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-01-0038

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AI: Before we go any further about your return to the U.S., I wanted to just ask a little bit more about your time in Japan. And it sounds like you had a very responsible and satisfying job there at the hospital.

AO: Yes.

AI: And you also had gotten married and started a family.

AO: Yes.

AI: Because, was your first child born while you were still in Japan? Or...

AO: Yes. Our son was born March 14, 1952 and that was the year I received my reinstatement.

AI: And in the meantime, your parents were still living on their, your father's family property?

AO: Yes.

AI: And you just, you said also that your sister had gotten married and eventually moved back to the United States.

AO: Yes.

AI: So, did you have any mixed feelings about leaving Japan?

AO: No. I knew that with my knowledge of reading and writing Japanese language, would hinder me from any good position with any company. So I didn't regret leaving Japan.

AI: Was there anything else about your time in Japan that you wanted to mention? Oh, you had mentioned, excuse me, you mentioned earlier a little bit about there were some things that you hadn't known anything about that you were confronted with, such as the black market system.

AO: Yes, we had a contractor that was building a boiler system on the property. And they were a big contractor. And I was, I needed some money for some occasion, I don't quite remember, but I asked for ten thousand yen if they would loan it to me. And they were glad and presently loaned me ten thousand yen. So I spent that money and then New Year's comes around. New Year's, I understood that anyone who owed money would pay it back or make arrangements to pay back, even on installment, that that was customary. So from my pay I accumulated ten thousand yen, put it in an envelope and when I met with the supervisor of the project I handed over to him. I said, "I borrowed this money from you," and it's customary to return any money owed to the person that they borrowed it from. So I gave it to them and they, they were shocked. They said they never experienced that before, that they refused to take it back. And I thanked them for it. They told me that there were other interpreters that were, that were Japanese, that they would demand bribe. I didn't know this. And they told me that they knew I was going to return to United States. They said, "When you're on your way, do stop at our headquarters office in Fukuoka -- Osaka," and, which I did. And, but they said that any of these others, persons ever come to their office, they would tell 'em to move. They would not receive them. I didn't know that. I didn't know that there was, that other interpreters took advantage of their ability to speak English to take bribes, people in black market. I didn't know what black market was. And I had all opportunity to sell items on black market. And that's why I wasn't a very popular person in Japan, in that area.

AI: Because you did not participate in that?

AO: No, no. But I was fair with the Japanese government and the military. I didn't favor either one. I was equal. So on our way to return to the United States, I stopped at the main office of this contractor and they showed me their, they gave me a tour of their factory. See, they built locomotives, bridges, boilers, and so they were real happy for me. Then I asked them where there would be a hotel where we could stay. They said, "Oh yes, we have a place where you could stay. We'll find one." And so my wife and I went out and they put us in a car. It was a company car. And the personnel of the company that knew me were walking beside the car going to this hotel. Then it stopped and we got out. Then my wife looked at the sign on the side of the hotel and it's for, I think it said Kisha Gaisha Shiyo, which means that it's for the use of the company that built the boiler. And so we went in and the receptionist accepted us and showed us our room. And they even brought food for us. And then when we checked out, there was no charge. So it pays to be fair.

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.