Interviewee: George HirasakiInterviewer: Krid Fung Date: March 11, 2011 Transcribed by: Krid Fung Edited by: Priscilla Li (1/23/2017), Taylor Ginter (1/28/2017) Audio track time: [1:22:38]
Key:KF: Krid Fung GH: George Hirasaki -: Speech cuts off; abrupt stop …: Speech trails off; pause Italics: Emphasis (?): Preceding word may not be accurate Brackets: Actions (laughs, sighs, etc.)
KF: So just a quick introduction again. Uh this is Krid Fung and I aminterviewing George Hirasaki and maybe you could just introduce yourself.
GH: Okay, I’m George Hirasaki the AJ Hartsook Professor in ChemicalEngineering and the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
GH: …at Rice University.
KF: Right, thank you for uh having the interview today. I guess I just want tostart off by just asking a really basic question, you know, just maybe, tell me a little bit about yourself. Maybe, starting with sort of a little bit of family background or history, just to, how you came to live in Texas?
GH: Uh maybe we should start with uh how the family came to Texas.
GH: My grandfather visited Texas uh in 1906, over 100 years ago. He wasinterested in owning land and in California, or the West Coast, Japanese could not own land. But in Texas they uh welcomed having a Japanese uh rice farming colony and so he bought land in Orange County, which is about uh 100 miles uh east of here [Houston]. And then in 1907, he brought his—the rest of his 1:00family; his uh son, my mother, and uh his wife, and uh along with a number of other settlers and formed a uh a—the Kishi Colony in Orange County. And uh so that was how we came to being in Texas.
GH: And I was born in 1939 and I started school in 1946, which is one year afterWorld War II was over. And so that was a—had a very defining effect on my life. When I was—we were preschoolers, we spoke just Japanese at home because my grandmother only spoke Japanese. And then my father and grandfather were more comfortable speaking Japanese than English and so at home just Japanese was being spoken.
GH: But then uh, when I went to school…first of all my brother went to school.2:00He didn’t know English and so he had difficulty. When I went to school, I found that the kids would point their fingers at me and call me ‘Jap’ and they would buzz their hand over my head and say ‘Bomb Tokyo.’ And uh and so, while I learned that ‘Jap’ meant the enemy, and so that I told them ‘I’m not Jap, I’m a Japanese American. I was born here in Texas.’ And uh most of the kids understood but those that didn’t, I interpret as they were saying I’m their enemy or they’re my enemy and I felt like I had no recourse but to fight them because they weren’t—they were denying who I was. And so after a few fights, they knew my position and I had no more trouble with that. Unfortunately, my siblings weren’t as fortunate they kept on getting picked on.
KF: Oh, I see. Could you talk more about, I guess the other members of yourfamily, just really quick? You said you had some siblings?
GH: I had two brothers and three sisters and the—the boys came first and the3:00girls afterwards. But my older brother, when he’s—he’s the one that started school, he knew no English but what I remember was that uh—what I recall was that he would come home from school crying that the kids on the bus were picking on him. And then, and uh and one of our neighborhood girls that was a little bit older would defend him and, uh, and so that’s some of the recollection that we had.
KF: Okay. And so you are the middle brother?
GH: Middle brother and then the second of sixth children.
KF: [repeating]…second of sixth children. Okay. So uh after the war, in goingto school, I guess feelings are still, uh tensions are still running a little 4:00high in terms of I guess perceptions of Japanese Americans back then. As, as you progressed through school, I mean maybe just talk about your progression from elementary school to later to high school. Did things change?
GH: Well the kids knew where I stood and so they treated me with respect. Theyknew what not to say. But there was one school bus driver that substituted for his wife and he stopped the bus half a mile from our house, opened the door and uh I told the bus driver, said ‘Mrs. Harrington takes us to our house.’ He said ‘You Japs can walk.’ And so, we had no recourse but to get off the bus and walk half a mile to our house. [KF: I see.] And I remember I was so angry I threw a rock at the bus as it left and told my parents about it but they wouldn’t do anything. [KF: Right.] And then, many years later, I found out that same corner, that’s where they put up the road name ‘Jap Lane.’ [KF: 5:00Ohh.] Then, it’s no longer there, we had that changed in 2006, but uh but that, uh, added more insult to, to the injury. And my—as I mentioned to you earlier that my siblings wouldn’t fight when they were being called Jap, and I can remember my sister one time wanted to uh bleach her skin wanted—didn’t like, felt self-conscious about being so dark. Then, I remember that uh as adults my sisters were talking about ‘without the -nese. Someone used the word without the –nese.’ What they meant was that ‘Japanese’ without the ‘–nese’ is ‘Jap’ and they, they felt so sensitive they couldn’t even use the word themselves. They would just refer to it as ‘without the –nese’. And uh so it’s - some people, they would think that was the 6:00popular word to use during World War II, but uh, it had a strong impact on our family, on my siblings…myself and my siblings. And so this is why, in uh, there were two roads in Texas, one named ‘Jap Road’; one named ‘Jap Lane.’ Jap Road was in Jefferson County, which is adjacent to Orange County. And Jap Lane was the road where my grandfather originally settled and we referred to as ‘the old farm road’. And then uh while the roads names have been changed but after much….it didn’t come easy. There was a Japanese 7:00American whose name was Sandra Tanamachi, lived in Beaumont. She tried in the 90’s to change the name of Jap Road in Jefferson County but uh with no success at that time. And then uh in the uh—about 2004 time period, she tried to get again, this time, uh we—it wasn’t…it was a much broader action. It was not just herself; it was the Japanese American Citizens League and I was the President at that time. And then other civil rights organizations, particularly the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, the uh—and a number of civil rights groups teamed together to see about changing the road name. Finally, we were able to uh convince them they should have a hearing on the subject of the road name. And then, the commissioner’s court uh called a hearing and then uh they 8:00allowed each side to have uh three minutes uh to give their opinion. They would just alternate one side then the other. And so that went on for something like three hours. And then the opposition finally ran out of people and so we just kept on having our side continuing, giving their point of view. And then the Commissioner’s, uh, Court voted and the vote was all for changing the road name, with the exception of the Commissioner, whose uh district was where the road was and he voted to keep it the same because his—the residents on the road were opposed to changing the name of the road. [KF: I see.] Their claim, their reason for the objection was that they felt like if they were to change 9:00the name of the road, they were conceding that uh ‘Jap,’ the word ‘Jap’ was a racist name and that implies that they were racist and they were denying that they were racist. And to vote for a change, they felt like they were, it was an admission to being racist and this is why they were so adamant in their opposition to changing it.
