Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Roy H. Matsumoto Interview
Narrator: Roy H. Matsumoto
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Tom Ikeda (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 17 & 18, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-mroy-01-0067

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TI: Now, I'm curious, I mean, oftentimes in battles, communication is used, they use codes, they don't really speak in, like, standard English or standard Japanese because they're afraid the enemy might intercept it. And so, oftentimes they use code. I mean, were you able to understand what was being said?

RM: Well, not the code, they didn't, they're not aware being tapped. So just ordinary conversation, see. And since the people, the Japanese way is, United States is, if you're drafted you might be sent a different post. But in Japanese, the people who were drafted all stayed together, so this area, the divisional area, all of 'em go there. For instance, if the people in Hiroshima would go to 5th Division in Hiroshima. For instance, our enemy were 18th Division that people around there is, goes to that unit. They don't send it to up north Hokkaido, something like that.

TI: So the 18th Division was what? Fukuoka?

RM: 18th Division was from Fukuoka, Kurume, and people there would be around neighborhood of Kumamoto, Fukuoka and Saga people. And they all speak the same dialect, see. So among themselves, they know each other because, see, they been there for two years already.

TI: So part of the communication on the wire was in dialect.

RM: Not coded, see

TI: Not coded, but they're in dialect. But you were from Hiroshima. I mean, that was a dialect that you understood, they were the 18th Division from Fukuoka, which was a different island, a different dialect, so how were you and the others able to understand?

RM: Well, normally I wouldn't understand, but fortunately while, before the war, I worked for the grocery store and I was young so they made me a delivery boy and so I delivered the goods to the farmers up in the countryside in Los Angeles area. And so happened that the customers were different part of Japan and they, when they speak at home they use, instead of standard Japanese, their own dialect and so happened that this family was from the same area where the --

TI: Right. Yeah, you told that story yesterday.

RM: Yeah.

TI: So it was very, like, fortunate because it wouldn't be usual for you, from, your family being from Hiroshima to really understand this dialect. But because of that delivery job, you and your curiosity, your --

RM: Yeah, that's right, curiosity.

TI: -- your thirst for knowing these other dialects, that really helped you.

RM: Yeah, it did. Well, the saying that curiosity killed cat, but curiosity end up in saving our lives so that's my lucky part of it. I happened to know, acquire knowledge of their slang and local dialect. And some orders would be standard Japanese, but when they talked themselves they used their own dialect and I able to understand their, what their conversation was.

<End Segment 67> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.