Densho Digital Archive
gayle k. yamada Collection
Title: Shoso "Sho" Nomura Interview
Narrator: Shoso "Sho" Nomura
Interviewer: gayle k. yamada
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: December 14, 2000
Densho ID: denshovh-nshoso-01

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

<Begin Segment 1>

gky: This is December 14th, the year 2000. We're talking to Sho Nomura. Do you always go by Sho?

SN: Yes.

gky: Sho, S-H-O Nomura, N-O-M-U-R-A, and we're talking in L.A. Sho, what year, when were you born?

SN: When? October 1, 1918.

gky: And how long were you in the MIS?

SN: From November 1942, then I served, or I got my discharge, in January 6, 1946. It's really just four years, three and a half years. I got married in '49 and she was a girl -- she was called a "stranded Nisei." Her family went to Japan before the war in 1939 or '38, I forget. But anyway, I went to school with her, my wife's older sister, in Pasadena Junior College, and a mutual friend, when I was working in the occupation in the early years, Anna Saiki gave me the older sister's address. So I wrote to Anna saying I was over there and then when I got a vacation I'd like to come down and see you, and talk about old times, you know, the school days. So I went down there then and I met Anna's younger sister, who is my wife. And that was the starting of the beginning of the end, so to speak. [Laughs] And so I called her up to live in Tokyo and then she could work part time as a nationalist, as a foreign nationalist. She hadn't got -- well, she did got her citizenship back. And like I say, she came out to Tokyo in late '48, early '49, and then we got married in November of '49.

gky: Why did you want to leave Gila River and join the MIS?

SN: I know it would be the proper thing to say that patriotism or loyalty and all that was the driving force. Well, in a way it was, but unless you had lived in a relocation center, to anybody -- in my mind, you know, it was just a dulling experience. A road that leads to nowhere. So when they came around asking for volunteers, that was our only escape to get out of that type of atmosphere where one day is same as the day before and the day after will be the same as it was today, and God knows how long it's going to last. You could be sitting in that camp for, 'til, for the duration of the war and nobody had any idea how long the war is going to end. So, I just looked at it as an opportunity to get out of that type of atmosphere which had, to me, had no future. So...

gky: On the other hand, when you volunteered to be in the MIS, there's always a possibility when you go to war that you could be killed, you could be maimed.

SN: Yeah, that's true.

gky: So you sort of have to weigh that against staying in camp, or are you young and naive and you think you're not going to get, you're not going to get...

SN: There's your answer. I was young and naive... but not that young, but I was willing to take that chance. So be it. At least that I might, you know, by that same token, it reflects where your loyalties lie too. So to me there was all win, no lose type of situation. I get away from the dismal atmosphere of camp life and go into the army, and who knows what our future. The future in the army didn't really concern me that much.

gky: What'd your parents say?

SN: My dad was very supportive and my mother understood what I was telling her. I told my dad that people had come to our camp and was asking for volunteers, and to learn the Japanese language and that sort of thing, and so he was all for it. He says, "Well, after all, you are American," and so I didn't run into any, for any opposition at all.

gky: When you went to Camp Savage, how good were your language skills?

SN: Very poor, to be honest. I think we had 22 sections graded according to their ability in the Japanese language, and I was in Section 17 which is only five from the bottom, so...

gky: So you must have been one of the people that went to the latrines at night to...

SN: Oh, yeah, to study and bone up. I never studied that hard in my life. But it was worth it, it really was, because I learned enough in that school to be able to pick up a civilian job after the war, to go work in the occupation, so...

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

<Begin Segment 2>

gky: Why did you get chosen for the Dixie Mission?

SN: Well, they needed, they knew... when the group was formed, they, the C.O. of the Dixie Mission knew that the Chinese communists had Japanese prisoners of war, and so they naturally wanted to try to extract as much intelligence or Order of Battle of intelligence, principally, from these people. So the only guys that could speak their language is the four of us that were in Chungking at the time. So two of us selected out of the four. I raised my hand. This George Nakamura, he was better in the Japanese language than I was, so, he went up to Yenan first, and I guess it was August of '44, and I went up in -- he went up in July, and I went couple months later in September of '44 to Yenan, Dixie Mission.

gky: When you got there, what did you do?