KF: Okay, I see. And were most of the people living, that were against thischange, had they been long time residents of the area?
GH: Well, a number of the people were long time residents and there was aJapanese family that was there like uh during the early part of the twentieth century. And then they, uh there were quite popular with the local residents and they eventually went back to Japan. But because they got along well, they uh they thought to ‘honor them’; they would call it ‘Jap Road.’
KF: I see.
GH: But what’s interesting is that there’s a intersecting road calledBurrow-Wingate Road. You know, they would name the other roads in terms of the 10:00family names, but this road they would just call it Jap Road, instead of calling it Ma-, Mayumi Road. What we were asking for was ‘can you just name it after the family name of the settlers instead of using the word Jap Road?’ and uh they refused to do that because they felt like that would be admission of uh that they were racist. They were saying how, how they loved the Mayumi family and then they wanted to keep it the same so as to honor them. Uh but uh, yet they didn’t want to name it after the family name. And so, after the Commissioner’s Court required them to change the name, they chose to name it uh um, I think, ‘Boondocks Road,’ and they, that was the name of a 11:00restaurant on that road [KF: Okay.] and they would do that rather than honor the name of the family that had originally settled that road. So, it, which makes you wonder were they really interested in honoring the original settler.
KF: Right. Uh I just want to go back to maybe, talking a little bit more aboutyour hometown. Were there other, a lot of other Japanese Americans or Japanese families near your area? You said, I guess there were some in Jefferson Counties?
GH: Well, there were a large number of families that went through Kishi Colonywhenever the colony was active. [okay] That was from uh, starting in 1907 until 1932, whenever my grandfather lost ownership of the land due to bankruptcy and uh because of foreclosed mortgage he lost the land. And so after that, then the families scattered to different places, but the uh Nagai family uh and the Kondo 12:00family still continued to live in the area. The Nagai family’s in Vidor, which was, they used to be next door. Um and then uh later they moved to Vidor and then the uh Kondo family moved to Fannett. And uh and so they were the only families during the time that uh I was growing up, [KF: Okay.] but earlier on there were many families that passed through there and several of the families that are here in the Houston area had, had uh come, arrived through the Kishi Colony when they first came to the U.S.
KF: Ok. Now uh since you grew up around your grandparents and your parents, andthey both spoke Japanese, did you feel like uh you were able to sort of retain 13:00that ability to sort of connect with them in a way? Because um what I’m saying is that do you feel there’s maybe a cultural gap between maybe, you and your parents and your grandparents, or did you feel like it was a pretty close connection you had with them?
GH: My grandmother died when I was still quite young, maybe like uh ten yearsold. My grandfather died when I was maybe uh like fourteen or fifteen or so. And uh, and so, I didn’t really get to know them. They were like grandparents. But it’s - as far as having serious conversations with them, we didn’t. We were children. And as far as my parents—after we started school, we would no longer speak Japanese. Our parents would speak to us in English. And uh, they wanted us to speak proper English rather than, than—so they didn’t speak Japanese to 14:00us at home.
KF: I see.
GH: It was only much later, after my father retired and then he was becomingelderly, then he became more comfortable with Japanese than English. Then when I’d come home to visit, he would speak to me in Japanese. My mother would translate and I would say ‘It’s all right, you don’t know need to translate, I know what he’s saying’ [laughs] but I could—my father’s style of Japanese I could understand what he was saying. It’s different than most Japanese that I hear right now. I can’t—well maybe it’s been, uh, it’s been thirty years since my parents have died but I remember at the time, that I could understand my father perfectly well.
KF: And, um along with you and the rest of your siblings, uh can uh can15:00everybody have the same level of understanding Japanese that you do?
GH: Which is quite poor. I’d say the level of understanding is very minimal.And to give you an idea of how minimal, is that before we went to visit our cousins in Japan, Darlene and I went to continuing education and took Japanese I. And then the next time we went to visit again we took, we were going to take Japanese II. But then [laughs] we weren’t comfortable with Japanese II. We had to go back to Japanese I. And then the third time, again we started off in Japanese II, but again, we had to revert back to Japanese I. By not using it regularly, we couldn’t retain it and so right now that uh I can’t uh I can’t converse in Japanese. The only thing that I can retain fluently is 16:00counting from one to forty in Japanese because when we do our exercise in the morning, we count in Japanese. [KF: Right.] But uh in conversation, it’s difficult. But, yet uh when I hear the words that…I can still recognize many of the words when I hear [them]. I know what they’re saying. If they pronounce it the same way as my parents did. Then, when we’re studying Japanese, we studied uh; I learned the, the alphabet in uh hiragana and katakana. The kanji, I never got the kanji, but the hiragana, katakana, I remember um memorizing the alphabet. So when we travel in Japan, we’d go to a train station, we could see the train stop written in hiragana and then recognize where we are. We’d have to pronounce it, and then think about the letters and then say ‘Oh! that’s where we are,’ and comparing it to our maps. But that’s about the extent to my Japanese language understanding.
KF: So amongst your siblings, did you mainly converse in English?17:00
KF: Only in English?
GH: Yeah. We -
KF: Did you ever mix a little or anything? Like I guess, mix maybe a fewJapanese words with your predominantly English speech?
GH: Well, things like food; [KF: Yeah.] we would use the Japanese word [KF:Okay.]. But in conversation, we just uh, we spoke just in English. Because at—we, at that time, we were trying to integrate, you know, we were— uh people would picked us out as the enemy and, uh, and even though our friends would be nice to us, but there would be other people that still—that uh they would make their comments and uh we knew what they were talking about. And uh and so that we were quite sensitive to our ethnic background. 18:00
KF: Could you go maybe a little more now towards your education path? Let’ssay from high school and then on to college and then into your first job.
GH: Mmhmm. Well, I went to uh Vaider which uh isn’t, isn’t like one of thescholastic powerhouses like you find in Houston. And in fact my senior year, that uh, I was only one of two students that uh applied for trigonometry, so I couldn’t even take trig in uh high school. I had to take it without credit my freshman year in college. But nevertheless, I think one thing that helped me in my education was that uh when I was in middle school I had a uh science teacher who was uh teaching one year, taking a break from his PhD studies. And instead of just teaching general science, he taught chemistry. And that got me interested in chemistry and my, at home, my brother happened to have a chemistry 19:00set. And so, I started doing experiments to find out more of what chemistry was about. And I discovered my father had a college chemistry book and they had things like inorganic, organic chemistry. Uh and then—and so, I started doing/buying chemicals, doing all kinds of experiments, doing organic synthesis. I was synthesizing organic molecules before I ever took high school chemistry. And so whenever I took high school chemistry, it was, uh it was stuff that I already knew how to do. And uh well, I dropped it in the beginning but I finally finished it taking the course when I realized I needed it if I’m going to major in chemical engineering. And then so when I started college, it was obvious that if I’m looking for a career, that uh something I knew very well was chemistry.
