Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Richard Kosaki Interview
Narrator: Richard Kosaki
Interviewer: Mitchell Maki
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: March 19, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-krichard-01

<Begin Segment 1>

MM: The date is March 19, 2004, and we are at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, California, and we are with Richard Hiromichi Kosaki, who has an illustrious career in education, especially higher education, primarily in the University of Hawaii system. My name is Mitchell Maki and it's my pleasure to be doing this interview today. Welcome, Dr. Kosaki, to Los Angeles and thank you for this interview.

RK: Good to be here, Mitch.

MM: You were born on September 14, 1924, but I want to start this interview by talking about something that happened before that, and that is your parents and their coming to the United States. What can you tell us about your parents?

RK: As far as I know, my dad and mother weren't married, and they arrived separately as, in their late teens, I believe. Both of them had parents who already, already were in Hawaii. And on my father's side, I understand that he arrived here around 1913 when he was around sixteen years old, and he went to Hilo. Interestingly enough, his father, as far as we're told, was not working in the cane fields. He was a chauffeur in Hilo for a medical doctor. And I'll stay with my father's side... as I'm told, they weren't that badly off. They owned a house and some farm land in Kochi prefecture. Both my parents came from Kochi, which is quite unusual. I think of the Japanese who went to Hawaii, Yamaguchi, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Okinawa, majority of 'em came from those prefectures, and Kochi is about number seventeenth or eighteenth on the list. Very few people came from Kochi. My father's parents seemed to have gone back to Japan, but they left my dad there, which is quite surprising because he was the only son. And the records indicate that my dad did go to a Hilo boarding school to learn some English. Now my mother, as I recall, arrived a couple of years later, I think in 1916, and she was, oh, maybe in her late teens. And it seems that shortly thereafter, a year or two later; that since both came from Kochi-ken, they have go-betweens looking for brides, and so they matched Father and Mother and they were married in, just outside of Hilo, I think, on the big island. But right after they got married, they moved to Honolulu, and of all places, in Waikiki, where our family stayed for many years.

MM: So your family, you have very deep roots in Hawaii, with even your grandfather having set foot on Hawaii and lived in Hawaii for many years.

RK: Yes, uh-huh. On my mother's side, her parents worked in the cane fields. They lived in a little village called Amaulu, right outside of Hilo. And they lived in Hawaii, and stayed in Hawaii and died in Hawaii.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

MM: So your mother and father met up and moved to Waikiki, and that's where you were born and your family was raised, your siblings and so forth?

RK: That's right.

MM: Tell us about those years in Waikiki.

RK: Oh, Waikiki was a delightful place to grow up in. We lived on, well, the so-called "poor" section of Waikiki, which was on the so-called "lower end," which was near the Kapiolani Park. I was born and raised -- I was born, I'm told, at the corner of Kalakaua Avenue and Ohua. The landmark there is the St. Augustine's Church, which still stands there today, but now it's surrounded by high-rises, mainly hotels. And where was I was born now stands the Marriott Hotel. But it was a nice neighborhood to grow up in. The beach was there and also the zoo was there, and the aquarium was there, and the weather was always perfect.

MM: You've often talked about how your experience growing up is not typical of the Japanese in Hawaii. How so?

RK: Well, I didn't grow up in a plantation town like many of my brethren did. And I didn't live in, you know, there were many enclaves of ghettos, where they had strong Japanese presence, like in Moiliili or Palama and so forth. But Waikiki was very cosmopolitan. My neighbors were, my immediate neighbors, after we moved on Cartwright Road with the Rasmussens and the Ornellas, I guess of Portuguese descent, and quite well-to-do. And on the other side was the Donnelly, who was a German. So it was a very mixed group. There were scatterings of Japanese around, and most of the Japanese who lived in Waikiki, as my parents did, worked in the hotels, and it was the Moana Hotel, the Royal Hawaiian and the Halekulani. Those were the three big hotels, maybe the only hotels in those days. And my dad worked in all of them.

MM: What did he do?

RK: He was a, mainly a waiter. He was in the Moana, the Royal Hawaiian, and then eventually, for over thirty years worked at the Halekulani. And he ended up being the bartender at the famous House Without a Key. Now, some of my friends told, tell me that he made the best martinis.

MM: [Laughs] Did you ever drink any of his martinis?

RK: No, he never served me any. [Laughs]

MM: Never served you any... and what about your mother? What did she do?

RK: My mother, very hard-working, conscientious. She took in home laundry. Most of the ladies there supplement, and to try to give the best to their families, took in home laundry. The neighborhood, especially when you crossed Ohua Avenue, on the other side were mainly the so-called haole families, the Caucasians, the good middle-class or better, and many of them didn't do their own laundry. And so the ladies in our neighborhood had home laundries, and as kids, we'd go, on Monday morning, to pick up the laundry, and Thursday to deliver whatever was done.

MM: How many brothers and sisters do you have?

RK: There are six children in our family, two girls and four boys. The eldest is my sister Nobuko, who got a doctorate and retired as a professor of education at the University of Hawaii, Hilo. She still lives in Hilo. Then I have an older brother, Frank Mineyuki. He's a Kibei. And then I'm the third one. Just below me is Kazuo, who was a banker, now retired, and then there's Mabel, who worked in clothing merchandising. And the youngest is Albert who worked in the airlines.

MM: So it sounds like each of your siblings, and yourself included, went on to become educated and had professional positions.

RK: Well, we, yeah. It's a diverse family. We had different interests, we did different things.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

MM: What was it like growing up? What kind of values and what kind of goals did your parents instill in each of you?

RK: Well, they emphasized education, so they really told us to study hard. And I still remember that. Of course, they both tried to learn English. My mother worked for haole families, Caucasians. In fact, she came to the mainland -- she worked for one of the families who liked her babysitting. And so when they went to the mainland, and I see pictures of her at Yellowstone, and so, a little bit more about my mother... because of this experience, at home, we had Japanese food, but we had a lot of steaks, hamburger steaks. We even had liver -- [laughs] -- and pancakes, pot roast, because this is what she had to cook for the, for the haole Caucasian families. And they both, because they had a lot of contact, my dad especially in the hotel, so they had passable English. And later on, both of them became citizens of the United States. And they were both Christians. Now Mitch, your original question was...?

MM: The goals and values --

RK: Oh, yes, yes.

MM: -- that they instilled in you?

RK: They were very heavy on education. So even if their English was limited, they couldn't help us much after a while with our homework, they insisted that we do our homework. And I still remember one day coming home from school. I was still in, in the second or third grade. And lo and behold, my parents had bought the twenty-odd volumes of the Book of Knowledge. I knew they themselves wouldn't be reading it, but they... I knew what the signal was. And I must say that it was very helpful for, to us in doing our homework.

MM: So they really emphasized and put the resources in supporting your educational experience?

RK: Oh yes, very much so. And to the extent, too, that... I took band, and I played the clarinet, and they went so far as to surprise me when I was in ninth grade by buying me a Selmer clarinet, which I thought was quite expensive. I don't know how they managed it, but, you see, everything was to try to help us in school.

MM: So that the value "for the sake of children" was very evident?

RK: Very much so, what they say, "kodomo no tame ni." [Laughs]

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

MM: You talked about the band experience; I understand you had some pretty famous people, or people who eventually became famous --

RK: Yeah, our intermediate school band was something. We had a female band teacher. And she was, if I may say so, Mrs. Robbins, she was quite a character. But anyway, it was a fun place to be, and... Dan Inouye and I are classmates from the seventh grade on, and so we were in the intermediate school band. At that time we both played the clarinet. And Dan's a very good musician, good, he has a good sense of... good ear for music, good timing. And Dan eventually took on the saxophone. And as ninth graders we tried to form a band. We tried to be, imitate Glenn Miller or Artie Shaw. At any rate, I still remember meeting in the church basement close to the school. And Dan was one of the leaders of this little band that we tried to organize.

MM: So, can we give you credit for the reason that Dan Inouye plays the saxophone, because you were playing the clarinet so well?

RK: No, no. After I got into a high school, when I got to McKinley High School I got recommended to get into the, the senior band in my sophomore year, but I found out that musically I wasn't that in-, I wasn't really good. And I think I took the Seashore Test and I flunked. And I knew that all that I was doing was hard work. I didn't have a ear for it.

MM: Oh.

RK: Although I appreciated music. So I gave up my band and went into student activities.

MM: I also understand you had another artistic side to you. You'd draw, enjoy drawing and so forth? And that you would draw on your fellow kids' surfboards and so forth?

RK: Oh yes, uh-huh. We had what was called boogie boards. Well, we called them paipo boards in those days. And of course we didn't buy them. We made our own out of whatever we could find, mostly a block of redwood. And they went... well, the paipo boards were maybe surfboards, only three feet high. And so we'd -- some of them would be painted or lacquered. And then we wanted to put pictures on 'em. So I used to draw pictures for neighborhood gang. And at that time Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was very popular, so I think I drew all of the seven dwarfs on these boards. On my board -- I saved that for me -- I was Dopey. [Laughs]

MM: Why did you like Dopey?

RK: Well, I thought he was a colorful character and anyway, I liked Dopey. I think we all have elements of that, I hope.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

MM: Describe, you were describing your neighborhood. How far to the beach and how far to the zoo?

RK: I was, when I look back, really lucky to have lived in Waikiki. The weather was always perfect, but we were always only a block or two from the beach, the famous beach of Waikiki, Kuhio Beach, and only a block from the, from the Kapiolani Park/Zoo. The park was there and the zoo, so we could see them feeding the elephants and we used to go and see them feed the monkeys in the morning. And we did some naughty things, too, though. We teased some of the animals, which we shouldn't have done.

MM: Who was your best friend growing up?

RK: Oh, I had several. In elementary school, I had a couple of people who lived in the neighborhood, and we played sandlot baseball, and also in those days, too -- and the school, by the way, Waikiki School was only the other side of the block. We lived on Cartwright Road, and the next was called Hamo Hamo, which is now Kuhio Avenue, one of the major thoroughfares in Waikiki. Kuhio Avenue was extended, so it came down to where we lived. And Waikiki School was located just -- and when I was sick at home, I could hear my classmates singing, we were so close. And in those days, you know, to help us have nutritious meals, they provided milk in the morning -- at ten o'clock or so we had a break. We had a piece of graham cracker and milk. And when I was sick at home, my friend would come running over with my milk at ten o'clock in the morning because I only lived a half a block away. [Laughs] But also, I went to Waikiki Elementary School. As they say, "under the blue shadow of Diamond Head I go to school," and it was very glorious. I wish I could show you pictures of my classmates, because it was so interracial. At any rate... but public school let out at two o'clock or so. And then most of us of who were Japanese descent went to Japanese school, so I went to Waikiki Japanese School, which was located in really in the Kapahulu district about a quarter mile away. And I had a best friend, Rusty, Rusty Kawamura. And so the routine was, as we got through Waikiki School, we'd go to my house, which was only a half a block away, and my mother would give us something to, a snack, usually crackers with peanut better or something and we'd eat it along the way and we'd go to Rusty's house, which was about two blocks from the Japanese school, and there his mother would give us something to eat or drink. And then we'd go to Japanese school.

MM: So you would double-dip on the snacks --

RK: Yes. [Laughs]

MM: -- before you would go to school, then? So, you grew up at the beach. Do you go to the beach often, now?

RK: Unfortunately not. As I like to say, "I was born on the beach at Waikiki, I made the mistake of going to college, and I haven't seen the beach since." That's literally true. I was having lunch a couple of days ago at the Outrigger Club and it's right on the water, and I looked out and I said to myself, "I haven't been in that water for years now. What's wrong?" [Laughs]

MM: It sounds like you enjoyed school, as a youngster.

RK: Oh, I enjoyed school very much. I thought it was fun. I don't know, I just -- it was fun in the sense that it was fun to be with classmates. Well, on the negative side, my mother, as I said, took in home laundry and during the summer vacations we had to help her a lot. She worked awfully hard seven days a week, and oftentimes I see, we used to remember her ironing well into the night. She took in more than she could handle, but we children helped out. I got to be an expert in working on the -- she had bought herself a kind of a commercial ironing -- that you could do sheets and certain parts of the trousers and so forth. I got to be pretty good at that, so I would do that. In those days, too, they boiled their laundry. And so, we started the fires, gathered the wood, and did all sort of things to help. So in many ways, when I went to school I didn't have to do all of that. And I enjoyed meeting friends from different parts of the neighborhood.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

MM: When you were an elementary school kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

RK: Oh, I don't know. Nothing special, I think. In those days, we didn't think much. We thought, well, maybe we'd go to the university, but we never thought much about it.

MM: And then you went off to high school. Tell us about your high school days.

RK: Well, before that, in Waikiki schools -- and I went to what they call Washington Intermediate School, it's still there, and now it's called Washington Middle School, I think, but the buildings are all different. By the way, Waikiki School is no longer where it used to be, it's further mauka, or upland. Washington Intermediate School is where it used to be, but the buildings are all totally different. To go to Waikiki School -- I mean, to go to Washington Intermediate School -- Waikiki School, I could walk, it's only a half a block away, but Washington Intermediate School we had to catch a streetcar, later on, the bus. And this is where I met friends from all over besides Waikiki, Kapahulu, Dan Inouye from McCully and Fujio Matsuda from Kaka'ako. And it was fun to meet these people.

MM: So your world was expanding at that point?

RK: Very much so.

RK: And I also went to, at that stage, after Waikiki Japanese School, which only went through the sixth grade, my parents enrolled us at a Japanese language school in town, in downtown Honolulu, upper downtown. It was a Hongwanjischool, and very strict. Can you imagine in that hot weather, the boys had to -- those classes were segregated, the boys and the girls -- and the boys all had to wear black coats and ties. So I did go, I had to take the bus to go to that school, also. So from Washington Intermediate Sch ool, we all went to McKinley High School. McKinley is the largest, was the largest high school. When I entered McKinley in September 19'... what is it? '39. I still remember the headlines, it said "Hitler Invades Poland." And little did we know how much this would affect us, because in our senior year, December 7, 1941, occurred.

MM: And that would change a lot for all of you.

RK: It certainly did, yeah.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

MM: Let's go back to when you, when you first entered McKinley. It sounds like McKinley had a lot of resources that were new to you and not available to you normally.

RK: Yeah.

MM: Talk a little about that.

RK: If you've seen McKinley High School, by the way, glorious architecture. I don't think we can build schools like that anymore. Every time I have friends look at it, they say to me, "Is that a college?" It's a beautiful physical setup. And when I entered McKinley it was -- at one time it was the public school for the whole island of Oahu -- and when I entered McKinley it was still the largest high school. We had four thousand students in three grades. Our, for each class, sophomore, junior and senior had over a thousand students. So it was a very large school, but there was a lot of feeling of community in that school, of belonging, and that was due, I think, to the principal, Miles Cary, who in a sense now is a legendary figure as to what he contributed to Hawaii.

MM: Tell me a little about how Miles Cary touched your life as principal of McKinley.

RK: Yes. I was fortunate in getting to know Miles Cary quite well, 'cause, you know, a student body of four thousand, but I got to be elected sophomore class president. So what McKinley did was to have a very meaningful student government. It wasn't kid's play or shibai. We really were asked to do things. We were held responsible. And when I look back, I thought that was very crucial because if you want to build responsible citizens, the best way is to give them responsibility at an early age, which is something we as teachers or parents often neglect. But anyway, McKinley had a very strong student government, and I was really engaged in that, so I got to know Miles Cary very well. I remember that as sophomores, each class had to have a class motto and our class motto was, "Let democracy be our guide." And, in a sense, that tells you what our school experience was like. And it was made very meaningful; when I look back, student government was very strong. We had... discipline was handled by the students themselves. We had a student court. I remember my wife taught in McKinley High School years later, even after Miles Cary left, and she said that's the only school in which it wasn't necessary for the teachers to patrol the halls during the recess or whatever, and oftentimes they told the students not to come in during the recess or whatever. She said she never pulled duty on trying to keep students out. It was done by, by the students themselves.

Another interesting feature, when I look back, is in a sense, we had a, we had socialized medicine. I don't know, I think each of us contributed a dime or whatever it was, if we could, annually to this fund. And I remember in the junior year I got to know more about it because I did sit as one of the student members on a council that determined what payments should be made. Essentially, it was mutual... I think it was called mutual fund or mutual aid and this was to help students whose families experienced medical emergencies. Say your mother had to have an appendectomy and it cost, oh, I don't remember if it was forty dollars, whatever in those days, but you could only afford to pay half of it. You could apply for aid from, from the school fund. And cases were brought up to the committee. And on the committee sat students, faculty, and doctors from the community who were helping us, and then we'd determine how much we'd give. And one good example is as a junior I sat on that committee. I didn't wear glasses in those days, I kept on blinking my eyes. And Dr. Pinkerton, who was a real -- the best eye specialist in the Islands, was sitting across from me and he says, "Young man, something is wrong with your eyes, I want to see you." So, I got an appointment in his office and he looked me over and he said, "You have a stigmatism," and whatever. Anyway, and he didn't charge me.

MM: So here's a great example of... in this, in the process of service you received --

RK: Oh, yes, I was very fortunate.

MM: -- a very tangible benefit.

RK: Yeah, many services.

MM: Let's go back to the student government and the discipline that they were responsible for. Do you have any examples of that? Do you ever remember any cases, if you will, that you as the student government had to handle?

RK: Not very many. We didn't have too many. As far as I know, there were very few gang fights or anything of that sort. Mitch, if you remember, I... you can recall, it was pretty tame in our days. The biggest offense was to smoke. [Laughs] Compared to what it is today. And, well, there were infractions and then, so you could plead your case before student court, and they mete out punishment.

MM: What do you think that taught you, that process?

RK: Well, it taught you about self-government and being responsible, being responsible for your actions.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

MM: I've heard you also talk about the resources in the library, the periodicals that were made available to you.

RK: Yeah. That's, that's, that's a delightful memory. I liked to read newspapers and magazines. I still do. And at McKinley, each so-called homeroom had a stack of magazines. Some of them were the popular magazines. I think it was Photoplay was one of the popular ones. There was Reader's Digest, but they also had, of all things, they had magazines like Amerasia, The Nation, which were quite, well, thought-provoking articles. And we, so we got an exposure to that, which is something we normally wouldn't get in our homes. We were lucky if our parents subscribed to the daily newspaper, but here we were exposed to different points of view, different perspectives. So in many ways those magazines opened our eyes.

MM: Was there any criticism of the choice of magazines? For example, The Nation could be seen as a kind of leftist publication.

RK: I don't recall. Although, I must say that Miles Cary himself was accused of being a Socialist and so forth.

MM: You became active in student government as a sophomore, as you mentioned, became student body president -- sophomore president. But then you, as a junior you ran and were elected to student body president.

RK: Yes.

MM: What motivated you at that time? What, what were you thinking?

RK: I don't know what I was thinking, but I was well into student government and enjoying it and so my friends said, all said, put me up to run. And so I got elected to be student body president. And that was a memorable experience. To begin with, McKinley High School sent its student body president to an annual national conference, and I was lucky in that the conference I went to was held in Boston the summer of 1941 at Tufts College, now Tufts University.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

MM: Let's go, let's go back to Tufts College, you were sent there.

RK: Yeah, as the newly elected student body president of McKinley High School, they sent me to the National... it was the meeting of the National Council of Student Body Presidents, High School Student Body Presidents. And it was held at Tufts College in Medford, Boston, Massachusetts. And for me that was a very delightful trip. I took the Lurline and sailed from Honolulu to San Francisco, then got on board the Challenger in Oakland, went to Chicago. And then I took a side trip to Niagara Falls and that was an experience. On the train over, going to Niagara Falls, these salespeople come, come over to try to sell you excursions. And I thought everybody went on an excursion, so I bought -- [laughs] -- I got talked into buying this excursion. When I got off, I found out I was the only one. They put me in a limousine and of course I was nattily dressed. I thought on the mainland everybody wore a suit and a tie, so I had my suit and a tie, and lo and behold, I was the one being escorted around Niagara Falls in this limousine. And every time I got off, people took pictures of me, thinking I was a foreign potentate or something. But it was a delightful trip, and I got to see Niagara Falls close up, Maid of the Mist and all that. Anyway, continued to Boston, and at Boston I remember (being delighted) because I saw squirrels for the first time. You read about 'em in storybooks in Hawaii. And I was interviewed by the Boston newspaper people as the person who had come the longest distance to the conference. And when I began to speak, they kind of dropped their pencils and said, "Where did you learn your English?" I said, "Well, in Hawaii." They said, "You have a slight Boston accent." I said, "Well, maybe it's understandable because our teachers came from New England." Hawaii, although it's closer to California, if you look at its history, the missionaries that came to Hawaii in the early days all came from New England. So it's no -- and a lot of our teachers were from New England.

MM: So even though you had traveled the farthest, in many ways you were a hometown boy.

RK: [Laughs] Yeah, I guess they thought so.

MM: What was that like for you? You were seventeen years old. You had never left the Islands before, and now, not only were you leaving the Islands, you were going clear across the United States. What was that like for you?

RK: Well, when I look back, I know my mother was worried but I wasn't worried. You're a confident seventeen-year-old looking forward to new adventures. And the world was a rather safe place then. We didn't have any terrorism, as far as I can recall, so just looked forward to it, and it was a delightful trip. At the conference I became good friends with, with several people from mostly the Midwest. There was Fred Schmidt from Milwaukee, who was very well-educated, sophisticated, and by golly, he had a, he had a car. See, his dad had bought him a new Mercury, and he had driven from Milwaukee to Boston. And there was Bud Alcorn from Chicago and there was another person from Cleveland. And the four of us got together and we bummed around New England, went all the way up to Bangor, Maine, sleeping on the side, eating lobsters, and having a great time. And then ended up in New York, where Fred really introduced me. In Boston, Fred took me to all these bookstores and his hobby was collecting rare books and so that was an education for me to see this very sophisticated lad shopping for these books and going to these bookstores. And in New York, Fred took me to the plays and we saw Saroyan's Beautiful People, which I didn't quite understand, and we saw a musical comedy, Hell's A Poppin'. And the show that I remember best was Ethel Barrymore in The Corn is Green. If you know the story, it's about education, basically. And Fred and I went to a matinee, and we were very impressed with the play and with her performance. So Fred says to me, "Hey, let's go and meet Ethel Barrymore." I said, "Oh, Fred, I don't think we can. Look at all these ladies out here waiting to see her come out. We don't have a chance." As we were talking, a gentleman comes up to us and says, "Boys, do you want to meet Miss Barrymore?" Fred said, "Of course, yes." "Come with me." It was her manager, so we, he escorted us in to her dressing room and we saw her, chatted for a while. She signed our programs. So that was a great experience in New York. And then from there we went to Washington, D.C., where we saw the sights: Congress, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument. And then we all, we drove to, back to...we dropped one of 'em off at Cleveland and then we drove on to Chicago, where Bud and I got off and Fred went on to Milwaukee. And from Chicago, I took the train to the Grand Canyon. I remember stopping at the Grand Canyon, and then eventually ended up in Los Angeles before I sailed back home.

MM: This sounds like it was a very expensive trip in the sense that, certainly for you to be traveling around. How did you get the money to go on this trip?

RK: Oh, yes. As I recall, the trip at that time, the whole thing cost about four hundred dollars. And I remember getting this, I don't know how long it was, 8-feet-long bunch of tickets from the travel agent. But the four hundred dollars was gotten by the... having a spring football game, to which admission was ten cents, so four thousand students paying ten cents equals four hundred dollars. That's the way it was financed.

MM: So it was raised by the school and --

RK: Yes.

MM: -- raised by the community itself. Let's go back to The Corn is Green because you mentioned that that really had an impact on you, and it is about education. It's about a teacher who reaches out to a student. Why did that make an impact on you? What was appealing about that to you?

RK: Well, first of all, unlike Saroyan's play, I understood this one. [Laughs] And of course, I guess I've always thought education as being very important, and here was a good example shown very dramatically how a teacher can affect a person's life. In this case, how she could spot a poor person's -- it's the miner's son who is very talented, but along with talent comes all of these problems, but how she could help him nourish that. And I thought that was a beautiful story.

MM: So even as a young seventeen-year-old boy, that appealed to you?

RK: Yes, it did.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

MM: So, you come back to Hawaii and you're about to start your senior year, and as you mentioned earlier, December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor happened.

RK: Yeah 'cause the senior year with great expectations, and lo and behold on this senior year, December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor. And that really changed our lives. At school, at McKinley High School, our class of one thousand dwindled to about maybe eight hundred or fewer. A lot of them who were eligible went to work in defense establishments, especially Pearl Harbor. Of course, those of us of Japanese descent could not. But we could do other things. But those of us who remained in school... well, after December 7th the schools were closed and we didn't get back until February, sometime in February. In the meantime, many of us did work. Like Dan Inouye, I volunteered to work at a local first aid station, which was held at Thomas Jefferson School, which was only about two blocks away from our home. I went there to, I volunteered. And they made me the supply clerk. And this is where I earned my first considerably bigger, big salary, I thought in those days. I was surprised by the... and how old was it? Seventeen or eighteen? I was the supply clerk. And one of the most interesting things was the government decided to distribute gas masks to all those on Oahu because we were afraid of a gas attack. And it was my job as supply clerk to distribute the gas masks in our neighborhood. And of course, most people came very gladly, and got their gas masks. But I was surprised when a group of persons came and said that they were conscientious objectors and not only, they were Jehovah's Witnesses or whatever and they didn't believe in using gas masks, so they didn't even want to take them. And I was very perplexed by this, so I had to kick it upstairs to see what they were doing about this. [Laughs] We didn't, at the first aid station, the first few days were quite hectic. We had blackouts, but the things we treated were actually accidents that would have gone to the emergency hospital. Someone crashed his motorcycle or so on.

MM: So not really war-related, but...

RK: As far as I know, nothing war-related. Because our station opened maybe in mid-December, right after, weeks after Pearl Harbor.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

MM: So, when you returned to school in February 1942, you resumed your role as student body president. And I understand you had your first publication at that time. Tell us about that, the Time magazine.

RK: Oh, of course, you can imagine the daze, surprise attack, and we were all stunned, but, because in the first few days, as you can imagine, there were many rumors about what was happening and who was doing it. And among the rumors was that among the pilots shot down in the Pearl Harbor attack, there were persons wearing local high school rings, clearly indicating it was McKinley High School. McKinley High School at that time was looked upon by some people as "Tokyo High" because the population was, mainly in the surrounding areas, mainly Japanese. And Hawaii also had, by that time, earlier had started English standard schools. So we had a segregated school system in Hawaii. So those who could speak so-called "good English" went to English standard schools, which were better subsidized, if I may say so, than the regular public schools that we attended. So, in most cases, those who spoke the King's English were Caucasians or haoles, so in a sense there was segregation; although my friends, including my youngest, the youngest in my family, did go to English standard school. But McKinley High School was sometimes referred to as "Tokyo High." So the implication was that the pilots who wore these rings were McKinley High School graduates. And of course, we at McKinley High School thought this was not true. It was an ugly rumor. And at that time, in our social studies -- or in McKinley we called it core studies -- classes, class, we had a, we had an exchange teacher from Evanston Township High School in Chicago, near Chicago, Illinois. And Mr. Kirkpatrick -- what a kind soul he was -- he was an expert on Shakespeare. But any rate, Mr. Kirkpatrick said, "Students, now, this is not true, is it?" We said, "No, it's not. We should say something about it." He says, "Fine," he says, "so why don't you write letters to the editor of Time?" So a lot of us did that. Almost everyone in class wrote a letter to the editors of Time saying it was not true that these pilots wore Honolulu, McKinley High School rings, and lo and behold, Time magazine published those articles. I got the nicest letter from the editor saying, "We're sorry we did this. We're gonna print your letters, your letter, and along with that, the letters of three other classmates," appeared in Time magazine.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

MM: As an American of Japanese ancestry at this time in our nation's history, what was going through your mind? What were your feelings as we were entering into this war with the nation of Japan?

RK: Well, as I recall, it wasn't that, I didn't feel that mixed up. I think our loyalties were clear. We're Americans, and we'd try to do our best. And, but there was discrimination in the sense that those of us of Japanese ancestry were more under suspicion. We couldn't take national defense jobs. My friends, my older friends who were in the National Guard were kicked out, unceremoniously. We were classified 4-F and so on. And so it wasn't a happy time. Of course, no one was happy in those days. But in Hawaii we were fortunate in we had friends, non-Japanese, who, I think, stuck up for us and helped a great deal in easing the tensions.

MM: Was it difficult as a seventeen- and eighteen-year-old young man to put together what was happening in terms of being at war, being Japanese American, being discriminated against, and yet believing in democracy?

RK: To some extent, but you know, at that age, you don't give much thought to all of this. Although, I guess I was conscious that this was a historical event and so forth because I ran out and bought every newspaper that came out that week. I have a whole collection of December 7th through 12th newspapers, every extra that came out with the glaring headline, "Saboteurs Land," which was false. It was an interesting time. But we knew where our loyalties lay, and most of our friends never questioned this. We didn't see our lives as being too different from others. We all had to suffer. We had to dig air raid shelters. We had to observe blackout rules. We couldn't go out at night. We had to darken our homes. And everyone worried about food shortages, which never really seriously came about.

MM: Do you remember having any discussions with your mother or father at this time?

RK: I guess we talked about it somewhat, but not really in the sense of questioning our motives, anything of that sort. I think both of them accepted the fact that we were Americans. When a call came out for 442nd, to form the 442nd, both my older brother and I wanted to go, and my mother said, "No, no, only one of you can go." So my older brother went, but unfortunately he was rejected for health reasons. He found out he has a very bad eye. At any rate, next time the call came for Military Intelligence, I volunteered and got in. But my parents, if anything, encouraged us to do this.

MM: Were you aware of what was happening to Japanese Americans on the continental United States?

RK: Somewhat. But I think that's a story that we in Hawaii really don't appreciate. Dan Inouye tells the story of how he was in the 442nd at Camp Shelby. The conflict between the Japanese from Hawaii, called "Buddhaheads," and the Japanese from the mainland, called "Kotonks" getting in constant fights, and he says that it became so bad, they were thinking of disbanding the 442nd. And someone, they did counseling and all of this but nothing seemed to work. So they, someone had the bright idea that maybe these Hawaii boys ought to see what the Japanese on the mainland experienced. So Dan says, some of the Hawaii boys, the leaders of the Hawaii gangs were put on buses and sent to, I guess, Jerome or Rohwer in Arkansas to see the camps. And they were just amazed at what they saw. So the attitudes changed towards the "Kotonks." And as Dan says, "Would we have volunteered had we been treated that way? Put in concentration camps." So... but, I don't think you really, Mitch, you can't get the full flavor of this. So in a sense, I'm hoping that if I get to Rohwer or Jerome I'd get a -- of course, my uncle was interned. And I think he was at Jerome for a while, his whole family, and at Tule Lake. And one of the ironies was when I was in the army and I was gonna be shipped overseas, the war, and from -- fortunately, the war with Japan had just ended. I stopped by -- as I was sent to Fort Mason in San Francisco -- I stopped by to see my uncle in Tule Lake. And here I am in a uniform of the U.S. army, and I've got to get checked through to see my uncle who's interned in Tule Lake. There's an irony in this.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

MM: Before you joined the MIS, you finished high school?

RK: Yes.

MM: What were the last few months of high school like?

RK: Oh, we tried to make it as usual, but we had our senior prom, but it was very restricted, I think. I don't know where we held it. It wasn't in a fancy place at all, and we had to quit by a certain hour. And it was still blackout time, as I recall, so it was very restricted. And our high school annual suffered. Instead of being, in those days, they used to have a hardcover annual, our annual was produced at the school. McKinley High School is remarkable in that we had a daily newspaper called the Daily Opinion that we produced ourselves, printed ourselves in school. So we used that printing press. And our high school annual is in three parts, three slim paperback volumes. So it affected... and, of course, well, I guess the graduation ceremonies were also, were always held on the front lawn. And I guess it was always held in late afternoon, and we did have it. But what's significant about our graduation is that you see all of us besides, whatever... I guess the attire then was everybody in white. Girls in white dresses and boys in white shirts, but each one of us was carrying gas mask, which was a requirement in those days.

MM: So, you were in your graduation attire, I assume with leis and--

RK: Yeah, but underneath all, we have this, you can see this strap with this big bulky gas mask. [Laughs]

MM: Wow.

RK: It was required in those days that we all carry the gas masks. In fact, in school we had, periodically, we had to test our gas masks, so we had to run through a hut which was full of tear gas. And if you came out crying, that means your gas mask was leaking. [Laughs]

MM: Wow, so you actually ran through a --

RK: Oh, yeah.

MM: -- hut with tear gas? As a graduating senior, what did you want to be? What did you want to do with your life?

RK: Well, at that time, I wanted to be a lawyer. When I went to Tufts college, of course, it's in Boston, so I visited Harvard, and I said, "That's where I want to go to law school." And I've got a picture of my standing before, standing in the law school courtyard, and standing by, I think they had a statue of Harvard, the founder. And anyway, I thought I'd become a lawyer.

MM: What had been your grade point average at that time?

RK: Oh, I don't know. I did quite well in school.

MM: High school. 'A's' and 'B's'?

RK: Yes, mainly.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

MM: You then went on to University of Hawaii for one year after high school.

RK: Yes, immediately after graduation I went to University of Hawaii.

MM: What was that like, that first year?

RK: Well, activities were limited, too, because, because of the war. And even at the university, we had one day off in which we were required to work in some defense-related activity. And for the men it was, we went out to pick pineapples. I guess it was Wednesday, or whatever, we appeared on the camp, on camp in work clothes and got on the, got on trucks and got hauled off to help harvest the pineapple crop because they had lost their manpower. That's where I learned how to test for pineapples. [Laughs]

MM: You were at UH for one year. And then you, as you mentioned, volunteered for the MIS and spent the next few years serving as an interpreter.

RK: Yes.

MM: And as an instructor in the MIS. What are your recollections of your service in the army?

RK: Well, one thing, weather-wise, I have to comment on this, in Hawaii, where we have forever, spring forever, summer. So I volunteer for the army in December. In January they ship me to Minnesota. I get off the train and had to hike for a mile in a foot of snow and said, "Oh, my gosh." Well, they gave us winter clothing, but we didn't know how to... when to put it on, how to put it on, frankly. [Laughs] And then, so I spent the winter in Minnesota. Summer came and they sent us to basic training to Alabama, of all places. Winter comes, I go back to Minnesota. Summer comes, they send me to Officer Candidate School in Georgia. Winter comes, you go back to Minnesota -- war ends and I, they're gonna send me to Philippines, and winter comes, I'm in Japan. [Laughs] So I get the extremes.

MM: Yeah, get the real cold places during the winter --

RK: My army career wasn't anything special. I got very... fortunately, I got some good assignments.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

RK: After I graduated from the language school, I was assigned to a team to go out to Southeast Asia. But the last minute I got pulled out, and they said they wanted me to teach. I said, well, my Japanese was quite good in terms of writing and so forth. One of the interesting assignments I got when I was teaching at Fort Snelling was I taught some, in this Japanese language school, I taught some English. The army had drafted Kibei who knew more Japanese than English and they were a valuable resource because we lacked mainly people who could read Japanese. But then these people's English was limited, so they had a difficult time in translating.

MM: Right.

RK: So here I am, teaching English grammar -- [laughs] -- in this language school. It was quite an experience. And, of course, I only taught the elementary Japanese. But then I got selected to go to Officer Candidate School. There was, when I look back, segregation in the army, because the 442nd was segregated. The 100th infantry battalion preceding the 442nd was made up of draftees of Japanese descent before Pearl Harbor. And the language school, although we had a mixed group, there was Mr. Boggs, a haole man in our class and there were some Koreans and others, but they also had at Camp Savage, special classes for Caucasian soldiers. And these were very bright language specialists. Lot of 'em had PhDs in French or Spanish or German and a good pedigree. You know, Yale, Harvard, University of Michigan, and they had a program which was quite different from ours, but once a week in the afternoon, since they wanted the haole soldiers to hear Japanese, they had some of us meet with them, one-to-one. And we had to speak Japanese to them. And one of the ironies is that one of the partners that I got to know and like was a Mr. Brower, Robert Brower. And he was a brilliant student. He was the valedictorian when that class graduated. But anyway, when they graduated, they became second lieutenants. When we graduated, we became tech fives or corporals; although some of us eventually, when I got to teach at the language school, I was made a staff sergeant. But in order for me to get my commission as a second lieutenant, I was sent to infantry school, one of these, what do you call them, "thirty-day wonders," "ninety-day wonders," yeah, it was ninety days of torture, physically. Well, it was quite a program, but I was young and I could take it. I guess I graduated one of the smallest, lightest second lieutenants in the infantry. I guess I only weighed 124 pounds, or whatever -- [laughs] -- when I graduated. Two months later, my uniform wouldn't fit me. But any rate, so we had to go, I had to go through all of that. And I said to myself, well, the war with Japan was still on then. And I think, oh, okay, why the infantry? Well, I guess when we invade Japan I've got to be there. I think I figured my assignment was going to be with the 6th Army, which was going to invade Kyushu. But at any rate, the war ended, so I got spared that. But in a sense, the discrimination was that the haole persons got to be second lieutenants, and we only got to be techs, corporals, or sergeants.

And the interesting story about Brower -- when I was in occupation duty in Osaka, 6th Army was quartered, General Kreuger was quartered in Kyoto, and I found out that his personal interpreter was Brower. Captain Brower, I think, at that time. Later on, I go to -- I'll continue this story with Brower. Later on, I go to graduate school at University of Minnesota and I wanna be a, get a PhD and be a regular scholar, so I thought I had to pass two languages. I'm going to pass the Classical languages, French and German. Although my dissertation had a lot to do -- at that time I thought about Hawaii or something like that, about cross-cultural and democracy or something. Lo and behold, I passed my French thanks to my wife who had high school French. But anyway, I took some night courses, and I passed my French largely because when I went to take my French exam, the French professor opens a book and says to me, "Read it." And a few minutes later, he says, "Translate." I started to translate, and I made some real boo-boos because French has some words that can be falsely mis-, will mislead you. But he looked at me and he said, "Young man, where did you learn your English?" [Laughs] At any rate, I passed my French exam and I was taking night classes in German. I thought I'd pass German, which I found very difficult. But then, my father-in-law became very ill with cancer. And we had to -- my wife and I decided we'd better get back to the Islands, so I saw my advisor and I said, "I'm sorry, but I may not be able to finish my language requirement this year, this semester because I have to go back." He says, "Well, what are you trying to -- " I said, "Well, I was trying to learn German." He says, "You know another language?" I said, "Well, I've taken Spanish, but I don't really know it that well. I've taken Latin, but of course I can't pass that. But I know some Japanese." He says, "Well, take Japanese. It's okay for your dissertation." So I went to the Japanese department, and lo and behold, who's my examiner? Brower [Laughs] And he gives me the roughest exam because he was of that type, of that school, no favoritism.

MM: And he remembered you?

RK: Oh, yeah, but it was a fair exam.

MM: Uh-huh.

RK: And we, after, we had a delightful time. That's another interesting spin.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

RK: This is the issue of Time magazine in which they printed all the letters to the editor denying the rumor that Japanese high school boys from Hawaii had piloted the planes that attacked Pearl Harbor. And it's an issue of Time magazine which cost 15 cents on March 30, 1942, and lo and behold, the glorious picture of General MacArthur. And inside is printed, in the Letters to the Editor, is printed under the heading of "Ugly Rumor," the letter that I sent and along with excerpts from letters from my classmates. I put down, "Sirs, in the article entitled, 'The Stranger Within Our Gates,' Time magazine, January 19, you state that, 'Jap high school boys from Hawaii had helped pilot the planes that attacked Pearl Harbor.'" And I go on to write, "Although it is a fact that words to that effect made their rounds here in town, there is no confirmation or proof of such a happening. Our local papers and army officials have openly denied this charge after examination of the bodies of Japanese pilots who took part in the December 7th raid. Furthermore, the comprehensive Roberts Report makes no mention of 'Jap high school boys.' In other words, this is just another ugly rumor." And I signed the letter. And the editors of Time magazine were very kind. They sent me a letter before they published the letter and in which they said, "Dear Mr. Kosaki: Time's editors want you to know that they very much appreciated your letter and those of your schoolmates in regard to the rumor that Japanese high school boys from Hawaii had helped pilot the planes that attacked Pearl Harbor. We are planning to publish your letter and a representative selection of others in our March 30th issue." They went on to say, mention the names of others, the students who wrote the letters, asking me to thank them. And they said, ended by saying, "Thank you very much for letting us hear from you in this connection. Cordially yours, for the editors." I thought that was an interesting episode.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

RK: You know Tetsuden Kashima?

MM: Yeah, up in Washington.

RK: Yeah, he's written his recent book, (Judgment) Without Trial, or whatever it is, in which he examines more carefully the experience here. But he has a chapter on Hawaii. You know, he's kinda indicating why was Hawaii different? And Tom Coffman in a way got a clue from that. So he told me, "You know Tetsuden?" I said, "Yeah. I know him." So, I put him in touch with Tetsuden, and they're corresponding and digging deeper into this through the contrast. That'll make an interesting story.

MM: Wouldn't you agree that part of it was just simply the sheer numbers...

RK: Oh, definitely, numbers have, play a role. But the fact that here, on the West Coast, most of you had to live in isolated communities, what the sociologists call ghettos, like Little Tokyo here...

MM: Right, right, rather than being integrated...

RK: Yeah. Although in Hawaii, we did have camps and so forth, but everyone's a minority in Hawaii. And that tells a different story. But I also think in Hawaii, too, greatly helped by the Hawaiian spirit of aloha. The Hawaiians share everything and the great aloha feeling. I think that really helped. James Michener, interesting enough, in his book on Hawaii -- and I heard him say this -- he said, also, Christianity played a great role, the whole emphasis on brotherhood. He gives that credit, too. But the whole idea of American democracy and equality, although for many years and maybe to some extent today we still talk about in words but not always practice this in life. But that overwhelming feeling that we have equality in this country is, I think, very important. I looked at one of the contrasts. You go to a place like Fiji, where they're having real problems, and here... anyway, numbers play a role. There are the native Fijians, and the India Indians that were imported, imported mainly to work in the cane fields, here again. And now they're about, almost equal numbers. And they have real tensions. When I visited Fiji, I'm really surprised at how segregated they were. You know, the Indians had their own school. They still wore their saris and so on, many of 'em, and the Fijians had their own. And in a sense, this is what led to the upheaval when they finally, they had an Indian elected prime minister, the natives, in a way, couldn't quite stand for that. And so it's a divided society. But if I may say so, I also think, see, they didn't have this Hawaiian spirit of aloha as pervasive as we have in Hawaii. And also, I think, British rule is different from American rule. The British colonial system was still pervasive there, whereas in America, although we may have had our slave trade and all of this, we still had the Jeffersonian idea of equality.

MM: It also sounds like in that particular case, you're talking about two primary groups, versus in Hawaii it's a multi-plural society where it's not just the Japanese Americans and the haoles, but it's the Chinese and the Filipinos and the Samoans and so forth.

RK: Right. Yeah, so numbers play a role, definitely.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

MM: Let's go back to when you're still in the service, and, as you mentioned, you were anticipating that you would be a part of the invasion into Japan. But Japan surrenders, so, fortunately, that didn't have to happen. You, however, did spend some time in Japan.

RK: Yes, well, when the war ended I was back at Fort Snelling, and so, luckily, instead of going into a war zone now, I'm going to be shipped overseas for occupation duty, I feel. So they send me to Fort Mason, California, and I was waiting my call to get out, and then they send me to Hamilton air force, airfield, north of San Francisco to ship me out. And one night at midnight or so, I get a call, and I report. And they said, "We're going to send you to Manila." And they gave me a packet that said, "Top secret," and they gave me a .45, a gun, and they said, "Take this to MacArthur's headquarters." You know, top secret packet. Okay, a good soldier, and I get onto the C54 flying to, first to Hawaii, and I find I'm the only passenger on this cargo ship. So we left at night, and as dawn approached, we're moving into Hawaii. And the pilot say, "Of course, this is your hometown, come on," so I sat up front because that plane had no windows in the back. I had lots of room to sleep. But so, I said, "Yeah, that's Honolulu, there's Waikiki, there's Diamond Head," and so on. And I said, "I haven't been home for over two years. The war is over, why can't I stay home?" 'Cause I had to carry this top secret packet to Manila, but when I got off at Hickam Air Force Base, I talked to the officer in charge there. And at first, he says, "No, no, you have to take it all the way." But after arguing with him for some time, he finally said, "Okay," and they found someone who would take it on. So I went AWOL for two or three days in Hawaii. [Laughs] So I didn't have to take this packet. I don't know... as a young infantry officer you're indoctrinated with all this stuff about loyalty and the armed services and so forth. I didn't think much about it, but later on when I went to occupation duty in Japan... well, eventually I did go to Manila, stayed a few days, and then they flew me, in about October, early October I got into Japan. Eventually I met up with my relatives, of course, and they were curious about, well, first of all to see me in an American army uniform and when I told them that, "Oh yeah, they trusted me, they told me to take this top secret material to MacArthur's headquarters, they couldn't believe it." And then I said to myself, oh, good reason for their not believing it. But in a sense, we had come a long way.

MM: When you were in Japan, where were you stationed?

RK: Yeah, we, of course, we all originally arrived in Atsugi Air Field, and we were in Tokyo for a while. But, that was to wait our assignments. Being in military intelligence, we were assigned to general headquarters, MacArthur's headquarters, and I was assigned to the counterintelligence unit. And of course, most of us thought, gee, want to be in Tokyo, it's a glamorous city. But lo and behold, I didn't have rank. My friends, who were already first lieutenants, I was a second lieutenant, and captains could stay in Tokyo, but I got sent to Osaka. As it turned out, it was good that I did because it was, I think, a nicer place to be. There weren't as many GIs. It was a very good experience in Osaka. I spent a whole year of occupation duty in Osaka.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

MM: What perspective did you take away from your time in Japan, vis-a-vis what war is all about?

RK: Well, the devastation, well, we both saw it -- we saw it both in Manila and in Japan, especially Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka, too. These are major cities that were devastated. And you see blocks and blocks of nothing but torn buildings, bricks, devastation very clearly. And I was amazed, we should have known better, but here, what was I, a twenty-year-old or whatever. We should have been more thoughtful, I guess. But I remember the first night we got into town, into Tokyo, my friend and I were, by the time the airplane found the airfield and we got into town, we were, one of the few buildings standing was the Morinaga Building, right next to Hibiya Park, Hibiya Koen, in the middle of Tokyo. So we go out in the streets, and we're hungry, so we see this policeman, and we says, "Hey, is there any restaurant open around here?" He just laughed at us. He said, "You bombed the heck out of us. We don't have food, let alone restaurants that are open." We should have known better. And it was really a sad situation for the Japanese.

We really, I was in Osaka, we were with counterintelligence, different phases, but at any rate, we were in closer contact with the people in the media, the newspapers, the magazines, the theaters, the show groups and so forth. In a sense, all of them were under surveillance. At any rate, we got to be friends with many of them, so for that first Christmas we said, "You know what we'll do? The troops are lonely; we're going to have a show, an all-Japanese revue for the troops stationed around Osaka." I remember we had two shows, one at six-thirty and one at eight-thirty or whatever. And we just commandeered the talent around, vaudeville acts, and singers and dancers, we had, the final was the, finale was the Takaruka, Takarazuka girl's troupe performing one of their plays or acts, musicals. And we thought we would say thank you to these people. I don't think we paid them anything. We may have paid for transportation to and from the theater, but we brought 'em to our headquarters building, which was the Mengyo Kaikan Building, one of the few nice, concrete structures still standing around the neighborhood. This was the cotton exchange of Osaka. It was a beautiful building. It's refurbished now and back to its original splendor. At any rate, we had this reception in our building, and I remember standing with the colonel, our boss, greeting these people coming to our building. They were very polite, most of them, the women in kimonos and so on, all in their best dresses on their good behavior, bowing to us as they came in. And we had prepared the usual small little sandwiches, and muffins, and little things, just refreshments for them, but before long we found what they were doing is they were grabbing the things. I even saw a lady, sugar bowl, she grabbed it and poured the sugar down her kimono sleeve. Of course, the colonel was alarmed, but then we said, "Oh, we made a mistake. These people have no food, they're hungry, but they also have families and friends. And they think, 'Look at all of this we can't buy, we can't...' So they'll take what they can." So eventually, we gave up the idea of having a cute little refreshment with all these little things, pupus, hors d'oeuvres, and just decided to give the prepared foods out. So they can just take 'em home or whatever they want to do with it. And we took out some canned goods and things, and I just remember, by the time the Takarazuka girls came -- they were the most disciplined, they came last on big trucks -- we had no prepared foods, so we had to let 'em sit in our dining room and wait while we prepared something for them. But that told, sort of taught you a lesson. Even, here we are in midst of all of this, and we don't appreciate, we don't really know how much these people are suffering, or how they lack food.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

MM: It sounds like you really got to see the effects of war on civilians in a way that we don't normally think about, the effect of the postwar experience on people who weren't combatants, who weren't soldiers.

RK: Yeah, the thing that I appreciate, too, is I went in and the people in the, on occupation duty, in the early days, were mostly combat veterans. And they were the most -- they were the most well-behaved. The Japanese -- I said to my mother, I haven't seen a female, let alone a ojosan, the first month I was in Japan. They were all hiding. The story was that the American soldiers would plunder and rape. And so we couldn't find them. But the American soldiers who went in originally, the battle-tested veterans, were very professional and they behaved well. And, of course, Japan, being poor, and we having so much. We got a monthly allotment -- I mean, we got a weekly allotment, whether you smoked or not, of a carton of cigarettes. The Japanese were dying for it. For a carton of cigarettes you could get a, like a camera and so forth, so the later troops did it much more so in terms of the black market and so on, the ones who, like me, no combat experience and so forth, were sort of spoiled. But the original veterans, original... the soldiers who went in, in the early part of the occupation, I think, behaved very well. And I guess this really helped in calming the Japanese. It certainly wasn't Iraq. And so, and it was a pleasant experience, those of us who were lucky enough and knew enough Japanese to communicate, so we made many friends. They'd invite us to their homes and so forth, which is unusual for a Japanese. And so we had some very nice, cordial relations, but when I look back, I think we could have done, we could have done a lot more to help them out. I remember going to Hiroshima, oh, I don't know when it was, early spring of '46, and of course, there was still hardly anything there. The place was just leveled. But as we got off the train, some buddies, and we were gonna, were curious to see how bad it was. Immediately, we were surrounded by kids, maybe average age of ten, twelve, who wanted to escort us around, and they did. Of course, in exchange, they wanted candy and so forth, but I, I suspect a lot of them, they may have been orphans. It was a pitiful sight. Of course, war is not pretty, but of course I wasn't in combat, so I don't know the real horrors, but the aftermath is terrible.

MM: During this time, you come from a part of that generation where a lot of your friends and relatives may have served in the 442nd, 100th battalion, in the MIS. Did you lose many friends?

RK: I lost a few, but not anyone very close. Fortunately, the ones that were close to me, like my, the one who served and who lived in our neighborhood and was sort of my older brother was in the 100th, but he came home intact. And like so many of us, he couldn't afford to go to college, but with the GI Bill, he did go to the university.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

MM: Looking back on that time in your life, how would you characterize how the war and your involvement in the war affected you both personally, as well as in terms of your identity and what you wanted to do?

RK: Well, personally -- but of course, we live in a society, and I think the societal change was enormous. The war really turned things around. The aftermath of the war brought about great changes in attitudes and, of course, technology and everything. The jet plane comes in. And all these things have a tremendous impact on our lives. But in terms of attitudes, I think, as we like to say, the 100th, the 442nd, the glorious way in which they performed, helped all of us in getting accepted as loyal Americans, as we should have been in the greater society. So, as I said, statehood for Hawaii was great for Hawaii, but here again, the greater impact was on the whole United States, that we were no longer a foreign country. Because even when I went to, after the war, go to school in Minnesota, in some of the rural areas, they had never seen an Asian, for example. They always look upon me as a foreigner. Even at the University of Minnesota I finally, when I tried to find housing, they finally said, "Why don't you go to a foreign students' housing area? They may have nicer apartments." [Laughs] So I qualified as a foreign student, but here I was on the GI Bill and everything else. But, so I think personally, it eased our way into the greater society. We were more accepting. It's a great societal change. As I said, statehood meant a lot to us in Hawaii, and maybe helped our psyche and attitudes, but I think the greater impact was on the rest of the world, especially in the rest of the states. "Oh, Hawaii is not a foreign country. You don't need foreign currency when you go there." [Laughs] Some people thought it was still true.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

MM: You were discharged from the army in December 1946, and I assume you returned home to Hawaii at that point. What were you thinking, what did you want to do at that point?

