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-02-0008

<Begin Segment 8>

RT: Now, I was one of them jokers. I went to Washington, D.C. I went through all the libraries and everything. Now to show you the thoughts of the people in the United States, we went back there after the war was over, World War II was over and everything, to see what we could find in the museums back there...

JN: Archives.

RT: About the Japanese Americans. And do you know we looked five days in all the different libraries and everything, and we could not find one thing about the 442nd. And we were all discouraged and, gee, we're, after five days we're saying, "Well, the hell, we ain't got nothin' here. What are we gonna do? We can't just write things down if you can't find it." So after five days, we were gonna come home. And we're gettin' ready to leave, and this one guy says, "Well, as long as I'm here, I may as well learn a little bit about what happened to Japan. Let me look at the prisoners of war situation." And so we started to go through the files, and here's the 442nd.

TI: So it was listed under prisoners of war?

RT: Prisoners of war.

JN: The camps.

RT: So, immediately after that, we started lookin' farther and who's doing what on this situation. And so we were very fortunate. We happened to get some of the people that knew about the 442nd. And so they were the ones, they were guys in the archives. And at that time, they didn't even want to have their names mentioned. But they were the ones that actually told us where we could probably find something. And now to show you how much the United States government was tryin' to hide things, one janitor came to me, and he said, "Sir, I hear that you're lookin' for some 442 materials." I says, "Yeah, we've been here five days, and we couldn't find a damn thing." So, I never forget, he said, "Why don't you catch a cab and go out to warehouse number 16?" I says, "What's out in warehouse number 16?" He says, "There's nothin' there. That's all stuff that's gonna be thrown away." But he says, "Why don't you just hop a cab, get there as soon as you can?" And we got out there, and the morning reports, well, the one that stuck in my mind was because I was Company K. But the morning reports of Company K were gonna be thrown away.

TI: So these were military records...

RT: Yeah.

TI: That they were going to, that came from the National Archives? Is that where they were? And they were scheduled...?

RT: Actually, I think where they came from was probably the army archives.

TI: The army archives.

RT: They were gonna be thrown away. We started talking amongst each other, and I said, "Well, hell I don't know, I may end up in jail, but Company K's morning reports, I'm gonna send 'em back to San Francisco." So we threw it in the back of the car, and I shipped it back to San Francisco.

TI: And where are these reports now?

RT: I don't know if they still got 'em, but when I left -- what's that San Francisco organization?

JN: It was called Go for Broke at the time.

RT: Yeah.

TI: So it's now the National Japanese American Historical Society, NJAHS?

RT: Yeah, NJAHS. We used to be Go for Broke when we were in it. And that's where it was. So I don't know what has happened to 'em. Nobody will say a word about it. I think what they're afraid of is, if the United States government finds out that somebody snatched 'em, why...

JN: Or a curator could've walked off with 'em.

RT: Yeah, or some curator coulda walked off with 'em. And I think it could have happened that way. Because there's one guy that has always told me, "When you guys are all dead, I'm going to become a rich man." And so I look at all this stuff that's been going on in this country. And when I look back at what I saw happening in Japan -- and you see, you'll never find this in the archives no more, but we're going through the navy archives, and there was one captain of a destroyer from Guam. Now his battleship had just gone under... what's the word? Well, they reoverhauled everything on it. And so he took it out on a test. And he reported back to Guam, saying, "There's a hell of a big mass of Japanese battleships and aircraft carriers moving out here." And his report, on the end of it, was, "They told me to haul my ass outta there, and don't speak a word."

TI: They, meaning his commander or whomever?

RT: Yeah. Well, the way he felt was, it probably immediately went back to Washington, D.C.. And Washington, D.C. probably shut it all up. And so this is the reason we got no proof of it no more. Because we went back again to try to find ways that we can take that out. In fact, I used to laugh, I says -- well, in Japanese, if you're a robber, you're a dorobo. "I think I'll turn to be a dorobo and hide 'em and I'll be able to walk out with 'em." I was, "Nah, you get in big trouble." He says, "You'll get the organization in trouble." But you see --

TI: But this was a document that you saw in the navy archives?

RT: Yeah.

TI: But then if you go back today...

RT: Today you'll never see it.

TI: You'll never see that.

RT: These are the things that, that's been stuck in here in my mind. And this was the reason why I look back, and I say, well, the whole mess of us guys, we volunteered. And Japan was blamed for Pearl Harbor starting the attack and everything, but I don't believe it is, see. And I think if it was back in Roosevelt's days, if I ever talked like this, they'd probably lock me up and throw the key away. Because what I've seen, it's like, hey, what's, what did this country, they were forcing Japan to make a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. It was all propaganda. And so this has always stuck in my mind real deep.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.