Densho Digital Archive
gayle k. yamada Collection
Title: Roy Takai Interview
Narrator: Roy Takai
Interviewer: gayle k. yamada
Location: El Macero, California
Date: October 20, 2000
Densho ID: denshovh-troy-01

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

<Begin Segment 1>

gky: Okay, the date is October 20th, the year 2000. We're talking with Roy Takai. R-O-Y, T-A-K-A-I, in El Macero, California. Roy, can you tell me first, you were in Poston internment camp; your parents were both interned?

RT: My father was interned in the Justice Department detention center at Bismarck, North Dakota. My stepmother was interned at Poston with me.

gky: And you were an only child, correct?

RT: I was the only child for my father. I had a stepbrother who was also incarcerated at Poston.

gky: When you decided to be recruited and go with the MIS, how did they come to recruit you?

RT: Initially, there was a notice put out by the security officer at Poston that they were recruiting for volunteers to attend the intelligence school at Camp Savage, and shortly thereafter it came of recruiters, including one major and two Nisei sergeants came to Poston and started to give us examinations to determine whether or not we knew enough Japanese to attend the school.

gky: What kind of exams did they give you?

RT: The examination was very elementary. And they first asked you to read the Japanese and then they asked you to translate the Japanese into English. And then they started to ask you questions in both Japanese and in English, and they determined through that method whether or not you knew enough Japanese.

gky: How many people went from Poston with you to be recruited?

RT: There were, altogether, eight of us -- three from Camp I, Poston, two from Camp II, and two from Camp III, and there was one other individual from Camp I who was not a qualified linguist but he volunteered anyway.

gky: How did your parents and your peers react when you told them you were going to be going to fight for the country that had put them in camp?

RT: The people that I associated with were all happy that I was volunteering for the military. There was only one or two Kibeis, people who were educated in Japan, who were not receptive to the idea that I was going into the military to fight against Japan.

gky: You had a kendo instructor who told you that the clash between the United States and Japan was coming. Can you talk a little bit about that? Maybe you could start with he told you we were going to come to war with Japan.

RT: When I was about ten years old, my father forced me to take kendo lessons, and during the kendo lessons, the instructor always set aside a period of time to lecture to us. He told us that he had described what kendo was all about, that it was the way of the samurai, the "Way of the Warrior," and that there was certain ethics that were very important. And he said that one of the duties that we all had was to serve our country, loyalty to our country. And he said that eventually Japan and the United States would clash and that it would be a traumatic moment for most of us, because our parents were Japanese, and he said that no matter what happens, you must remember that you are American citizens. "You were born in America, you were educated in America, you had really no allegiance to Japan even though your parents were from there," and he admonished us that we should fight for the our country of birth. In other words, fight for the United States. And I remember those words when the recruiter came and it was no problem for me, because I had this kendo training and through this instructor.

gky: It's a little bit hard for me to understand, and maybe you can help me understand that on the one hand you're learning a sport that's a Japanese sport and you're learning a code that's a Japanese way of living, and yet you're going to apply it to living in America and being an American?

RT: Well, see, kendo in itself translates to "Way of the Sword." Kendo is a martial arts, Bushido. Bushido also means the "Way of the Warrior." The, the kendo instructor was trying to give us the way of the, the way the samurai lived, his ethics, his code, and as it applies to everyday living, for example, he said that the...

gky: He said that...

RT: Yeah. He said that the...

gky: Did he talk about the Way of the Sword?

RT: No, he talked about what obligations we had to our instructor, to our parents, to our country, and he said, for example, he told us, "Never bring shame to the family. Always give your thanks to those who taught you. Always remember that you are an American and that you should be loyal to your country."

gky: How did that make you feel? You, when you talked to your friends, when you talked to Kibei, when you talked to other Nisei?

RT: Well it didn't make me feel bad or good. It's the way I was taught and I believed what the instructor said, and there was no problem as far as my feelings were concerned.

gky: Do you feel that your Japanese-American upbringing helped or hindered you in understanding the Japanese psychology, or maybe your hakujin friends might feel one way but you'd feel another way because you're Japanese American? In other words, how did your being Japanese American either change or influence your thinking of Japan, your thinking of the Japanese people when you were going to go and battle against them?

