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-02-0027

<Begin Segment 27>

MU: Well, I'd like to ask you about some of the cases that went against you, against the defense, but was there any, maybe one single one that was, you'd consider maybe not fair?

TM: Well, there was a navy unit on Ishigakijima, which is a little bit, well not too far from Okinawa. And B-29 fliers came down, they were captured, and one or two, I think, maybe two, not one, were bayoneted to death. And so the commander, not the navy commander, but I mean, he was commanding officer, and executive officer and others who participated in the mistreatment were tried. And one bad witness they had was a medical officer, a navy lieutenant. He said that these prisoners were buried alive. No, they buried the flier alive. And so in addition to killing -- you know, buried alive, which to Americans was extra bad -- anyway, we asked, as an investigator I asked, and then we asked at the trial, too, "How did you know that B-29, one of 'em, was alive when he was buried?" "Well, he made some kind of noise, so I knew that the man wasn't dead." Well, others who took part in the bayoneting and all of that, said the man was dead. So they buried him. Well, during the course of the investigation, I remind you he was a navy lieutenant.

MU: A Japanese...

TM: Yeah, a Japanese navy lieutenant, and he was still young. I kept on asking him, "How do you know, how can you do that? Because of your testimony, look at all these people are gonna be maybe hanged. Don't you have any mercy? Didn't you..." I kept on sort of persecuting him and he said in the end, "I have a wife and a child. And I know what I'm saying, and I'm telling the truth." I said, "No, you're not telling the truth, but it sounded good from, if you say that, so the prosecution promised you something else." And he said, "No." And I kept on working on him, and pretty soon, he got mad. Says, "You are Nisei" -- well, he didn't say Nisei -- but, "you are, your side won the war. All right. You got a lot of things: you got food, you're fortunate. But we're not; we lost the war. And for you to come to me and say all that," he says, "it isn't fair. If you were in my position, I'm sure you'd do the same," he told me. Well, whether I'd do the same or not, I don't know, I'm not a doctor. But he got mad at me, so I had to, I got mad at him, too. Yeah. So anyway, in the end, he says, "I'm sorry, I lost my temper." And that was exceptional.

MU: So the people on trial were still found guilty, or...

TM: Yeah. They were found guilty.

MU: They were found guilty.

TM: They were found guilty. All those who actually perpetrated bayoneting, and executive officer who is supposed to have given the order, and the commanding officer who decided to allow that, they were all sentenced to be hanged.

MU: Hung, huh?

TM: Other than those who did bayoneting were found "life." Guilty of, were found and sentenced to life. But until they got away with it after the peace treaty, but that's what it was.

MU: Well...

TM: And then, you see, those who bayoneted, bayoneted because they were ordered out there, in the front lines. Not to do it would be something else.

MU: Disobeying orders, huh?

TM: Order was absolute. And they were active navy men, and so... but that was not a defense. What can you do? So never lose a war.

MU: Yeah, that's why never lose a war. But in the main, you thought, was it fair? The way things were conducted, or...

TM: Pretty much, especially, I would say, on the surface. What the judges said to them-, among themselves when they were deliberating, I don't know. But on the surface I thought it was fair, but in some cases like this, whole bunch of 'em were sentenced to be hanged.

MU: So in the end, your advice is never start a war that you can't win, huh?

TM: No. [Laughs] Never start a war...

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.