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_2-01-0020

<Begin Segment 20>

NI: So at the end of the war, did you rejoin your family or what happened to your family?

BH: Well, after the war, I sailed, I took a boat, me and another officer and a sailor, we hired a fishing boat and went to Shikoku.

NI: You hired a fishing boat?

BH: Yeah.

NI: What do you mean?

BH: Well, we hired a fishing boat.

NI: Why, and you wanted to get to Shikoku to see your mother?

BH: Well, it was either taking a long route, a rail route to Shikoku. But rather than do that, my superior officer at Kurashiki, he says, "Well, let's take a, let's hire a fishing boat to take us over. And the fishing boat, you know, it cost us a hundred yen. A hundred yen in those days, the pay, the pay was about... my pay as an officer was about a hundred and fifty a month. But we split it three -- well, actually, the sailor, he didn't pay anything, but my superior officer and myself, we split that, I think. And then we... half a bag a rice. That's how important rice was.

NI: Well, plus, half a bag of rice, hundred yen plus a half a bag of rice.

BH: Well, about fifty pounds of rice. And that's what the farmer, no, the fisherman thing. So we said okay, and he, my superior officer arranged for the fifty-pound rice, and we went to Shikoku and I took the train from Shikoku to my mother's hometown in Ehime-ken.

NI: Did the family settle in Ehime?

BH: No, no, it was only temporary. It was only a temporary thing there, but once I got there, I spent about a week there, and then I decided I should go to Tokyo and meet my brother, and that's how I started out life in postwar Japan.

NI: Did everybody survive the war? Was anybody...

BH: None in my family died, none in my family died.

NI: Okay. So then you went to Tokyo. What happened after that?

BH: Tokyo, why, I already had a job lined up with a construction company at the time of the, when I graduated from technical college. And I went to their headquarters and reported for duty. And at that same time, they told me, says, "Well, you could go to a dam project in Shikoku." And my brother intervened and said that here I knew English, be able to communicate with the American forces. So the president of that company, he took a liking to me and he says, "Okay, you stay here." And I answered his, I replied -- well, I repaid, well, repaid him or I answered his call for a thing. He was looking for a job. The construction company had overseas offices in China, Korea and Manchuria, and he had the obligation to take 'em all back and see that they look after the welfare. But they couldn't do that without any job, and jobs from the government and local governments were hard to go by, you were strapped for cash. But one day, I dropped in to the general headquarters in Tokyo, MacArthur's headquarters, and I was talking to, I happened to run into a lieutenant-colonel there. He says, "Sir" -- well, he came to me and he says, "You looking for a job?" They were looking for a good interpreter. I says, "Yes, I'm looking for some work." He says, "Well, we can use you right away." Says, "No," I says, "I don't mean that. I work for a construction company and I'm trying to see if there's any work the army wants done." Well, at that time, this colonel, lieutenant-colonel in GHQ headquarters, he was in charge of construction of a runway, air-, well, runway in a town called Toyooka that's, that's where the Japanese army had their air cadet school. They had a field there but it was a grass runway, and the Americans wanted a concrete runway. And they were looking for someone to build it for them. Since I knew nothing about the company, nothing about experience, I told him, I says, "Well, could you wait until tomorrow?" Says, "I'll have a bunch of engineers with all the answers." So next day we went -- once I hurried back to the head office and reported back to the president, and he rounded up things. "Well, get him from somewhere," "Get him from somewhere," "Get him from, call him somewhere." They assembled within a day, and we went to, we went to the headquarters together. And it turned out that they wanted to build an airfield in, airfield in this former air cadet school in Toyooka.

NI: So you were more of a...

BH: Liaison.

NI: Liaison between the Americans and the Japanese.

BH: That's right, that's right.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2005 Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre and Densho. All Rights Reserved.