Densho Digital Archive
gayle k. yamada Collection
Title: Harry Akune - Kenjiro Akune Interview
Narrators: Harry Akune and Kenjiro Akune
Interviewer: gayle k. yamada
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: December 13, 2000
Densho ID: denshovh-aharry_g-01

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

gky: The date is December 13, the year 2000. This is Harry, who's on our left, or who's on your left, and Ken Akune, A-K-U-N-E, in Los Angeles. Harry, how did it happen that both you and Ken were in the MIS?

HA: Well, we were in Amache, Colorado, and we had just come back from outside. We came back and we had heard about a recruiter coming in to see if they could get some Niseis to volunteer for the language school. And we had a little discussion among our friends, and we decided to -- I decided, anyway, that I would go and volunteer. And so I proceeded to go towards the administration building where they were recruiting. And Ken was just finishing out his high school education, and he kind of followed me and when I got by the school I asked him, "Aren't you going to class?" And he says, "No, I'm going to go too." And it was something that I couldn't very well say no, when I was doing it myself. So, what I had in mind was I would go into the service and maybe be able to get Ken out and go to school, you know, but as it ended up, we both went to the recruiter and took our language test, and that's how we ended up together.

gky: Ken, what's your recollection of how you all got in the MIS together?

KA: Well, all I remember is that Harry was going to administration, so I asked him where he was going. I didn't know anything about a recruiting team coming in, so he said there was a recruiter at the administration, so I naturally thought, you know, it's a chance to go. You know, people don't realize the period of time, but, you know, I was in high school and when the war began, all these young fellows my age were all going into service, and here we couldn't even go in. And, then, on top of that you go into camp and all the Isseis would tell us, they say, "You brag that you are Niseis, American citizens, but you're in here the same way we are, and your American citizen don't mean a thing at this point." And when you think about that, you know, that's pretty hard to take. Here you're an American, and everybody that you know that's not Nikkei are going into service, and you're denied because you're a Nikkei. Not that I was gung ho, loyal to the U.S., and everything else, but, you know, if you think about the time when everybody else is serving your country and you're denied, it's hard for a young guy to take. And, so, when Harry said that he was going to go in, you know, suddenly it lifted my morale. I mean, I said hey, you know, this is a point that we can do something about our situation. Because, I figured that, again, when at that stage, I wasn't too Americanized yet, but the point is I thought about the fact that why are we here. You know, is it because Japan attacked the United States, and that was it, or is it because the Nihonjins never had an opportunity to prove their loyalty to the country. And, so, I kind of felt, and I think Harry and we all talked about it, that, you know, if we didn't take this time to do something to change the way other people looked at the Niseis, you know, or the Japanese, we'll forever be thought of as a non-American. And I felt at that time when they said they needed us, you know, it made me feel pretty good, and I said that this, if we don't take this opportunity to do something about it, it'd be our fault if we're forever in the camps. So, when Harry said he was going, and it was about the Japanese language, and I thought I had enough confidence that maybe I could go in. So I did follow him. If he didn't say anything about it, I probably would have rotted in there. I mean, if the army really didn't come back to recruit us, I could have been one of those Kibei fellows that forever, you know, rah-rahed for the Japanese, because I felt that, you know, the government was just going to bury and forget about us. But here was an opportunity for us to do something about it, so I felt real good about it, and I tell the people that come around to the monument, say hey, the first time I felt like I was an American.

gky: Did the two of you ever discuss -- it's okay if you look at each other, too -- but, did the two of you ever discuss going together?

HA: No, it wasn't that. I think it all started out with a group of us were together, and there was a discussion about what would happen to us, and just like Ken says, if we remain here and just stay there, we would not be able to go out after the war and say we have served too, which means that we would not be considered a good American. And the only way we could do that was, rather than a lot of rhetoric that were going out saying that, well, they put us in here so we're not going to do anything. Well, for us, we felt that we have to do something to prove that we were Americans, and we wanted to be treated like Americans. It was very important to us to do something now, not later. So, that's why, even though the sentiment was against volunteering in general, we felt that we had to do it by action. In other words, if we have to die for it, then that would be it. But for the Japanese in general, in the United States, we'll never be accepted unless we show that we are willing to die for it.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

gky: Harry, when were you born?

HA: 1920.

gky: And, Ken, when were you born?

KA: 1923.

gky: Ken, when you went to war, you had a community leader in the camp, and you talked to him about cherry blossoms in Japan. Will you just recount that story to me?