RT: Well, it was... it didn't cross my mind that I would be fighting any one individual. It was a question of serving our country, fighting for our country, and even though the enemy was the country of my parents, I had no individual contact with those who served in the Japanese military. It was just a question of defending our own country.

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

<Begin Segment 2>

gky: When you went to Camp Savage, what was it like? Can you describe physically the camp?

RT: Camp Savage is a, used to be an old man's home and they converted it into an army camp, and it was isolated. It was eighteen miles south of Minneapolis. There were very few people in the, Minnesota who knew about the camp. It was a very lonely place, and the training was very stringent. We had to study a normal eight hours a day, and after supper we had to study two more hours in the classroom. So every day we studied about ten hours a day, and we had to learn fifty new Chinese characters a day. It was a very, very hard training. And coming directly out of camp, military life was strange to us to begin with, and it was tougher on those who went directly to Camp Savage without any army training.

gky: You were also a kid from California. This must have been the first time you were in weather as cold as Minnesota.

RT: Yes. The climate was very, very cold there and every Wednesday we used to be given a half a day off to go into Minneapolis to bowl and to have recreation. And one Wednesday, it got so cold and it snowed so much that no one could make it back to Camp Savage. It got that cold, and it was very miserable for those of us in California who were used to a nice climate.

gky: Were you one of the people who went to the latrines at night to study?

RT: No, I didn't have to do that. I know that there were quite a number who did that, but I managed to get through my lessons and learn enough so that I didn't have to go through the latrine at night to study.

gky: What was, what class were you in at Camp Savage?

RT: What class we were in, the class that started at Camp Savage in December 1942, and there were approximately twenty-five different classes. And I was in Class 9, nine out of twenty-five that -- top linguists were in Class 1 and the poorest linguists were in Class 25.

gky: So you were in about the middle?

RT: A little above middle, yeah. Nine out of twenty-five.

gky: Okay. In June, '43, you went to Camp Shelby to do basic training?

RT: Yes.

gky: Can you talk a little about that?

RT: After we completed our training at Camp Savage, all those of us who had no army training previously were sent to Camp Shelby to undergo basic infantry training. And we were sent there, approximately 125 of us were sent there and we went through basic training with the members of the 442nd there. They formed a special company and called it "Company S," which was very unusual, they had no Company S infantry designation of the U.S. Army, but they named us Company S because of Camp Savage or because of the school.

gky: Was training, was basic training hard?

RT: Basic training was very difficult for us because it was a rush job. They wanted to give us enough training so that if we were sent to the combat, so we would know we would be able to survive and defend ourselves. They made us take the same training that the members of the 442nd were taking and that was really hard, hard training.

gky: What was the hardest thing that you remember?

RT: The hardest thing I can remember is the forced marches. You wear a full field pack, you carry a full weapon, and you go on marches. And you have to cover a certain number of miles within a certain number, in a certain period of time, and that is very tough unless you're really physically trained to do something like that.

gky: When you first were shipped out, you went to Miami. What was that like going to Miami as opposed to the West Coast?

RT: It was kind of a surprise to us that our team was sent to Miami. We were not told where we were going, except that we were going to Miami, and we arrived in Miami and we expected to go somewhere in Miami, someplace overseas. We didn't know where, and we discovered, they discovered that we had not taken yellow fever shots, and we could not ship out for at least two weeks after we took our yellow fever shot. So we were stationed there in Miami, waiting to be shipped out, and we -- even though we were all equivalent and non-commissioned officers, we had to do kitchen duty, KP duty, and regular duty that all privates had to do in Miami. So it was quite an experience for us.

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

<Begin Segment 3>

gky: You went to New Delhi; what did you expect to do when you went there?

