By David Yamaguchi The North American Post
As previously reported, the Ireizo is a database of the 125,270 known individuals who were imprisoned in WWII Japanese American incarceration camps (napost.com, July 2022). The website with few explanatory words conveys the terrible waste of the entire incarceration endeavor, in terms of family hardships, lost opportunities and government expense. The individual names scroll on and on, more than the viewer can realistically process.
As most readers will begin interacting with the Ireizo by looking up family members, my search for five family members, one Issei and four Nisei, is illustrative.
Beginning with Tadashi Yamaguchi, my grandfather, we see that there are two individuals with this name, owing to its combination of common Japanese first and last names. Clicking then on the older one, we see that his camps are listed as Lordsburg and Minidoka, which match his family correspondence.
Doing the same for my Auntie Natsuko, dad’s older sister, the Ireizo also lists her at Minidoka. The same is true for my dad, Kay (the 1921 one), and his younger brother, Jiro.
Yet the youngest sibling, Minoru, born in 1924, is missing. If my sample size is only five, and one entry is missing, one has to wonder how complete the government-derived records are.
A second weakness of the Ireizo is that it appears to only list final camps for individuals. To get to Lordsburg, New Mexico, my grandpa’s correspondence shows that he first spent time in Fort Missoula, Montana, then Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Similarly, Auntie Natsuko went first to Manzanar (napost.com, Mar. 2022).
Still, the Ireizo is a good start at harnessing the power of databases and the internet to better understand JA WWII incarceration. With this brief introduction, I leave further perusal of the database to readers. For now, it suffices to inform all of the Ireizo’s availability and to let them start interacting with it. At that point, we will be better positioned to begin exploring it together more deeply.