Jim Tanaka

Jim Tanaka was born in Sacramento on January 2, 1926. He is the 3rd of five children born to Morigo and Yoshina Tanaka. Jim’s parents were tenant farmers in Oak Park (South Sacramento). During the war years, his family was sent first to Arboga Assembly Center in Marysville. From there, they were sent to Tule Lake. After completing the loyalty questionnaire, they were transported to Topaz, Utah. Jim was drafted in 1944 and served with the 442nd in Italy. He returned to California after the war and attended trade school. He helped the family to rebuild their lives. Jim continues to volunteer his time to educate students about the experiences and contributions of the Nisei veterans of WWII.

Video Timeline

Note: To listen to a specific clip, move the slider on the video to the designated clip time listed below.

00:00 – Introduction

00:18 – Clip 1
What happened after the Pearl Harbor attack; restrictions; contraband confiscation; curfew; impact on family farm.

02:29 – Clip 2
Evacuation to assembly center; construction; communal facilities; cold water.

04:21 – Clip 3
Family structure breaks down in the camps.

05:54 – Clip 4
One suitcase (what would you take to the camps); loss due to theft after evacuation.

7:28 – Clip 5
Mischief at Tule Lake; one finger salute; seagulls painted with the rising sun; agitating the guards.

9:40 – Clip 6
Loyalty Questionnaire (27th and 28th Questions); Caused tension and fights; renounce citizenship, “no-no” camp and the “no no boys.”

12:46 – Clip 7
Drafted to Topaz, Utah; all were communal; all camps had 3 things in common; description of dust flying throughout the camps.

15:32 – Clip 8
Army; segregated units; 100th and 442nd battalions; training; no one wanted responsibility for the troops; detailed information about the segregated units.

18:53 – Clip 9
Couldn’t get a good job because he wasn’t not allowed in union/strikebreaking led to union membership.

19:47 – Clip 10
Scariest experience in war, 442 & 100 in Italy and N. Africa, resilience of military on battlefield.

23:57 – Clip 11
Japanese-Peruvians incarcerated in Texas to be exchanged for American POWs, passports taken away, Crystal Lake Camp described.

27:19 – Clip 12
Talks about the constitution, how the constitution did not fail him, the elected officials failed him. How important his vote was.

Video production provided by the Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium – http://www.secctv.org

Photo Gallery

Primary source images to accompany Jim Tanaka’s story. Images provided by Jim Tanaka – Elk Grove Unified School District

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