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Taken: Oregonians Arrested after Pearl Harbor

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What Lessons Have Been Learned?: Tora Miyake

In the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor, a handful of women were taken in and released, but only one woman was imprisoned—Tora Miyake. Her husband had died in 1936, so she eked out a living by teaching piano, teaching part-time at a Japanese language school and working as a printer at the small weekly newspaper she and her late husband published. Her family speculates that she was arrested because she was mistaken for Taro, her late husband, because her name, Tora, was so similar. Teaching in Japanese language schools or publishing a newspaper were also considered suspect activities.

Women arrested by the FBI were sent to the Federal Reformatory for Women in Seagoville, Texas, which in 1942 was converted into an Alien Enemy Detention Station, commanded by Dr. Amy Stannard. Seagoville was a complex of two story, red brick buildings augmented by about 60 temporary, wooden “victory huts,” 16 feet square. The internees took care of the classrooms and hobby shops that they organized with the equipment and materials furnished by the administration. There was an internee-managed employment service, and these workers were paid ten cents an hour.

Tora Miyake was released during the war to join her family in Heart Mountain. By 1944 she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This disease has a high cure rate today, but because of the delay in diagnosis while she was in detention in Texas, she endured the ravages of chemotherapy, which was very primitive in 1944, but died that year.

Asked to reflect on whether the Japanese internees were potentially dangerous, Dr. Stannard replied, "I didn’t see the official records on which their internment was based, so I don’t know...Of course, among the Japanese, there were people picked up on very flimsy circumstantial evidence. We learned one man and his wife who were interned with us because it was his habit to take walks along the coast and take pictures. That seemed to be about the only thing they had against him." [Fullerton Oral History Program, Japanese American Project]

Based on this original

Santa Fe Internment Camp
uploaded by Oregon_Nikkei
Santa Fe Internment Camp, painted by S. Tomihiro. Part of 1998.04.01, gift of the Takeoka Family. More »


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