Densho Digital Archive
Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre Collection
Title: Mitsu Ito Interview
Narrator: Mitsu Ito
Interviewer: Mary Ito
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Date: March 23, 2005
Densho ID: denshovh-imitsu-01-0012

<Begin Segment 12>

Mary I: And then what happened when you got to Hiroshima?

Mitsu I: When I got to Hiroshima... in Japan, there's a police station right beside the railway station. There's always a police station and a policeman there. So I went to the police box and asked him, "Where do I find the British Army?" He says, "You get on that train, and go to Kure, Kaitaichi. Kaitaichi, and then there's a camp there. You might get a job there." So I got on the train going to Kure, and when it came to Kaitachi, I just got off and went to the police box right by the station and asked him, "Where is the camp?" And he says, "It's over there," so I went over there, and there was a security guard, a soldier at the gate, and he says, "What can I do for you?" Says, "I want to, I'm looking for a job." So he called the man who was in charge of labor, and he came out to see me, and he says, "You speak English?" Says, "Yeah." "Where'd you come from?" I said, "Canada." "Where?" "Mission." And he looked at me and he says, "Mission, that's where I come from." And I told him, "My name is Ito," and he knew who we were. And he gave me a job.

Mary I: What kind of job was it?

Mitsu I: Interpreter. We'd translate Japanese into English. But I don't know, I spoke some Japanese so I was able to translate Japanese into English.

Mary I: It wasn't too difficult for you to do that?

Mitsu I: No. I couldn't write or anything or read, but speaking was all right. But there was a Japanese man there that graduated from Tokyo University. He was very good translating from Japanese to English, English to Japanese, but his speaking was, wasn't very good at all. So I had him do the translation, I'd do the speaking.

Mary I: That sounds like a good job. Was that a good job?

Mitsu I: It was really good. It was really good. It was the military police, and we went out every day with two soldiers, and went into Hiroshima looked around to see if there's any trouble or anything like that. We just went from Hiroshima up to Okayama, Fukuyama, just to make sure that there's no trouble. Police work.

Mary I: Yeah. So, were you the only one who did this? What happened to your other brothers? They didn't join you?

Mitsu I: They came afterwards and they got a job with the British Army, but it was in another small town next to Kaitaichi. They all worked for the British.

Mary I: So you traveled around a bit in this job?

Mitsu I: I did, yes.

Mary I: So what, what sense did you get with postwar Japan and the occupation and the U.S. there? What was it like to have the U.S. there now?

Mitsu I: Well, in those days, Hiroshima was really flat, there was nothing there. You could smell the burnt-out houses, there was nothing standing at all. Now it's really, you'd never know that it was bombed.

Mary I: What about as far as military presence? Was that obvious all the time everywhere you went, or what sense did you get about the military?

Mitsu I: They were there ten years, and well, when the Korean War started, the Canadian army came, and they, Kure was used as a base for the Korean War. So they used to go to Korea and then come back to Kure for a holiday, and then go back. And when the Korean War ended, they were there for a little while and they closed the camp. After ten years there they closed the camp and they all went home. But the Americans are still there, and not far from Hiroshima, Iwakuni, the air force is still there. And they offered me a job there, but I decided I'd go back to Canada. I thought it might be better if I went back to Canada.

Mary I: Why did you think Canada would be better?

Mitsu I: I guess I just wanted to... well, Japan is all right, but I think if you're gonna work for somebody, I think Canada is better.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2005 Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre and Densho. All Rights Reserved.