SN: Well, this -- our immediate officer, language officer, was a Caucasian. He was a former journalist for the Wall Street Journal in Tokyo. But he spoke some Japanese and had a minimal amount ability in reading and writing. But as far as gathering Order of Battle of intelligence, Order of Battle intelligence is about finding as much intelligence about the size of the unit, who the commanding officers are, and where they're deployed, and that sort of thing. And he was very good at that. The only thing that he needed was if he got captured documents from the Chinese communists of even from the prisoners of war themselves, George and I read and translated that sort of information for him. So we worked out very well.

gky: Would you mind putting your hands down just a little bit? They're a little bit in front of your mouth.

SN: Okay.

gky: What exactly were the goals of the Dixie Mission? What were you told were the goals of the Dixie Mission?

SN: You know, it's very strange. We thought that, George Nakamura and I thought that we were there just to interrogate the Japanese prisoners of war, and when we got through with that we'd probably go back to Chungking, we thought. But there's also the fact that there were other units represented in our Dixie Mission, like there was a couple fellows from the marine corps and about three from the air force, and then there was about five or six from the infantry, and so it was a mishmash; a very elite group in my estimation, that were selected to go to Yenan to observe and see the pros and cons of the Chinese communists and their armies. So throughout my stay, why we had people, sending people out with the communist troops, too, and they would observe their attacks on, you know, their guerrilla warfare type attacks, and stuff like that. So it was very interesting in that respect.

gky: I guess there are a couple of things that puzzle me about it. First of all, why would the communist let non-communists observe their tactics?

SN: Firstly, in retrospect, firstly I think it's because they wanted to get the material from us. By that I mean have us supply them with guns and rifles and, gosh, what else, you know, warfare armaments, and instruments. That's what I think was their principal, their principal hope was that we could, that we would support 'em materially.

gky: Okay. And then, what did America hope to get from observing, the Dixie Mission observers?

SN: Our initial first C.O. of the mission, of the Dixie Mission, wrote his memoirs postwar. The astonishing thing about his statement was that nobody told him what the purpose of that Dixie Mission was. See, Stilwell was the one that asked for it; that we have an observer mission in northern China where nobody's ever been, you know, I mean as far as Allied forces are concerned. And, he says, as far as intelligence is concerned, it's a total blank. We know nothing about who's winning or who's losing, or anything. So he would like to know if the Chinese communists were really pursuing the war. And when we got up there, we sent guys out in the field and said, heck, yeah, they're fighting a war, but nobody knew. There was no way they could have known exactly what they were do, the Chinese communists were doing.

gky: Boy, that's such a surprise to me.

SN: What was?

gky: Well...

SN: That nobody knew what the aims of the... yeah.

gky: Why was it called the Dixie Mission?

SN: I really don't know. There's all kinds of stories, you know. They says are the communists really communists, and that sort of thing. I think it's a takeoff of "Is It True What They Say About Dixie," you know. But then I heard the other stories about the Dixie was named the Dixie Mission. But...

gky: What did you, so, what exactly did you do as an observer?

SN: I never, I didn't get the chance to go out in the field to be attached to any Chinese communists, but George Nakamura did. He spent about three months out in the field. I forget -- I know it was over Christmas of '44, because he wasn't at the base there in Yenan in 1944, but he -- [coughs] -- so, George Nakamura, I thought, I think he saw a little action as far as combat was concerned following the, being hooked up with one communist unit or another. Plus a couple of the infantry guys that went along with him, that he went along.

gky: Were you supposed to stay there from, let's see, when did you go over to the Dixie Mission, what month and year?

SN: It was in, I went in August of '44 and George went in July of '44.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

gky: So, and when did you graduate from Camp Savage?

SN: In June of '43.

gky: So what did you do in the month, I mean, in almost, I guess, over a year?

SN: Over a year.

gky: What did you do then?

SN: Well, from, after we graduated in June of '44, then we spent six weeks or two months getting basic training at Camp Shelby, and that brings us up to about August of 1944. And then, when we came back from Shelby, back to Camp Savage, but we didn't return to Camp Savage. They moved, they were in the process of moving all activities of the school to Fort Snelling, and so the school moved from Savage to Camp Snelling, and, in the meantime, we just kept brushing up on our, you know, study and all that sort of thing at Fort Snelling. And then out of the June 1944 class, we were the last twenty people to be assigned to go overseas. Everybody had left by the time they got to us. I don't know what they were trying to tell us, that we were the crumbs of the lot, but the runts of the litter, or whatever, but we were the last that got assignment to go overseas. And then, when we did get the assignment, it was two ten-man teams that were -- said, "Okay, now you're going to go overseas." And it took us forever to -- first we went to the port of embarkation, so that must have been about in February of '44. And we laid around there in the port of embarkation a good month, six weeks, before they found a ship to take us overseas. Then from leaving the Port of Los Angeles out of San Pedro, it took us forty-five days before we saw land again. We went to, down through the South Pacific and then on the underside of Australia, and the first land we saw was forty-five days later. We were all twenty of us on this liberty ship, and we landed in Perth in western Australia. Then from there we went to Colombo, Ceylon, which is now Sri Lanka, and from Sri Lanka we picked up a convoy and we went to Calcutta. And that brings us up to about April of '44, or something like that. And then from April, I mean from Calcutta, we took, we boarded a train to New Delhi and that's where they had the intelligence headquarters of Southeast Asia. Then a few months later, they split the Southeast Asia translation group, which would -- now is only the intelligence headquarters for India and Burma. Then they had the China Theater. And so, like I say, I guess it was about May or June that four of us was selected out of intelligence headquarters in Southeast Asia translation group and assigned to Chungking. So the four of us were the first four Nisei in China.

gky: Were you supposed to stay with the mission until it ended, until the...

SN: Yeah. I was the only one that stayed until it ended. I went up there in September of '44, and served until September of 1945.

gky: While you were there, did you translate documents or interrogate any prisoners?

SN: Towards the end, we was doing practically nothing. The barrel had run dry.

gky: It also seems that many of the Japanese prisoners had been there for quite a while.

SN: Right.

gky: So were you learning about indoctrination procedures?

SN: Beg pardon?

gky: Were you learning about indoctrination procedures?

SN: Not really. The thing was that a lot of those prisoners of war that were held by the communists, they were old timers. There was a couple of them that were in China since the Shanghai Incident. You know, finding out where they come from and what units they served, meant nothing. Their units had probably been sent to the South Pacific years ago, and so, like a lot of the intelligence, I mean interrogations that we made, weren't worth a hoot. But the recent ones did give us some fairly valuable information.

gky: So what kind of valuable information? Tactical information?

SN: Not tactical. Just principally of finding out what unit they came from and where that unit was stationed, and that was about the size of it. You know, for practical intelligence that -- and find out who they're commanding officers were, and all that sort of thing, because that sometimes is important.

gky: It seems that you were rubbing elbows with a lot of people who later became, I guess you could say, famous, well-known politicians in the Chinese communists and the Chinese Nationalist movement.

SN: Not -- I didn't meet any Nationalists that became world famous.

gky: But you did get to know Mao Zedong.

SN: Yeah, we got to know Mao Zedong and his -- the commander-in-chief, Juda, and then Zhou En-lai, you know, he was strictly a diplomat. But, actually, he was in second command and he was just under Mao.

gky: Of course, you never knew back then that world events would unfold like they...

