Articles

Kids Meet a Survivor of the Japanese-American Internment | Kids Meet | HiHo Kids


– Were you a spy?
– Was I a spy? – Yeah.
– At eight years old? – I was thinking that
too like eight years old. I’m pretty sure that you wouldn’t even have a credit card. (laughing) (soft music) – Hello, my name’s
Crystal, what is your name? – My name is Shokichi Tokita. I go by Shox. Can you say that?
– Shokes. – So, why are we here today? – We’re gonna be talking about what happened to me and my family when World War II started. Do you recall which
countries the United States was fighting against at that time? – Yes, Germany, Italy, and Japan. – Right.
– I’m actually learning about that right now so. – Oh you’re learning about it now, okay. In 1941 Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Have you heard of Pearl Harbor? – No. – Pearl Harbor is in Hawaii. – Do you remember it clearly? – Oh yeah, I sure do. A lot of turmoil at that time. Since, the US was at war with Japan there was a lot of
fighting people in America. About the Japanese people thinking that they might turn
against people in the US. And so the Japanese people were placed in concentration camps. When you talk about camps,
what comes to mind for you? – Camping, like the one with s’mores. (laughing) Were there s’mores at your camp? – No. It was not that nice. You know what barbed wire is? – It’s the stuff that goes
like that on the top of it. So then when you try climbing you would just get really hurt. – Yeah, they had barbed wire
all the way around the camp. And they had guards making sure that we didn’t get out of camps. And you know which way the guns
and machine guns were faced? – Probably towards the camp.
– Towards the camp. – They would face them towards us. We were considered prisoners. – But you didn’t do anything bad. – That’s right. That’s exactly right. – So then why would you be in prison? – Because the war was with
Japan and I’m Japanese. – Because you’re Japanese?
– Yeah. – This is my question. Why didn’t they put Italy or Germany? That’s kind of weird. – They’re weird? – Because like if you
just put one country in, it’s really not that fair. – The main reason is
that a lot of the Germans and Italians are white like you are. But you’re not all white.
– Yeah. – You’re part Japanese? – Yeah, a quarter though. Would I have been put in a camp? – Yes. – Oh my God. – That is sort of racism, a bit. – That is really racism. – That’s exactly what that is. – That must’ve been so
unfair for you guys. – It was, mhm. – How many people were at your camp? – There was roughly 10,000.
– 10,000? – You call it interment camps but I call it a concentration camps and do you know what the difference is? – I don’t know exactly but I know that the
concentration camps in Poland and Germany where the Jews
were, they were death camps. – Yeah, we were not put
to death like they were. – Yeah.
– They were poisoned. – Had a huge difference there. Nevertheless, these were
camps that were set up for the Japanese who lived
along the West Coast. The camp that we wound up in was Minidoka. – Where is that?
– It’s in Southern Idaho. These camps had a whole bunch of barracks. They were long barracks. My family had to live in one room. – How many siblings did you have? – I have seven siblings. – Seven? – My brothers and sisters
were all younger than me. – No, I’d lose my mind. (laughing) I can barely even stand one. – And when we first went into our rooms, there was about three or four inches of sand in that whole room. So, my father got us
cardboard and other things that we could shovel all
the sand out of the rooms. And then you know these barracks did not have bathrooms,
did not have a kitchen, did not have any running water, and we had to go to a
different building to go eat. We didn’t have any furniture so my father got us a big box that he put on the floor and that was our dining table. We sat on the floor, Japanese style. (laughing) – How old were you when
this was happening? – I was eight years old. How old are you?
– Eight. – How long did you have to be there? – Three years. – Usually when I think of camp it’s like maybe a week
or so but, three years? That makes me think of torture. – My parents were very angry
’cause we lost our business, we lost our home, we lost the car. – That would be a whole
waste of that money and that would be ruining
other peoples lives’. – Oh yeah. – Did the US ever apologize to you and to the Japanese?
– Yes they did. President Reagan signed an apology to the Japanese people
that were put into camps. Gave us a stipend of $20,000 per person who was in the camp. – Do you think it could happen now? – Yeah, it could happen. In fact, have you heard
about American Army going over to the Muslim
countries to fight. – No. – Well they’re doing that right now and there’s a lot of
resentment against the Muslims. It’s a racial profiling
that has to be stopped. And in our community a
group called the Dencial are trying to make sure
that that doesn’t happen to the Muslims like it
did with the Japanese during World War II.
– That would be scary. (soft music) I’m speechless. – Well it was really
nice to meet you, Shokes. I feel so sad for what happened to you. – Well thank you. – Thank you Shokes.
– Oh you’re welcome. Thanks for coming and I
enjoyed talking to you. – Thank you very much. – Hi, thanks for watching Kids Meet. If you’d like to learn more, check on the link down below. (laughing) – [Woman] Awesome, that was great. All right, thank you so much, Shokes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *