Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Tetsushi Marvin Uratsu Interview
Narrator: Tetsushi Marvin Uratsu
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Emeryville, California
Date: May 25, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-utetsushi-01-0013

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TI: So I'm curious, at what point were you and the others able to talk about the MIS? I realize that during the war obviously and right after, it was all secret, confidential. But at some point, you were able to talk about it. Was there ever any official clearance that said you guys could talk about this or do you remember anything like that?

TU: Well, 1972 rings a bell, the Freedom of Information Act. That kind of opened the doors for everything.

TI: So that's when they, because of that act, information started coming out about the MIS?

TU: Yeah, and the war was over and a lot of the bad feelings were water over the dam.

TI: That's over forty years after the beginning of the MIS -- or I'm sorry, thirty years.

TU: Of course, it's a blanket clearance. But there was some secret things that some of our guys felt was confidential and didn't want to talk about it, because it would embarrass people higher up. I can give you an example.

TI: If you can, please. What would be an example of that?

TU: Have you heard of Kan Tagami?

TI: No, I haven't.

TU: Okay, he was one of the better linguists, he worked for MacArthur at the Tokyo headquarters, and MacArthur wanted him to take a message to the emperor of Japan. And he knew that the emperor never saw people without a staff being present, Japanese staff. Even Japanese dignitaries, they wouldn't be able to visit the emperor without the staff being present. Well, MacArthur told Kan to make a one-on-one appointment. "You alone with the emperor to pass this message on." Well, Kan felt that he didn't want to talk about that until the emperor died. 'Cause that might have embarrassed the emperor in Kan's mind. But then there were some...

TI: Now I'm curious, going back to that story, did MacArthur understand the protocol? And even though he understood that, he still wanted Kan to go one on one? It was almost like... yeah, did MacArthur know what was happening?

TU: Well, that's why... I think he realized that. That's why he asked Kan to privately arrange this meeting. I think MacArthur had the smarts on things like that. And the message was that at that time the American media was clamoring for full disclosure on the emperor's life, because he was treated as a god in Japan but they wanted to cut him down to size. And so they wanted to delve into a lot of his private life, and MacArthur wanted Kan to tell the emperor that, "Your private life is your private life, and that's not for everybody to, you don't have to tell everybody about your private life." But he didn't want to tell the press, the press was just clamoring to get more information, but MacArthur didn't want to tell the press to stop doing that. That would be politically detrimental to his standing, I guess. But anyway, for whatever reason, he wanted Kan to bring this message one-on-one, and Kan didn't want to talk about it. I guess he must have told some of his real close friends, I'm not sure.

TI: But what's interesting is so the men of the MIS, even though like 1972, potentially they could start talking about this, the men still used their discretion.

TU: Exactly.

TI: There were some things that they felt, even though I guess officially they could talk about it, they felt it'd be better for some pieces of information not to until much later, or maybe even to this day there might be some things that they choose not to talk about.

TU: Exactly. So can't tell, it's not a blanket thing. A lot of... well, I wouldn't say a lot of 'em, some are very highly secret operations.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.