SN: No. When the war ended, we had Chinese interpreters, you know, as the, the communists assigned us to help us observe, and, you know, their English-speaking fellows, liaison people between, with the Dixie Mission and Mao's headquarters, and they spoke excellent English. When the war ended, there was a guy, one of the liaison men that we called [inaudible], the old timer, and I asked him, you know, I says, "What's going to happen now;" in August of '45, I said, "What's going to happen now?" And he says, "There's going to be a war." I said, "What are you talking about? The war is over." "No," he said, "I'm talking about a war between us and Chiang Kai-shek." I said, "Then, then what happens then?" He says, "We're going to beat them. We're going to win that war." I says, "How can you see that. I heard that Chiang Kai-shek has been provided with all the armors, airplanes, and God knows what else in material and everything." And Lau says, "But you forget he doesn't have the support of the people and we're getting all kinds of support of the so-called, the masses." And sure enough, that's the way it turned out.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

gky: Did you get debriefed when you came back from the Dixie Mission?

SN: Beg pardon?

gky: Did you get debriefed?

SN: No. When I went back to Chungking, they were just ready to close up shop in Chungking and move the headquarters to Shanghai. And so I went back to Chungking in the latter part of September of '45, then was reassigned to another group called the U.S. Army Advisory Group that was supposed to go to Taiwan and observe and be an advisory group to the Nationalist army that was taking over the area, taking over Taiwan.

gky: So, it's like you're a professional observer.

SN: [Laughs] Yeah. But, for me, that tour, the service tour in Taiwan, was a fun deal. It was, you know -- we were assigned to southern Formosa and another group was assigned to Taipei and we were assigned to Tainan. And we just really didn't, we did hardly anything except to look around, and take the jeep and go for rides in the countryside of Taiwan. There was one thing that struck me funny when we -- the navy was supposed to bring Chinese Nationalist troops from Haiphong, which is the northern, which is now Vietnam. It was then French Indochina. And the navy was supposed to pick up the Chinese Nationalists division and take them over to southern Formosa, to southern Tainan. But they came down with a cholera epidemic, and so half of them were sick, so they say they'll have to postpone transporting the Chinese troops to Formosa. So George Nakamura and this guy -- among the Niseis, there's three of us Nisei, George Nakamura, who is the lieutenant; he became the language officer for the advisory group, then Tosh [Toshio Uesato] and I were the translation or interpreters.


gky: This is the second tape with Sho Nomura, 14th of December, 2000 in Los Angeles. Okay, go ahead Sho.

SN: So, like I say, the Chinese occupation troops were southern Taiwan, came down with the cholera epidemic, so they said, "There's no use for you language people to stick around here," so we went back to Shanghai. And, in the meantime, the whole Chinese headquarters, our Chinese headquarters, had been transferred to Shanghai. And then, so we reported back to the Chinese translation and interrogation group, and they says, "Well, there's nothing for you to do here, so just take it easy until they say okay." So we just -- about three or four weeks before it was declared that the Chinese division was healthy enough to be transported to Tainan. And then after that three or four weeks, we went to Tainan, but we didn't do hardly anything.

gky: How did you know when the Dixie Mission was over? Was the only way you knew because they gave you orders that said...

SN: Yeah, that said it's all over, now you can go back to Chungking. Then in August, there was small corps of ten or fifteen people that were left, and I don't know when they left.

gky: How did you know -- the Dixie Mission was not considered a success.

SN: Not considered what?

gky: A success.

SN: That's right.

gky: So why did it fail?

SN: Because it didn't accomplish anything, really. That's the way I interpreted it, that it -- what did it accomplish? In reality, you can't say what it -- everything we reported was bolluxed up. About the only good thing about it in retrospect that turned out well for the Dixie Mission was our evacuation team. When the 14th Air Force would go out bombing Shanghai, or wherever the Japanese were, Beijing, Ceylon, their fighter pilots of these bombers, and on four occasions these fighter pilots were shot down and our evacuation team that was within the Dixie Mission, with the help of the Chinese communists, we were able to evacuate these downed pilots. That's about the only thing that I can say was really concrete and successful.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

gky: Weren't there about twenty-five people involved when you first went over to the Dixie Mission?

SN: The original group was about twenty-five, yeah.

gky: And who were the four other Niseis?

