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-02-0005

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TI: Okay. Before we go there, let's go back and, to Japan.

RT: Oh, yeah.

TI: Because we got to the right point, where you went to Japan. You were sort of expecting it to be pretty good, at this point.

RT: Yeah.

TI: Explain how it was in Japan for a boy of thirteen.

RT: Well, before we go into Japan, then, I'm going to go back to, instead of me going to school in Japan, I went to Manchuria.

TI: To Manchuria, that's right.

RT: To Manchuria.

TI: Okay.

RT: And I went to school in Manchuria for a year. And it was a little bit rough, because, see, like in Manchuria, it wasn't just a bunch of people having kids and stuff and goin' to school. Everything was regulated by the Japanese government. So when I was going to school in Manchuria, there was no such thing as me sittin' with a class. And there was no such thing as the teacher saying, "All right, these are the things I want you to do, and I'll help you do this." It was just straight, "These words mean this, this, this. Learn how to write 'em." And this was one of the reasons, like my sister thought, "Gee, if he can get tutored a little bit from some place on the side, he'll learn a lot faster." But because it was Manchuria, see, you don't get that, because every Japanese that was there, were under a Japanese contract. So this was the reason why I was sent to Japan. But now the people in, Japanese in Manchuria, now they were very good, to me. The kids and everybody were real good. I got along real well with them, because they were kids in a foreign country. And I was a foreigner from a foreign country. And so, gee, I had no problems over there.

TI: Did you mingle with the locals, the Chinese?

RT: No, no, no. It was, this was something that was surprising to me was, there's a lotta racism over there, and even class. Now, I was surprised, because over there, even in the trains, it's first-, second-, third-class. And one of the things was, if you was a Japanese national, you never went below second-class. And if he was anybody over there, you was always first-class. And I used to feel sorry for the Manchurians a lotta times, because over there, there was no, there wasn't too many cars and stuff. Taxis were horse-and-buggy. And the reason for it, they've always said, was wintertime, you can't use cars over there, because everything is solid ice. So therefore, because I was a Japanese American, the kids really took into me. And, see, in Japan, it was, as far as the Japanese government went, it was very important that everybody spoke Japanese, and the Japanese stuck together. And I could see why; it was because if you didn't stick together, then the, well, since Manchuria was a conquered country, the people would try to fight you. Which you couldn't blame them. After all, the Manchurians, this was their country. You very seldom, as students, went anyplace by yourselves.

And I felt very fortunate, because I was older than the kids that I was in class with, because I'm trying to learn the ABCs, like if it was over here, it's the ABCs. But I'm, I should be past that age. So what they did was, they put me up another couple grades, but I was learning the ABCs. So I very felt honored that, when summertime came and the school, the seventh and eighth graders in the school, went on a tour of, well, they called it Chosen, which was Korea. And I was asked to go with them. And this is when I learned a lot about humans. And I learned a lot about what a human being feels. Because I am, I was a person that was discriminated against. And while I was in Manchuria, the Japanese were discriminating against the Manchurians.

TI: So describe, so when you, so Manchuria, things went well, but when you went to Korea, you were discriminated against?

RT: No, no, no.

TI: Oh.

RT: See, now, all the Japanese in Manchuria would discriminate against...

TI: Against the Manchurians.

RT: Manchurians and the Koreans. And I felt real bad about that. And I used to talk about it, even over there. And I used to say, "In America, this is what happens to the Japanese."

JN: What did they do to show discriminatory kinds of things?

RT: To the Manchurians?

JN: Yeah.

RT: All right, here's a good example. Like I say, a taxi over there was a horse-drawn buggy. And they would catch a taxi and go someplace, and the Manchurian would say, so much, and they'd give 'em whatever they please. And when the guy would squawk, they'd say, "All right, if you don't like it, let's go to the police department." And the reason why they can say that, the head of the police department's gonna be Japanese. And this hit me real hard there, because I could see what was going on in the United States. It's the same thing.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.