HA: Well, Mr. Aibara was --

KA: By the way, you said Ken.

gky: I'm sorry. I'm sorry -- Harry.

HA: Mr. Aibara.

gky: Who Mr. Aibara is, just a community leader, Mr. Aibara?

HA: Mr. Aibara was...

gky: I'm sorry. Will you start again so that...

HA: Okay.

gky: And maybe Ken, you can just look at, glance at him when he starts talking.

HA: Mr. Aibara was the elder statesman, like he was the person that helped the community in general. He was a little older than the Isseis. He was one of the older Isseis, and he was a very respected individual in the community. He was our Japanese school teacher, and we used to go on weekends to go to school there. And, of course, he was our sensei, the teacher, you know, so we had a lot of respect for him too, as far as youngsters were concerned, too. But the Issei parents had high regards for him. When we decided, and we were accepted, to go into the service, we went to say, in other words, say our farewell to people we respected and he was one of them that we went to see. And he congratulated us, of course, that really kind of surprised us, congratulated us and said, "You are like the cherry tree in Washington D.C., which came from Japan, and it was nurtured, and cared for, and loved by America, and so therefore, every spring cherry blossoms beautify Washington D.C. You should also be like the cherry blossom and go forward and beautify America." That was his statement. And I think that probably set the tone and attitude of what we probably did later too.

gky: How?

HA: When I made this mission in Corregidor, I was supposed to go with this Captain Donovan who was the S2 officer, intelligence officer. And he had a jeep set to go, so I had all my equipment in there and was supposed to go with him, but he left without me. Now, I don't know a reason, but anyway, he left without me. I found a way to get to the airport, and when I got to the airport I asked the captain, "Where is my combat equipment?" All I had was a fatigue hat. And he says, "Over there," and pointed to a parachute. And I asked him, "Where is the rest of my stuff?" I don't even have a weapon, no helmet, nothing. He says, "It's in the jeep." I said, "Where's the jeep?" He says, "I don't know." He had released it. The fact that he would take my parachute out and not take the rest of it out really puzzled me, even to this day, why he would do that. He knew it was my equipment. So, at that moment, I had to make a decision what to do. To do -- go or not to go. I think maybe Mr. Aibara's words, to beautify America, was probably the thing that made me want to go. So without hesitation, I put my parachute on and got on the airplane.

gky: That's interesting, how words that someone says to you a long time ago can come back to you.

HA: Yeah. In other words, I think what it did was settle me, told me what I was supposed to do regardless of the consequence, and that was the reason that we even joined anyway. So, I did not want to bring any, well, bring shame to Niseis by not going. I would be unfair to them because I feel that any other of the guys might have gone too, so I would be no exception.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

gky: Did you guys say that you had brothers that were in the Japanese navy during the war?

HA: Yeah. Ken?

KA: I had no idea, although there's some inkling that talking to some of the younger Japanese POW, you know, there is a possibility towards the end of the war they might, but I had no idea.

gky: And then, when you found out that they were -- and that was after the war, right?

KA: Right.

gky: When you found out that they were, and one was a kamikaze. Wasn't one a kamikaze?

KA: Yeah, the third son.

gky: Yeah. Well, how did that make you feel, I mean, knowing that you could have been fighting some place where your brothers were?

KA: I think this kind of story did come out with the Uno brothers, you know. But, you know, I always felt if I ran across -- I mean, this did occur -- I mean, I thought about it as we were interrogating prisoners, because in our theater there were quite a few from the northern part of Kyushu, and there was a possibility that I might run across my kid brother. And, I think we've talked about it with some of the other guys in the service; what would you do? And the story was, well, what would you do? I mean, if the guy points a gun, what can you do? But, you'd think, well, if you had a chance, you would try to talk to them, you know. But, that's about -- you know, what can you do? I mean, knowing the Japanese at that time, I don't know if you could have talked anybody out of anything. But, it was just a fleeting type of a thought, you know. Not really thinking about it that you'd get a ulcer out of it.

gky: So, in other words, it's something you knew about, but you kind of didn't want to think about.

HA: Yeah. The other part was that mercifully, I was thinking that I would not recognize them, because there had been quite a few years since I last saw them. And, when I first met them, I knew that I would never have recognized them, when I did meet them after the war. So, that's the part that would have been a little easier for the individual, I think. If they were to be recognized and then face each other, then it would be a pretty, pretty dramatic and traumatic thing, I think. I really don't know exactly what you would do at that point, then, you know.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

gky: Ken, will you tell me about the first time that you saw Harry after the war?

