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Taken: Oregonians Arrested after Pearl Harbor

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How Was This Possible?: Dr. Benjamin Tanaka

Benjamin Tanaka was born on a plantation in Hawaii where his immigrant parents worked in the pineapple and sugarcane fields. By age 12, determined to pursue an education, he stowed away on a boat to the mainland and ended up in Idaho to continue his schooling.

As a teenager, he fell seriously ill, and this health crisis stoked his interest in becoming a doctor. Benjamin attended the University of Oregon medical school, where he became the second Japanese to graduate. He married a girl from Hiroshima and began to build a house in the Rose City Park area of Portland.

Son Gus, then a freshman at Reed College, recalls:

I was only at college about two months when Pearl Harbor was bombed...That afternoon, three well-dressed gentlemen who identified themselves as FBI came to front door. They said that they had taken dad away, and that they were under orders to go through the house and look for contraband. They just showed their badge and said "we're coming in." They went through the house with a fine toothed comb. They even took away a Brownie camera that I had received as a high school graduation present.

...We never saw my dad that evening, and for about three or four days we had no idea where he was...It took about two weeks before we learned that they had been moved to a camp in Missoula, Montana.

Based on this original

1922 wedding photo
uploaded by Oregon_Nikkei
Wedding photograph of Dr. Benjamin Tanaka's marriage to Michiye Yamada in 1922. ONLC 217, gift of the Takeoka Family. More »


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