SN: I mentioned George Nakamura, then in about October or November of '44, Koji Ariyoshi came up with Under Secretary John Emerson to Yenan, came to our Dixie Mission to work with the [Sanzo] Nozaka, that's the top Japanese communist in exile, and pick his brain about the best way to write and direct propaganda. So that's three of us, George Nakamura, and then just before the war ended, about a month before, which would make about July or August, a couple of Niseis from the Chungking headquarters came up to Yenan. So when the war ended, there was just three of us in Yenan: Tosh, Wes Sato, and Jack Ishii.

gky: And these people stayed as long as you did?

SN: I think the three of us went back to Chungking together, at the end of the war. Because Tosh and I was, like I say, were later reassigned to the Advisory Group to Tainan, and Jack Ishii just remained in Shanghai until he came home. I don't know when it was that he came home.

gky: Was Jack Ishii a cartoonist?

SN: That's his older brother. His older brother is Chris Ishii. He was one of the OWI team. He did a lot of cartoon drawings for the propaganda leaflets. He was a -- he came out of a relocation center the same time I did, to Camp Savage. So I knew of him in Camp Savage just as well.

gky: When you were in China, you were operated on for an appendectomy. How'd that come about?

SN: Like I say, I got this attack when I was up there at Yenan, and the doctor, our doctor, says, "Well, we have two choices. Do you want us to wire the hospital, or the headquarters in Chungking and have them send up a plane for you and take you back and be operated in the American hospital, you know, in Chungking?" And I said, "Well, what's the other opportunity?" "Well, you could have the local doctor operate on you." And one of the doctors was American that, before the war, around about 1939, '40, after he's finished medical school in Switzerland, he says, "Well, I crossed the Atlantic to get to Switzerland to go to school, now I think I'll take the long way home. Go to India, or Singapore, Shanghai, and back home." And when he got to Shanghai, there was a big communist movement going on and he got enamored by it. So he stayed in Shanghai. And he's a famous, became a famous doctor in communist China with the name of Dr. Ma Hai Dah. I don't know whether you've ever heard of him or not. But his original name was George Hadam. He's of Lebanese descent, like I say, he went there. And when he got to Yenan after Mao and all those had finished the Long March, so he stayed with them all that time, all through the war and everything, and so when we got there, we were surprised to see an American there acting as a liaison officer for Mao. So he was the liaison man between Mao's headquarters and the Dixie Mission, plus a couple other very capable native Chinese who spoke excellent English.

gky: So he's on the communist Chinese side?

SN: Yeah, uh-huh. And so, to get back to the operation, I said "Well, what about Doc Ma Hai Dah doing the operation?" He said, "Well, if you want to, if you feel you can trust him." I said, "Why not?" So he came.

gky: Was it a matter of time?

SN: Pardon?

gky: You know, was it a matter of time, like if you'd waited the week it may have taken you to get to the hospital, your appendix would have burst and that would have been it?

SN: Yeah. That had some influence of my decision, too. Who knows what would happen before they could get the plane up there. I said, "If we go now, it would be over." He said, "Yeah, that's true." So that's what happened.

gky: Boy.

SN: And one thing about , I might add about the operation is originally that hospital was organized and created by a Canadian doctor, Dr. Bethune, and he set everything up. And during the war, the Longshoremen's Union collected a lot of medical supplies and stuff to be donated to the Chinese with a stipulation that some of it, longshoremen being the type of unit, you know, left-wing unit that it was, with the stipulation that some of those supplies be shared by the Chinese communist. So the Chinese, through Madame Sun Yat-sen, who is very liberal in comparison to her sister, Madame Chiang Kai-shek. She is very liberal and she insisted that this medicine be, that the Longshoremen's Union donated to the Chinese be shared with the Chinese communists. So part of that stuff, medicine, wound up with the Chinese communists.

gky: Did you feel that you were helping anybody, that you were helping America?