RT: We arrived in New Delhi, India, from Miami. And when we got to New Delhi, we expected to go to work in some kind of a unit but, to our surprise when we got there, there was no place for us to work. They had no office space, so we had to work at night after the daytime crew finished their work. So for the initial several months there, we worked always at night. One of the offices that we worked in belonged to Commodore Markey. Commodore is a one-star admiral during wartime, and he is a famous producer in Hollywood because he was married to Hedy LaMarr, and he was a very meticulous person, and if you even left a piece of scrap paper or anything after you used his desk at night, he would let you know about it the next day. He was very, very meticulous.

gky: How did that make you feel? Here you're working in the dead of night, and everybody else is doing their work during normal hours, did you realize what you were doing? Was that supposed to a secret?

RT: Oh, I knew that the work we were doing was secret. Actually, we were assigned to a unit called the "Joint Intelligence Collection Agency," and we were translating Japanese documents at night there, and the only apprehension that I had was that it was strange that they rushed us by air to get there, and when we got there, they have no real office space for us. It was hard to understand why all the rush to get there.

gky: This is the end of 1943?

RT: This is October 1943, right.

gky: What were the -- did you translate any diaries as well? I know there were a lot of diaries that came off of dead soldiers bodies.

RT: Yes. We translated diaries. However, the diaries we translated were mostly in the battlefield. The documents we translated at New Delhi were more of a strategic value, and the diaries are more value to the combat people in a tactical zone, because the Japanese soldiers were not given training in security, and they wrote down everything that they saw, their feelings, they even talked about where they were going to next, who their commanders were; they had no discipline as far as writing diaries. The U.S. Army would not permit their soldiers to take a diary into a combat zone. But the Japanese were different. We gained a great deal of information from these diaries.

gky: Would you explain a little bit about the difference between tactical and strategic information?

RT: Tactical information is that information which is required immediately in a combat zone to fulfill your mission. Strategic information is that information which relates to what the country may be planning, or more about the industrial powers, their military buildup and so forth. It's a long range information. It's not of immediate value. It's information that they used for bombing say a Japanese city where they know that there's an aircraft plant there, or an ammunition plant somewhere. There's a difference. Tactical is that information that's immediately required in combat, and strategic information is that information that would be of use at a later date.


gky: Okay, this is tape two with Roy Takai on October 20, the year 2000. Roy, what do you mean when you say documents?

RT: Documents -- documents could be maps, it could be orders, military orders, it could be a roster of the unit including officers, and enlisted men. It could be diaries, it could mean that's about all, I guess.

gky: Do you remember anything in particular in translating a diary, what it said to you? Anything particularly touching, touching passages in any diaries?

RT: Well, there were many diaries where the Japanese soldier would be reflecting on his absence from home, and he's wondering what the family would be doing in Japan, and what the children, how the children are growing up, and so forth. It was kind of odd to us because, as I previously stated, the U.S. Army does not permit diaries to be taken in a combat zone, and there's a good reason it, because when you write things in the diary, especially about your fellow officers or the unit, you're giving away much information when those diaries are captured and translated. For example, when they talk about a certain officer, say, Captain Tanaka of such-and-such organization, that information is very valuable because gives us information which we can build to determine what kind of forces are opposing us, what size unit. The rank will tell us what size unit. The name of the individual will tell us exactly what company, so forth. It's strange to me why the Japanese would allow writing of diaries in a combat zone.

gky: Okay, Ken is going to adjust something. How did that make you feel reading someone's diary? I mean, that's very personal.

RT: Yeah. That's very personal, how reading somebody's diary is very personal, but you have to remember this is a combat zone, and you're not concerned about whether you're violating somebody's feelings. That person probably is no longer living in many cases. In many cases, diaries are picked up from dead soldiers. There, if you had such a concern, you would never be able to look at a diary, but this is in combat, so it's an exception.

gky: Did you feel that because they were Japanese people's diaries that you could get a sense of where they were at home, or get a feeling for them that made them closer to you?

RT: Well, I never got the feeling that these people were close to me. I knew that they were Japanese, that they were people from the country of my parents, but it never occurred to me that I should feel close to me. They were my enemy. They were shooting at us. They were killing Americans and they were killing our allies, and unless -- it might be different because I had no brothers or close relatives who were in the Japanese military fighting against us as far as I knew.

gky: So it really didn't make any difference to you that you and the Japanese had the same face? It was not a matter of loyalty, does not have to do with a matter of race?

