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Hirose, Kazuki

Biography:


Kazuki Hirose was born on November 15, 1925, in San Jose, California. Though he was young when Pearl Harbor was attacked, Hirose remembered his mother decided to keep the whole family, all eleven children, together, even in the face of enormous uncertainty about what might happen to them. Around this same time, Kazuki’s grandfather, who had lived with the family in America, moved back to Japan. In May 1942, the Hirose family was sent to Santa Anita Assembly Center and, a few months later, to Heart Mountain. They lived in apartment 23-15-BC. The Hirose family left their belongings stored in a barn on the property of people they knew in San Jose, but everything was stolen while they were incarcerated, according to Hirose’s daughter, because the barn was a long way from the main house on the property. Hirose remembered his time at Heart Mountain as filled with new friendships, sports, school, and armed guards who were just barely older than him. Hirose remembered hearing Frank Emi and other leaders of the Fair Play Committee speak after the issuance of the 1943 loyalty questionnaire. While he was deeply impressed by the commitment and conviction of these men, he also recognized for himself the ways that his family and community had been mistreated. So, a few months after his brother, he also responded in the negative to both questions 27 and 28 on the questionnaire. Hirose was arrested on August 9, 1944, and was tried and convicted in the second draft resister trial in July 1945. He was sentenced to two years in the federal prison at McNeil Island, Washington. After being paroled, Kazuki went to work for the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad Co. When the rest of the Hirose family left Heart Mountain and returned to what was left of their home in San Jose, Hirose and his brother, Kazuto, joined to help the family rebuild their lives. Hirose was pardoned by President Harry Truman on December 25, 1947. In the years after the war, Kazuki met Mutsuko “Mitzie” Sagara, who was from Pasadena. The two were married and had three children together. Mitzie died in 2006. Kazuki Hirose died on February 26, 2020, in San Jose.

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