World War II Internment
WE ALMOST WEPT
Professor Yamato Ichihashi was a Respected Scholar
and Member of the Stanford Community, But That Wasnt Enough
to Spare Him the Humiliation of Internment
By Gordon H. Chang
When friends came to check on Professor Yamato
Ichihashi and his wife, Kei, on the evening of Dec. 7, 1941, they found his
campus home on Salvatierra Street quiet and dark. There seemed to be no one
home at the Victorian home where the couple had lived for 20 years. Or perhaps
another explanation could be offered, perhaps they preferred the consolation of
darkness on a day that had caused them such personal pain.
The next day, Professor Ichihashi a Stanford
alumnus and teacher for 30 years peered into his classroom and asked
apprehensively, Shall I come in? The students welcomed him into the
Though sympathetic to the people of his homeland, Ichihashi condemned the
Japanese military for starting the conflict and began monthly purchases of
hundred-dollar U.S. war bonds through the university. And despite the
compassion of his students, Ichihashi, feeling betrayed and disgraced by his
homeland, was too distraught to continue teaching.
He visited Edgar Eugene Robinson, the chair of the History Department, and
talked about what he should do. After the meeting, Robinson wrote in his diary
that Ichihashi had been the gentleman he always had been and that
longtime friend had seen the death of all his hopes and his life.
Ichihashi next went to see Stanford President Ray Lyman Wilbur and submitted
his resignation. But the supportive and insistent Wilbur convinced Ichihashi to
take a leave of absence instead.
As it turned out, by the spring of 1942 the federal government required Yamato
and Kei Ichihashi and more than a dozen other Japanese Americans