections enshrined in law if those in power do not safeguard those protections.

  • Linda Pettitt

    You should be aware that it was a Democratic President and Congress that did this. It was also during a time of war and panic. The Japanese had just bombed Pearl Harbor. There was a horrible war going on in the South Pacific and thousands of Americans were dying and being taken prisoner and put in internment camps where many were starved to death and met their deaths. Everything neeeds to be put in context. There is also a large difference between citizens imprisioned and people who come over the border illegally . We do not owe them anything. They aren’t being starved or mistreated. No one forced them to come here. If you can’t tell the difference you are truly a brain dead liberal.

  • Rose Hill

    He's an absolute joy and a treasure. Meeting him was a dream come true. What he went through in internment was horrible.

  • Gerardo Olivas

    They still titled this exactly what Takei says he hates it to be called in the very next video. Pretty disrespectful.

  • valar

    I'm sorry to say we did the same thing in Canada. We interned 20,000 Japanese-Canadians (proportionately the same for our population as the United States), all families from British Columbia, in camps on the Prairies. It is a national humiliation to this day.

    Canada and the United States are very much alike, in both our good and bad qualities. We also have the same sad history regarding our treatment of Chinese-Canadians. They worked building the railroads through the Rockies at great personal risk and loss of life and then were banned from entering certain places where whites lived. One sign outside of a town read, "No Chinese or dogs allowed."

  • Gecko Lia

    Can you then please use what he asks you to use? American concentration camps. We also don't say "Jewish internment camps" to Dachau or Auschwitz. I'm German and we say German concentration camps, even to those that were in Poland, etc. Please work on accounting for your past by adjusting your language here. https://youtu.be/AqfGE9r5h5s

  • spacewitch

    I can't imagine what my life would be like without Star Trek. It thought me very important lessons in fairness, equality, moral's, ethic's and countless other thing's.

  • xandercorp

    Even after being confronted during this very interview by Mr. Takei about the injustice of calling them "Japanese internment camps" and how much more accurate and beneficial for America to tell the truth and call them "American internment camps" – even as they host that portion of the interview right here on YouTube – the best that "Late Night with Seth Meyers" can manage is to compromise and call them "Japanese-American internment camps" in the video title. I guess "American internment camp" is just too shocking, wouldn't want to go against the narrative would we?

    Here is George Takei's heartfelt plea:
    https://youtu.be/AqfGE9r5h5s

  • Notitas Del día

    Ignorance is not a an excused. Unfortunately the current administration is dividing us and is harming us. Don’t stay back get behind a better candidate and support the change. #TuVotoTuVoz #Vote2020

  • Sayna Sayyadi

    He still remembers every single horrific traumatizing detail till to this day and he was with his parents. So he kinda had a emotional support during those tough times. Just imagine what a devastating burden those little kids at detention camps must endure for the rest of their lives and they have no one there ! This nonsense must be stopped!!!

  • Mariam Naltaeva

    I didn't know about this part of his life. So glad that they had courage to bring up this incredibly heavy topic!

  • uragiri M

    How can anyone not hate the US and US white people after knowing about this and other atrocities that occurred in the US?

  • Scott Harry

    I'm sorry, but this is why conversations about reparations for black people only pisses me off. Because it doesn't include harm against other races, other Americans. People even QUOTE the Japanese internment camps as support for reparations, but those reparations were not NEARLY sufficient for lost possessions, emotional distress, starvation and other bad living conditions, lost years of income, lost income growth that would have occurred, etc. etc. Where are the rest of the reparations for Japanese Americans? Where are the reparations for Chinese immigrants who helped build the transcontinental railroad and were treated to dangerous conditions, abuse, and little pay? Hell, where are the reparations for Native Americans, who were the original victims of our country? Native Americans at one point received something like $1,000 per person (which is nothing), and they didn't even get full control over how to use that money.

    I'm not saying slavery wasn't terrible. I'm not arguing who had it worse, because that is not a productive conversation. But I am saying, reparations can't be as simple as giving money to every black person of a slave family. Even if only black people were mistreated in this country, that wouldn't be a great solution, because tracing ancestry and living conditions is very difficult, and not everyone's problems evolved the same way over time. There are issues in who should be eligible, even if we're only talking black people. Reparations should be a community conversation that benefit everyone who needs it.

  • purberri

    It was sooo wrong what the government did to the Japanese. Such paranoia ! Similar to what happened to the Jews by the Nazi other than they didn’t go as far as killing them.

