Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Bill Hosokawa Interview
Narrator: Bill Hosokawa
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Daryl Maeda (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: July 13, 2001
Densho ID: denshovh-hbill-01-0018

BH: Well, the fence was a very big issue. One of the main causes of resentment in the assembly centers was that they were all fenced in. And when they, these people first came to Heart Mountain, there was no fence surrounding the camp site. There was really no need for a fence. You could walk 20 miles through the sagebrush and not run into anything. And after the camp was pretty well settled, the army decided to put up a barbwire fence around the camp and put up watchtowers. Until then it was open. You could walk anywhere you wanted to. If you wanted to walk 20 miles through the sagebrush, you could get to town. But when the decision came to build the fence, there was a great deal of resentment in the camp. And I think the resentment was unanimous. And the camp administrators were very much aware of the feeling of the people in the camp. But this was a military order, and there was nothing much they could do about it.

As I recall, some of the camp leaders got -- organized a petition-signing campaign, as I recall. And they sent that on to the WRA. And of course, this was important news. It had to be covered. And we did cover it with a -- it was the top story with a headline all the way across the top of page one. But at the same time, we had the responsibility of not stirring up the anger of the people so that there might be an incident. And that would've been very, very dangerous. So the paper had a responsibility to report the news without being provocative about it. And I think we managed to do that by playing the story right down the middle, the top story on page one. But we reported it objectively, and that satisfied the readership.

AI: I wanted to ask a question about, you were concerned about stirring up the people...

BH: Yes.

AI: ...and that it could become dangerous. Could you give an example of being, perhaps reporting it less objectively. In your mind, what would've been a dangerous statement to make? What was it that you were working to avoid?

BH: Well, we -- the story, the news story was written very objectively. The WRA was putting up a fence. The people did not like it. They were going to send the, a petition to the WRA. And it would have been very easy to write the story so that it would stir public anger. And it might have incited demonstrations or a riot or whatever. And so we, we made it as objective a story as possible.

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