RT: Right.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

gky: Can you talk a little bit about going to SEATIC [Southeast Asia Translation and Interrogation Center] and what that was like; how that was different for you from working in New Delhi?

RT: Well, what actually happened was in March, prior to March of 1944, Sergeant Osako and I were sent to the British forces in Imphal, Burma, and we were assigned to a British unit and we were there until approximately July of 1944. There we were completely surrounded by the Japanese forces and we were under siege for the longest time. When we were finally sent back to India, we learned that they had formed an organization called the "Southeast Asian Translation Interrogation Center," and this was an allied organization quite similar to the ATIS [Allied Translator and Interpreter Service] in the Southwest and in the Pacific. They had British officers, Indian officers, American officers, and men, and it was a allied intelligence organization commanded by an American colonel with a British lieutenant colonel as the executive officer, the next officer in command, and it was quite an experience for us, because our working habits are different.

Americans worked from early in the morning and went right through to lunch, and from lunch we worked until closing time. The British, they have what is known as "tiffin." They take time off to have tea at ten o'clock, they have tea at around two o'clock, and they work about the same hours as we do, except they take off more for teatime, and then they have their supper way late, about eight o'clock, whereas we have our dinner around six o'clock. So our working habits were very different, and it was quite an experience. This phenomena even occurred in a combat zone. We would be traveling down from one area to another and when it came tea time the convoy would stop and the British would have their tea and would not continue until after tea. And this was very strange to us because American forces did not take off for coffee or tea.

gky: Was that the most different thing for you?

RT: Oh, there were other differences. There was a greater distinction between officers and enlisted men. In the U.S. Army and officers would ensure that their men are served their meals before they take their meals. The British officers had no regard as far as that was concerned. I guess their sergeant major was supposed to take care of the enlisted personnel. Another difference is even in a combat zone, the British officers would have a orderly, or they called them batman, B-A-T-M-A-N, and the batman would boil their hot water and they would take care of their officers. In the American army, in the combat zone, there's no such thing as an orderly assigned to an officer. Strange as it seems, the British even have a folding canvas bath of small canvas, piece of canvas that folds up and the batman boils the hot water and puts it into the small folding canvas bag and the British officer bathed in that water that was boiled by the batman. The British soldiers and officers are quite different in their habits than the Americans.

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

<Begin Segment 5>

gky: When you went to Burma, one of the main things you did was interrogation. What was an interrogation like? For example, do you remember your first interrogation?

RT: Yes. Our first interrogation was conducted on a army private, a Japanese army private, who was wounded and captured by the British and we interrogated him. My partner and I interrogated him. He had very little information. He was a private. He didn't have a diary, he apparently was not too educated. He knew very, very little. We interrogated him for hours, but since he was the first prisoner captured by the British in Imphal, and we got very little out of that individual. We had him in a barbed wire enclosure and in a small hut there, and we wired the hut and when we captured the next prisoner, we put the two together and we listened to their conversations, and even then, he had very, very little information of any military value. The only thing they talked about was the loss of morale. The morale was not high at that time in the Japanese army.

Another prisoner, I had only one Japanese prisoner who asked me whether I was a Nisei, second-generation Japanese, and I was curious as to why he was asking. No other Japanese ever asked me that question. He said that his name was Nakata, and we had a roster and we looked at the roster and there was no Nakata. However, there was a Tanaka, and this guy Tanaka was a higher-ranked individual than Nakata. And what the individual did was Nakata, when turned upside down, when you put the Ta on top it becomes Tanaka. So what he did, he reversed his name and reversed the Japanese characters and was passing, trying to pass himself off as Nakata. Also, we had some prisoners who tried to conceal their identity by giving you a famous Japanese actor's name, for example, Takata Kokiji. Takata Kokiji in those days was a well-known Japanese actor, movie actor, and when you first ask this individual, "What is your name?" He says, "Takata Kokiji." And so I said to him, I said, "How is your Shochiku movie company doing these days?" And that took him by surprise because I knew who Takata Kokiji was, and...

gky: Can you think of any other anecdotes that you might have about an interrogation? Anyone that was particularly difficult or particularly memorable, where the prisoner was particularly memorable or told you something interesting?