  • Jack Jason Thomas

    I want to give a 👍 for George Takei being such an awesome dude! But I want to give a 👎 for the fact that he spent time in the U.S. internment camp.

    YouTube needs a ❤️ button!

  • Scooter Tramp

    Slavery did not stop with the end of the civil war in the U.S. The wealthy and powerful just changed the rules to include everyone not in their crowd. It was criminal in what happened to Mr. Takei and his family just as it is criminal as to what is happening with other visible minorities of latin descent today. But what about young single mom's living on nothing because there is no work for them in Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, or Los Angeles, to name a few? What about young men slaving away in factories for subsistence wages trying to feed, clothe, and house their families knowing full well that their future is grim? What about those who were sent to prison on minor charges because the state had an inmate quota with a privately owned and run facility? Or being afraid to send your children to school for fear they won't be coming home at days end because someone got a hold of a gun? What about young men and women going into the military just to get a job being sent to somewhere as cannon fodder to protect some rich corporations interests? And many of those who are fortunate enough come home are thrown to the streets by an ungrateful government, what about them? And those that didn't come home, well their wives and children or their parents got a nicely folded flag now didn't they.

    It's time for the People of the United States to stand up and be counted don't you think?

  • NormaIris Flores

    So obvious the racist nature of this inhumane action, the Japanese Americans were interned but not German Americans……..

  • hizzle mobizzle

    Could you imagine how much different his experience would have been had they separated him from his parents and placed them in different camps? I cannot imagine the psychological damage we are causing the children of the asylum seekers we are throwing in cages.

  • Brandon Davidson

    George Takei on Late Night: "Don't call them Japanese Internment Camps"
    Late Night: "George Takei Was Sent to a Japanese-American Interment Camp at Age Five"

  • a b

    they weren't concentration camps the Germans didn't even have concentration camps they were work camps, America had internment camps and after the war they were released, thus George takei was free to have sex with men, now if he was in fascist Japan he'd be executed for being so disgusting

  • Lazy I Ranch

    I don't know about Tarantino doing a "Star Trek" movie. He loves the gore and violence, I can only imagine how nasty those Klingons will be in his version.

  • Niko Christian Wallenberg

    PLEASE watch the new Terror and ask your friends to watch it – it is downright sad to see how few people are actually watching it: it has great production values with good actors like George Takei (for a person who was actually put into these camps to be involved with the series is really something), fine looking sets and the supernatural element is very well done – but many people aren't watching it because the Japanese-American camps subject matter is something they aren't interested in seeing.

  • Who Dunnit

    So you think you have rights? You have privilidges,because if their were rights,they couldnt be taken away.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWiBt-pqp0E

  • Janet Merner

    America is only a good country when you hold it up against Nazi Germany, or Today Saudi Arabi. When you hold America up against most countries it is quite evil.

  • TheBizzle1984

    Do you know how the soldiers knew which houses had Japanese-Americans in them? That was a question on the census. The atrocities suffered by the Takei family, and so many others, caused that question to be removed from the census. Donald Trump tried to put it back on. #neveragainisnow

  • Marcel

    "Japanese-American Internment Camp" seriously? In the same interview he is saying there were "American concentration camps". The Germans do not call the Nazie concetration camps in Poland Polish / Jewish concentration camps, do they!?

  • Figs3

    In part two of this video. He says that he wants people to stop calling them "Japanese Internment Camps". So the logic is to use that phrase in part 1?

  • Elle Welle

    God, the way he tells about that time, so detailed and still infused with emotion, conveys the full horror of that horrifying time in history. My first reaction to childhood trauma was to detach emotionally as fully as I was capable, to not give the memory power over my life. That he still does this educational work and still has such a vivid, joyful presence in the media, when by all rights he deserved his retirement to be peaceful and comfortable ten times over makes me want to hug him and thank him. Uncle George is truly a mensch.

  • JanDeluxe78

    Replace Japanese Americans with Jews and America with Germany and they all could finish each others stories how they were ripped out of their lives and sent to the camps.

  • jackie

    I once went to a talk Mr. Takei gave about his experiences during this time in his life. It was a fascinating and heartbreaking story from an incredible man. I'm so glad he's still living long and prospering.

  • lutascheier

    What a sad and powerful story. Thanks for sharing. I am sorry for everyone who ever had and will have to endure this. And many don't make it out alive.

  • Marc Zwander

    I absolutely love Terror Infamy, I consider it my absolute favorite show of all time now, and theres so much of what George's experience was in it. I can't thank him and anyone involved with this masterpiece enough. All the best to you!