RK: Oh, I said now I've got to get on and get through with my university education. And here at the University of Hawaii, I met some excellent professors and... I can name them: Allan Saunders, Ed Vinacke, Charles Engard, Harold McCarthy, Tom Murphy, great professors. And later on when I joined the faculty, they said to me, it was a great time for them because, "You veterans were so serious, we enjoyed teaching." And so anyway... but one of the great things was I knew I would go back and finish my education. But before I went into the army, I remember talking to our then -- I don't know whether he was called vice president, Paul Bachman. He would later became president of the University of Hawaii, but Paul Bachman said to me, "Dick, if you come back alive, you might have the government subsidize your education." I said, "What do you mean?" He said well, some -- and what he described was the GI Bill, which at that time wasn't enacted, I think. But lo and behold, thank God we had the GI Bill and that helped so many of us. I think I heard Dan Inouye say that he thinks -- I wish we could document this -- that more of us of Japanese ancestry, veterans, took advantage of the GI Bill than any other group. Here again, because of our great emphasis on education. I wish we could document this.

MM: That's an interesting question.

RK: But my friend, who was my surrogate older brother in the neighborhood, Hisashi Komori, after high school, he never thought he'd go to college. He got drafted into the army. Came December 7, he got shipped to Camp McCoy as part of the 100th. Luckily he came home and immediately decided, "Now I can afford it, I'm going to university." So he did go on to the university. And of course I was able to use the GI Bill, since I had spent about three years in the army. I was able to spend, the GI bill helped me through my bachelor's, my master's and my PhD.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

MM: When you went back to UH after the service, you wanted to be a lawyer?

RK: Yes.

MM: But then something happened at UH that changed your mind?

RK: Yeah.

MM: And I think it has to do with Alan Saunders's class?

RK: Yeah.

MM: Tell us that story.

RK: We had, well, the interesting this is, my wife, at that time Mildred was my girlfriend, and so I used to correspond with her regularly when I was in the army. And she said to me -- she's a, she was an education major, but she likes the liberal arts. She has a lot of courses in that, and she took this political science course from this newly arrived professor, Allan Saunders, and she said it was the most stimulating course, one of the most stimulating courses she had. So she said, "When you go back and you're in political science, take his course." So when I got back to college, I stood in line, the old-fashioned way of registering us, and in those days it was the professors themselves who enrolled the people, the students in classes. And here I am standing in line to register for my class in political science and I remember this girl standing next to me. I didn't know her, but she says, "Don't take this guy Saunders." I said, "Why?" "Oh, he's going to flunk you." [Laughs] "He's tough." So I thought, oh, well. At any rate, I took Allan Saunders' course and he's very provocative and I got sucked in. One of the courses, he said something and I kind of, gave a response, and he said, "Oh, well," then he challenged me and so since then we've become good friends. He was one of these very dedicated professors. His office was always open. He was always on campus, very friendly to the students, although many students couldn't stand him because he was so demanding, in a nice way, but... at any rate, Allan eventually -- I was a political science major, hoping to become a lawyer -- eventually said, "Why don't you go into teaching?" So in a way I said, "Oh, well maybe." And that's what I... so eventually I said, well, I was really interested in state and local government. He said, well they're... best, the expert nationally is this William Anderson, and he's at the University of Minnesota. And Allan had taught at Minnesota for a while, I guess, too. So he said, "It's a nice department. Why don't you go there?" I really wanted to go east, but anyway, I said okay, I'll get my master's there and then I'll go east.

But when I got to Minnesota, lo and behold, again, I met another professor. William Anderson was a good professor, but I met another professor who was in political philosophy, Mulford Sibley. He's a legendary figure in Minnesota. Mulford was a pacifist and a socialist and he made it very clear, but he was the fairest professor I've known. He stated clearly what his, what he thought his biases were, but when he talked about Edmund Burke or Karl Marx, he was very fair. At any rate, he was a great teacher, very shy man personally, but when in the classroom he was dynamic. He was, he is very provocative, and he won many awards for teaching (...), but also he had many community members against him, calling him a Socialist, a Communist, and so on. You know the pattern. But anyway, I was very stimulated by Mulford Sibley. And so I changed to political philosophy. And I thought I'd do my -- and I decided well, it's stimulating here, I'll just stay here in Minnesota. They were very nice to me. They gave me a teaching assistantship. My wife, Mildred, got, got a job in the college education and we enjoyed our friends there, despite the severe winters. So we decided to stay at Minnesota and finish out.

And we had some very interesting experiences in Minnesota. While we were there, a bunch of students from Japan came in. Oh, maybe there were about a half-a-dozen of them, and interesting enough, they were on U.S. army scholarships. And I remember this one delightful character. His name was Yo Nagai. He's since passed on. But he looked like a typical Japanese, horn-rimmed glasses, prominent teeth and everything, but in spirit he was really American, I thought. But here's Yo, I took Anderson's course in state and local government, and it was a large class of about maybe hundred and twenty or so. So he, they give this -- if I may say so -- rather stupid exams of true/false and short answers. And they post the grades after the mid-term exams. And lo and behold, here I am ninety-nine or whatever, way up front. So when I'm looking at this, this gentleman from Japan comes over and he says, "You Kosaki-san?" And I said, "Yes." He bows, says, "Congratulations, Japanese did very well." [Laughs] Anyway, so we got to know Yo. And he was a delightful person. I can tell you so many stories about him. Like in the dorm, he stayed at Pioneer Hall, the men's dorm. And one day one of the students of the dorm told me this story. He says, you know last night we showed a film, a John Wayne film of Battle of Iwo Jima, or whatever, and the film showed how cruel the Japanese soldiers were. And he said, "Poor Yo, after the film got through, he stood up, tears streaming down his (face) and said, 'Don't believe that. I was in the Japanese army and we didn't do such things.'" [Laughs] But he was a delightful person. And another thing he says to me later, he says, "You on GI Bill?" I said, "Yes." He said, "How much money do you get a month?" I said, "I think I get about a hundred twenty dollars a month." He said, "Oh." He said, "I'm on U.S. army scholarship. I get two hundred forty dollars a month." [Laughs] You see the generosity of our government?

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

MM: Let's go back to your undergraduate days at UH because I think we missed a very important part of your life, which was when you -- you already knew her, but you married Mildred Doi.

RK: Oh.

MM: Tell us a little bit about Mildred and how you met her.

RK: Well, she was, she was a, she was a class above me and she was in the... and so I met her in student government. She was active.

MM: At, in high school or in college?

RK: At the university, I met her -- and she's a Kauai girl.

MM: I see.

RK: So I met her at the university when I got there as a freshman. And although she was a class above me, we were the same age, because I found out later that she had skipped a grade in elementary school, she was so, she was such a good student. And it was nice. We had a lot of the same courses, and she would study much harder. She went to every class, which I didn't do. So I used to take advantage of her notes and everything else. But any rate, we got to know each other. And we really got to know each other on this, and I told you that we spent a day, we devoted a day to the war effort while we were in school. So she and I, as part of the student activity, I think I sat at the same, were assigned to the same table to assign the workers for the pineapple fields, or whatever it was. So, of course, we sat there and got to know each other. And so we found a lot in common. And so when I got in the army she was my girlfriend, so I corresponded regularly with her. So when I got out we got together, and before long, she was already teaching, but luckily she was assigned to a school in Honolulu so I could see her at least on the weekends. And eventually we got married before I went on to my graduate work. In fact, I got married before... I got back from the service, and my friends who were back earlier said, "Hey, the student body elections are coming. We're gonna put your name up for president." I said, "Look, I'm just back. I don't know if I have enough credits." But they checked with the registrar and because I had taken a big load as a freshman and some as sophomore, and I got points for being in the army, whatever it was, anyway, they declared me eligible, anyway. So I ran for office and got elected student body president. So I was really, in a way, it was just in my advanced junior year. And so I got married right after that because my so-called senior year was, I was sort of a part-time student, just had to have a few more credits to graduate.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

MM: If someone were to describe Dick Kosaki, the junior at UH, how would they describe you?

RK: Oh, I don't know. I had a lot of hair. [Laughs] And I was active in student government. One of the interesting things we did as student body president was -- and I tried to be, I mean, at that time as I remember, I tried to steer us away from carnivals and dances. We did that and I had a good person or persons who could handle those areas which weren't my primary interest. I tried to get something like the sponsoring panel discussions. One of the interesting things we did... oh yeah, preparing for statehood for Hawaii. We were very active in this movement. And congressional committees were coming regularly to Hawaii to have hearings, one after another. I figured how many people in Congress, they all had to take a trip to Hawaii before we got statehood. But the student, the student government was very active in promoting statehood for Hawaii. And our principal speaker, at that time was... what was she, a freshman or a sophomore? Patsy Mink, Patsy Takemoto at that time. Patsy was very effective. I saw her perform as a Maui High School senior in the territorial oratorical contest, I can just picture, I can still see Patsy on the McKinley High School auditorium where the contest was held, very dramatically giving her spiel. But anyway, Patsy appeared before the Congressional committee. And she was so effective the Hawaii Statehood Commission decided to send her to Washington, D.C., to testify. Anyway, Patsy never came back, then she went to University of Chicago, and all that.

MM: The rest is history, for her.

RK: Yeah. But we were very active in that. But also, at the urging, I think, of Allan Saunders, one of the projects that we ran at the ASUH was a constitutional convention. See, before you become a state you have to have a state constitution, and it's crucial as to what you put into it. And so, we thought this would be good experience for us, would be good for the state, for the public in general to know what some of the issues are, what some of the alternatives might be to different approaches in government. So we had a student constitutional convention, which was very successful. And we came out with our own constitution. So we had projects like that.

Another delightful thing that I recall now, as student body president, I got a call from the U.S. army once. As you might recall, the U.S. army had a, I don't know what you call it, a academic unit or whatever. They were promoting, studying in the field... what do we call it? Well, it's... anyway, the off-campus study, and they had reproduced many classics, Shakespeare, Adam Smith, you know, Freud, all the great works, paperbacks, that they were freely distributing to the troops in the field, I guess, to keep us educated and out of mischief. But when the war ended they had, at Fort Shafter, boxes and boxes of these classics. They wanted to get rid of it, so they called the university. They called us at student government. They said, "Can you do something with this?" I said, "We sure can." So we hauled all of these books and had a great book sale. I think you could have bought (John) Dewey for twenty-five, ten cents or twenty-five cents. But it was some of the good things we could do.

MM: So you're a junior at UH, you're involved in student government, and involved in very meaningful endeavors, i.e. statehood. You are engaged at that time with Mildred. What did you want to be at that point? What did you see in your future?

RK: Well, it was still a toss-up between being a lawyer and being a professor, although it was much later that I gave the professor side more and more serious consideration.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

MM: Then, as you mentioned, you, you got married with Mildred and you went off to Minnesota where you engaged in political philosophy as a master's student, and you were there for a couple years in the master's program. What happened then in terms of going on for a PhD program?

RK: Well, yeah, when I got into graduate school after I got a taste of it I decided, well, I will go for a PhD. And as I said, Minnesota was very friendly and very nice to me. I got readily admitted to the program. I got to be a teaching assistant, etcetera. But when I completed my coursework and passed my prelims, I decided, partly it's economics, but I'd go back to Hawaii because I was offered a job as a researcher, junior researcher, and an instructor, actually it was two jobs. One in the legislative reference bureau, where I had worked, by the way, as a senior, and to be an instructor in the department of, they called it then government, political science. So, since I got this offer, went back and I said to myself, well, in my spare time I'll write my dissertation. You know the story, it's two years pass and I had hardly made a dent.

MM: Right.

RK: And I was gonna do this classic thing about natural law. I was fascinated by that whole concept. So anyway, Mildred and I finally decided I'll never get this done unless I take time off. And so I went back to Minnesota. And luckily she got a full-time job teaching in educational philosophy, intercultural education. And I still had enough in the GI Bill left for monthly payments. So I spent a year trying to complete my degree. And she'll tell you the story of... two or three months into it, my daily going to the library and everything else. She comes home one day and I said to her, "You know, I think I better change my thesis topic." She said, "What?" I said, "Yeah, I think this natural law thing, I think everything's been written about it. I don't think I can do anything more." She said, "What are you gonna do?" I said, "I'm more fascinated by contemporary issues. So you know what, I think I'm gonna change and do something about majority rule." It's always been in the back of my mind. Some people equate democracy with majority rule. And you can readily see the contradictions. So I said, "I think I'm gonna try to explore this relationship." So that's what I did. Of course, she was sort of dismayed thinking, oh my God, there's all these years and two or three months here, and oh, can he finish it in, in whatever it was, four months, five months that we had left? But lo and behold, with her encouragement, and her typing my thesis, and the typing of the thesis was difficult because you didn't have a computer. They insisted on certain margins, they insisted the footnote be on the page in which the footnote was referenced. Anyway, so I told her, I said, well, when I, after my final oral exams, which I passed, I said to her, "The only thing they commended me for was the thesis, the typing of the thesis." [Laughs] But anyway, I completed it. Although that question is still, I still wrestle with it, whether it's, you can't really equate majority rule with democracy. But it's a phase of it, it's applicable to some things, but I guess my conclusion was basically you have to have people who are interested. You have to have knowledge of the issue. You have to have valid discussion in order to come up with a, to have majority rule work, and you still think, are there certain things that the majority cannot rule out, like freedom of speech? But to what extent? It's still a very tricky problem that I really haven't solved.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

MM: Talk a little bit more about your dissertation, in terms of majority rule and why it contradicts democracy for certain segments of the population.

RK: I wouldn't say it contradicts democracy. I think it's a phase of democracy, but the question is, in my mind, what role does it play? Some people would give it a dominant role and say majority rule means democracy. And of course, then you draw the extremes -- this is a real extreme, but a cat walks into this elementary classroom and the kids play with it and someone says, "Is it a boy or a girl?" And someone says, "Let's vote." See, it's not susceptible to that sort of question. It's an extreme example, but sometimes we vote on things like that, I think. And, of course, we're always worried about, they talk about the tyranny of the minority, and they talk about minority rights. I hate, I don't like the term "minority rights." I think those rights belong to the majority as well. So we have to define those rights, like freedom of speech, freedom of the press, that under-gird democracy and majority rule. If you don't, if you're not, if the public, which, who has to decide, is not getting the facts, people call it true facts, but facts are things that are true. And they don't hear alternatives, meaningful alternatives, if they don't get this and they don't have a thorough discussion, the vote may not be an enlightened one. And what I think we look for is an enlightened vote. And by "enlightened" I mean, in many ways it's not all rational, but it takes in, we're emotional creatures, we'll take in emotional events as well. That's part of, that's part of life, matters of the heart as well as the mind, but it has to be a well-rounded discussion before you have a meaningful majority vote.

MM: You used the phrase "the tyranny of the minority." Would you also agree that at times --

RK: No, "tyranny of the majority."

MM: The tyranny -- that's what I was gonna ask then, that in fact the "tyranny of the majority" can easily occur if "majority rules" is the only doctrine that one follows?

RK: That's right. See, and in many ways, modern dictatorships depend on that. They said, Hitler says, "I got the majority vote." But if it's based on prejudice, if it's based on lack of information...

MM: It certainly, in static societies where the groups don't change and are not fluid --

RK: Yeah.

MM: -- I think it's a real problem.

RK: Some of these common scenes I think Mulfred Sibley used to say these things, too. In a democracy, in many ways, some people say, "Well, not everybody is smart enough to make a decision," or they think they, like Plato's Republic, maybe you gotta have the people of gold, the people who know, the intellectuals or whatever make the decisions. But all of us are impacted by the decisions made by our governments. And as the saying goes, "only the wearer of the shoe knows where it pinches," or knows whether the shoe fits or not. You can't do it for other people. And this involves the heart as well as the mind. So these are important elements that we have to consider. But there's always a danger as a people who are against majority rule, and then, because there's a tyranny of the majority. And we have examples in history where people act and said that most of the people think we ought to outlaw this or that. And it hurts the society in general in the long run.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

MM: Okay, so now we're in about 1956 and you're coming, you've finished your PhD, on, excuse me, you've finished your PhD. And you go back to UH. And do you go back as an assistant professor at that time?

RK: Yes, I think I went back with a PhD degree to get at least hired as a assistant professor.

MM: What were those first years like as an assistant professor, tenure track?

RK: Well, they were nice years. We had a rather heavy teaching load, but I enjoyed teaching. As you well know, you work very hard at your first classes. And one of the things I found out is, in some ways I did best with the subjects I knew least about, especially at the undergraduate level because I could simplify enough as not to confuse them. [Laughs] But on subjects that you know too well, you know this, you know that, and before you know it you're in such detail and everything else, you're not getting you're main point across. So early in my career I found that to be true. And of course, as you know, the young professors get the larger classes, introductory courses. And, but I must say I enjoyed introductory courses. And at that time I realized that my job, because introductory course you have mainly students who aren't interested in political science, are taking it to get rid of a core requirement. I found myself more in the order of trying to stimulate the students, you know, into enjoying the subject. And not so much getting into detail, because, of course, the details are in your textbooks and you go to the library, and the details constantly change. So I tried to think about my successful classroom professors of the past and most of them, when I look back, didn't go into details, one, two, three, four. They had major themes that they wanted to expound on that day and did a beautiful job of organizing materials around that. So I tried to do that. I thought more and more, teaching was -- especially undergraduate level -- motivating the students. On the graduate level you take it that the students are motivated so it's a slightly different approach.

MM: In those early years when you were just starting off as an assistant professor, did you have aspirations to sometimes, to sometime in your career be chancellor?

RK: No, I never had that in mind. I thought teaching was it. In many ways to be good teacher is something. And that's all I aspired to be.

MM: I've heard it, heard you described as a good professor who was a reluctant administrator.

RK: [Laughs] Yeah, in a sense. Well, my theory of administration is, even I got into administration, and had to select people to be fellow administrators. I had a silent rule, if someone was very eager to have the job as administrator, I would count that as a negative. I think administration, in many ways, is like a bureaucracy, it's a facilitator. And someone who loves to do that will probably use that position as a power position. I don't think it should be such. So I like reluctant administrators. If you love your job as administrator too much, I think you get to be authoritarian or dictatorial. Anyway, that's my personal view.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

MM: In 1959 you branched out, if you will, and became the administrative assistant to the Speaker of the House in the state legislator, state legislature, Vince Esposito. Recall that time --

RK: Yeah, that was --

MM: -- it was a very exciting time for Hawaii.

RK: Right. Well, I did dabble a little bit. Most of my friends, Dan Inouye and others were actively involved in Democratic politics. And I was at the university and so we played a role. When Jack Burns ran for governor we sort of had a university brain-trust. And I was part of that gang that met regularly with the, then-to-be governor, Burns, and late into the evenings. And we, we did a lot of... and here again, we liked to talk about what he should be doing. And my field was education, like convincing him that we should expand educational opportunity beyond the high school. And at the moment, the most logical expansion was with community colleges all over the Islands, geographically and financially accessible. And he bought into that idea. So we did that sort of thing. So I was on the fringes helping the Democratic Party. And among the leaders that I met was Vince Esposito, 'cause Vince doesn't quite remember if I met him when he was on occupation duty in Beppu, Japan. Anyway, our paths crossed then. But I got to know him later, mostly at parties. And he wanted me to become his administrative assistant. He was supposed to be Speaker of the House. I didn't want to go, but he talked to the president and the president kinda forced me to take on that task. But the irony was, the Democratic Party was, was split. And as it turned out, Vince was not elected Speaker, someone else was, Elmer Cravalho, from Maui. But Elmer asked me to stay on, so I served as assistant to the Speaker. And that's the time when we got statehood for Hawaii. And one of my biggest jobs was to get a red, white, and blue telephone on the Speaker's desk so when the call came from Washington, from Jack Burns' office, that we had gotten the statehood, the bill had passed, the red and white telephone on the Speaker's desk would ring. [Laughs]

MM: Recall that moment when the phone rang.

RK: Oh yeah, it was a joyous moment. Yeah, we all enjoyed it. And, well, the funny thing is, one of my best friends who was the house attorney, who loves to fish, and I said well, "On that day we're gonna go fishing." And we did -- [laughs] -- reef fishing.

MM: So the local boy who grew up by the beach celebrated --

RK: Celebrated, yeah.

MM: -- statehood by going fishing.

RK: In our own way. But that evening we went to Vince Esposito's house for a big party. And that's where I met James Michener. And as I recall, James Michener, here in this kitchen, he was doing his research. He was pumping all these local people about this and that and everything else, some of which appears in his book, Hawaii.

MM: That must've been a very sweet moment for you, when Hawaii became a state, given that you had worked so hard on that issue, even as a student at the University of Hawaii.

RK: Yes, all of us, and all the great majority of us in Hawaii wanted statehood, expected it. Although, at one time we thought we'd never get it because of the Southern opposition. So one time in my career I thought seriously of going to Puerto Rico to study their commonwealth status, as to whether that would be good for us.

MM: What did it mean to you, and to your contemporaries?

RK: Well, as I recall, when everyone could meet each other and say, congratulations Mr. or Mrs. Citizen, you know, full-fledged members, because until we got statehood we had a governor who was appointed by the President of the United States. There were several things that we couldn't do on our own.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

MM: So then the year after statehood, 1959 to 1960 was your sabbatical year that you waged. And you went on to, to receive the Helen White Reed Congressional Fellowship, where you spent a year in Washington, D.C. What was that like?

RK: Oh yeah, that was a memorable year. There was the year of statehood, and I was lucky enough to get a congressional fellowship. This is a program sponsored by the American Political Science Association, and they chose young political scientists from around the country. And the year that I got, I was chosen, they also branched out and got, you know, not only young political scientists, but political reporters. And they also chose them from the Far East. So we had from Japan, Thailand, Philippines, Hong Kong. We had these people come, India, join us, American political scientists and political reporters. And that was a good program. We got assigned to, half the year to member of the House of Representatives, and another half of the year to the Senate. And as a political scientist I thought I should know how Congress really operates, you know, important political institution. And this will give me the inside story. And it was a delightful year. We, we had -- it was a good program. We met with all the well-known people in Washington, congressional officials, people of the press, and other people that were really opinion-makers. At the same time we were assigned to congressional offices and we did research and so on. In the House, for some strange reason, I ended up with a, working for congressman, newly elected, from Vermont, who was a Democrat, which was an anomaly in Vermont. His name was Meyer, and he was a real gentleman, an excellent person, but he was a Quaker and a pacifist, and he was very critical of the then foreign policy of the United States, and it was a wonder that he got elected. But I got a very interesting perspective sitting in his office, as to how Congress operated and how he was treated.

On the Senate side, I thought I should get more into the center of power. So I talked to Dan Inouye and to Jack Burns. Especially Jack Burns, they knew Lyndon Johnson well. And Lyndon Johnson was that all-powerful majority floor leader of the Senate. And lo and behold, I did get my assignment, but Johnson's office is huge. And my assignment was with Bobby Baker, his number two man, his operator. At any rate, so I got this beautiful office right off the Senate floor with two or three chandeliers. That's really was a magnificent office, there was a huge desk. And mainly I did letters for Johnson on education. My favorite line is, you know, a lot of teachers would write suggesting this or protesting that, and I had a standard letter with a standard opening: "As a former schoolteacher I agree with you," or blah, blah, blah. [Laughs] I did a lot of that stuff and I ran errands here and there. It was interesting to sit there and to see who came in to see Bobby Baker, you know, all the influential people. I see a big lobbyist from Hawaii coming in and he's embarrassed to see me because he's coming in with crates of macadamia nuts -- [laughs] -- pineapples to give Bobby Baker to give to others. But I got an interesting view.

And that's the year that Lyndon Johnson decided to run for president. So one Monday morning I come in and his able secretary, who really ran the office, said to me, "Dick, I'm afraid you're gonna, we have to move you to the smaller desk." I said, "Oh?" She said, "Yes, Oscar Chapman is coming in, taking your desk. You may have heard Lyndon Johnson's gonna run for president and Oscar Chapman is his chief coordinator, campaign manager." So that was an interesting story. And so I had to help with the Johnson campaign. And Johnson was going to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, to do something, give a talk or something. So they said, "Okay, Dick, you get all the facts about Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, geography, climate, history, everything." So I pick up the phone and I called the Library of Congress. "Lyndon Johnson's office, send me materials, information on Coeur d'Alene." In about two or three hours two pages come with book loads of materials on Coeur d'Alene. And I told myself, gee, when I worked for Representative Meyer, it took two days for them to respond. [Laughs] So, here's another aspect of Washington.

And another delightful story along these lines is, there was a page who was assigned full-time, young high school kid from Bobby Baker's native state, which was North Carolina or South Carolina, I forget which, but very, he was a high school kid but he was already six feet, two and hundred and ninety pounds. He was a big kid who loved to throw his weight around. He was a nice boy but he said, "I'm gonna be a Bobby Baker," anyway. And he said to me, "Where do you park?" I said, "Oh, I have to park in the, I still park in the old House, two blocks away." "Oh," he says, "I'll get you a parking pass, you can park in the capitol grounds." [Laughs]

MM: And was he able to?

RK: He was.

MM: Did you ever get to see Johnson in action?

RK: Well, on the floor, in a sense, but mainly a very limited way, and I really met him only three times, I think, when I first went in to get introduced, and once I went in with someone on something, but not really. It's a very casual, he wouldn't remember me at all. Oh, the thing that was interesting, too, was, not only did we get statehood, but Hawaii wanted to establish the East-West Center, which was a university faculty initiative. So there were, besides myself, there was an economics professor, good friend, Bob Kamins, who worked for Oren Long, Senator Oren Long from Hawaii. And he led the -- but he was the one who helped to write the legislation, but I was there, too, to help. And what Johnson did, was because in many ways he was known for his domestic policy but no international experience. So here was something that he could wear (on his) hat and say, "Look, I'm interested in East-West Center and it's an international thing for friendship." So he snuck it into the Mutual Security Act and got the East-West Center started. But some of us who were on the Capitol, on Capitol Hill knew about the concept and could help draft the legislation. So that was another interesting episode in Washington.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

MM: So, after that year you came back to Hawaii. And in 1962 a very important thing happened in your life, and in Mildred's life, and that's the birth of your son, Randall.

RK: Yeah. Uh-huh. Yeah, Randy came into our life and of course, as you well know, it does effect your daily routine and other things. But he's been a welcome, a very good addition.

