Densho Digital Archive
gayle k. yamada Collection
Title: Roy Matsumoto Interview
Narrator: Roy Matsumoto
Interviewer: gayle k. yamada
Location: Washington, D.C.
Date: November 8, 2000
Densho ID: denshovh-mroy-02-0014

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gky: When you think about your children, what do you want your children to remember about you and your military service?

RM: I think, well, of course, they're born here. Because one of my daughter was born in Japan on the occupation, but that since I'm Japanese American citizen, so therefore they got automatic citizenship, see. Not adopted, see, my own kid. But so happened that I'm an American so she is. Even though my Japanese, I mean, my wife was a Japanese, but since then she's naturalized, see. So she's an American citizen. But normally, under normal circumstances, I wasn't able to marry my wife, but they made exception. Because on the record I was awarded Legion of Merit enlistment. He did something for the country, see. So he's a loyal American, not a traitor, because he risk his life to do the saving, things like that. So they made exception. They told me, normal circumstance I won't be able to marry because her family, one of the brother got killed in the Philippine, and the younger brother got captured in Manchuria and sent to Siberia. So they're very bitter about America. And they've been indoctrinated, then there's a "devil," you know, English and Americans in Japanese term, they call us a "devil" and so forth. So they hate Americans. That way they're indoctrinated see, they're brainwashed. Then they made a background thing, those things stand out. They know because official record, you know, the family, see. Then I want to marry so they made a background to see whether she is a sympathizer of the Communist idea or a criminal record or she was a street girl, whatever. So happen that her family is a doctor's family and they're both a medical officer, but they made, he was a major in Japanese medical corps. Make a, led a, make a banzai charge, even the medical officer then got killed in Philippine. So same thing lot of people bitter about it, because lot of discrimination going on. Maybe they're careful about it. For instance, two of my brothers were Japanese army, but they have to demand that he do the right thing. They check up on him.

gky: Were your brothers -- two of them were in the Japanese army. Are they American citizens, or Japanese citizens?

RM: Yeah, born in America and they never denounce it, see. But the thing is, they were inducted into, drafted into Japanese army, yet do the good job, do 'em, promote 'em, see. Because in the heart, might have a sympathize American. But they cannot betray because they check their work. For instance, say that's a translation. Of course, you could do the right translation, otherwise the Japanese, they understand English too. They know you mistranslate, see. Then you're not doing the job or not capable doing. Same thing happened to my cousin, Perry Omoto, probably I mention first time the taping. But just prior to war broke out, he was attending UCLA, University of California at Los Angeles, and he was born in Compton, and kind of far to commute, so he stayed with me, my apartment I had rented. So he was using my car. The reason that I had my company car, I used that. Then he used my car and commute. In the weekend, he went home. Then he was majoring in engineering. So the thing that pissed me off is the Japanese consular general's office came down there, then asked him, his family, "How would you like to go as an exchange student, tuition paid, and room and board, free?" But they had ulterior motive there. They're going to use them. Because he went to Compton Saturday school, the farmer family, so instead of Sunday's the Sabbath, but for the farmer, as you know, is Saturday is a holiday, so they have Saturday school there. He never been Japan. But he was a pretty smart kid, you know, engineering UCLA and attended Japanese school, so fluent Japanese, never been there in Japan. So, in other words, they give him a bait and he just hooked on that. So went there, then supposed to be in Japan. But what they saying was went to Dailin, that's technical college there. As soon as he went there, they conscripted him, Japanese government, because he's a citizenship they consider he's Japanese national. So I asked what it did because this one, I didn't know at the time, because since the war started and he was supposed to be in Japan, but I didn't know he was in the army, see. Then when the war ended, I was involved in war crime trial, so, like I mentioned last time, I screen the people to pick up suspect and material witnesses. And going through the unit roster and passenger list and found this Omoto name there. So I looked down where the domicile was and there was Hiroshima. So I knew right away it was my cousin. So I went to see him. Then I asked him what he'd do, put him in intelligence. He shouldn't say, but since we're cousins, see. I'm an American so at heart he's an American, too. He just been studying there, then conscript, and he's very mad about, but he have to do his job because his superior know the English and then he make a translation, he checks up, see. So he cannot cross. So you have to do your best. And what he did was he was intercepting the air-to-ground or air-to-air communication, those pilots, those fighter pilots, do communication and radio, you know, voice communication. So interrupt there then other people, they talk too fast so no ordinary people understand English but couldn't make out, but this American, 100 percent pure American, he understand. He said the sad part is he have to translate exactly what it is. He cannot lie. They find out and he'd be punished.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.