And something I could do very well was mathematics even though I didn’t havevery much background in mathematics. And so, if you’re strong in chemistry and 20:00strong in math, then a very obvious career path is chemical engineering. And so, that’s what I majored in at Lamar, Lamar Tech, is now Lamar University. And then, and so getting my bachelor’s degree, uh and so I got a B.S. in Chemical Engineering, graduated with honors, but I felt like uh I didn’t really understand. I was just taught how to do things. But uh, there were all these formulas in the textbooks; I didn’t understand how they came, came about. It was like plug in the formula. So I wasn’t really satisfied intellectually with the understanding I got as an undergraduate. And so that’s when I decided I’m gonna come to graduate school and understand ‘Now, how does this knowledge come about?’ I’d rather be the creator of the knowledge rather than just the user of the knowledge. And so, that’s when I uh decided to go to graduate school. And then uh then, I came to visit Rice and uh interviewed Ricky 21:00Kobayashi. And uh—but when I first told my father I was thinking about going to graduate school and was interested in going to Rice, and he said, look up one of the Kobayashi boys, they’re on the faculty at Rice. And it turned out, it was Ricky Kobayashi and he was in chemical engineering. So, I came to visit him in 1963 and uh and so that uh I was accepted in graduate school. And I found that it was such a mind-expanding experience that I was thinking ‘Gosh, this is…I would just keep on discovering how all of these things happened.’ It felt like, it was like uh…before I was just uh just following recipes. And 22:00then I came to graduate school and I found out how these recipes come about; that I could be the person that makes the recipes. And then, and so it was just a, a completely different intellectual climate than what I’d been used to before. And that’s why, when I decided I’m going to go industry first, but I want to come back here and be faculty someday. I thought it was presumptuous as a student to say ‘I want to become faculty.’ So I waited a few years, then told, came to visit campus, and told them of my interest. Then 1977, [Rice] offered me a chance to teach part-time. So, I taught part-time from ’77 to ’93, then became full-time in ’93.
KF: Going to college, uh first Lamar, and then Rice. And I know you mentionedyou knew a Japanese American at Rice. Sort of—again, going to these two 23:00different environments, uh how did the people around you sort of handle your ethnicity? Cause by now, uh, you know going to, to college, you know, some years have passed since the war, sort of—have things changed? Have things—were there still some struggles? Or did you feel that people had a better understanding about you now? It wasn’t just ‘you were the enemy’ anything like that?
GH: There was no more problems; no one picking on us being Japanese Americanafter— uh well in my case, after just elementary school. But my sisters said that even when they were in high school, they would hear comments from teachers, not other students. They would say something about the ‘Japs.’ And 24:00uh—but—this is—we didn’t hear anything derogatory, that I know of, after, after leaving uh high school. But it’s—but uh I didn’t hear anything more derogatory after like the first grade because I would fight and they knew where I stood. [KF: Right.] And what’s interesting is that uh while I was still in high school, I wanted to join the Marine Corps. But not active duty for four years, but six months active duty and then being in the—in the reserves. And uh my parents were very reluctant to let me join the Marine Corps, but uh they, they permitted me to join the Marines. And then, after I went to the Marine Corps, then I discovered that the Marines who fought the Japanese in the Pacific— and then uh and uh but the—I got not a single derogatory words 25:00from any of the Marines. They, they would take me aside and tell me how much respect they had for the Japanese soldiers. And they said, ‘especially the Japanese Marines, were—they had to be six-foot t-tall to be Japanese Marines. I’m six-foot-tall [chuckle] so they were impressed by my size. They said, just how terrific of a fighter that they [Japanese Marines] were. And uh they said that most of them [Japanese Marines] were from Hokkaido, the northern Island. And uh and so they treated me with respect. Not a—no Marine ever called me a ‘Jap.’ They would take me aside to let me know how much respect that they had of the Japanese soldier and I think of—that I would think of coming to join the Marine Corps. But I think that me joining the Marine Corps was my response to, as earlier as a child, being denied being American. The Marines—uh to join the Marines, who fought the Japanese during the World War II, is saying that uh ‘I am an American and I’ll, I’ll put my life on the 26:00line as an American if necessary.’ And uh…and so, and so uh I think that the Marines knew that they wouldn’t dare say anything derogatory to me because it’s very unusual. I was the—in the whole time I was in the Marine Corps, I knew no other person, no other Japanese American Marine.
KF: Were there any other um I guess Asians that you trained with?
GH: Not that I recall. There were very few Asians in the United States at that time.
KF: And this was around what year again?
GH: It was uh 1956. Let me see, ’57 when I first joined. I went to active duty27:00in ’58. And there were lots of uh Japanese Americans and Chinese Americans on the west coast, but uh I didn’t see a single—um I don’t recall seeing a single Asian uh American in the Marine Corps.
KF: And when you were on active duty, uh where did they place you?
GH: In uh San Diego, for boot camp and Camp Pendleton for active duty. And itwas during peacetime so there was no, uh, I wasn’t in foreign soils. But it was during that time that uh the Marines landed in uh Beirut, Lebanon because they were having a civil war. But they were—when the Marines landed with their landing crafts, they were met on the beach by school—by children [laughs] who was enjoying the show. And then uh, mainland China was bombing Jinmen. I remember at the time, whenever the Marines landed in Lebanon, we were a little bit anxious because we were in the first month of boot camp. And then in the third month of boot camp, the mainland China bombed Jinmen and then and there 28:00were, there were things were getting tense and we were ready to go— ‘Call in the Marines!’—we were ready to go [laugs]. And so during that time our attitude had changed very much, but we were ready to, to show what we could do.
KF: Just for clarification, so did—did you join the Marines after yougraduated from uh college?
GH: No I joined while I was a junior in high school. [KF: While you were ajunior in high school.] And then six months active duty, uh the fall sem—the summer and the fall semester was in the marine active duty and then the spring semester, I signed up for Lamar University, Lamar Tech. Cause after spending 29:00boot camp and one month of infantry training, it made me think a lot more about my career. And said that uh, that uh, is this what I want to do for the rest of my life? Or do you want to do something that’s a little more intellectually demanding. And uh and so when I came home from on leave, the first thing I did was sign up for the spring semester [laughs]. So I knew then that uh I definitely must go to college. [KF: I see.] And so I guess that it was a real awakening for me, that it was time to go grow up and make some career decisions. That uh that may have been fun for a short time, but then I needed to think about the long-term career.