MM: Let me ask a question then that actually has personal roots for me. What was it like being a father and being an academician at the same time?

RK: Well, a lot depends on your duties at that time. I think most of the time I was still doing... what was I doing? In administration, as you well know, your time is not your own. You have so many meetings and this place to go to and that place to go to. Whereas in a faculty you have your class schedule which pretty much binds you, but the rest of the time you're on your own. You can do, well, you can do your work in day or night or whatever, weekends. So, in that sense I think, being a professor in academic life is flexible and makes it easy. And you have vacations when your children have vacations, usually. So that's helpful. But when I got into administration, as Mildred can tell you, they saw very little of me.

MM: Around the time Randall was born was when you had just become department chair for political science, and also you were the senate chair for the university faculty. What's the role of shared governments in an academic setting? And how important is that?

RK: Yeah, well, this is before the university unionized. But the faculty senate was the voice of the faculty and we thought, as faculty members, we thought this was an essential voice in determining university policy. And in many ways, I think at that time we did have a voice at the policy table. I went regularly to the meetings of board of regents. And fortunately, the board was then led my Herb Corneulle, who headed one of the, Castle & Cooke, one of the big five firms, but a great guy. Herb read the Publisher's Weekly. He's an Occidental grad. But anyway he was, and he was very fair, and he ran -- when he was chairman, I still remember his, he kept the meetings short, to the point. And once as a faculty senate chair I was, I used to attend all of the board of regents meetings and that monthly, and was on campus. But as I was rushing from my office to -- I got a phone call, and it was a long phone call. By the time I got through and rushed over to the administration building, and entered the meeting room, Herb Corneulle says to me, "Dick, you're just on time, we just adjourned." So those were the days when the regents minded their own business, the policy-making, kept the meetings short. They didn't go into micro-managing, I thought. So those were nice days, but maybe it's nostalgic. We think so.

But one of the things I must say that my contribution to the faculty set, I found myself spending a lot of time -- we had no secretary -- so I had to spend a lot of time -- and we didn't have computers or e-mail -- I spent a lot of time typing my own notices, running around campus delivering the notices and I said, "Now, we need a secretary." And on one of my visits I was at UCLA and I was in Chuck Young's office, the president then, or chancellor, and I met the faculty senate chairman at that time. I don't know who he was. But he took me to his office, and lo and behold he has two or three secretaries, he's got... so when I went back home I said to the administration, "You know, if you really honor what we're doing, you ought to assign us a full-time clerical help." And lo and behold, they consented. And that was my, one of my major contributions to the university governance. I think to this day they still have a person assigned full-time to help the faculty.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

MM: Clearly, throughout your career you've been on both sides of the fence. You've been a faculty member and a leader in the senate faculty. You've also been an administrator. In a healthy organization, and a healthy university, what's the relationship, or what should a relationship be between faculty and administration?

RK: Well, there shouldn't be a fence. I think we're all after the same thing. Of course, we bring sometimes different points of view to the table, but we ought to be able to hash this out. I guess a lot of it, as in politics, there's a lot of campus politics. I think often the answer is compromise. You can't hold to extreme positions, especially as there are large numbers of people affected, students affected. So, I don't know, but you always find some people rather recalcitrant, overly aggressive, and so forth. Well, as well know, in administration that's... they show you organizational charts and so forth, but, and they have these efficiency gurus, but mostly I think it's a people business, which life is about. I think if you have healthy relations with key members of your administration and faculty... you don't have to agree with them all the time, but if you're on talking terms and tolerate each other, I think things can work out.

MM: After 1963 you became much more involved in the upper administration of the University of Hawaii and I don't think we need to go chronologically through each position, and certainly you were, you held positions like Assistant to the President, Vice President for Community Colleges, University Vice President, Chancellor of the West Oahu College, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and Acting Chancellor for University of Hawaii at Manoa. Certainly a very illustrious career. What are some of the high points? What are some of the things that you tackled that you're very proud of and you remember fondly?

RK: When you look at the list that you just read off, you can, one thing they never trusted me with was the budget. [Laughs] They never let me handle the money, which was so crucial.

MM: Who is "they"?

RK: Well, the administration. Never got a job, of course, that's not my forte. I was more into the academics, so-called purely academic side. But, as you know, so much of what the university does, I found out as I got into administration, was controlled by the budget boys.

MM: Right.

RK: Not only at the university but also in the governor's office, downtown. I got into administration rather reluctantly, but when we selected Tom Hamilton as the president of university, I was faculty senate chairman, so, of course, I got to meet him. And Tom was a person who really honored the faculty voice. And he was a political scientist. And we really got along very well. So Tom said to me, he came in early January, the legislature met in mid-January. And he says, "You know, I understand you know the legislature well." Well, I worked in Legislative Reference Bureau and lot of my friends who were members of the legislature. He said, "I need help, so can you be my assistant?" I thought it'd be just for that semester, so, so he, they lightened my teaching load and I got to be the assistant to the president, and early on was primarily working with the legislature. Well, I was lucky in that Tom Hamilton was a superb person. He was good in public relations, privately shy, but publicly he was a great speech maker. He wrote his own speeches and he was very effective in the community, very popular in the community and with the faculty, too, although later on with the Vietnam War he ran into trouble. But, the, but Tom Hamilton was such an able administrator, and I learned a lot from him.

But later on, even after Tom resigned, well, one of the assignments, it was during that legislative session that I worked with Tom, Tom Hamilton, that the legislature decided to buy Jack Burns' idea of enlarging educational opportunity beyond the high school, that is, build community colleges. So when the session ended and they passed the act authorizing community colleges, they said, "First of all, do a thorough study and convince us more and how we should organize the colleges." Tom gave me the assignment. It was assigned to university, so I was given this job of planning for the community colleges. And that was time-consuming but very heart-warming and interesting. We decided to canvass all of the high schools in the state. And we got a terrific return of ninety percent of questionnaires we sent out to the seniors, asking what their knowledge was of the community college and whether they'd go and how much they're willing to pay and so on. And as a result, we wrote a report. My wife wasn't being paid, but she's better at research than I am, especially in mathematics and quantitative analysis. So she helped me a great deal and we got a report out within six months, I think, with student help advocating a community college for the university -- for the state and tying it in with the university.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

MM: What was the general community's reaction to the notion of community colleges? Did they know what that was?

RK: No, generally they did not. This was in the early 1960s. Community colleges were really catching on in California, one of the chief places. They were mostly called junior colleges. And on the East Coast and in certain places... but in Hawaii there was very little knowledge of what a community college was. So my major task was to go around talking to business groups etcetera, telling them what a community college is, what community colleges were. And some of them were very skeptical. But we thought this was the quickest, easiest, cheapest way of enlarging educational opportunity. As it turned out -- and once we established the colleges they grew faster than we ever anticipated. And I mean, even to this day they're doing a great job. Because in many ways, I said the university is a dinosaur, but the community colleges should remain flexible, accessible, and I think that's holding true.

MM: Why do you think that is? What is it about community colleges that make them so much more viable or so much more relevant to the community as opposed to a four-year university?

RK: Well, I wouldn't say four-year university is irrelevant, but it's relevant in a more amorphous or broader sense with the research and so forth. But the more direct impact is on local communities, or within the state, is with the community colleges, is they train people to be electricians and plumbers and you know, engineering assistants and nurses and so on. And also the fact that more people, more people can go to community colleges, find it financially feasible to do so, etcetera, I think, makes them very attractive. And I think the community college faculty, at least up to now, have shown more flexibility. They take on a greater teaching load, although they're trying to cut back on that. And I think they pay more attention to the classroom. This isn't true of all professors and research universities, but many of them are more interested in their research than in students. You know, there's a role for that. But the community colleges emphasize student teaching. And in as much as you get freshmen and sophomores, these are the crucial periods in anyone starting a collegiate career. I think it's very important that they emphasize this aspect of the, of college life. And I think many of them are succeeding. Anyway, I find it very attractive and in Hawaii they've grown much faster, much bigger than I think we anticipated. So there was a need for this.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

MM: Yeah, let me challenge you for just a moment.

RK: Sure.

MM: But I think you're being modest when you describe this period in, the period of time. That you did more than just simply write this report in six months, that in fact you had to lay the groundwork for people accepting the ideas and dealing and facing down the opposition to the community college ideas.

RK: Well, this is when the Democratic Party was in full power and getting into full bloom. And one of the major planks was to increase educational opportunity. And Governor Burns, I said we'll work with him, and he bought into this idea in a big way. So we had his total support. And the Democratic Party was quite united and so many of them followed Burns. But even independents, I knew, I must say I knew most of the Democrats in the legislature, I knew most of the legislators. So I could to talk with them one-to-one. Lot of them asked me what it was about, this and that. And we got tremendous support for community colleges. This was opposed by some factions. The conservatives said we're destroying vocational education. Because our plan was to convert the technical schools, which were post-high school institutions assigned to the Department of Education. And they were strictly so-called vocational. They trained carpenters, plumbers, sheet metal workers, electricians, cooks and so forth. And they thought that the community college, especially when taking over by the university, would minimize these programs. So, for good reason they, so if that's the case, they were gonna vote against community colleges taking away. And of course the technical school people had their own lobbyists. And they didn't, people don't want change. They thought they'd lose their jobs. Some of them said, "Well, if you become a college, unless I get at least a master's degree or at least a, or even a PhD." So there was resistance to change.

And one of the most delightful things is, Honolulu Technical School, which was the biggest vocational school, said to me, "Okay, Dick, if you think that's such a good idea, we want you to debate this. We're gonna choose a labor representative and we're gonna have a student body assembly, and you people, you're gonna talk and defend the community changing the technicals, converting them to community colleges." The interesting thing is, they chose the wrong labor leader. They chose a labor leader who was a friend of mine, who was more for liberal education. He made a greater plea than I could have, saying this was a good step. That even an auto mechanic ought to more about English, and on and on he went. And this a good way to... and that you should treat all post-high school students equally. The thing that surprised me when I didn't know much about the technical schools, so I visited them as were, to talk about this idea of converting them to community colleges. And here were these students who were, who had their high school diplomas, treated so differently from those of us at university. When you're a university freshman, of course, you think you're free of anything. You can smoke, you can eat hamburgers for lunch or whatever, eat when you want and so on. These technical schools are run like public schools. You know, they ran from eight o'clock to three o'clock, they had a lunch break and the cafeteria was open only for an hour or so, and limited menu. And when I went in and said, "Oh, you know what we're gonna do, we're gonna have a open cafeteria and they can have potato chips and hamburgers and so forth," thereupon that we were gonna change the scheduling. We're gonna have 'em take some English and this and that. So we got a lot of opposition from the faculty. But we had, but the Democrats were pretty much in favor of community college. The more I spoke to people, the more they were convinced it was a good thing. So, we had surprising support.

In fact, when we went to Maui it was, they had very progressive political leaders and they were the ones who were most anxious to convert the Maui vocational school, technical school to a community college. And I remember going to Maui. And they were on a piece of land on about a few acres. And there was an empty space, a vacant lot of considerable, sixty acres or so. And I thought we should naturally expand into that area. I think it was part of state land so it wasn't gonna be difficult. So we had to convince the land board that we should, they should turn this acreage over to the Maui Community College. I went to testify with the land board and I thought I made a good case for getting forty more acres. I got chastised. "Why didn't you ask for sixty?" You know, that was the climate of the time. And so there was terrific support for community colleges.

MM: Has that support eroded over these last four decades?

RK: I don't think it has. There's always this tension, as you know, between universities and community colleges and they're vying for money. Early on, the community colleges, as I used to tell Tom Hamilton -- and in those days we didn't have reapportionment yet, so the power in the legislature was still with the neighbor islands. And if you put the community college in the neighbor islands in the rural areas, when there came a fight between the city and the rural areas, you know where the votes would be.

MM: Right.

RK: But we had tremendous support on, for the community colleges. Sometimes the University Manoa people think that the community colleges are getting more than they are. But it's a constant feeling of competition.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

MM: Now in the Hawaii model, the community colleges are under the University of Hawaii, is that correct?

RK: Yes.

MM: And that's not a model that is true across the country.

RK: No, that's very unusual.

MM: For example, here in California it's two separate systems.

RK: Yeah, the California system is more akin to what we have in the rest of the country. You know, but to start with, Hawaii has a centralized public school system. The whole state is one district. Most of America starts out with the little red school house and school districts, the local school districts, which are found to be not good because of the imbalance in financial resources. And the colleges, too, the community colleges in California were pretty much local institutions although they're gradually getting to be more state institutions. In Hawaii we just jumped into state institutions. And... but putting it under the university, I got criticized by my brethren on the mainland. The community college people said, "I don't know if that's gonna work." It has pros and cons, but for a state like Hawaii which is small and which is, started out by having unification at the public school level and has a very powerful state government and very little local government, I thought that's the only way we can operate if we operate at the state level. And I think it's worked out okay.

MM: Was it ever a consideration to have it work at the state level but be on par with the UH system?

