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_2-01-0004

<Begin Segment 4>

gky: Can you talk a little bit about the, having to renounce your American citizenship? You had dual citizenship at this point.

FF: Yes, as soon as I entered this junior high school -- it was called the Hiroshima Prefectural, Hiroshima First Middle School, and I was, what was it, fourteen, I think it was -- I had to have dual citizenship to enter that school. So I passed the test, so I don't remember doing it, my mother went to the Japanese government and registered me and I became dual, until the war ended in 1945. For about six, seven years I was dual, but after the war I put in to go back to the States and they questioned me because I had, was in the army, and I said yes, I was. So they said, no, sorry, you're gonna lose your citizenship, so I lost it right after the war.

gky: Wait, I thought that you lost it before you went to technical school, that you weren't allowed to enter the technical school as a, as an American citizen. You needed to enter as only a Japanese citizen.

FF: Yes, I had -- no, as long as I had dual I could go to any government schools in Japan.

gky: Oh, so it wasn't a requirement that you renounce your citizenship and go to school?

FF: No. No, I just, my mother just registered me, registered when I was fourteen. I was, for Japanese citizenship, and I became dual. That was when I was fourteen, but I didn't know that until about a year later, but I, nothing happened, so I didn't, I just went along. And then when I entered technical college I didn't have to worry about it because I had dual already. But because I had dual they drafted me, but if I didn't have dual I'd be drafted before that because I didn't, I couldn't get into a government, or public college.

gky: I guess what I don't understand is, the Japanese government could have drafted you as an American citizen?

FF: No, they cannot.

gky: But as a Japanese national with dual citizenship...

FF: They'll draft, if I didn't have a dual citizenship, if I had only American citizenship, I would, I would not be drafted, but it'd be hard to live in Japan because no more, they won't give you any rations to eat, because ration for food, clothing had started already. That started right, right about when World War II started.

gky: So how did you wind up losing your American citizenship?

FF: Because I was drafted into the Japanese army in nine, tenth, 10 April 1945, I got my draft notice, and I had to enter the Japanese army.

gky: Now, you were telling me yesterday that the draft went into effect for medical and technical schools in the first of April of that year.

FF: Yes. 1 April 1945, they changed the law that even though you're in technical college or medical college we're gonna start drafting you. That's the law that came out. And I was, just happened to be visiting my mother. I was in Hiroshima, and I got a notice when I got back. I went back, it was either the second or the third of April. I went, 1945, I went home and the next day I got this draft notice. So in those days it was hard to travel. It would take me at least two years to go back to my school and process paperwork and come back, so I had my mother do that and I prepared to go into the 2nd West Battalion, which was in Hiroshima city, the center of the city. I was drafted right there, and I took, before -- training, basic training was about six months, but they, that was too much time. They couldn't wait, so it was shrunk to, like, three months. The time I took it was about two and a half months, and when I finished, end of June, basic training, there was notice in my battalion that half of this battalion is gonna go overseas and half will stay. So I wanted to stay because it's near my home, but after the next day they announced it and I was with the, the company that went, had to go overseas. So I, they issued me all new clothes, shoes, everything, and I thought I was going overseas, but I went as far as Kyushu island and found out there was no more ships to ship us oversea anymore, so I stayed right there in Kokura city, Kyushu. And then I was assigned to this, my whole company at that time was assigned to this suicide squad, and we were to carry bombs and dive into American tanks if they come up. That was our mission at that time.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.