Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community

What if Niseis said, “No, we won’t go” – Sada Omoto (OH0092)


We were all too naive, in a way. That is, my age group — then ’bout eighteen, nineteen — … I’ve often wondered, Frank, that had we had a large body of adult Nisei — by adult Nisei I mean those in the thirties and forties — who would have been in a better position to look at what’s happening and maybe to provide some guidance for those of us who were younger who knew very little about what was happening.

Sometimes I wished, if we could ever do it, recreate that particular moment and say that the Niseis stood up and said, “No, we won’t go.” Whereas we played the other game of what we were told — and this now comes from the Japanese American Citizens League — that is if you don’t cooperate… I mean the message was, “Do what you’re being told to do,” because somebody else knows better than you do. You know, deny all the things that I’ve followed since.

So that when you asked if I had any inkling, no, other than immediately after Pearl Harbor… this is the kind of question we get frequently, “How did our neighbors react?” Individually, a couple of men came to us and said, “We know you’re loyal, but I can’t vouch for the other on the island.” Somewhere along there, either we totally — “we” meaning the Niseis — we didn’t do our job properly. Maybe the… we should have had a whole mass of Caucasians saying, “These are loyal people.” But we didn’t. So we all went peacefully because we were told what we should be doing.

Video Interview — June, 2008

Sada Omoto

Sada was 19 years old at the time of evacuation. At that time, he had three brothers: Setsuo (27), Masakatsu (21), Taketo (24). When the US entered the war, Sada was a student at the University of Washington. He evacuated with his mother and brother Taketo. Sets and Mas, or "Bear," were serving in the military. Daikichi Omoto, Sada's father, passed away in 1931. Sada also had a sister, Kanee, who passed away in 1932. All four of the Omoto boys served in the army during WWII. Sada is a retired professor of Art History from the Michigan State University.