Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Arthur Ogami Interview
Narrator: Arthur Ogami
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: March 10, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-oarthur-01-0029

<Begin Segment 29>

AI: Well, I'm gonna ask you, before, before going to Portland, this was then the end of 1945?

AO: Yes.

AI: And in the meantime, while you and your brother had been at Bismarck, the war had ended. World War II had ended.

AO: Yes.

AI: The U.S. put, bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki --

AO: Yes.

AI: -- with the atom bomb. And how much of this news did you get while you were at Bismarck? Did you hear about the atom bombing?

AO: Atom bombing, I don't remember. But when President Roosevelt died, it was announced. And everyone in the room "hurrayed," they praised that he died because he's the one that signed the executive order and... that was not real -- and I can remember the guard coming in and he wanted to quiet us down because when you have six hundred boys yelling, "Hurray," or something, whatever... but I think that's said because they're the enemy country of Japan, that's the reason why they said that. But I don't think we really meant it.

AI: You yourself, didn't really feel that happy --

AO: Yes.

AI: -- on the death of the president?

AO: But the bombing, I'm not quite sure if it was announced over the public address system.

AI: And then, what happened when the end of the war was announced, the surrender of Japan?

AO: That, I really don't recall. It was sort of a, to me, very quiet announcement if there was announcement. But, see, that was August 14th. And then there was the preparation of, to prepare to be transferred to Portland, Oregon.

AI: You know, I'm wondering about when Japan surrendered, it must've been quite a shock for some of the men who were planning to go to Japan.

AO: Yes.

AI: Some of them who were very much pro-Japan.

AO: Yes.

AI: Did you ever hear anything from them or was there some talk that you heard of their reactions after they finally realized that Japan had actually lost the war?

AO: My father was transferred from Bismarck and -- I mean, transferred from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Bismarck because we were already there. And so my father, my brother and myself were in the same room. They placed us there. And he knew; he knew about it more than I did, that Japan lost the war. And so he was telling me that Japan actually did not lose the war. That's their feeling. That was his feeling. And I was preparing myself to go, to go to Japan. And I said, "Japan has nothing left. That they're short of food, they're short of supplies." And he says that since he felt that Japan was a stronger nation, that they will be sending ships to United States to carry the Japanese people back to Japan. This is what he actually told me. And I said that he was, he was not correct.

AI: But he, your father was really convinced.

AO: Oh, yes. He was convinced that the, his country, Japan, was a stronger nation. And there were people in Brazil that I have heard and read about that were climbing up on top of hills to watch for ships from Japan to come and take them back to Japan. Have you heard that?

AI: No, but I can imagine that.

AO: Yes. They actually were convinced that Japan was the stronger nation, just like my father thought.

AI: So, did your father... he, at that point, he still did not believe that Japan had surrendered?

AO: I really don't think so, but he still believed, until he arrived in Japan, that Japan was totally devastated.

AI: And how did you... it sounds like you were already convinced that Japan was really low on supplies and food and everything. How did you get that impression? Or how did you learn about the condition of Japan?

AO: Well, I just thought in my own mind that Japan was, had lost and that their supply of food was very, very low and I told my father I was prepared to live on tsukemono and rice, that I was preparing for that. And, but knowing that he has a tanbo in Japan, little patch for vegetables, that at least we can survive with food.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.