  • 80sbabe

    A disgusting and embarrassing racist time in our modern history. Why weren't German Americans targeted also? Instead, Germans were welcomed after the war. Hence so many Nazis escaped prosecution. A great deal of Germans came to North and South America and you can bet plenty of Nazis got away with crimes against humanity. Japanese Americans and Japanese Canadians were not allowed to return to their home afterwards. Many were sent to Japan considering many couldn't even speak Japanese because they were born and raised here. History is repeating itself for migrants entering the US. Another moment not to be proud of…separating children and babies from their parents in basically what looks like a third world facilities.

  • Kyle Jurek

    BETTER Watch out, Georgie!
    Anal Cancer 21 Nov 2019
    https://moonbattery.com/the-wages-of-sin-is-anal-cancer/

    Depraved behavior has consequences, regardless of whether the
    authorities condemn it, endorse it, or even demand that you approve of
    it. One consequence of the rampant degeneracy that characterizes our
    times is anal cancer.

    Via Medical Xpress: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-11-anal-cancer-mortality-risen-americans.html

    Rates of new anal cancer diagnoses and deaths related to
    human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted
    infection, have increased dramatically over the last 15 years…

    [A new study] found that anal cancer diagnoses, particularly advanced
    stage disease, and anal cancer mortality rates had more than doubled
    for people in their 50s and 60s. The study also revealed that new
    diagnoses among black men born after the mid-1980s increased five-fold
    compared to those born in the mid-1940s. …

    Nearly 90% of anal cancers are caused by HPV.

    The researchers found that anal cancer rates and mortality went up by almost 3% per year from 2001 to 2016.

    As CNN admits,

    https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/19/health/anal-cancer-incidence-death-increase-study/index.html

    Since the 1950s, there have been substantial changes in
    risk factors for anal cancer, including shifts in sexual behaviors and
    an increased number of sexual partners, according to the study, both of which increase the likelihood of contracting HPV.

    The emergence of the HIV epidemic, especially among men who have sex with men, may have also influenced anal cancer trends because HIV is a risk factor.

    Since the ACLU now asserts authority over biological reality, it should step in and declare that anal cancer doesn’t exist, since this doesn’t sound like a pleasant way to die.

    On a tip from Kate P. Hat tip: Washington Standard.

    Report: Shift In Sexual Behavior Gives “Dramatic Rise” In Anal Cancer In US

    Michael Snyder 20 Nov 2019https://thewashingtonstandard.com/report-shift-in-sexual-behavior-gives-dramatic-rise-in-anal-cancer-in-us/

  • Skeptical Chris

    I worked on Terror, as an extra for weeks. For the scenes that they filmed, of the prisoners being loaded into the buses to be taken to the camps, were filmed at Hastings Racecourse Park, in Vancouver BC.

    This racecourse, was actually also used, during WW2 as a rounding up place for Japanese Canadians. So quite literally, some of those scenes in Terror, were actually filmed in places that real Japanese were wrongfully imprisoned.

    I also spent many days at the camp exterior set that George Takei describes and from what I saw of photos it really was almost the real deal. The interiors were on a studio, but the entire outside, with fences, and guard towers were all there, in South Surrey, BC.

  • Red B

    He's been fondling this for several years already.,before that it was endless rantings about William Shatner did not want to come to his same sex wedding!!!… Go back to doing "Takeis Take" on Youtube! and whine about trolls. Also he was on Howard Stern fondling big dicks… I mean come on… The guys was in a video game "Red Alert" .. This guy will say anything to make his fame. I do believe his telling of the American Japanese camps that time is true… But i also believe he is smearing a lot of butter on the situation of that time as well. My gandfather fought in the second world war between the Finnish and the Russian. In the frozen tundra of North Europe.., What did they have for choice?!… I mean if we are going to feel sorry for each other… What war and what after life did George Takei face with his family?… My family was put through hell for 30+ years. We did not get famous… None of after the war was over got some benefits or got considered "war heroes"…. Nobody made fucking movies.. Of when 300,000+ Soviets came charging through the woods in North Europe during -40c cold. Hmm… If Finnish Together with Sweeds and volunteer people from other nordic nations did not stop them then maybe Stalin and his bolscheviks reach all the way to Norway and Atlantic,. And Russia would control north sea!!! Oslo become part of Soviet Union and port!!! It what they wanted! To have Soviet submarine base in Norway … Can you imagine letting Russians that far… Atlantic would be warzone. The Germans tried it before!

  • david noone

    Who sexually abused him and made him Gay? And he was imprisoned by Usa but worked to make American imperialist propaganda? Maybe should have returned to Japan?

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