Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Harry Kawahara Interview
Narrator: Harry Kawahara
Interviewer: Sharon Yamato
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: September 20, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-kharry-01-0005

HK: I was ten years old during my very formative period of life, and I think I was really too young to know what was really going on but I was old enough to know that something is not right. I had some sense of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and we had no legal standing, there was no trial, no jury, nothing. Just simply because we were Japanese, we were placed in assembly centers and eventually the internment camps. But I sort of, as I reflect back on that experience when I was ten years old, I thought about that experience of going to Tanforan and seeing these soldiers with rifles walking around, marching around telling us where to go, what to do, and I think I began to internalize some things at that point in time where I thought to myself, "Why are they doing this to us?" I didn't do anything wrong, I wasn't found guilty of any kind of crime, and I began to think that they're doing this to us because we're Japanese. And during those formative years, to have that experience, I think it's very damaging psychologically for a young kid of ten years old to realize that this is happening to him and he hadn't done anything wrong. So you're still developing your self concept, your sense of ego, and I began to internalize the fact that they're doing this to us because we're Japanese, therefore it's bad to be Japanese. You know, that's very damaging, and I think I still feel the impact of that to some degree.

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