SN: I don't think I had any noble thoughts on that, not really. I think what I enjoyed the most was just seeing these people working the way they did, and the spirit that they worked with, you know, with the so-called Chinese masses to get their confidence, the people's confidence, and they in turn felt that they were being treated fairly, and that sort of thing. So it was a good thing to could see, and I really appreciated to be able to be in there to see all that sort of thing. Because, I know -- one time, this was in the summer of -- I got a week's furlough to go to Chungking, and I got to know a nationalist major from the time I first arrived in Chunking. So when I came back on my furlough, he, this Major Yung said, "Hey, Nomura," says. "Let's go out to lunch," or some darn thing. And so we went downtown to eat, and where we were going there was group of young boys all strapped together with straw ropes and they were being dragged down the street. I said, "What's happening here? Did they do something wrong?" And Major Yung said, "No they're being taken into the army." I said, You have to do it that way?" And he says, "Well, if we don't, we won't get any recruits." So they're actually roped together and forced in the army that way. Young kids, fourteen, fifteen, twelve, thirteen, I don't know. I thought, "My God, there ought to be a better way." So I think that type of thing that happened in nationalist China really was to their detriment, you know. The people didn't want to fight a war for them.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

gky: What did you do after the second observer post?

SN: Oh, well, like I say, after that, I had enough points accumulated to come home, and so I came home.

gky: And got discharged?

SN: Yeah. It was a kind of a lonely feeling because here I went over with twenty people, got to know them real good, and then when it's time to go home, I was the only one. The others had left or some of them still there, you know. We all went our separate ways, so to speak. But it was kind of lonely when you're accustomed to, when you go to do something in the way of duty, when here I was on the way to get a discharge and the only thing was that I was the only passenger from Shanghai all the way back to McClellan air field.

gky: Well, it seems like you're pretty lucky in that when you over on the Lurline, when you went over on that Matson liner, weren't only about a handful of you there? It wasn't like thousands of troops on the...

SN: Oh, no. It was -- I don't know if you've heard of liberty ships or not. You know, they're just small freighters, and that's all. And for the twenty of us, they built, we called them dog houses. They built it on top of the deck. Just sleeping ten people on each side of the ship and that was where we quartered when we went overseas.

gky: Wow. I can't imagine there being much...

SN: Then you come back, and when you went over everybody had a good time, shooting craps, playing cards, whatnot.

gky: How much of your language skills did you ever have to depend on?

SN: Well, I'll be honest with you. My language skills during the war bordered on the minimum, and the way I got around it is I got -- in communist China, the way I got around it was, there was -- the Chinese communists also had a couple of officers that spoke Japanese. So, and they were in the intelligence section, their intelligence section. So I always brought this major, what the heck was his name -- John, John something. But anyway, so I had him interrogate the prisoners on many occasions. And then he would break it down and simplify Japanese and tell me what the heck occurred, so it worked out real well.

gky: So, in terms of the MIS experience, the MIS experience was pretty positive. It did not turn out to be dangerous.

SN: That's right.

gky: Was a very, I would think it would be very educational.

SN: It was. For me, it was. And the type of assignments that I got while in services, is something together. So when the war ended, Major Burden offered me a commission, and I said, "Well, there must be some kind of stipulation." He says, "Yeah, you have to serve two years if you want to take it." I said "No, I'd rather go home rather than to become an officer."

gky: Well, enlisted men, golly, I heard that they got something really small like...

SN: Originally, it was just $21 a month, you know.

gky: And civilians, after the war, got paid, let's see, $400 a month.

SN: Something like that.

gky: When you -- you stayed in Japan a while though.

SN: For five years.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

gky: What was Japan like when you first went there with the occupation?

SN: Well, I couldn't believe it. By that, I mean when I got to Tokyo, there was only one section of downtown Tokyo that was intact. But then from there on you could see nothing but burned-out buildings, flattened buildings. You could see from one end of the city to the other with nothing blocking your view. The one section that was left intact was obviously left unbombed with the idea that after the war we have to have office space or something, for headquarters and that sort of thing. And so there was about, oh, I guess about a ten-block square where none of the buildings were bombed, right opposite the Imperial Palace.

gky: What did the people look like?

SN: Which people?

gky: Japanese people after the war.

