Densho Digital Archive
Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre Collection
Title: Bill Hashizume Interview
Narrator: Bill Hashizume
Interviewer: Norm Ibuki
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Date: October 29, 2005
Densho ID: denshovh-hbill_2-01-0014

<Begin Segment 14>

NI: Let's back up, Mr. Hashizume, to the time when you finished college. And what was happening in Japan at the time?

BH: Well, when I first entered college, Japan military success were at its highest. All right? That's when I entered college. And then soon thereafter, when I was in the second year, they started having problems at the front. Americans rebounded down in Guadalcanal, they were... and of course, during my first year in college, Japan suffered a major setback at Midway which the people, the military authority, naval authorities kept silent. They said that Japan scored a victory with a few minor losses, whereas it was a total lie. Then Doolittle raided Tokyo, that was during my first year. And then second year, things got more worse. Americans were making a counterattack, and they, they captured the Solomon Islands. And during my final year, at the time when I joined the navy, the Americans took back the Philippines. And while during the, while during the, my year in, my nine months in the navy, Okinawa was taken and they were ready for, the country as a whole was ready for a mass invasion of the mainland. When suddenly, well, in August of -- I forgot the date, but the Americans dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and subsequently another one in Nagasaki. I believe the Japanese military authorities, you know, they're hard-headed, they finally came to their senses. The emperor, he was supposed to be the supreme commander. During, during the crucial meeting with him, the emperor, he heard about the casualties in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and he knew that the military were thing. So the military wanted to keep on the war, but the emperor stepped in and says, "No, we're gonna end the war, we're gonna call for the end of the war." And the military, once the emperor made that decision, the military couldn't say boo. Because there were things, the propaganda they were issuing to their people is they were fighting for the emperor, all in the emperor's name. When the emperor says no, that was it. And that's why they, that's why everything came to a halt peacefully. No casualties, no guerilla tactics that usually follow a country's surrender. Everything went peacefully, it's because the emperor said no, everything was done in the name of the emperor, and the civilians, they followed suit.

NI: But when you were growing up, when you were going to school and when you were going to college, as a Canadian guy, did you go with a lot of the propaganda?

BH: Well, yes and no. You know, when I went to Japan, I heard that the emperor was revered as a living god. And a living god, my goodness. He's no different from an ordinary person. And, but my relatives, you know, they warned me. Says, "Don't ever say that, because the special police or the military police are going to come and pick you up." And not only that, it's not myself, it's the full family, and the thing will be in trouble. They wouldn't be able to get good jobs, they wouldn't be able to do business. So, "keep it under your hat," which I did. I didn't want anything to happen to my sisters or my mother, any of my brothers. So I kept it all on my thing, but you know, all this, to me, from a person that went to thing and had, grew up in Mission, in Canada, that seemed to be a lot of hogwash, but I just kept that to myself.

NI: But in your, you felt it was hogwash?

BH: Yeah. But during the, during the war, we sensed that, we get reports of, through the navy bulletin, the navy issued their own bulletin and so forth, which ordinary people don't get. I sensed that pretty soon, when, if the... heck, I never thought that, well, I thought that they'd be fighting to the bitter end with the Americans invading the mainland of Japan. I figured that well, if the time comes, well, what the heck? Probably that would be my last days in this world. But sure, but I never, I never thought that the emperor would step in.

NI: Right. Before that, though, Mr. Hashizume, like when you came to Japan after your father passed away, how did you, was there any feelings of regret about leaving...

BH: Canada?

NI: ...Canada behind.

BH: Well, yes and no. Sure, now I don't have to work on a farm, that was one good thing. Now I'll be able to concentrate on things. But it was hard trying to get assimilated into Japanese society per se. Sure, I had the American mannerisms or Canadian mannerisms which is hard to get rid of all in Japan. Even I have a hard time trying to get rid of it; it's sticking with you.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2005 Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre and Densho. All Rights Reserved.