KA: Yeah, well, after the war, I -- well, I was coming in from China, and we stopped in Shanghai, came in to Okinawa, and I did have a communication from Harry saying that he was in Sendai. So when I first landed at Atsugi Airport, they hauled us into Tokyo. And, the following day, the fellow that I came aboard on the plane, I knew he was in ATIS [Allied Translator and Interpreter Service], so I decided I better go up and report in. And I walked into this NYK Building [Nippon Tusen Kaisha Biru] and I just happened to look from my left and out from the elevator comes Harry. And I guess that was the first time in two years. So, it was a real shock because here I thought I would have to go look for him, you know, but here he pops out of the elevator. And that was real pleasant surprise.

gky: How do you remember that incident, Harry?

HA: You know, the thing that transpired after also, at the same time almost, my father and my younger brother came looking for us in Tokyo. And, I was so happy he was able to be there, simply because now we can go see my father and my younger brother, you know. It kind of put a finality to it, the fact that when originally I was planning on returning to America without meeting either of my families, you know, simply because I thought they might have been embarrassed by our presence in the village that we were American soldiers, you know. So, I had some misgiving as to wanting to see them, but, again, through another friend, they found out that I was in Tokyo and so they came. So, it just worked out just perfectly because Ken was there, I was there, and we were able to meet my father there, yeah. But, at the same time, I couldn't recognize my brother. Talking about the other thing, you know. I just -- there was a tall boy next to my father, and my father looked like he had shrunk a lot, old, you know, and they had come on a train that probably didn't have windows, and they were coal burning trains, you know. And they looked like, you know, they were coal miners or something. Anyway, but, yeah, so, I think I was a little relieved that I didn't recognize my brother. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 5>

gky: Ken, can you tell me a little bit about why Harry actually signed for you when you were back in camp?

KA: Well, you know, it was one thing to take the exam to pass the acceptance to the language school, but when I said that I'm ready to sign up and they asked me what my age was, then they told me that I had to have somebody to sign me in. And I thought, you know, being over eighteen you can get in on your own, but they said no, you had to have somebody to sign, and fortunately Harry was here. And, so, I asked him, "Would you sign in for me?" because without his signing me in I couldn't have gone in, and that would have been devastating, you know. But, he couldn't refuse. [Laughs] He was going in, how could he let me stay, you know.

gky: Okay, so, you decided to sign up because Harry was signing up?

KA: Yes, and like I said, it's a funny feeling but at the time, suddenly you're an American citizen, you know, make you real proud that you were able to go in. I mean, people today may not understand that. I think you had to be there at that time when you were so down and out, you're not even considered American citizen, and suddenly the government says, "We want you, would you help us?" and you're able to it. And, suddenly you're born again and you're an American and you're proud. You don't have to take any crap from anybody, you know, you're an American citizen, you're an American soldier, you can do something about your country. So, that's the kind of feeling I had at the time, and I think that's the reason why we all went in at the time.

gky: You know, that's how some people would define patriotism.

KA: I don't know if it's patriotism, but it's a unique feeling that because in our case, they said they didn't want us. They put us in 4-C category, and you got no hope of doing anything to prove your loyalty. And suddenly they open the door and say we need to have you help us fight this war. At that time, I mean, it wasn't the matter that you're afraid that you might be fighting your own people, you know, you're own kind in Japan or anything else. It was just the idea that now the door is open for us to do something about it. And it's a feeling that I don't think people today, or any other time, even a normal American, felt the way I think I did at that time, because when you're denied something and suddenly given an opportunity, I think it's a different feeling.

HA: You know, the other thing about the situation was that we were Kibeis, and in our community there are very few Kibeis. I really wonder what the rest of the community thought of us. Here we have family in Japan, we have been educated in Japan, and suddenly we're going to turn around and look like a turncoat to them, you know. So, I think it probably came of a great shock, I think, to the community that we belonged to; however, Mr. Aibara's statement definitely clarified what our position should be.

gky: Can you... Harry, can you tell me what the difference between Kibei in the MIS were and Nisei?