KF: So then, you’ve come to Houston and you uh attend Rice for grad school.30:00And you mentioned that you knew a guy by the name of—
GH: Ricky Kobayashi. Yeah.
KF: Was he from your, your area?
GH: Uh, uh Ricky’s father came to uh United States. He was a mechanicalengineer. So he went to San Francisco, and that was about the time they had the San Francisco earthquake. And so he finally came to Texas and settled in the Webster Area, near the NASA—where the NASA Space Center is. And on the uh colony founded by [inaudible]. And so and he was uh truck farming in the colony and so he—my father had discussed cucumber culture with uh Ricky’s father. And he had I believe it was eight children, and since my father knew his father, he knew about uh one of the—well the, several of the Kobayashi kids went to either Rice or Texas A&M and uh he knew that Ricky was, was at Rice. And it just 31:00so happened that Ricky was a chemical engineer and so uh he helped, enabled me to be enrolled into graduate studies. And also, when I joined the faculty here, that uh we partnered together on a research project on using NMR [nuclear magnetic resonance] to measure the properties of live crude oils. So that he already had the NMR facilities and then um and Shell was interested in using NMR for well logging. So I was able to put the two together and get started on the research project right away by partnering with Ricky Kobayashi.
KF: Could you tell me more about just sort of your work at, at Shell as well and32:00sort of the— just, just your overall career, I guess?
GH: When I was a child, I thought that the oil industry would not be a placewhere I would want to work. Because I grew up very close to Orange field where my grandfather had some production at one time. And there, I remember the oil fields as uh being black, dirty. The oily water, the oily soil, pipes, pumps, and uh and looks like just a very messy place. Low tech uh industry. And so, I thought that well I’m going to go into the chemical industry, which is much more high tech. And then, when I came to graduate school, I said I was interested in the mathematics of uh of fluid flow. And then so I took on as a PhD project, solving the Navier-Strokes equation, that’s the equations for fluid flow in three dimensions. I uh was on the Rice-Baylor artificial heart 33:00program. This is between Rice, and DeBakey, and the Methodist Hospital, and the Baylor College of Medicine. Um but I was going to do the research on blood flow, but then I realized that there was no way to solve the fluid flow equations, the Navier-Strokes equations in three dimensions. And so to do that, I said, I think I know how to develop a theory and a computational methods to be able to do that. And so, I took that on as my thesis. And then uh, when I was ready to graduate, I went interviewing and I thought I was going to go—wanted to go work with Shell in the west coast because they were doing some good research. And they said, ‘Well, if you can do this kind of work, the people who would really value your talents are back here in Houston, in Bellaire at the Bellaire Research Center. And so, I interviewed with them and found out, yeah, they were the ones that were really excited by my know-how. And uh so then I ended up uh 34:00interviewing the other oil companies—Exxon, Amoco, uh let’s see, Chevron…uh let’s see, I interviewed also with Oakridge. In a way, I had like six offers then I narrowed it down to just between Exxon and Shell. And then uh I had the skills in numerical simulation that Shell needed very badly. Exxon already had the skills. And so if I wanted to make a big impact, I would make a much bigger impact at Shell. So that’s why I decided to go with Shell. And then I started doing research in that area. And probably my greatest contribution was getting Shell up to uh world class and uh doing reservoir 35:00simulation. And then, my last task in uh simulation was that I went to The Hague, the Netherlands, where Shell was headquartered. And then uh I taught a two or three-week class to the Shell engineers from all over the world on how to use the simulation that we had developed. And then I was— after that, I moved on to other things. And then, and so I went to Los Angeles after that to work two years in the operating company and then I returned back to research and had uh worked on enhanced oil recovery, which is the research I’m doing right now and uh plus a number of other topics.
So during the uh 70’s and 80’s was the time whenever enhanced oil recovery36:00was very exciting to the industry. Cause, cause during the 70’s, that’s whenever—uh when I first went to work, at Shell, the price of oil was something about like 2 or 3 dollars—it’s about 3 dollars a barrel. And then uh, uh during the mid 70’s the uh—that’s whenever we had the Arab embargo—it–it was the revolution in Iran, and then Iran decide to embargo uh the United States. And so it cut off the imports to the United States. And then uh and then well I can’t remember how much was the Iranian, it was referred to as the Arab embargo. So I don’t remember now how much was Iranian, and how much were the other Arab countries. But this, at this time, the uh United States didn’t have enough petroleum and there would be long lines at service stations. Service stations would run out of gas and people uh would line up to 37:00try to fill up. And there were rationalized—rationing gasoline. And you could buy—you could go to the station only on, depending on your, your license plate, if it was an odd or even number, you could go on odd or even days. And uh they’re trying to do something to control the long lines at the service stations. And so that was the atmosphere that uh I got into—enhanced oil recovery. And so by 1980, there was the nation was mobilized to try to do something. There were— we had what we called was us ‘energy independence.’ And then, the United States wanted to get independent of foreign imports, but uh this didn’t last very long—pretty soon, that uh interest weaned and that’s 38:00uh, that was—Nixon was the one who wanted to, uh was promoting energy independence, but then uh he uh resigned uh from uh presidency, and uh and after that, what Gerald Ford took over after him, but Jimmy Carter uh was then elected and then it turned out that there was an era of where the uh the politicians viewed the oil industry as the enemy. And then uh then uh and also and uh there was—so instead of trying to get oil—energy independence, they’re trying get uh more like punished oil companies for having such high prices. [KF: Right.] And then uh, in 1986, the—that’s when Saudi Arabia decided that uh…well, during that time, that’s whenever the United States was trying to 39:00develop a uh oil from oil shale. And Canada was trying to develop oil from the tar sands, or what they call oil sands. And these would have been alternative supplies that could have made the Americas independent of uh of the imports from the Middle East. But then the response of uh of the OPEC [Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries] was that uh ‘let’s open up the spigots, and then just flood the market with cheap oil.’ And so then the price of oil went up to $40 a barrel in uh in like the mid 80’s, and then in the 90’s, it dropped down to something like $11 a barrel. And tried to squeeze out these alternative uh energy sources. And uh the oil shale got squeezed out, but the tar sands didn’t stop, they kept on going. And so now that the price of oil is coming back up again, the oil sands are, is a big booming business. And then 40:00they’re trying to import the oil from the oil sands all the way here to Baytown and Port Arthur. It’s only the President and the Secretary of State that’s holding up approving that pipeline. And uh and now, the uh United States is importing something like 60% of the uh, of its petroleum needs. And uh they’re trying to get less dependent on the Middle East. But still, it’s very—highly dependent on imports for meeting its energy needs.
