Densho Digital Archive
gayle k. yamada Collection
Title: Frank Fukuhara Interview
Narrator: Frank Fukuhara
Interviewer: gayle k. yamada
Location: Hawaii
Date: February 9, 2000
Densho ID: denshovh-ffrank_2-01-0010

<Begin Segment 10>

gky: Could you go over again being tossed into the barracks in total immersion? Will you tell that story again?

FF: Harry decided to have me to live together, instead of living at the officers' quarters, he thought it would be much better to stay with the recruits that just came over from the States. And I thought it was States, so I didn't bother, but the, there was some Japanese looking kids and like that and Caucasian, about five or six of 'em, right nearby me. That way I couldn't, I don't have any chance speaking Japanese. They're all, nobody understands me, so little by little I talk English, and they would help me out and things like that. And about a month's time, maybe less than a month, but I could speak a little, so I start living with Harry because Harry moved out into a Japanese home at that time, and Niseis, military people, Nisei GIs and officers and sergeants and all, they were all living in a Japanese home at that time, about a month later. So I start living with them, and they all wanted to eat Japanese food. That's the reason why I think they moved out. [Laughs] It was a, I guess, [inaudible] but since the war they didn't say much about it.

gky: Did, did Harry tell you that he was in Military Intelligence Service? Did you know he was serving in the Intelligence?

FF: No, I didn't know. I just thought, see, I looked at the sign board going into his office, and it said Language Detachment, so I thought he was just an interpreter or translation and things like that, plus he gave me some lists to translate, names and addresses, so I didn't know he was Intelligence until way, way late. That trip, he was ready to go home. When he left the Philippines for Japan he said, "I'll stay a half year, something like that, and I'm gonna go back and get out of the service." So he stayed about a half year and went back and got out of the service. Then by that time my mother and my brother that was in the atomic bomb moved up to Kobe, and we were living together, but my, Victor really got bad after that, so he wrote a letter to Harry. I didn't know that, that letter to Harry to have Harry come back to Japan again, but there's no way to come back to Japan in those days unless they're military. So Harry called up his commanding general that was still in the States, active duty, and the general says, "Oh yeah, if you want to come back" -- by that time they were trying to get rid of all the GIs, so they were kind of downgrading their ranks and things like that -- and he said since he was a field commission, "I talked to the people that you come back as a lieutenant again." So he got, he got that and in '48 he got back to Japan, and I joined him again, March.

gky: How did, how did you feel seeing all the occupation, American occupation forces in Japan?

FF: Well, I was, I was happy actually, that, number one, the war was ended and I got to meet Harry and things like that, and I was also talking, when I was still in Hiroshima right after the war, I talked to a lot of my friends, my schoolmates and things like that, and they were all happy to see the war ending because it could last for a long time and Japan was gonna lose anyway, and by ending that war by atomic bomb -- people in Hiroshima say this, you know -- by ending the war by atomic bomb was a good thing, is what they said at that time. Later on maybe they changed a little bit, but right after the war majority of the people were happy that the war ended, even though that was because of atomic bomb.

gky: So in other words, your being an American, did that have any effect on, on...

FF: No. I, some of these people I talked to knew I was Nisei, but lot of 'em didn't know I was Nisei. They were all happy the war ended, because it was lasting so long. It was getting worse every day, the situation, living situation.

gky: What gave you more hope?

FF: Who?

gky: More hope. You said that as a twenty-one-year-old trained as a suicide bomber you had no hope for, I mean, you might as well die.

FF: Right, but after I got back, yes, I, at first I was kind of worried because my mother was sick, my brother was sick, and nobody to help. I go for a job and nobody, I can't pass the test and things like that. But once Harry showed up, everything changed after that for me. I was really happy. But later on, Communist was very strong in Japan from about that time, so a lot of people thought that way. They were glad to see the end of the war, but since the Communists was against atomic bomb, then they start kind of cooling off, but they were all happy, especially the Hiroshima people were very happy to see the war ending because it was very miserable.

gky: Do you and Harry ever talk about your roles in the war, you being in one army and him being in another?

FF: No, we never talked seriously. We just, talking to our friends, in conversation might come up, but I never talked to him about it until, I think it was last year. Harry said, What do you think about war?" And I said war is no good, I thought. He said, "I think the same way." And then I said, "The war is for certain people way up there. They're the ones that decide if it's war or not. Well, these people should talk it over." That's the way I looked at it. And Harry said, "Yeah, that's a way of looking at it, but there's gonna be a war on earth all the time. I don't believe there's gonna be an end to it." He didn't like war either, even though he served forty-eight years in the service. He served twenty-nine as military and nineteen as a civilian, so forty-eight years. Even though he served forty-eight years, he didn't like war, he said. Because, I think that's because his parents, mother died in the atomic bomb, and seeing a lot of our relatives die. Some of 'em he met, our relatives he met after the war, but they, they died from atomic radiation, so he, we hear this a lot, relatives, So-and-So died, So-and-So died. It's really, that's the only thing we talked about, was, that first time last year, I think it was.

gky: And so you haven't ever talked about your feelings about being on opposing sides during the war?

FF: No, never talked about that. Never did, because I, myself, I couldn't speak up. It was too dangerous to talk anything about the United States during the war, so I did not talk about it at all.

gky: So in a way you were kind of a closet American.

FF: Kamikaze American, right.

gky: Closet, a closet American.

FF: Closet, closet. Yes. And I always wanted to go back, that's for sure. Even though I got my Japanese dual citizenship, my mother put in for it, so, and I got into trouble when I was in the third year in high school and I almost got kicked out. If I got kicked out at that time, well, they were waiting to draft me right away. So we got in a big fight, our school and another school, and we were fighting behind the school, and there was some lady was watching from her home, the fight was going on, and she reported our school that, "Ten of your students and fifteen or eighteen other school students are having a fight." So the teachers came to look for us, and it was all done by then. We were all gone and scattered up. And they had a pretty good idea who was in this thing. The teachers knew I was in it. Everybody, they had a list of the ten right away, and I was in it, but my classmates said, "If you are in it, if they find out you're in it and if you get kicked out you're gonna be drafted next month." So they said, "We're gonna fix it up, we might be punished, but we're gonna say that there was only nine in there and we're gonna keep our word." So they kept their word all the way through and I wasn't included, so they couldn't punish me. They were right, one guy was punished, though. He was kind of a leader, you know. I was a kind of a sub-leader, see, all the time, when trouble comes up in school. [Laughs]

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.