HA: Well, it was mostly knowledge; the knowledge of the language, the knowledge of the custom of the country, their mental makeup, all help in trying to interrogate prisoners. There's a little bit of advantage of being able to know the person better. And I think the Kibei fell in that particular category. And to find so many Kibeis who served, did so well, really makes me wonder why they did so well. Simply because of the background that they had, the family and everything, it would seem it would be that much more difficult. At the same time, the U.S. government, the Niseis in general, looked down on the Kibeis before that, feeling that they would be the least loyal people. And yet, I find by talking to some of the Kibeis, one of the earliest Kibeis that went overseas, it just is really amazing. It really amazes me that they did so well and their heart was really in it, you know.

gky: Can you just tell me again, as you did earlier, that the MIS wouldn't have been the same without the Kibei?

HA: Yes. I think that's the point in which I feel, maybe if you pick up and learn the language out of a book, let's say, never you take Spanish and you can speak the language even. But, I don't think you could feel what the Mexicans are like, or what they go through, or what they think. And that is a part that you don't understand until you live with them. And by living with them, you know their angers, their love, their father patriotism, and everything that makes that particular person a Japanese, is definitely a plus. Plus the fact they had far more language ability because they had learned it in Japan, whereas the Niseis learned it here, and then not very well. So, the training that they received out of the language school was the thing that enhanced them to a point where they could be effective. But, I think, with the same training, the Kibei was even more effective. That's the reason I feel that.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

gky: That's Harry and this is Ken. The date is December 13th, the year 2000 in L.A. Ken, you were just talking about a communication you had from your family.

KA: I believe it was sometime in 1944, mid-1944. The Red Cross called me over and I don't know how they traced me down, but they said that they had a communication from Japan. So, I said well, my brother, older brother, should answer that question. And so they said no, your brother had received a communication and they asked me to reply. So, all they could say was that they wanted to know how we were faring, and we couldn't tell them where we were or anything, so I said we're both fine, we're both healthy, and that was it. And then the war ended and my brother, I met my brother in Tokyo, and shortly thereafter we said, let's go see the folks and the country, you know. So Harry and I went back there and I took a two-week furlough with Harry, and we came back. And after we got back, my dad told us that he just got the reply. So, it took them almost two full years to get a reply that he send out in, I think it was in 1943 sometime. So, it took a year to get to me, and it took another to get back to him. So, it was really funny. So, talking about did I know anything about Japan during the war, yes, just through that I knew that the war, you know, my dad and the family was doing okay.

gky: Harry, did the two of you have very much -- Harry, what kind of communication did you have with Ken during the war?

HA: We used to write. And Ken was even more generous with his writing because he used to draw pictures of the jungles and stuff like that, you know. He used watercolor. He was fairly artistic, you know. So, he'd always send me something that I could enjoy, but normally, it wasn't really much that we could talk about. Except, I think one time -- he doesn't remember it, but one time he wrote a letter to me saying, "Hey, what did you do?" Our friend, Seishin Kondo, had wrote to Ken saying he had saw my name come through the Pentagon. So he was worried that I was in trouble maybe, I don't know. But anyway, I think it was after that Corregidor operation that something happened, yeah. So, but anyway, we did have communication between the two of us, yeah, not much, but we knew we were doing okay, yeah.

gky: Did that keep you pretty assured that you were alive and...

HA: Yeah, yeah, that's right. Yeah, yeah.

gky: Can you talk a little bit about paying back your father's loan after the war?

