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-02-0009

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RT: Because I always think now, "Why were all the Japanese, even the Japanese Americans, put into concentration camps?" During the time that they're puttin' all the Japanese into concentration camps, they already had Niseis as interpreters in the army.

TI: This was the precursor to the MIS at the Presidio?

RT: Yeah, yeah. I had a cousin that was educated in Japan, but he was an American citizen. He came back over here, and he immediately was drafted. And he spent time on the Aleutian Islands. Now you stop and you think about all this stuff. And he used to laugh, because he says, "I was in the group there, I was the only Japanese there. And I had a bodyguard with me at all times." He says, "I never was," he says, "I gotta go to the can, I couldn't go to the can myself. I had to have somebody with me, a bodyguard." And he says, "It used to be funny, because up there in Alaska, it stays dark for days, sometimes." And he says, "The kitchen would say, 'How many of you guys came through for seconds?' And everybody says, all the guys would laugh, 'Who in the hell wants to eat seconds that you guys cooked?'" But they'd have, he says, sometimes as many as thirty, forty extra people coming through. And so I asked my cousin, I says, "Well, what do you think it was?" He said, "I think it was the Japanese soldiers comin' through, because it's dark. It's pitch black. If they happen to have one of our coats on or somethin', we'd never know the difference."

TI: Let me make sure I understand. So in the Aleutians, they had an outpost, but the Japanese soldiers were nearby?

RT: Yeah.

TI: And so they would sort of sneak in to eat the food. Because, even though the Americans didn't like the food, the Japanese liked it?

RT: Yeah. They liked it, see. And they would laugh. He says, "You know what would happen, Rudy, in the middle of the night, or say early in the morning when you're on guard duty or somethin'. And you're just sittin' in the damn foxhole." He says "Some guy'll come and tap you on the helmet, and, 'Hey, Joe you got a cigarette?'" And he says, "I could understand it was Japanese." But he says, "The Caucasians would never." Because, he says, "You live amongst Niseis and things, you can tell the accents." But he says, "These guys weren't American soldiers. They were Japanese. They'd tap your helmet sometime for five minutes, try to make you break." He says, "It's amazing what things..." And here, they're gonna throw all the Japanese into concentration camps without even a hearing. And they got the guys in the army doin' the work already. I look at, maybe, because I did go through a lot of hardship and everything, and like in Manchuria and stuff like that. Maybe that's the reason why I, it stuck in my mind a little bit deeper. And I used to wonder, "Now, what is the United States trying to do by putting us all into concentration camps?"

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.