Papa's name in the book Farewell to Manzanar was Ko Wakatsuki (Chapter 6). In those days, Japanese men and women who had made their homes in America often took an American first name as well, so as to be able to assimilate more easily. The American name Papa apparently took was George - his first grandson was named George in his honor (Chapter 6). Among his family and in the Japanese American community, however, he was called by his given name, Ko.
Ko Wakatsuki came to America at the age of seventeen; by the time of World War II he was over fifty years old. He was a fiercely independent but dignified man who had made a living first as a farmer in California, then as a fisherman, and was the proud owner of two boats, The Nereid and The Waka. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Ko found himself in a difficult position. Forbidden by law to become a citizen in his adopted homeland, he was classified as an alien, even though he had been in America for thirty-five years. To make matters worse, he held a commercial fishing license, putting him under the suspicion of the FBI, who feared that Japanese fishermen "were somehow making contact with enemy ships off the coast". Two weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Ko was arrested and sent to a camp somewhere in North Dakota. His family did not see him for nine months, and during that time they themselves were forcibly relocated to Manzanar. Something had happened to Ko while he was held in North Dakota, and when he was returned to his family, he was a bitter, broken man (Chapters 1 and 5).