Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Harvey Watanabe Interview
Narrator: Harvey Watanabe
Interviewer: Stacy Sakamoto
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: November 4, 1996
Densho ID: denshovh-wharvey-01-0021

<Begin Segment 21>

HW: But anyway, as the war really ground down, and the atom bombs were dropped, and Japan was, said, "Cease fire." Then they sent fourteen, general and staff, with his total staff of fourteen to Manila to coordinate the occupation of Japan. And so they came and asked me to take care of the quartering of these folks.

SS: So you went to Japan?

HW: So I... in Manila. So they had a place to stay. So, we went to the Rosario Apartments, which was on the waterfront, and got it set up. And then when they flew in to Clark Field, just outside of Manila, then our staff cars picked them up and brought 'em out from the airplane and brought 'em to the Rosario Apartments. That was kind of interesting because all the military men came in with their sidearms and their swords and General Mashbir and I were watching, he on one side, I on the other, we're lookin' at each other sayin', "What's the matter with these guys? They're armed to the teeth. The war's over and they're gonna coordinate the occupation of Japan." So anyway, I said, "Well, Colonel, let me get 'em situated first." And we, my guys got 'em all situated. The general got the top room, and so forth. Then we had a little conference and Colonel Mashbir said, "What'll we do?" And I said, "Well, let's go up and talk to the guy." So we went up and talked to the general, General Kawabe. And we knocked on the door, went in, and I said, "We have something distressing that we want to talk about." And the general says, "What is it?" And I says, "Well, you're coming here, the war is over. You're surrendering, and you come with guns and swords, and that's offensive." And the general says, "Oh. Well, I'll have all my men turn their guns over to your custody right now." And that was arranged, and I said, "Well, what about the sword?" And he says, "Well, that's uniform. That's part of the uniform." And I just stared at him and for a long time, we just kinda, he was thinking and I was staring, and then he said, "What if, would you be kind enough to let us wear our swords to the conference room, and then we'll leave the swords outside of the conference room so that we'll be in uniform, excepting inside the conference room." So Colonel Mashbir and I, we kinda nodded at each other, and said that was okay. And then it was agreeable to everybody and -- but that was a kind of an experience that... it'll stick with me a long time.

SS: How do you think those Japanese officers looked at you?

HW: I don't know. At that time I didn't know. But now, there's a little sequel to what I just said. When they were, went off to their first conference, I went over to, they called me over to headquarters, so I went to headquarters, and they said, "Well, we're gonna commission you." Because I was still the sergeant. And so the medical officer came over and was taking my blood pressure, and my blood pressure's way up. So I had to lay on that bunk there for over an hour before my blood pressure would drop down enough so they could write on it that blood pressure is okay to give him a commission. So then I got my bars and I went back and soon after that they're coming back from their first conference. And the general's aide, who didn't look really Japanese-Japanese, we got together. He noticed that I now was having bars, and he was a captain in the Japanese army. So, we got to talkin', and I thought to myself, "Well, this guy understands English too well." Well, he's a Nisei that was in Japan going to school and he was drafted. But he had never been in active duty, he's always been in administrative type of duty. And so we had a long talk, about an hour talk, sittin', talkin'. And he was the general's aide that came over. And then when I was in Tokyo I ran into him. We sat and talked on the street corner for a long time, couple hours.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 1996 Densho. All Rights Reserved.