Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Rudy Tokiwa Interview II
Narrator: Rudy Tokiwa
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary), Judy Niizawa (secondary)
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: July 2 & 3, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-trudy-02-0010

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: Before we get to that, let's go back, when you're in Japan now, and you heard that the war was going to happen, at least from the Japanese side, how did you feel? Did you feel like coming back to the United States, or did you want to stay in Japan or... what were you thinking, when people were saying, "We're gonna fight the United States?"

RT: Well, I felt that my place was back in the United States. Why, and the reason why I felt that I should be in the United States, was that's where my family was. In my way of thinkin', my family ties are the most important thing there is. It doesn't make no difference if my neighbor and his neighbor and everybody is gonna come fight my family. I would stick with my family. And because of that, like my uncle, when he came to talk to me, and he was honest about it. He says, "You're listening to the radio and everything. You're seeing that we do talk about the America, fighting against America. And the reason why we think we have to fight the Americans is because eventually, they're gonna squeeze us out. Because we can't survive. So if they throw up a blockade like that, there's nothing we can do." And I could see that if they'd of let a blockade like that go on for years and years, why they'd just be squeezed right out.

Now you see, you never, look in the history books, and you don't read about those blockades. And so at one point one time, I talked with some people, and we, I talked about this. And I said, "When a country puts a blockade on another country, what is it?" They said, "Well, that country declaring war." So in my book, actually, the United States is the one that declared war against Japan, 'cause all Japan was tryin' to do was break the blockade. And see, as far as Japan and China's war went on, Japan did not intend to take any more of China. They felt that they had everything on the coast, so China has got to work with them. Or same thing that's happening to them would happen to China, 'cause Japan would be a, put the blockade against them.

And so you know, when I was sat, when I was back there, and I used to think about this even when I was back there, about what's gonna happen. Well, to me, the handwriting was on the wall. And I think Hitler finally just made that history come true. And a lotta times, when I'm mad at the country or something like that, why I think about it, and I say, "Well, Hitler was really wrong, but United States was pushing in the same direction." I don't know how the FBI and everybody would look at me, but I can't help it. That's the way my, I've always felt the feeling that went on inside. I know like, I was pretty strong into community things. So I was, I was pretty high up in the Boy Scout program.

TI: This was after the war?

RT: Yeah, after the war. And I used to talk to some of them guys. Naturally, they didn't know what it was all about, the war. So they would ask me, "Hey, Rudy, you're Japanese. What was this war about?" Because as far as they were concerned, Japan, they had to do something to Japan, in order for Japan to attack Pearl Harbor. And I says, "Yeah. They had a boycott against Japan. They're gonna, Japan woulda been squeezed right out." I says, "You know, if that boycott went on long enough, any country coulda just walked in there and taken it over." And so a lot of 'em would say, "Well, oh, that's because you're Japanese." Now you see in this country, they still believe that if you're Japanese, you're not an American. Hell, this -- and so, a lot of times, I'd, did use to get in a little argument with these guys. I'd tell 'em, "Well, if I was Japanese, why in the hell would I volunteer to fight for the United States?" And, you know the -- it's, it's a funny situation, because when you look in the history books, well, you never see anything about -- well, I can't say 'you never' anymore, because it does come out in a little bit of, one paragraph or something like that -- about what the United States did to the Japanese Americans. The propaganda in this country, they talk about Germany and its propaganda, and Japan and its propaganda, but the propaganda in this country was, I think, one of the strongest propaganda that ever went on. Because you talk to anybody, and you talk about Pearl Harbor, "Aw, them dirty Japs." But in my book, they were forced into it.

JN: Was that that, sort of, sho ga nai situation?

RT: Yeah.

JN: That sho ga nai.

RT: Well, in Japan see, well, even after the war was over and everything, and I talked to my sister, because she was, she went through all of it in Japan, see. And so, one time I sort of asked her, I says, "What, how come?" In Japan, they felt, well, sho ga nai -- it couldn't be helped. We're being squeezed into a corner. And it's like they say, even a mice'll fight back against a cat, if you squeeze him into a corner.

TI: That's interesting.

RT: Yeah. And they say, well, this is what was happening.

JN: Still do something in response.

RT: Yeah.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.