RT: Yeah. We had one prisoner during the siege of Imphal, there was a question of whether or not the Japanese were going to overwhelm us. All they took, the British intelligence told us that if the Japanese brought in another battalion of troops, it might turn the balance of the battle there, and we had just captured a prisoner who was wounded, and was in pretty bad shape, and the major in charge, the British major in charge, asked me to interrogate the prisoners to determine whether or not there were any new units coming, had come into the area. I told the major that the guy was in such poor shape that if I questioned it, he would probably die, and the major said to me, "Well, that may be so, but our need for the information is greater than the life of one Japanese soldier, so interrogate him." So I interrogated the individual and couldn't get any information on any new troops in the area, and he died the next day. But in time of war, you have to do what must be done.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

gky: What was the most difficult thing for you being in the MIS?

RT: What was the question?

gky: What was the hardest thing for you being in the MIS?

RT: Hardest thing for me in MIS?

gky: Uh-huh.

RT: Well, I think the hardest moment in the MIS was when I visited, with my stepsister, a relative of hers in Hiroshima Prefecture. The stepsister's aunt asked me where I had served during the war. This is during the Occupation of Japan. And I told her I was in China, Burma, India. Specifically, I spent more time in Burma, and my aunt said to me, she said, "Our second son" -- they only had two sons -- she says, "Our second son was killed at Burma." And that was an awful time for me.

gky: That must have been one of the hardest things about...

RT: When you're confronted with something like that, it really gets to you, but when you're in the combat zone, you don't know. You don't have any knowledge that your relatives might be in the area, and even if they were in the area, you didn't know them, you know, personally know them. So the feelings are different when my stepsister's aunt told me that. I felt very bad for her because, you know, it sounded like we had been responsible for her son's death, which we probably had nothing to do with as far as we individually. Collectively, maybe so.

gky: Did you ever have any sense that you were, what you were doing was helping the United States win the war?

RT: Do I have any sense that...

gky: When you went back, back then, you were sitting at a desk translating things, or you were out in the field interrogating a prisoner, did you have a sense of what you were lending to the war effort for the United States?

RT: I hope so. I volunteered to fight for my country. I hope that I felt that we were accomplishing something, when we interrogated prisoners when we were translating documents and so forth. We were helping to defeat the enemy and helping our country.

gky: Was there ever any one point where it felt like America was going to win, where there was not a question that Japan would lose?

RT: Well, in Burma, it was pretty obvious that we were winning the war because the Japanese forces that attacked Burma and was ultimately trying to invade India -- they misjudged the monsoon season. A monsoon is the rainy season, and when it rains in Burma, in that part of the country, nothing moves. It's very difficult to transport food, ammunition, or anything. So what you must to do is to live on the land, and the Japanese misjudged the monsoon season, and they tried to surround the Imphal supply area of the British, but the monsoon season actually caused them to retreat. They could no longer sustain their combat operations and they started to retreat. So we knew that we had beaten the Japanese there and we actually followed the Japanese until they moved out of Burma into Thailand and into Indochina, French Indochina at that time.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

gky: Okay, this is tape three with Roy Takai on October 20th, the year 2000. Okay, what did the prisoners physically look like?

RT: The prisoners in Burma -- by and large, the prisoners that we captured in Burma were wounded prisoners. They had been in Burma for quite some time. They were not fed well, they were mostly very -- they were not in good physical condition. They were very poor physical condition, and consequently, their morale was very low. They were very poorly clothed also.

gky: Can we talk a little about Maizuru now? What did you do?