HA: Oh, yeah. You know, life is full of wonders. When I went overseas, I first went to Australia, and then I was sent into New Guinea, and the kind of functions that we did, all our records never went with us, so I never got paid. At the same time I didn't really need it because the cigarettes were free, candies are free, and, you know, you got your food and everything from the army anyway, so I really didn't need it. Then, there were no nightclubs or anything to go to. Probably the only place you could spend it was navy gambling, and I was a pretty bad gambler. So I usually was broke because I'd lose it in a crap game or something and I wouldn't have the money. But it was kind of a blessing in disguise, because here if I had the money, I'd throw it away uselessly. So it just accumulated for months, and months, and months. And I think it was about, I know it was over a year that I didn't get paid until I finally came to my parent organization and they paid me in one lump sum. But I didn't have any place to spend it, so I put it in soldier's saving. So, I had accumulated some money. And then when I met my father, I guess that was one of the reasons why he came looking for me. Well, anyway, he was in debt and because previous to the war, you know, I used to be sending them periodic money to them all the time. So, that wasn't coming in, so they were probably cash poor. So, he was in debt and je brought that subject up and naturally there it's laying there. I said, "Oh yeah, okay, I'll pay it. How much is it?" So, he told me how much it was, and after I got back I sent it. At the same time, Ken, being the kind of person he is, he felt he owed it too. I felt that I owed it because what I was sending before wasn't getting to him. I figured I owed it to him, yeah. But, one of the things that, that I did was because I come from a large family. When you grow up in a large family, all your younger siblings are almost like your own children because you kind of look after them when they need some help. The parents are not always going to be there, and so, therefore, you do have a different kind of association with your siblings. And, in my mind, the reason I used to send my father money was not so much for my father, it was because I was thinking that maybe my siblings will be suffering if I don't. And that was the primary motivation for me to keep sending it. At the same time, I think Ken felt grateful that I was able to do that. In fact, my father wanted Ken to go to work too so he could help. But I felt that in this world, without the proper education, you're going to be forever unable to come out from under the level of living without proper education. So I felt that at least Ken should have a high school education. I didn't want him to be working. So, I think he also remembered that too. So, when the opportunity came, I wanted to go back to school because of the GI bill, he stepped in and made the effort and sacrifice to go back and help the family. That's the reason why somehow, it's a large family, but the greatest pride I have is that we all get along so well.

gky: Ken, you then paid Harry back, or paid Harry for part of this loan. Why did you do that? What family values made you do that?

KA: Well, like Harry was saying, you know, when my Dad went back to Japan, after I returned to the United States because my sister was sick, and I knew that I had the luxury of going to a schoolboy to try to finish off my school. And I knew that Harry was sending money on a monthly basis. And when my dad said that he had something like 8,000 yen borrowed during the war, and I didn't have the immediate money at that time because during the war I didn't need the money. I had sent it in, sent it back to the guardian for safekeeping under the bond system, you know. And I thought it was about time that I stepped forward and do my part. So I told Harry that I didn't have the money now, but as soon as I got back I would, you know, reimburse him, because I knew he suffered all these years, so I figure since I'm the second oldest one, it was up to me to do something, or at least my share of it, because I didn't think it was fair that he would have to absorb all the burden of the family. So I thought it was just a natural thing to do, and he was planning to go back to school and I knew he needed the money, and I was able to, you know, give the money, so I felt pretty good. At least I felt like that I did contribute toward the welfare of the family. Up until then I couldn't do anything.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

gky: Harry, would that speak to you as the kind of family values you were raised with?

HA: What was that again?

gky: What that says to me, what Ken's story says to me, is the kind of family values you were raised with. You're the two oldest kids in your family, and yet you have the same kind of desire to work together as a family, even though you hadn't seen your family for years in Japan.

HA: I just felt responsible for the family. They lost their mother, and it was difficult for my older sister. She was a very, very wonderful person, and she died. So when you think about all she did for us when we were kids, you know. So, in a way, we were just kind of carrying over what she was doing for us earlier. So I'll probably say that our mother and my sister probably had a great deal to do how our family stayed together.

gky: Do you think that's a Japanese trait?

HA: Yeah, I think so. I believe that I've seen other families sacrifice their own personal goals for their family. I've seen that. So it's really not an unusual trait, I think.

gky: Is that a trait that helped you during the wartime period? In other words, was it important to you, like, for example, you signed for Ken and you were very supportive of Ken as well.

HA: Well, I thought, when I signed for Ken, was because if he thought that much of wanting to serve and to prove something, I couldn't deny him that opportunity.

gky: Okay. Ken, how did that make you feel?

KA: Well, I figured it was natural that he should, you know. [Laughs] No, it made me feel good that, you know, there was somebody there to sign up for, you know, for me, because if he didn't, I probably would have been, really, a real hell raiser. No, but really, I felt real good that he had enough confidence in me to let me go.

HA: I know he was young and everything too, but, you know, the conversation we had -- I've forgotten all the people who were involved in it, but just recently, I had heard this one person, Bert Kuya, telling me about another of our hometown friend, Jim Udo, told his parents that he wanted to go too, and they were really upset. That's what I found out later, so he never went, you know, he was very, very, upset. And another person, Giro Saisho, who was too young to even go, cried when he couldn't go. I remember that too.