KF: So this, this need for alternative energy has, has been around for awhile—this sort of wanting to become energy independent, and it, it seems to me that that’s what you’ve always sort of been primarily focused on, are 41:00issues such as these? Just uh I guess, you said, oil recovery, right?
GH: Well, working for Shell oil and gas recovery was our business. And then fromvery early on, we recognized that uh, the uh—if you use just conventional technology, you recover only like one third of the oil; you leave two thirds behind. And then, you know that it’s there, now you’ve discovered it; it’s not a matter of gambling trying to find something you don’t know is there, because you know it’s there, but it’s just a matter of technology. And so you have to develop that technol– two things, first is technology, second it’s economics. And so first you have to develop the technology, and second, the economics has to be right to be able to make use of it. And so I was aware of it—the day is going to come when it’s going to be necessary to recover these—the other two thirds, rather than just walking away from it. And now the world is coming to that recognition. During the 70’s and 80’s, it’s mostly 42:00the United States that was trying to do enhanced oil recovery. Now, it’s all over the world, and then the rest of the world may be taking the leadership away from the United States. The United States—the major oil companies left these uh old fields to small independent operators. And then it was the large oil companies that had the technology that could do these processes. Now the small operators they don’t have research organizations—they just—they do conventional technology and try to do it more cheaply than the major oil companies. And so it’s uh…but the—all over the rest of the world uh the most of the re—petroleum resources are owned by the national oil companies. And then the national oil companies are trying to gain the technology so they can start applying the enhanced oil recovery to make the most of their domestic resources. The other, other countries of the world recognize petroleum as a valuable natural resource that they need to conserve and try to make the most of 43:00it. United States doesn’t take that same view; they just want the cheap—use the—get the cheapest oil possible. But uh the, the other, this is why the other countries of the world is, is uh is now doing what the United States was doing in the 70’s and 80’s. And that’s why when I go to meetings, it’s usually outside the country, instead of in the United States. It’s, it’s now very international.
KF: Could you talk about…the transition from sort of working at Shell, havinga part time job at Rice, and then transitioning later to full time professorship at Rice University? And just you know, sort of that chapter of your life as well?
GH: The uh well when I first started teaching part time, I remember that uh the44:00first time I taught the effort to prepare the notes was just so horrendous that it uh I can remember staying up late every night, trying to prepare the notes, and that uh after I finished I said, ‘I don’t think I want to do this anymore.’ And then, so Rice said, ‘Okay, we’ll find someone else.’ But they couldn’t find anyone else to teach it. And then uh and so they asked me well can I go back and teach it. I said, ‘Well, since I’ve done it the first time, maybe the uh second time will be easier.’ And it was easier, once you had the original notes prepared. Much easier. I had the original notes prepared. And then it started getting to be more fun. I like explaining things and so uh I 45:00enjoyed uh teaching the courses all through the 70’s and 80’s. And sometimes, I had really large classes, not just chemical engineering, but the people in applied math, and uh lot of them came, a lot of people came from industry. And so I was able to reach out to a lot of people. And, but all this uh um uh—but this was still part time. And then in the 80’s, there were—uh well in the 70’s, 80’s—whenever research, uh there was demand for research, it was really fun doing research. It’s like I didn’t want to give that up. But then after 1986 when the price of oil dropped, then there was less interest in research, and in fact they just considered research to be just an expense. And they wanted to uh reduce expenses, and I can remember uh at one time, the uh motto of the company was ‘return to profitability.’ The Shell 46:00never lost money for a whole year, but there was like two quarters when it was in the red. And so they were just interested in reducing expenses, rather than doing research. At that time, it wasn’t very much fun doing research and I was getting ready to move on. And uh so then uh and so then the time was right for me to make the move—they, they weren’t interested in research, they wanted to reduce expenses, and then I could—I had already another career waiting for me, whereas my—a lot of my colleagues, if they got laid off, they would be out of a job. And so it—I felt it’d be a lot better for me to go to something that I wanted to do, I had the opportunity, than to hold on to the position and 47:00let someone else be laid off. And so then, that’s when I made the transition to academia.
And uh and so the first uh few years, I remember it was tough, it was lots ofwork. And it was hard to get research support, because during that time, the price of oil was so low that the oil industry wouldn’t support anything. And they even did the—the Department of Energy wouldn’t support uh research in, in uh in trying to increase recovery because it’s—they said, ‘Oh, the world is flooded with oil, why should we do research,’ and that was sort of the attitude that they had. And so I had—during my first years at uh at Rice, I was doing, working on aquifer mediation, cleaning up superfund sites, using the same technology we use for enhanced oil recovery. And then uh then things started happening. Someone from Mobil sent me a check said, ‘here continue doing the same research like you were doing when you were at Shell.’ And then uh Shell and Exxon—Shell and uh Schlumberger got together said, ‘here 48:00we’ll buy you an NMR spectrometer, if you use it to do research in measuring rocket fluid properties, uh using the NMR.’ And then—and so that formed the nucleus of site setup, okay, well maybe let’s form a consortium. And then so in—let’s see that donation of the NMR spectrometer was in ’95, ‘96 that formed the consortium. And now we have uh I think eleven or twelve companies that are members of the consortium. And it’s uh and it’s a, it’s a quite a large, uh large, large group. Last year, we had a total of eighty people at the consortium meeting.
KF: What’s a consortium? What’s the name of the consortium?
GH: It’s ‘Processes in Porous Media.’ I didn’t call it just ‘EnhancedOil Recovery,’ because when I started, there was—we had no research in enhanced oil recovery, we were doing aquifer remediation, but I was working on 49:00NMR well logging. But what was common in all this was flow in porous media. And so that’s why I decided that, and also I think there was already a uh—there may have been already a project that was called ‘Processes in Porous Media.’ And so that may have been why I continued in that. And that was appropriate for what I was doing. But now, things are different—the uh the federal, our federal government, other national oil companies, and the international oil companies, and the independent oil companies, all interested in sponsoring research. So it’s that uh, there’s no problem of funds in research. 50:00It’s—the problem is my time.
KF: So now, there’s like this renewed interest in uh your work, in your field.
GH: Yes. Now, I have thirteen PhD students. And then, and their, their PhDstudents are meant–three PhD students, three staff, and I partner with several other faculty. But this has resulted in my time split and these graduate students and staff; I also mentor undergraduate students. Now we have so many people, so many projects, so many sponsors, my time is split multiple ways that uh, it’s—I have a hard time focusing because it’s more of meeting obligations, meeting appointments, rather than uh focusing on something and working things through.
