Densho Digital Archive
National Japanese American Historical Society Collection
Title: Takashi Matsui Interview
Narrator: Takashi Matsui
Interviewer: Marvin Uratsu
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 12, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-mtakashi-02-0024

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MU: Okay, now let's get back to your assignment in Yokohama. You, what was your assignment there?

TM: After I went there in '46, and after my active duty was coming to an end, I had a choice of either coming back to the U.S. or stay there, and then lot of friends of mine were staying in Japan. They had lots of job for civilians and the army, too, but we were paid more by being a civilian so I hunted around for jobs. And they wanted me in Tokyo and couple of other places, but the one in Yokohama sounded the best. And so I took this war crimes trial investigator's job from something like 19 -- I believe -- 47, June of '47. So my active duty terminated sometime in May, went to Zama for the separation. I had a, I had a commission by then, first lieutenant, but I gave it up and stayed in the reserves from June, and I had some leave which I didn't take, so in the beginning I was getting all kinds of money. You know, new civilian job, and I used the leave money which they paid me cash, and I started to send money to my wife, and she thought I was gambling.

MU: Oh, she was still stateside at that time?

TM: Yeah. And she came to Japan about Thanksgiving time in 1947.

MU: Well, tell me more about your duties in these trials. What class of...

TM: Oh, before that I was assigned to a number of places, but the first assignment that I had was with fundamental research, and what to do with precision machines belonging to universities. And our job is, was to visit different universities and listen to professors of engineering, and eventually we returned all the precision machines back to the universities. That was with the GHQ job. And then I was assigned to IX corps in Sendai, then they sent me to Sapporo Eleventh Airborne and they were processing repatriates, Japanese coming back from Russian side. So our job was to screen them and get military information. And that lasted 'til about May. [Coughs] Excuse me. May of '47 until I took a discharge, and then from June I started to work for war crimes. It was an interesting work, we worked with lawyers and, for about three years. I did some legwork for them, interviewing witnesses, taking affidavit statement, working with American and Japanese lawyers, and sitting through the trial, it was very interesting for me, very educational.

MU: What class of war crimes...

TM: This was B-class in Yokohama. The A-class trial had to do with the policymakers, like Mr. Tojo and others. Ours was more of a direct involvement like beheading of fliers, denying medical supplies attention, mistreating our prisoners, bayoneting B-29 fliers, things like that. And so I was, the suspects were more of a direct involvement, like when POW camp was bombed, I think it was in Osaka, and the fire started because it was an incendiary bomb, the fire started in the prison compound. Some of the American prisoners weren't able to move, disabled. But they had to evacuate right away. So somebody started, and they said by way of bushido, they beheaded. Ending the misery instead of burned to death. But in the eyes of Americans, that was killing POW. So there were cases like that. Wives used to come around begging for mercy, we couldn't do anything. They were giving things to American lawyers, they thought that might do some good. I told them, "Don't do it."

MU: Makes it worse.

TM: Because judges are the ones, not the lawyers. There were many, many sad cases. There were some happy people when we were able to work so that they were found not guilty, as in the case of a major general in the medical corps, his name was Uchiyama -- I still remember. He and his family came to see us after the trial was over -- he was found not guilty. And so he was very happy. And then like commandant of Tokyo, Kempeitai, he was sentenced only ten years. We worked hard in his behalf. So those people were happy but by and large, the rest of them, well, they were found guilty, some of them were sentenced to be hanged, and others were sentenced to many long years. After the peace treaty I imagine they were exonerated. But I told everybody, "Never lose a war," because when you lose a war, that happens. [Laughs]

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.