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-02-0007

<Begin Segment 7>

RT: And see, now this is before, here in the United States, they're even thinkin' about war, but in Japan, they're already talkin' about war with the United States. Even I was, as young as I was -- and see, like in Japan, a lotta people used to think, you know they conquered Manchuria, they've fought China, and they've pushed 'em out, pushed 'em back from population, and pushed 'em out to where there's nothin', and that they're a very powerful country. And I could see why they were a powerful country as far as discipline goes, because they had it. But you see, you can't turn around and push another country around and be able to get by with it, unless it's a small country. Now China was too big. And I used to listen to my brother-in-law over there -- he was married to my oldest sister -- about when they first started to attack China, how the Russians were tryin' to push Japan outta there. This, they talked about discipline. The reason why they couldn't push Japan outta there was discipline amongst the people, the Japanese soldiers. And I could see this. But to me, that's no way of living. So then all of a sudden one day, I, well, I used to sit and read, I used to listen to everybody talkin' about what's happening between the United States and Japan. And their way of thinkin' was, "Well, the United States, the British, were afraid of Japan, because they were getting to be military very strong."

TI: This was the Japanese viewpoint, or this is was what you observed?

RT: This is what we observed of the Japanese people, of the way they were thinkin'. And so they were talkin' about, well, now this was before I even came back to the States. They were already talkin' about their submarines going into Pearl Harbor. And reports were being made on the radio...

TI: Yeah.

RT: What battleships were anchored where, and what type of destroyers they got, everything.

TI: This brings up lots of questions when I'm thinking. One is when they started talking about going to war with the United States, you knew how large the United States was and how far it was and how much larger it was than Japan. What were you thinking when you heard the Japanese say, "Oh, we, we're going to, we've conquered here, there, and then now we're going to go to war with the United States." They were probably thinking that they would also beat the United States, also. What were you thinking when you heard this?

RT: No. I'll tell you, they never believed, wholeheartedly, that they could beat the United States. But you see, I was there. I saw it with my own eyes. Japan is not a country that can live on its own, because it's got no natural resources. Well, the United States, Roosevelt was the one that pulled the blockade against Japan. All the buses, all the taxis, all the trucks, ran on coal. And the reason why they ran on coal was when they conquered Manchuria, and northern Manchuria was one of the world's largest coal mines. I went up to see it. When you stood on top of the mine and you looked down the bottom they were, they're workin', the big trucks and things looked like little toys. Even the train down there looked like little toys, it was so deep. But they were, this is what they were using for the transportation.

Naturally, I was still an American, when you come down to it. And so I used to talk to 'em. I said, "But you know how many, how big America is?" -- 'cause they don't say United States. And they said, "Oh, yes." Even then, they, some of 'em used to say, "Well, the only way we can find out is to fight each other. But we don't think we have that much of a chance. But we can't live this way, either." They said, "Right now, we, we're already takin' up some of the railroad tracks so we can use that metal for something else. And the United States is the one that is blocking us."

TI: Well, this brings up the other question. Given that it was so well-known, or discussed, that there was going be a war against the United States, it's hard for me to imagine that the United States was really caught by surprise by an attack by Japan. I mean, what do you think about that?

RT: Well, you know, the United States was, well, maybe I shouldn't talk about it, but it's my thoughts anyway. But you see, the United States never was caught flat-footed, like they say.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.