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11.9.5 “Sansei Experience, O.H. 1231, John Yukio Mori.”

Oral History interview of John Yukio Mori.
California State University, Fullerton, Oral History Program
1972
Oral History (Transcript)

“Sansei Experience, O.H. 1231, John Yukio Mori,” Interviewed by Betty E. Mitson on December 19, 1972. California State University Fullerton. Oral History Program, Japanese American Project.

John Yukio Mori was a Japanese American living in Los Angeles in 1972. Mori was a sansei, a third-generation Japanese American whose parents met and married in the internment camps during World War II. Mori became a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. On what grounds did Mori object to the war? How do you think Mori's experiences as a Japanese American man living in the United States shaped his view of the war? What influence do you think the war in Vietnam had on movements for equality in the United States?

John Yukio Mori was a Japanese American living in Los Angeles in 1972. Mori was a sansei, a third-generation Japanese American whose parents met and married in the internment camps during World War II. Ask students why Mori became a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War and why he objected to the war. Discuss how objections to the war increasingly recalled the history of American colonialism and the oppression of people of color in the past and present. Ask them to contextualize Mori's family history and how his experiences as a Japanese American man living in the United States might have shaped his view of the war. Provide context on the growing Asian American movement and its fight for "yellow power." Discuss how the movement sought to unify all Asian Americans in a pan-Asian movement that considered the intersections of their global experiences of oppression and resistance. Discuss how the war in Vietnam fueled this and other movements for equality in the United States.

Please note, the oral history project that collected this interview has the following note connected to the interviews in the collection: "This is a slightly edited transcription of an interview conducted for the Oral History Program, sponsored by California State University, Fullerton. The reader should be aware that an oral history document portrays information as recalled by the interviewee. Because of the spontaneous nature of this kind of document, it may contain statements and impressions which are not factual."

“I never really thought about the war until about 1969, when I entered college, and I never really developed my own personal stand about the war and what I was going to do if it ever came to me being drafted. I decided to try to postpone my induction as long as possible. I talked to different people in different walks of life on how they felt about the war, so I came to the decision that I didn't want to go. I just didn't want to go, so I applied for a conscientious objector status through Buddhism. Here in Southern California, this had never been done before.” (16)
“. . . A good personal friend was killed in the war. A lot of returning veterans had come back and told me about the situation that they had gone through while they were serving in Vietnam plus when they were going through boot camp here in the United States. One particular person said he was in the Marines, and he was singled out as, "This is the enemy." He was Japanese, and they considered him an Asian. So he would be like an example to the rest of the company or whatever he was in, saying that, "This is what the enemy looks like." So there was really totally out-front racism, you know, in the armed services at that time. In one particular instance when he was in Vietnam, he had gotten wounded, and he was the last one to be administered first aid, because the medics or the doctors thought he was a Vietnamese. Yet he had an American uniform on, and he was serving his time in the armed forces, yet he was the last one to be administered to. . . ” (19)