For Japanese Americans, ‘The Terror’ is personal

VANCOUVER, Canada — George Takei sat in his trailer on the set of “The Terror” dressed in his character’s charcoal-blue yukata as we traded histories in bittersweet shorthand. For those whose families were among the 120,000 Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II, one need only say the names of places to paint a picture.
“We went from Rohwer to Tule Lake,” said Takei, 82, who was a child when he and his family were imprisoned in concentration camps by the American government in 1942, more than two decades before he blazed a trail for Asians in Hollywood as “Star Trek” icon Hikaru Sulu. “There were no charges, no trial. We were rounded up.” (Takei will join the Los Angeles Times Book Club on Sept. 10 to discuss his graphic novel about the experience, “They Called Us Enemy.”)

Hira Ambrosino, center-left, Miki Ishikawa, and Lee Shorten as members of the Yoshida family, carrying their belongings into an internment camp in “The Terror: Infamy.”
(Ed Araquel/AMC)

I know those names and others like them. They are etched in menace and melancholy in my mind. Topaz. Jerome. Heart Mountain. Tule Lake, where more than 18,000 were incarcerated during the war, was also a stop on the worst journey of my family’s lives.

I told Takei the places in my family’s history and he nodded. For years, younger Japanese Americans have been telling him where their relatives were sent, seeking to understand the burdens their loved ones carried.

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