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_2-01-0006

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gky: When was the last time that you heard from Harry before the war, beginning of the war?

FF: Well, the war broke out 7th of December 1941, the last we heard from him was just about that time. We got a letter, and in that letter it said that he might be drafted into the American army. It was either army or navy, I don't know. Anyway, so my mother got all worried, and then the war broke out, so she, where the atomic bomb building is remaining yet, the bomb, there, at that building there was a commercial and industry association headquarters, there in that building, and there's one room they set up an American, Japan Red Cross. So my mother heard from somebody that at that building there is a Japan Red Cross that will take our letters and ship it to the States for us, so she wrote a letter saying, the first letter is the only one I remember, but she said, "Do not, if you're drafted you can't help it, but do not volunteer for the military." So in the second one she mentioned something about -- he was a houseboy at that time and going to college, and the people at that home wanted to adopt Harry, and she heard that. That was in the first letter. That, the last letter we received, it was on there, so on the second letter she said that, "No, even though I have four boys, I'd like to keep 'em all," so Harry lost his chance being adopted to this Caucasian family. And my mother was all satisfied that he received it, but I found out after the war he didn't receive any letters from us, but she was satisfied anyway that, she thought he received.

gky: So you didn't know that Harry had been put in, in Gila River internment camp?

FF: No, we knew nothing about camps. We didn't even know that camps existed, that the Japanese were picked up and thrown into camps. I didn't even know. Nobody knew about it.

gky: So in other words, you didn't, you don't know how the Japanese were treated in California?

FF: In California, no, we didn't know anything about it. I, we always thought since he was staying at this teacher's home, Caucasian family, that he was still there, we all thought.

gky: When was the first time that you realized that Harry was in the, in the army?

FF: I didn't know until the war ended, and after I got back home, Hiroshima, couple, three weeks later Harry showed up at my working office. That's the first time. I recognized him right away, but I couldn't figure out why he was there.

gky: Did he come looking for you?

FF: He came looking for the whole family. Since he was interviewing, interrogating all these POW, Japanese POWs, he got orders when the war ended to tell these POWs, especially the ones from Hiroshima, to explain about atomic bomb, but he didn't know anything atomic bomb, so he had to study a little and explain to the POWs, Japanese soldiers what end of the war was, atomic bomb, and atomic bomb is, from what I hear, is like this, and no trees or grass will grow for a hundred years, things like that. But he was explaining to the POWs, but at that time he wasn't worried about the home, but all of a sudden he, it shook him because he thought the whole family might be living there, see, in Hiroshima. So when the war ended and they wanted him to go to Japan as occupation forces, he didn't want to go. At first he said no, but they said they were short on interpreters, so he said, "Yes, I'll go," but he didn't think we were all living, so he didn't even think about coming to visit us at Hiroshima when the war ended. He landed in Kobe, and after he landed in Kobe he was very busy for about two, three weeks, occupation, and then he started writing letters or sending telegrams, trying to get through by telephone to Hiroshima, but he couldn't get through. But he found out there's some people living yet, so he put in for, into MacArthur's headquarters, that he would like to visit Hiroshima looking for the family.

gky: And at this point he doesn't, didn't know that you or Pierce were in the military?

FF: He didn't know nothing about what was, what took place with our family. He didn't know. The only thing he knew, that atomic bomb dropped on the sixth of August.

gky: The plans, if Japan had been invaded by the United States, the plans were that you would be on a beach on Kyushu and that Harry would go into the, Harry on the American side would land at that same beach?

FF: Yes, I was in Kyushu, Kokura, and until about, approximately one month after the war ended I was still there, but after I met Harry I found out that their division was to invade Kyushu island, 1 November the same year. But, that was one of the first things he told me, but after that he forgot about it. Then he remembered he told me that, and so if the war had landed another two and a half months we could've been fighting each other.

gky: That's scary when you think about it.

FF: Scares me too.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.