Interview with Emiko Matsuo Ueno

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Center for Oral History, Social Science Research Institute, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Emiko Matsuo, eldest of six children, was born to Umesuke and Masae Matsuo in 1926 in Hale‘iwa, O‘ahu, Hawai‘i. Her father, an immigrant from Yamaguchi-ken, Japan, graduated from high school in Japan and attended Hilo Boarding School where he acquired English-language skills. Her mother, a Hawai‘i-born nisei, attended sewing school and beauty school. Umesuke Matsuo was involved in sales and taught at the Hale‘iwa Jödo Mission Japaneselanguage School. Masae Matsuo did sewing and hairdressing as businesses. By 1932, the Matsuos had moved to Nïnole on the Big Island of Hawai‘i, where they hoped to teach and prosper at a newly-opened Japanese-language school. With a small population base, its inferior location, and a competing school, the prosperity they hoped for did not materialize. By summer 1941, the Matsuos moved and began teaching at another Big Island school in Waiäkea Uka. With the outbreak of war, Umesuke Matsuo was removed from his home, initially detained at Kīlauea Military Camp, and later sent to Sand Island Detention Center and various facilities on the U.S. Mainland. The Matsuos, without the economic support of their father, relied on welfare and income earned by Emiko. By late December 1942, the family, too, was being sent to the Mainland. The Matsuos were held at Jerome War Relocation Center in Arkansas. In 1944, Umesuke Matsuo who had been held in Montana, Texas and Louisiana rejoined his family. From Arkansas, because of Umesuke Matsuo’s expressed desire to return to Japan, they were sent to Tule Lake Segregation Center in California. From Tule Lake, with no intention of following her father’s plan, Emiko joined the Cadet Nurse Corps in Illinois. At war’s end, the family opted not to go to Japan. Instead, they returned to O‘ahu where Umesuke Matsuo eventually worked in maintenance at the Moana Hotel and Masae Matsuo worked in the linen room at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Emiko, now retired from nursing and federal civil service, resides on O‘ahu. She and Norman Ueno raised three children.
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