In my last post I said some photos had rocked my world. The photos I showed were part of the memories of a family member I never met. She died in the 1950s shortly after the birth of her son, my wife’s cousin.
Like many people, I was aware of the forced internment of many American citizens after the start of WWII because they were of Japanese descent. I knew it was despicable, but never “knew” the impact as it hadn’t personally affected me. Until I saw the photos, and knew what they represented. What I didn’t show was an ID badge from the Tule Lake internment camp from the victim or her ID badge from when she worked for I Corps in Japan after the war. They were part of a collection of documents and memorabilia I found in my wife’s cousin’s effects.
From those documents, here’s the history I’ve been able to figure out and some speculation on areas I don’t have documents for.
Mitsuye Takemiya was born in Venice California on June 4, 1924, the second daughter of Senjiro Takemiya (her father) and Kazu Takemiya (her mother). Senjiro was the second son of Hankichi Takemiya and Tome Takemiya. Senjiro married Kazu Tagawa on 12 may 1917. Kazu died on 26 January 1946.
A certificate given to her by the Automobile Club of Southern California for her participation as a member of the School Safety Committee of Theodore Roosevelt school on June 31, 1935 showed she rendered some personal service in the Campaign of Education for Public Safety. She was 11.
In 1936-1937 she achieved distinction in the Major Games as noted by an Athletic Game Achievement Certificate of the Los Angeles City School District. It was signed by Marian Bates as her teacher and there were stamped signatures for Jesse Ingraham, the Principal of Theodore Roosevelt school and K Loren Mitchell, the supervisor.
Mitsuye, “who has been found worthy in Character and Citizenship and has satisfactorily completed a Course of Study as prescribed by the Board of Education” graduated from Junior High School at the Venice High School, in the Los Angeles City High School District on the 28th of June, nineteen hundred and forty.
The Manzanar Secondary School, of Manzanar California gave her a diploma for graduation on the Third of July, Nineteen hundred and forty-three. The Project Director’s name isn’t clear to me, but Genevieae Carter was the Superintendent of Schools and Ceace or Peace High was the principal.
A plastic and paper ID badge number 4385-E with her index finger right hand finger print on the back, showed her to be at Tule Lake, and another badge from Headquarters I Corp, Stamped NO 451 is from Japan.
Mitsuye’s paper work from her wedding to Charles Roeslin (my wife’s uncle) shows there was quite a bureaucratic nightmare to get the paperwork in order. Amongst her papers was her Certificate of the Loss of the Nationality of the United States. That paperwork shows she was born at Palms California and she last resided at 4411 Lincoln Boulevard in Venice California. “she has expatriated herself under the provision of Section 401(e) of Chapter IV of the Nationality Act of 1940 by voting in the Japanese political election of April 5, 1947” based on her sworn statement in 1950. Some other paperwork shows she left the US in December 1945 to go to Japan.
I’m speculating that Mitsuye was amongst many Americans that were convinced to leave the US and go to Japan at the end of the war. I ran across a web page talking about a specific program that the US government cooked up to essentially bully about 5000 US citizens into giving up their US citizenship and go. Tule Lake had a reputation of being the camp where the least compliant victims of the incarceration were sent. There were some tricky questionnaires all the internees were required to fill out that were supposed to demonstrate the internee’s loyalty to the US that ended up sending folks to Tule Lake. I have no evidence that’s what happened to Mitsuye, but it might be plausible that’s what happened to her and her father, who was also back in Japan in 1951.
Mitsuye worked for the US government in Japan as a translator and clerk. I assume that’s how she met her future husband Charles. Charles was an MP with the occupation force and got to know many locals in Kyoto, based on the collection of business cards we found. He became a close friend of George C Yeh, a prominent Japanese attorney. Yeh wrote a book, published in 1950 “How to Conduct Defense” that Charles wrote the introduction to. The book is inscribed to Charlie Roeslin from George C Yeh and Charles C Yeh. In addition, there is a Japanese to American dictionary with a photo of George Yeh stuck inside and inscribed to Charles.
The photos of Mitsuye hit me like a thunderbolt. Here was a victim of a horrible policy that I had heard of, but never took personally. I thought it was despicable before, but here it was personally. From a few small pieces of paper that I might have just as easily tossed.
Photos are important.
I would love to find a museum to house these things, and or a historian to flesh out the details. It seems a shame to have them stuck in Delaware, possibly lost to history.