KF: Wow. Busier than ever.
GH: Yeah, it’s busy but not nec—I’m not sure if whether I’m getting thesame satisfaction I got when I first started. When I first started, then I 51:00had—I can remember the first project that Clarence and I had together, was we think maybe that was the most intellectually satisfying project that we did in the early 90’s. Because we had only one—well, he had other students, but I had only one student to begin with. Ant then, then it got to be 2, 3, 4, 5 and now when it gets to 13, I think 13 may be a little too, too many being divided too many different ways. And so fortunately, some of the students are graduating. [KF: Right, right.] And so we’ll have three that will be graduating this May and then that’ll reduce the load somewhat. And in the future, students, I’ll be co-advising with younger faculty rather than 52:00advising by myself.
KF: Would you, would you like to take a quick water break, anything like that?
GH: Okay, yeah, that’d be great. Might be good.
KF: Okay um, now that, uh I think we’ve covered your professional backgroundin good detail, maybe we could talk more about sort of your personal life, and sort of, I guess your, maybe just a little bit about you and your wife, and the rest of your family, things like that?
GH: Well, uh Darlene and I have been married, let’s see, eighteen years. Iguess I can know the number of years because we got married eleven days, or ten days after I started on the faculty at Rice. It’s like—the dates are the same. And uh and so, we met late in life and so we don’t have any of our own children. I was married before, much earlier, but uh we didn’t have any children. And uh and so uh I met Darlene on a ski trip, and so we have a lot of 53:00the same interests. We still enjoy skiing, we both went skiing to Jackson Hole over spring break, and uh and we’ve been going to Jackson Hole every, every winter for the last nine years, since my nephew moved to Jackson Hole to live. And uh and so it’s uh—and she enjoys doing other things too. Like uh we’re planning on bicycling around uh Japan this summer. And so we’ve dusted off our bicycles starting last fall and have been trying to get our bodies back in shape to do long distance bicycling. And uh when we first met, I taught her how to windsurf, and then I’d been windsurfing in uh, every summer in Maui since 1984. And so that’s uh that’s one of the things she had to do [laughs], was 54:00to go windsurfing with me in Maui, and uh we did that ‘til something like 2004. And so I did like twenty years of windsurfing in Maui and I still enjoy windsurfing, but I can’t take the conditions of Maui any longer. [KF: I see.]
The last time I was windsurfing in Maui, I got catapulted and landed facingbackwards and snapped my neck. I was temporarily paralyzed and I had to be towed to shore. Then, when I got to shore, I couldn’t stand up and it took some time before I could, I could walk again. And so the next year, I had to have surgery. But uh um I can still windsurf in Galveston Bay so I still do that, and I can 55:00still ski, and so I ski, but I don’t do hilly skiing any longer. And so I just ski, do resort skiing or sometimes snow cat skiing.
KF: So, still leading a very robust, active lifestyle?
GH: Oh yeah. It’s that—after I injured my neck, I couldn’t run anymore.But I used to run just about every day, for uh ever since uh—well I used to run track in high school and then uh when I was a graduate student I would run and then uh—because I had the gym facilities. But then uh, whenever I started teaching part time in 1977, one of the uh fringe benefits of being part-time faculty is I got the Rice card. I could use the gym facilities. So then I would— I started running again, and then so I used to run down North/South Boulevard, run around the campus; it’s like three miles around the campus. And 56:00so that was uh my routine had gotten to be, I would to go work at something like seven o’clock and then at about six or seven o’clock, I would come to Rice, go to the gym, change clothes, run around the campus and then drive on home. And then, at that time, I was living north of Houston, so by that time the traffic would subside and so that [running] kept me in good shape. And uh so now, after I injured my neck, I, I can’t run properly because the— the, I don’t have the right, the reflex to my feet has been damaged. So I tend to trip. But uh I can still bicycle [KF: Okay.] [laughs], so I use things like bicycling to stay in shape. And uh so I hope—it didn’t ‘affect my skiing, so I hope to continue skiing as long as I can. I think windsurfing; my footwork may not be as good, so I’m not as good windsurfing as I used to be. But uh I still try to keep that up as much as I can.
KF: That’s good. Uh good to hear that…How about uh sort of, I know that57:00you’re part of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) [GH: Yes.] and you were President for a good six or seven years. [GH: Yup.] Could you maybe talk more about sort of, not just the Japanese American Citizens League specifically, but also sort of how you’ve sort of kept in touch with your culture and your heritage uh to this day, and over the years?
GH: For a long time, I didn’t have too much interest in visiting Japan. I hadso many other things I wanted to do, like the skiing, mountain climbing, uh windsurfing. But then uh, about uh I guess ten or fifteen years ago, I started getting more of an interest in finding out about my roots. I was 58:00wondering…it’s but uh my family history starts in Japan and I’ve never been to Japan. And so, it was about I think 1998 or so, it was maybe like twelve years ago: the first time I went to visit Japan. Now, we try to do it every opportunity that we get. And uh…and so the first time I went to visit Japan, since that was the first visit, I went to visit all of my cousins. We went to Kyushu and uh visited two of the cousins over there and then we had uh five cousins in Tokyo, visited with all of them. But I’m thinking that uh that trip may have been maybe what triggered it was that I had a professional meeting in Japan and then I gave the presentation at that professional meeting, but that 59:00gave me the excuse to visit relatives while I was in Japan anyway. But it was such a good experience that uh we decided that we’re not going to wait for professional trips, we’re going to make—we’ll plan trips just to go visit Japan. And then the next time, we went to uh, did a tour of Japan—uh we found a tour company from Australia that uh was called ‘Backcountries of Japan’ and uh and so it, it was a…instead of just being in the big cities and going by bus, we would go to the small towns and the mountains and the villages, and go hiking. And then uh and so to see Japan like it was a long time ago, particularly, go hiking into historical places and that has lots of tradition. 60:00And so we’ve taken two walking tours such as that. One, first time going from Osaka to Tokyo and then the next time,
It was sort of a reversed direction. Some of the things were repeated, but therewere still a number of new things. And then uh oh, the first time that we went to Japan, we climbed Mt. Fuji [KF: Wow.] and none of my cousins had climbed Mt. Fuji. [laughs] They live there, but we came to the, we came to visit Japan and we had that as one of our goals and uh and so it’s—then our experience visiting there has been, has been just, uh, so good that we’ve, you know just keep on wanting to go back whenever we get the chance.
KF: Are you, are you—do you have good, I guess, how—good relationships withsome of your relatives? It seems like you have a lot of relatives back in Japan and you seem to know about them and stuff. I mean have any, maybe other members 61:00of your family maybe have moved back and forth or have maybe moved to Japan?
