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-02-0013

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: Well, when you landed finally, what was the reaction of your family, returning back from Japan?

RT: Well, yeah, my dad and everybody was happy. They said, "Yeah, we're glad that you came back." Because in Japan, they felt that it was gonna really get rough. Because, can you imagine? At that time already, in Japan, there was no such thing as a taxicab running on gas. The buses weren't running on diesel oil. Everything was on coal, steam engines. And to show you how bad that is, the bus would have to go up a hill or something, and if it was too many guys on there, why, he'd stop and he'd say, "All right, everybody get out and push, 'cause we're not gonna go over the hill otherwise."

TI: So even two years before the war started, you could really see the...

RT: Yeah. The handwriting was on the wall already, yeah.

TI: The hardships the Japanese were having because of the blockade?

RT: Yeah. So I look at all this, and they tell me how Japan started the war and everything. I don't see it that way, see. But, still, if they told me I had to go fight against Japan, I would not have liked it, but I'd have went.

JN: So where did you go after you got off the ship?

RT: Well, after I got off the ship, then I went back to Salinas. To me, I think about a lotta stuff that happened, and how it happened, and what the push was. And even like in Japan, they were saying already to themselves, we're not a country that can keep alive without help from the outside, because we have no natural resources. And so, they could see the handwriting on the wall. So I keep, I look at this and I say now, you read in all the history books and everything how Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, but who was the one that attacked Japan first?

TI: That's good. Now when you returned to Salinas, and you sort of had this sense that in Japan, people knew that war was inevitable in some ways. The handwriting was on the wall. What did others say when you told them about this?

RT: Well, over here everybody said, "Nah, no way. Little country like that, we'll squash 'em." I think the reason why they had such a rough time with Japan was because of the way they grew up over there. It's not like, mom and dad says, "No, you can't go." "I'm goin' anyway. I'm gonna go to a movie tonight. Try and stop me." The attitudes weren't like that over there. 'Cause like, well, to show you how strict, even when I was in Manchuria, the ruling goes with students going to school. You go to school, you take your bento. And every day, they tell you what you will put in your bento.

TI: The school will tell you what to bring to lunch?

RT: Yes. They will tell you what you will bring to lunch. And see now, discipline. This is what we talk about, discipline. So comes lunchtime, you don't just say, "Well, it's twelve o'clock. I'm gonna eat." You open your bento and you put it on top of your desk. And the teacher will come through to make sure that you followed the menu. And there was no such thing as, sometime it was just a, umeboshi and rice. But you never complained about it, because if you complain about it, and you gonna really catch hell for it.

TI: And you also knew that that's what everyone else was eating?

RT: Yeah. And everybody else was eating it, see. This, you gotta have, I think if you did that in this country today, the school'd close up. But because of all this, I felt that, gee -- I'll be honest with you. I felt when the war with Pearl Harbor started, I used to tell myself, "The United States, the Americans over here, think they're gonna just squash 'em, but they're gonna have one hell of a time." And I think it took them a hell of a lot longer than what they figured it would take. And see now, like I've said, one thing that, it always stuck in my mind, and I guess I'll take it to my grave, is the fact when that captain went out, and he said there's a big armada of Japanese battleships and aircraft carriers and things, looks like they're headed for Hawaii. And they just told him to get his butt outta there. Now, can you call that a surprise attack? I think, I think Roosevelt was just leading this country into it.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.