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Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Kazumu Naganuma Interview
Narrator: Kazumu Naganuma
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda, Yoko Nishimura
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: September 20, 2019
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-482-11

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TI: Yeah, I just want to kind of go through a little bit, because I read about a touching story, I think you're the only sibling that, after the war, returned to Peru? Or maybe not the only one, but you went back earlier? Or tell me the story, because you had one more brother that you didn't know, but you went back...

KN: That's Kazuaki, he's, one, two, three, the fourth in line as far as age. Yeah, he passed away at the age of three, three and a half. He swallowed a pin, and they couldn't get it out, and he suffered for several days and he passed away. And I know my mom and dad, for the longest time, when we even got out of camp, always had a picture of him in front of the Japanese Buddhist Church, the Buddhist altar thing. And we always gave something to him before each meal. This is what I was saying earlier about, I would ask my mom, "So how come you didn't just take him to the hospital, get it taken care of?" That's what you do today. And it's like, it's almost like they didn't do things that way. All of us, we were born at home, not in a hospital, so it's the old mindset. I'm not sure if that would have made a difference. So a lot of the questions I would ask my mom. The answers were very unsatisfactory, it's just like, yeah, then I realized, okay, that's the way they thought in those days. Things are so different today, no different than if I asked my sons, they would say, "Well, you could do this, you know." [Laughs]

TI: New technology or something?

KN: Yes, you could do a lot faster, easier. So it's that kind of thinking. So, unfortunately, he died at three and a half years old.

TI: It sounds like a very tragic death, too. When you say it took days...

KN: Yeah, so he had to suffer.

TI: And for your parents, it must have been unbearable for your mother.

KN: Yeah, it had to be. Since we were all baptized as Catholics, you're not cremated, you were buried, so he was buried in Callao, Peru. I know my mom and dad always wanted his remains to be here, and the reason I know that is when my dad got the tombstone at the Japanese cemetery, the first name up there is Kazuaki Naganuma. Then his name, my mom's and so on. And only in the last three years, and this is because of Jimmy's wife, Nobuko. Nobuko is from Japan and she is really active and does things similar to my sister Kiyo. But she's not part of the Naganuma other than in marriage, but she does so much for us. Our contact, we're lucky we still have a contact in Callao, it's a doctor, Tsuneshige. He's a retired, I think like a vet, but a higher level with the government. So make the connection, we had the, there's a lot of red tape. The bones were brought out, they cremated the bones. Oh, and Jimmy and his wife Nobuko, when they went to Callao with my nephew and his wife, they were able to pick up the ashes.

TI: Oh, so it was your brother who picked up the ashes.

KN: Yeah. But then Nobuko, again, does all the red tape work. How do you bring it into here? Because they're going to inspect everything, right? She did that extremely well for us and took care of everything. It was twenty-five hundred dollars for everything, but that's fine, we're able to then put it in the cemetery, and that was really, again, for my mom and dad. So, finally, in the back of the stone, all the names are in red until they pass away, then you put it in white, so we were able to make that white, finally. It's nice to have that together with my mom and dad, and that was a special thing. And, again, I thank Nobuko because it's a lot of work to do. Just the translation, she translates the... her English isn't real good, but she does it well enough, and translates it into Spanish. And the guy over there goes back and forth, and just surprised. Similar story I can get into later, but I had to get my birth certificate, the current one, in order to get my social security. I had copies but they said they can't go with copies. So he was also instrumental in getting that done, and then also for my U.S. citizenship. So it was good to still have contacts in Callao.

TI: Because you needed some kind of official...

KN: It had to be official, yeah. So that's my brother Kazuaki. And we have photos of him, he looks just like one of us, and I think he would have been a good big brother to my sister Sumi, because I could just sense that he was that type even though I just see pictures of him. And so those are... and then there's my sister Sumi who was just very, so soft-spoken and I don't think I've ever heard her complain on anything. She ended up basically taking care of my mom because they lived together, and we didn't realize how much work she was going through. Taking care of your parents is a lot of work, but if you live with them, it's a daily thing. It's got to be a lot of work. So she did that for us and took care of all of the paperwork. I look back and you're thankful, but probably too late. I could have thanked her a lot earlier. That goes through with all my brothers and sisters.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.