RT: Well, Maizuru, in October 1946, I was assigned to the Central Interrogation Section of ATIS in Tokyo, Japan, and in December 1946, we got word that the Russians were going to repatriate the first group of Japanese to -- from their area to Japan. So the Allied forces and the Americans, specifically, in Japan decided to set up a port of entry in Hakodate, Hokkaido, Maizuru, in Kyoto Prefecture, and at Hariyo in Nagasaki Prefecture. They assigned me to... assigned me and one other officer, and ten enlisted men to go to Maizuru, in Kyoto prefecture, to process the group of repatriates to be sent there. We went to Maizaru, reported to the intelligence officer of the 35th Infantry Regiment, who had jurisdiction over the area, and we set up a screening procedure to screen the repatriates to determine whether or not they had any potential information which might be of ultimate use on a strategic level to our country, and also to determine whether or not there were people among the repatriates, who would cause harm to either the occupation or to the Japanese government. At that time, we only handled the first boatload, shipload of repatriates, which numbered anywhere in the neighborhood of 1,500 to 2,000 people. The Japanese Demobilization Bureau is a Japanese agency who housed and who provided logistics for the Japanese repatriates while they were there. These repatriates were happy to be back to Japan. They suffered quite a bit in Soviet-controlled areas, and specifically in Manchuria, in that area.

Then in February 1947, after we returned to Tokyo, the Allied, the U.S. formed a intelligence team again to be sent to Maizuru, and they put, they had a command unit commanded by Lieutenant Gary Otoshi of Hawaii, and he had a sergeant to assist him. They had two interrogation units each, with a linguist language officer, and enlisted, one enlisted man each to assist them. They had an interpreter's unit with one officer and one enlisted man, and they had a translation unit which I took over with my enlisted assistants. In other words, there were five officers and five enlisted men in this intelligence team. We were -- each unit was provided with a jeep and trailer, weapons, and other equipment required to fulfill our mission. In other words, typewriters, folding desks, and so forth. We drove from Osaka to Maizuru, and again reported to the intelligence officer of the infantry regiment. There, we set up the screening procedures again, and we handled the repatriates as they returned to Japan. The other two ports were similarly manned by the U.S. MIS individuals.

gky: Do you remember any anecdotes, any stories? What is your most memorable experience at Maizuru?

RT: Well, Maizaru was a different experience because it was a type of questioning that would try to draw out from the repatriates whether they had information of value to us. What was happening was we would screen the repatriates in Maizuru, and if we felt that they had sufficient information to be debriefed later, we would earmark those individuals. At some time in the future, say six months or maybe even a year later, they would be called to the Central Interrogation Section in Tokyo and would be given a thorough debriefing, intelligence debriefing. So our, our experience in Maizuru was a very short and brief questioning of these individuals, and we finally, after some experience, started to work harder on individuals who were detained in certain areas; certain areas where we knew that they had information of strategic value to us. I cannot recall of any information which sticks in my mind as being different from other repatriates. It was straight questioning and nothing too different happened to us. The only thing that I know is that Captain Ono, Gene Ono, who later commanded an intelligence unit at Maizuru, worked so closely with the repatriates that he contracted tuberculosis and he had to be medically evacuated back to the United States. Many of these repatriates were emaciated and had lived under such terrible conditions for so long that they contacted tuberculosis. And unknown to us, who worked closely interrogating them, there were many tuberculosis patients among them. There was no time at the Maizuru, unless they were spitting blood or obviously was very sick, that these people had tuberculosis. Recently, Captain Gene Ono was honored by the Japanese government for his work there in Maizuru.

gky: Did you feel the work at Maizuru -- how did you feel it was important in helping America and the allies after the war?

RT: Well, the work at Maizuru was very important in that we were able to, after being selected at Maizuru and being debriefed in Tokyo, we were able to collect a great deal of strategic-type information, which we had never had before the... Siberia is a very unknown area, was a very unknown area to us, and the Japanese were stationed in certain locations along the Trans-Siberian railroad line, and they were able to observe many, many things of value to us. Not only were they able to observe, they lived in that area and they talked to the people living in that area and we in the interrogation center in Tokyo had a unit called "Town Plans." And they would select a certain town and then they would collect information about that town, especially if it was of military value. A town where there were Soviet troops, I think, like this, and Maizuru was a screening point, and it was valuable because if you were not able to select these people for intelligence debriefing at a later date, you would miss all that information. Also, although another organization in the U.S. Army took care of the people who did not have the best interests of the occupation, or Japan, in their minds. They were placed under a surveillance in some instances, the Japanese police had them under surveillance, and they were watched so that they could do no harm or threaten the Occupation of Japan or cause any harm to the Japanese.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

gky: Roy, how did you feel being a Nisei in Japan after the war?

