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New exhibit sheds light on Japanese after WWII

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 30, 2014 at 12:52 pm •  Published: March 30, 2014

"We had our own schools and baseball games and dances and music," he recalled. "We just couldn't go anywhere. What was tragic was that the older people, like my parents, lost everything when we were moved."

Museum curator Kimberly Guise said the exhibit touches on the lives of about 120,000 people who lived in the camps. About 6,000 babies were born in the camps. "There are a lot of people still around who experienced that," she said.

Guise said she hopes the exhibit would draw a broad spectrum of visitors, and create conversations. "Was what happened just? Was it fair?"

The exhibit also recognizes the service of the 33,000 Japanese-Americans who served the United States military. On display is Jimmie Kanaya's diary, which he wrote while a prisoner of war in Germany. Kanaya enlisted in the Army at age 20 in April 1941 and fought in Italy and France. He was captured in October 1944.

Also on display is a Congressional Gold Medal, one of the nation's highest honors, that was presented to Tokuji Yoshihashi, 91, of San Gabriel, Calif., for his World War II service.

Yoshihashi was drafted in 1944 at age 21 and served in the Army's 100th Infantry Battalion, 442 Regimental Combat Team — two years after being sent to an Arizona relocation camp with his family.

Before he was accepted into the service, he had to answer a loyalty questionnaire that asked whether he would pledge allegiance to the United States.

"I was born here," he said, "and decided I should fight for the country of my birth."


Associated Press writer Janet McConnaughey contributed to this report.