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Japanese American Confinement Sites /
World War II American Home Front Oral History Project

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Interview Transcripts

John Nagao Tomita Transcript

Conducted by David Dunham and Candice Fukumoto in 2013, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2015.


Photo of John Nagao Tomita

John Tomita recalls growing up in the farm country of Isleton, California in the San Joaquin Delta. He was sent alone at age fourteen to attend Berkeley High School, working to support himself through high school, receiving a varsity letter in swimming, and then attending UC Berkeley. Tomita was studying engineering at UC Berkeley when he and his family were incarcerated at Tule Lake. At Tule Lake, due to his engineering knowledge, he was given opportunities to help design and build the infrastructure of the camp, including surveying and sanitary engineering. After the war, despite his engineering experiences, John faced racial discrimination and found it difficult to find work in the field. With perseverance, he became a civil engineer and taught for many years, achieving a number of special honors throughout his career.

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