RT: Well, I felt that we were doing good for the Japanese people by our presence there, and being able to communicate between the Americans and the Japanese. It was a -- I knew that the Japanese didn't look too kindly upon the sons and daughters of immigrants, Japanese immigrants, but that didn't bother me. We were there to do a job for the U.S. government, and regardless of our individual feelings, regardless of their feelings toward us, we did our best to promote the best interests of both countries.

gky: How do you feel that the military service, being in it when you were pretty, at a pretty impressionable age, it must have influenced you because you stayed in the military until 1966, for twenty-four years; how would you say the military intelligence service most influenced your life? [phone rings] Now you want to go back to the question about the Japanese?

RT: Yeah.

gky: Okay.

RT: There's one bit of information I'd like to give regarding my Japanese relatives. I have a cousin in Hiroshima Prefecture, his name is Takoro Takai. He's a paternal cousin of mine. His father and my father were brothers. He is the only surviving son in the family. His oldest son was lost at sea as a merchant marine, his second brother was a Japanese army lieutenant who was killed in Manchuria, his third brother was a kamikaze pilot and he died in the South Pacific somewhere, I don't know where. So there were four boys in the family. Out of the four boys, three died for their country. The only reason Takoro did not serve is because he was too young at the time of World War II, and Takoro told me this when I visited him. None of these cousins of mine were killed in Burma, China, or India. It's true that, like me working for the American army, they work for the Japanese, and there of course I had some feelings for the family, but while in combat, or in wartime, you don't really think about that unless you know that a close relative, like a brother, is in the Japanese army, you know. So I really felt bad for the family.

gky: That's really -- it's really hard. I mean it's hard because you are, you do need to be kind of objective about this, and yet, it's your family.

RT: Yeah. Well....

gky: Even if you didn't know them well.

RT: You asked me why, what attracted me to stay in the U.S. Army for twenty-four years. I, seriously, in 1946 thought of getting out of the army and taking a job as a federal employee in Washington, D.C. However, my boss at the time, who was also my boss at SEATIC in India, offered me a civilian job in Washington and he, however, said -- I was also contemplating on returning to college at that time -- and he said to me, he says, "You don't want to become an engineer. My brother's an engineer, and all he does is work over a drafting table all day long. Why don't you either stay in the army or take the civilian job I'm going to offer you?" About that time, a friend of mine had just come back from a special assignment in Japan, and he told me and my friends that they were so in need of people in Japan to work for the U.S. Army. So he said he was going back and he encouraged us to go back. So I decided to go to Japan to take a look at what kind of work they were doing in Japan, and after I got to Japan, I realized that I could do more good, probably working in Japan, and in the army than by getting out and either going back to school or working as a federal employee, civilian federal employee. So I decided to stay in the army.

gky: Roy, I have one more question for you. How would you like, you know, when you talk to generations to...

RT: Talk to who?

gky: People who are much younger than you.

RT: Oh, uh-huh.

gky: Sansei or Yonsei.

RT: Uh-huh.

gky: What kind of thing would you want them to remember about your service with the United States government in with military intelligence, about the time that you served?

RT: Well, I'd like them to remember that even in time of stress, even when there was a stigma against Niseis who volunteered to fight for their country, against the country of their parents, although the government did many wrong things to you by incarcerating you in camp, taking your liberties away, that we were able to surmount these difficulties and keep loyal to our country, and to serve the best interests of the United States. And I would like them to remember that if they were faced with a similar situation, that they seriously think about their loyalty to one's country.

gky: Okay, thank you very, very much, Roy. And I just want to get on the tape -- Roy, retired as lieutenant colonel; he served from 1942-1966. Thank you, Roy.

RT: Okay.

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