GH: None have moved to Japan. They have visited Japan. But um we’re Americans;we’d have trouble speaking the language for one. And uh but we all enjoy uh visiting, finding our roots because I’ve, we’ve made several trips to Japan and one of uh the trips was—I wanted to find out my uh mother’s side of the family, because it’s my cousins on my father’s side that, that uh I went to visit that first time. On my mother’s side, that - we didn’t know of any living relatives. The last living relative that came to visit us had since passed away. But I knew the town, hometown and uh and by this time, my parents 62:00were no longer living. But uh we knew that uh the Nagaoka, the city in the northern coast of Japan, was the sister city of Fort Worth. And so and then we knew the person in Fort Worth that was coordinating the sister city activity. And so we asked her, could she introduce us to someone that would help me find my great-grandfather’s uh grave, gravestone and so I could visit his grave. And uh also, I knew my great-grandfather had founded a bank. And so could they, could you introduce me to the bank, so I could visit the bank that my grandfather, great-grandfather had founded. And so he got me cont– she got me contacted with the uh Chamber of Commerce and Technology for Nagaoka. And then, 63:00it turned out that we got a red carpet treatment because they happened to be preparing to celebrate the - their centennial of their organization the next year. And then, and it turned out that my great-grandfather was the founder of the parent organization for the Chamber of Commerce and Technology. And then, and so we went to visit the uh, my great-grandfather was uh…we went to visit the Museum of Science and Technology. Maybe it’s Society and Technology. But uh found out that uh there was what’s called a lamp society. You know of the end of the Shogun and the Samurai period of Japan [KF: Yeah.] and return to Emperor? Started after Commodore Perry went to open up Japan in like 1858 or 64:00something like that. [KF: Yes.] Soon after that, Japan had a civil war and then uh then overthrew the Shogun and then returned uh the government back to the Royalty. And then, Nagaoka was in the losing side of that uh civil war. And then uh—my great-grandfather helped rebuild the city after that, and uh and so that’s…This forming of, starting of the Lamp Society was…they called it Lamp Society because he imported lamps from uh Europe. And, and also, he founded a petroleum company and so that, they would use petroleum oil in these lamps to help create an industry. And uh and he uh gathered a number of the 65:00businesspeople in the, in the city to try to uh reconstruct the city and then this was the founding of the Lamp Society.
But also, we learned that uh during that time, someone, a Nobel Laureate ofLiterature in Japan, wrote a play about uh this time. It’s a play called One Hundred Sacks of Rice. During that time, the uh the, the people were starving, and the neighboring clan that was better off, donated them one hundred sacks of rice. But the head of the clan, instead of just distributing the rice to feed the appetites of the people, he said ‘let’s sell this rice and use the revenue to build schools for our children and so our next generation may do better.’ And the samurai wanted to kill the head of the clan and distribute 66:00the rice but uh the head of the clan was able to prevail and uh they built a school. And then, uh, and so because of that, this uh play was written and [former] Prime Minister Koizumi, which was several years ago, mentioned this in his inaugural address. And so now, it’s a very uh story that’s well known throughout Japan. And then so, when we went to visit, they uh they gave us a copy of this play. And then, you look at the cast of characters, and uh Ukichi Kishi, my great-grandfather, was the businessman who provided the house that the head of the clan lived in and referred to the head of the clan as ‘sansei’ or teacher. And so, he was part of the, this very famous play. And uh, he founded the uh this bank that could provide the uh financial means for the 67:00business to reconstruct themselves. And he founded the uh petroleum company and a number of other things. And uh and so, uh it was a big revelation for us. And then, and so we went to—and so they took us around to visit the museums and uh we went to visit the cemetery where my great-grandfather was buried. And while visiting the cemetery, the, the wife of the former priest was there and then uh and she said that uh she knew, her—she had a classmate that uh went to visit Texas and it turns out her classmate was uh someone who had went to Lamar 68:00University, and I had picked up and brought to visit my family [laughs] [KF: Oh okay.]. When they said Hasi, I knew who they were talking about. And then uh we went to visit the uh Yamamoto Memorial Museum—World War II. Uh are you acquainted with the name Admiral Yamamoto?
GH: Yamamoto is from the same hometown. And so we went to—and so he’s,he’s one of the most famous people of that town. And so, we went to visit his memorial in the museum and then I saw a pig photo, mural-sized photo and then I could see oil derricks. I said ‘that looks like Orange field,’ then I said, ‘that looks like my grandfather.’ And so, it was a photograph taken in 1984, when Yamamoto went to visit my grandfather in Orange Field.
GH: And uh and then uh then they showed me the, they had a caption, and it was69:00in Japanese. But then they translated for me, it said that they discovered this picture; my, my brother had it in his uh artifacts that he gave after my parents died and they passed things on to him. And then they also found the guestbook—my grandfather’s guestbook, where Yamamoto had signed it, 1924. And so they had his signature and uh and then they noted that they found this with my brother’s uh archives. And uh…and then we went to the museum of technology and then that, that’s when we saw that his picture was with the founding of the Lamp Society. You could, you could recognize the faces and one 70:00of them is great-grandfather. [KF: I see. And so] They mentioned him by name as well.
KF: So, yeah there’s almost like a personal connection there to the hometown.[GH: Yeah.] That’s really good, that’s really…
GH: Well, then uh they said they then wanted to introduce me to a member of ourfamily. And so they—I didn’t know that we had any remaining relatives—and so they brought us to a household and then we started talking and then we were both great-grandchildren, we have the great - same great-grandfather. And then uh and so and she was about the same age as I am. She’s a widow. But she said ‘Come the next day’ because her daughter and son-in-law and granddaughter are coming to visit. And so when they came to visit, the uh the son-in-law was going to go study petroleum engineering at Stanford University. And so that 71:00whenever he finished his studies, he came by and visited here [Rice University]. And so he’s a petroleum engineer. Which is—that’s my profession as well. And uh and so that was uh a very memorable trip. We had my cousin that’s bilingual to go with us and he translated for us because, uh no one else really spoke English. It was only by my cousin going that he was able to translate. Now when I visited my other cousins, none of the other cousins speak English. And so that uh we find conversation pretty challenging [laughs] even though the last time I visited, I visited with uh four other cousins. Three other cousins, but uh—they would speak in Japanese, we would speak in English and somehow, we 72:00tried to communicate.
KF: And finally, could you talk, just a little bit about sort of your role inthe Japanese American uh Citizens League and sort of the things and events you hold, and sort of the purpose of the organization?