KA: In fact, Harry was saying about this Jim Udo, the lady, they were fairly close friend of the family, but, anyway, when she heard that we signed up and the son Jim wanted to go, boy, she really let me have it. She called me a bakatare and, "What's the matter with you?" She says, "You're nuts. Who says you're an American citizen? You're no different than we are. You're in the camp like we are. You're restricted from doing all the things." And says, "On top of that, you have families in Japan. What would your Dad say if he was here?" She says, "You know, for you to go into the service under these condition," she says we're damn fools." That's when I told her, I says, "Obasan, if we didn't do anything now, you know, we'll be forever in this kind of situation and now's our opportunity to do something about it. If we don't take advantage of this situation, you know, we could never live it out, you know, after the war is over, because one day the war is going to be over and we want to be able to, you know, hold our head up high and say we're an American like anybody else, and nobody's going to be able to tell us that didn't do our part." And so she sort of quieted down, but I know she was very, very upset and, in fact, I think she is one of the ladies that told this Giro Saisho's mother something to the effect that it's not your sons, therefore you allowed them to go in, you know.

HA: They were like family to us, see.

KA: Yeah. They were my guardians and they said that how could you let them go, they're not even your family. You're congratulating us to go and how could you do that, you know. And, so, I know that these people took a tremendous amount of verbal assault after we left. I didn't know that until way much, much later. I was told that they really, you know, took a lot of abuse from the neighboring people because Harry and I left. Harry and I, I mean, once we left, I mean, we were away from it so we didn't even know things like this was happening, but I tried to apologize to the Mrs., you know, the Mrs. Saisho later, and said no, don't worry about it. But I heard from the kids in her family saying that there was incidents of that type that happened. But, like I said, this lady was very old-time Japanese, you know. They were from Kumamoto, and they're very hard-headed like my parents' country, and, so, when her son really wanted to go, in fact he wanted to go. He came with us, and I think he was about a year older than I and he had to have the mother or father's consent before he could join in. So, when they refused to sign it, of course, when he went to ask, I think that's when he got chewed out and was called all kind of names, and that's when we got involved, you know. But, there was a time like that.

HA: Yeah, it wasn't a very popular decision, yeah, because we were the first volunteers out of internment camp.

KA: Yeah. And, above that, like Harry said, we were both somewhat educated in Japan, and for us to take that first step before anybody else, you know, I think that was a real shock to them.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

gky: You know, you talk about being discriminated against as Americans, but you have had problems also because you're Kibei, so, I mean, you're sort of getting discrimination from both sides. In Japan you're not fully accepted, you're not fully accepted here.

KA: Yeah. Right. Well, you know, the first-generation people, I can understand how they were feeling, you know. But, I think the Isseis sort of looked to the Kibeis to sort of show the value of the Japanese custom to the rest of the Niseis that were born and raised here, but never been to Japan. Because I think deep down they felt that the Japanese value is the value that everybody should follow. And naturally, if you were in Japan and you were educated under the Japanese system, they expected us to be the sort of the leading force to, shall we say, educate the Niseis here in the Japanese value. And so when Harry and I volunteered, I think it probably really shocked a lot of the Issei people because if there was anybody who was going to volunteer or go into the service, it would have been not the Kibei so much, it should have been the people who has never been into Japan and never experienced the value of the Japanese in Japan. So, I don't know if I made myself clear on that, but I think there was that feeling. And that's why when they scolded us and said bakatare, you know, of all the people, how could you go in, you know. Especially, you're an American, you claim you're an American and yet you're discriminated just like we are. You're in the same camp we are, you know. How could you take that kind of crap and still do the thing we're trying to do?

HA: I think that was also a way to tell their children that, you know, we were wrong. "You shouldn't do it either." I think that was a manner in which they were trying to use a third party to influence the child themselves. And I know some of my friends never went in because of the displeasure that it might create for their parents, you know. And the other people who didn't go in too were people, again, with very strong family values wanting to leave the camp, and they couldn't leave the camp. That meant that the Isseis couldn't leave the camp without them. They needed the Niseis to help them become independent again. And so there was a number of people like that too. So, in a sense, we did it because we had the luxury of not worrying about a family.

KA: Yeah.

HA: A lot of other guys had families they had to worry about, so they couldn't just go ahead and do the thing that we did, see. So, there's a lot more to the story of each family. They have their difference, you know.

gky: It's hard to understand. It's hard I think for another culture to understand.

HA: That's right, that's right.

gky: Especially, as you said, Ken, fifty years later.

KA: Yeah, exactly so.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.