SN: Oh, there was a conglomeration. Mostly, they -- what struck me funny was the repatriates that came out of Southeast Asia. They were used to the hot climate, muggy climate of Southeast Asia and I guess they still retained that idea because they wore shorts, walking shorts. But the funny thing is, they'd wear socks with garters, you know. You see a guy walk around with socks and then the shorts, and the guys are kind of comical sight. But the people that you really felt sorry for were these people, overseas Japanese that returned from, like I say, from Southeast Asia, China, Manchuria, Taiwan. They came back with nothing but the clothing on their back. And...

gky: Are you okay?

SN: Yeah, I'm okay. I'll be all right.

gky: When you think about the MIS and being in the war, what kind of contribution do you think you made? I mean, not only individually, but on a broader basis. You know, for example, what you did during the war may have had some influence on American public perception of Japanese Americans.

SN: The thing about the MIS...

gky: Could you just move up a little bit?

SN: Oh. The thing about the MIS...

gky: I'm sorry, would you start again.

SN: ...and everything they did do in the war...

gky: Can you just start it over? I stepped on you when you were talking.

SN: Oh. The contribution of the Nisei, how it influenced the general public after the war. What I'm saying is that everything that the MIS did during the war was kept secret until the 1970s, and so that's a long time there to more or less suppress what the Nisei had done. So I don't know how it became that classified material, and whatever they call it, was taken away, the status of being secret documents and all that sort of thing, that what the Nisei had done didn't become public until after that. But by that time, I thought it lost its impact.

gky: I forgot to ask one question about Japan. Did it smell different? I mean, you told me about how it looked, but did it smell different, or were the people -- how were the people, people's faces, or people's attitudes, Japanese attitudes?

SN: I think initially, of course, they, like any defeated people, they'd be apprehensive of the conqueror, right. But, right away, MacArthur ordered that, you know, these people are a defeated people and we shouldn't gloat over it, and treat them like what we are, that we are all human beings. So immediately after the war when MacArthur took over, you know, actually run the government or whatever, that they thought he was a god, really. Because I don't think no one could have done a better job than MacArthur in the restoration of Japan. And then when MacArthur was removed by Truman during the Korean War, they couldn't believe it that something like that could happen to MacArthur.

gky: You said that usually you would be apprehensive about whatever, if you were a conquered country, usually you'd be apprehensive about the conquering country coming in.

SN: Yeah.

gky: Do you think that because they were Nisei, they were people with Japanese relatives there, they were people that looked the same or had some kind of, some of your cultural, you shared some cultural background, traits. Do you think that would have made them any less apprehensive?

SN: Who was apprehensive, the Japanese people?

gky: The Japanese people.

SN: Well, when you look at the overall population, not that many people had Nisei as relatives. You know, maybe one out of 10,000 had a cousin, or a brother, or whatever here in America. So that population ratio never -- having a Nisei as a relative, you know, numerically, it didn't happen that much.

gky: Any last thoughts about...

SN: I know, for instance, that when I got to Japan and I wrote to my dad to please send some food, or whatever, to my cousins or my uncles or anything. So my dad and mom, they sent through me some stuff for our relatives. The relatives later on told me that neighbors were really envious of them, because at that particular time, most of them are half starved, really, literally. That they had a relative that could provide them with food, or whatever, that they really need, clothing that they need.

gky: That's sad, huh?

SN: It really is. It was a sorry mess, postwar in Japan.

gky: And, what changed it? I mean, the first time as an adult that I went to Japan was in 1970, and I would have never believed the pictures I've seen.

SN: I think what, that really kicked off, stimulated the Japanese economy was the Korean War. Because, here was, Japan was capable of manufacturing anything, and if they manufactured in Japan it would save time than manufacturing it over here then shipping it over to Korea, you know, like whatever, you know, army material and all that sort of thing. That really started up the Japanese economy, was the Korean War.

gky: Huh, interesting. Well, what's good for Peter isn't necessarily good for Paul.

SN: No.

gky: Anything else?

SN: No, I think I more than had my say. [Laughs]

gky: Okay. Thank you very much.

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