GH: Uh tThe—it’s the oldest Asian American uh, uh Civil Rights organizationin the United States. ‘Cause it, it was founded in the 1920’s because the Japanese Americans were treated pretty badly early uh during their history. While in the West Coast, they couldn’t own land; they couldn’t become uh citizens; they couldn’t even marry Caucasians. There were laws ban-, prohibiting inter-marriage. And uh and it was difficult for Japanese to get into 73:00the professions at that time. And so, they formed this Japanese American Citizens League. But now, during World War II, the uh, uh—there was, there was uh quite a contentious period of time. Because Japanese American Citizens League they appoint—took the position, ‘We are Americans; we are Americans of Japanese descent and we’re loyal to America.’ There were, there were a number of people that were sent to the intern camps that uh said ‘Hell no, that uh, they we were innocent people, they put us in camps, took away our constitutional rights. No way are we going to cooperate.’ Those—and then the 74:00United States required everybody in the camps to sign a uh statement. It had, it had two questions: Would you renounce the Emperor? and uh Will you pledge your loyalty to the United States? And then uh there were those who answered ‘No’ to both questions. And they were shipped to Japan.
KF: Oh okay.
GH: And then they were sent to a more high-security camp and shipped to Japan.And then those that said, others that said ‘yes’ and ‘yes’, then there was, there was lots of tension between those two groups. [KF: Right.] And then those that were saying ‘Yes’ is saying we are Americans and we need to prove that we are American. And so whenever they uh started asking for volunteers, they said let’s volunteer for the military. And then, well to go back uh, my 75:00cousin’s husband said that he wan-, tried to volunteer for the navy. They said they wouldn’t take him. And so, but yet, whenever they had to form the all-Japanese Unit, the 442, then they were able to join that. But before that, they couldn’t even join the military, they wouldn’t take them. But in Hawaii, there was the 100th Battalion which was being from Hawaii, they were mostly Japanese Americans. And that formed a core group that decided that, well what do you do with all of these Japanese Americans from Hawaii? Do you, do you, there wasn’t enough uh, enough space to put them all away, all the Japanese Americans away. And so they decided that they, they pledged their loyalty to America, and then they said that well maybe the mainland will also do the same. 76:00And so then that’s when they formed the 442. The 442, the Japanese Americans, many of them from these camps volunteered to join the 442. And then they fought in Europe. And then uh…one of the things that they’re noted for was that, well they did quite well in Italy and then through France. And then in uh in France, they were assigned to the Texas Thirty-Sixth Division, which is the uh National Guard. When they were on active duty, there were thirty-six divisions. And uh there was one battalion that was—uh got isolated by the German troops. They tried to rescue them; they couldn’t get connected with them. And then they couldn’t get food, water—they were just isolated and near starvation. 77:00And then the, the uh the American troops tried to rescue them and weren’t successful, so they called in the 442. And then the 442 were able to go in and then uh, and then rescue them. But they suffered more casualties than the, than the number of troops that they saved. There was something like 260 troops that were surrounded. The total number of casualties was something like 700 to 800. And something close to 200 were killed trying to do the rescue. But they felt like uh they had to, uh, they had to do this to prove their honor. [KF: Right.] They, their families were put in away in camps and uh they were distrusted. And they had a lot more at stake than the rest of the troops. And so that’s why they took to greater—instead of just falling back whenever they came under 78:00fire, they kept on going. And they’re referred to as the most decorated unit in the history of the United States because of…By decorated, they probably meant how many Purple Hearts they got. ‘Cause they were getting, not just one Purple Heart, they were getting multiple Purple Hearts. They were getting patched up and sent back in again. And there were some units that started off with maybe like 170 people and they ended up with only like 17 and they were still standing after end of the fighting. And uh and it’s because of this, just this past year, the uh the Federal Government and President Obama has signed a Unit Citation Medal for the uh 442, the 100th Battalion, and also the MIS—Military Intelligence Service. These were the uh Japanese Americans that served in the Pacific as, not as combatants, but as intelligence service, 79:00translations and uh and to help end [?] the war in the Pacific. And one of my, the uh friend’s father, a member of the JACL, was a member of the MIS. [KF: I see.] And so a lot of people probably don’t realize that the Japanese Americans were even aiding in the Pacific. And my mother’s cousin, was—he wasn’t in camp. He joined the army; uh he was here in Houston and uh he was a college graduate and so he said he was working in the ship channel. And the people—at the ship channel, they had the tall cranes [KF: Yes.] and people were trying to drop loads on top of him. [KF: Oh.] And then uh so uh he said ‘this is no way to live’ and so he joined the army and since uh he was a 80:00college graduate, he was a commissioned officer. And so he went to Burma, and then when he was assigned to his company, his NCO said they wouldn’t serve under him. They weren’t going to serve under a ‘Jap’. [KF: Right] And so he had trouble uh getting them to come around and be willing to be under his command.
GH: And uh he said that during that time, he would see the body of the, of theJapanese troops and said that they looked like it could be him. [KF: Yeah.] He looked more like them than, than uh anyone else.
KF: Could you tell me more about, I guess, what the JACL does today? And you know…?
GH: One of the things is to make sure that these things weren’t forgotten.[KF: Okay.] And uh like uh last month, we, there was the, uh the presidential— 81:00we had the day of remembrance. The day of remembrance of uh the day that President Roosevelt signed the order that uh permitted the relocation of all Japanese Americans from uh the West Coast. And it wasn’t just Japanese citizens; it was including American citizens that had any ancestry, Japanese Ancestry, even as little as one sixth. Even orphans, if they had any Japanese ancestry, had to be relocated and sent to internment camps. And so that was unconstitutional, but at that time, the constitutionality wasn’t challenged till sometime later. And so, it wasn’t just aliens, it was people that were—Japanese Americans that were born in America—had to be relocated. [KF: 82:00Right] and so if we were to let that—things like that—happen, then they could do the same thing with the Arab Americans or the Muslims. [KF: Right.] And so that uh we say that these things don’t happen to the Japanese Americans anymore, but uh we are now extended beyond just our own ethnic group, but to all ethnic groups so that it doesn’t happen to other ethnic groups. And so that uh we’ve expanded our scope to more than just our own ethnic group now because Japanese Americans are no longer discriminated against. [KF: Right.] That’s not, and so that’s not the point. It’s to preserve that history to see that no one else gets the same kind of treatment that we got during the early part of the history.
KF: All right. Thank you Professor Hirasaki, again for the interview.
GH: Oh, you’re welcome.
KF: Hope I didn’t take up too much of your time.GH: Oh, no problem.