RK: I don't know if you'd call it on par. The Manoa campus oftentimes refers itself as a flagship. I don't like that term, frankly. I think in a way we're all equal. We're all tying to do the same thing in different ways. But of course, there's always competition, not only between the university at Manoa and Hilo campus, that's another story. They used to be a two-year campus and it's a four-year campus now. And then there's West Oahu, another two-year campus that's university level, and all the community colleges. But, you know this, you expect this to happen, there's some competition. But we thought this competition would be moderated if you're under one system. The university model was, the president and the board of regents ran the whole thing and then we had the, I was appointed the Vice President of Community Colleges. And I handled the community colleges and worked directly with the president and the board of regents.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 36>

MM: For a reluctant administrator, you sure had a lot of administrative positions and had your fingers in a lot of administrative issues. In 1984 to 1986 you served as acting chancellor for Manoa. What were those years like?

RK: Yeah, that was my last administrative post. As you can see by my record, I kept on going back to the classroom and getting back on again. And I went back as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at Manoa campus, which was an interesting job because you could see the whole campus and we were developing quite rapidly. Although I used to say Manoa is a, you have all the departments and divisions and school of this and that. You get an overview and it's, the university is a fascinating world. And many people think it's "a many splendored thing," but I used to say it's "a many splintered thing." Yeah, each one has its own fiefdom and some deans are more aggressive than others. And I was, anyway... so it was an interesting and worthwhile job. But when I got to be chancellor and we had a very strong president at that, who just came in, who was very active. And so I said to Al, "Al," I said, "you know, when the football team wins, it's yours, when it loses its mine. It's not fair. And you're right on the campus." I said, "I say, 'No,' to a dean, he gets mad at me, he runs to your office and twenty minutes later I get a call from you." I said, "That's no way to run this place." I said, so when... he said, "Yeah." He said, "I really want to run Manoa." So I said, "Okay, why don't you abolish the chancellor's office?" It's the most frustrating job I've had because I start all -- Al Simone was the president. It's not Al's fault. But when the position was created, when Harlan Cleveland was president and I was his vice president at that time, but Harlan created the position, assigned it to Dick Takasaki as chancellor. I remember Dick writing to Harlan saying, "Now, let me know what my responsibilities are, what authority do I have?" He never got a straight response. 'Cause Harlan's style of administration was... what did he call it? It has to do with ambiguity. At any rate, Harlan wanted to deal in an informal sort of way and he's the one who talked about not a pyramidal organization, but horizontal, etcetera. And anyway, so the chancellor's position was never clarified vis-a-vis the president of the university. So that last job I had was acting chancellor -- of course, being "acting" was also not that great, but the position itself was never clarified and I found that to be, unfortunately, sort of a frustrating experience because you didn't know exactly what authority you had.

MM: Comment on the comment that you just made about the acting part of it. Being the acting chancellor also put you at a disadvantage or in a difficult position.

RK: Yeah, well, partly it's, I asked for that because I knew the position was going to be going out. On top of that, I was, I was thinking again of not... of getting back into teaching or I was eligible for full retirement and I thought I could be doing other things. As it turned out, I did do other things.

MM: When the presidency had a vacancy, your name was considered. What was that time like?

RK: Well, there were at least two occasions when I guess I made the finalist list. And on both occasions I know that I had the faculty support but I didn't have the downtown support, which was crucial. The regents all came from downtown. I didn't know the business community. I knew some of the politicians but I didn't know the business community and in many ways they had a strong voice.

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 37>

MM: What's the, describe for us the dynamics at the University of Hawaii, especially at that time between the regents, the president's office and the community and the faculty.

RK: I don't know if I can describe that. Those relationships change with the characters changing and the times change. That's another thing; we know that change is the only constant. And when you look back, Tom Hamilton came at the right time because the university was ambitious, the state was on the upbeat, we weren't in financial trouble. And we chose a leader who was charismatic, who said the right things, got the support of the community. So he, in many ways, he was the right man, although the Vietnam War destroyed him. And then you, when, and Fudge Matsuda came in as president and they wanted, at that time, the state had financial problems and they wanted someone to drive an even keel. So I think that different times demand different kinds of people and personalities. And the regents change, too. In some ways the regents, as I view them now, became much more active in the management of the university, and to some extent I don't blame them, but I don't think it's a... too much involvement is not a healthy thing.

MM: You were a reluctant administrator. What type of administrative leader were you? How would you describe your leadership style?

RK: Oh, I don't know. I was never described as being forceful. I thought it was more by persuasion that you should convince people to do this or that. I never saw that, my positions as being permanent. Some people stay long and you have to establish relationships and, you know, think long-range. I thought that, in most of my positions I, after four or five years I thought I'd had my say, I did what I could do, and maybe we needed fresh blood. But that's my idea of administration. But there are, you can make reasons and there are cases for people staying longer, because oftentimes that helps to steady the institution.

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 38>

MM: As you look back on your career, what, do you have favorite anecdotes, life in academia, or life in academic administration?

RK: Funny, I can't think of any offhand. Of course, we professors are a funny breed. We're human, only more so. So the foibles are interesting. When we were converting the technical schools to the community colleges, I met with the technical school faculty and many of them were nervous and not sure they wanted this change. They were very proud of their technical schools, as they should be. And I still remember this one person who was quite adamant about not making the change but he knew it was inevitable. Later on that week I went to my dry cleaners and the lady says to me, "You know So and so?" "Yeah," I said. "You know, he's so happy he's gonna be university professor, he's at a technical school now." [Laughs] He's the same person. So I get, I get him publicly in this stance and then privately he's saying to his dry cleaner...

MM: That he's happy.

RK: Yeah. And people were afraid that so much of life is a status, of being status conscious. And they look upon the community colleges as being inferior to the university. And I said to myself, we should accept the community colleges. They serve a real purpose just as honorable as any other institution. And I said to myself, once I stop reading the social columns and I said, "Miss So-and-so, Mary got married, Mary is a graduate of Maui community college." I said, "Once we make it on those social pages, I think we're in." And lo and behold, that happened.

But one of the wonderful things is, speaking of opening educational opportunity, Maui High School got an early start and we attracted many students, older students who were waiting for this chance to get a liberal arts education. And several of them later on went on to get baccalaureate degrees at the university. So we have this picture of Tom Hamilton, the president of the university, awarding degrees to these proud graduates of Maui Community College who got the baccalaureate degrees and some of them went on to graduate degrees. But that's one aspect of community college success. But of course, the other one is some of my friends in this wealthy neighborhood where we built, we re-located Kapiolani Community College. They didn't want... we took over an old army establishment, Fort Ruger, converted that. I went over to talk to their commanding general at Schofield Barracks and saying, "I understand that Fort Ruger's gonna be declared surplus property and we're gonna apply to turn it over to the University of Hawaii. We're gonna move Kapiolani Community College which is in a small piece of land behind McKinley High School, we're gonna bring it to Fort Ruger." The general says, "Oh, yeah, you can have it, all except the Cannon Club." The Cannon Club was the officer's club beside, on the slopes of Diamond Head which overlooks the whole Waikiki skyline. And I've been there because I was a reserve officer, too. We had nice parties and it was a great place for dinners. And he says, "All except that." So we got, Kapiolani Community College is located there. And by the way, most recently the army has given up Cannon Club and Kapiolani is gonna take that over as the culinary institute. I mean, we have to, probably destroy the old building.

MM: That's right

RK: But anyway, coming back to the original when we were gonna move the community college there, it's a pretty good upper-middle class neighborhood, and some of them objected to the traffic, and usually that's the... but they don't think much of the community college. But now I find many of my friends, they are very happy that community, Kapiolani Community College is there and taking full advantage, going to the library, seeing the art shows, but also taking classes. Because continuing... I think the community colleges do an excellent job of continuing education. So it's really helped the whole neighborhood.

MM: The other thing about community colleges is that they have the capacity to really become a part of the community, embed themselves in the community.

RK: Exactly. Yeah.

MM: As you've mentioned.

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 39>

RK: I'll tell another interesting story about community college.

MM: Sure.

RK: We had a cooking program, one-year cooking program at Kapiolani Community College, it's a small program and it was run by, at that time, it was run by Shiro Matsuo. Shiro's saimin. He's famous now in Hawaii as the "Saimin King." And once, one of my colleagues came in and said, "Look at the graduation rates for these different programs. Look at Shiro's program. The graduation rate is low. Lot of his students are dropping out before they graduate." So I went to see Shiro. I said, "Shiro, what's, what's happening here?" I showed him the record. He says, "Oh, what's wrong?" I said, "Your students are not graduating." He looked at me and he said, "Is it my job to have them graduate or is it my job to find them useful jobs? I thought we're training 'em so they can become good chefs and cooks and get jobs in those fields." He said, "So when, when the Royal Hawaiian Hotel calls me and said, 'Hey, we need someone to help the sous chef, you got someone there?'" He said, "I send my best student." So maybe it's good they don't graduate. [Laughs] He says, "I think they got enough training. I send them there and after all," he says, "isn't that what we're training them for? We're training them for gainful employment and here's an excellent chance." So I said, "Oh." He taught me a lesson. It's not the graduation rate, but the end result. What are we trying to do? So I learned a lot from the community college faculty.

MM: That's a very interesting story. It's like the difference between learning how to take a test and learning for learning's sake.

RK: Exactly.

MM: Yes, yes.

<End Segment 39> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 40>

MM: After you left being acting chancellor of UH, you went on in 1990, along with Mildred, to write a master plan for the University of Hawaii, a statewide system and beyond. What was that all about?

RK: That was, it was totally unexpected. In some ways, the board of regents initiated that. And I don't think the president himself was keen on the idea. Especially as they didn't consult him and went around (him). They thought the university needed a fresh look, and lo and behold, they approached me and asked if I would do this study, do a plan, a statewide plan for the regents. So we took it on, it was a one-year assignment. They give us adequate funds and so Mildred and I took it on, and it was very interesting. We knew enough about the university, we knew, so we visited every campus, we visited the business community, the leaders and the mayors and other political leaders and talked about what they expected of the university, and so we did this report. But the interesting thing, meeting with the faculty, each department, school, whatever, each fiefdom very nervous about protecting its turf. They didn't want us to come up and saying, worst of all is to say we don't need that department. Or cut it down in size or anything of that sort. So a lot of 'em gave us oodles of materials and kept after us. And then we came out a report.

And the sad thing about, about these plans... of course, oftentimes maybe we are not realistic. But in our plan we stressed, well, of course, our biases would show. We stressed undergraduate education, saying that the university should do a better job, that we were the only state university, the only large university within miles and we should take care of our undergraduate students. Many of them would never go on to graduate work. We should do a better job. And the University of Hawaii is unfortunately a commuter campus with a vengeance. And a lot of going to the university is getting away from home, meeting new people, getting new perspectives. But if a high school student goes to university, doesn't stay around, still goes to the beach and the shopping center with his old high school buddies, he's not gonna have that experience. So I was a keen, I really liked (...) more dormitories, attracting more out-of-state students, study abroad programs. We put emphasis on undergraduate education but also on being more international. Hawaii had the East-West Center, but we weren't taking full advantage. Because I, as a professor, remember students coming to me and they want to study abroad, and then I had to say, "Oh, go to Cal State and they have a program in Kyoto or..." I think the Cal State system had a, had something with Keio University because one of my, my professors, one of my professor friends was there for a year. And we had to assign 'em to Indiana, or other places where we had them enroll in their programs. And we're in the University of Hawaii, the closest to the Far East, and we have no programs. So I thought the university would be stronger in that, which they try to do. But anyway, and it was a place for, of course, the research people were anxious that we emphasize tropical agriculture, and the oceans, astronomy, which was going great guns, and I, we thought we should, but we couldn't go all over the map.

Building a medical school, the law school was problematical in some ways. That is an interesting history. But it doesn't cost as much as a medical school, and some of us are afraid that medical school would drain our resources. And we first said, I still remember saying to, the university legislature, "I'm only gonna have a two-year medical school and we're gonna make arrangements so we can send 'em to full-fledged medical school on the mainland." I don't know who thought it was realistic, because that never happened. But I think both the law school and medical school, as expensive as they are, have made their contributions in Hawaii and will continue to do so. But all of these are very expensive, especially for a small state.

MM: Right.

<End Segment 40> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 41>

MM: The recommendations that you made in "A Statewide System and Beyond," how many, how many of those were implemented? How many of them are in place today?

RK: It's hard to say. Our recommendations are mostly, are pretty general. And we have some specifics, but one of the interesting -- this happens, I think, to most of these, especially so-called master plans. It's in the general direction but as things change, so forth, and what we, what I found out, and I should have known, but the, because with the community colleges we did it and we had a plan for execution which we were able to do with legislative support. But the statewide master plan, it's much, university plan was much more difficult to administer or to implement. And what I found out is that people are very much interested in what we were doing while we were doing it, but once the report was out it was pretty much ignored, each one went his own way. "Well, we passed another hurdle." [Laughs]

MM: Right.

RK: You know that feeling.

MM: Yes, yes.

RK: And then the regents change and the new president comes in, and, you know, the wheel is invented again.

MM: Right, right. Clearly master plans are momentary --

RK: Yeah.

MM: -- blips on the screen.

RK: I'm afraid that, I think their implementation record is pretty dismal. But hopefully they do point out to problems, they do point out to potential areas of growth and we were hoping that that would do, that would do it. That's why our plan was called "A Statewide System and Beyond." But I don't think people got the, really understood the implications of that. We really thought, while we stressed undergraduate education, University of Hawaii especially should become more of an international institution. We started the East-West Center. But East-West Center was becoming another research university in the sense, with the emphasis placed on esoteric research almost. And we thought that we needed an organization that reached out and made good connections with the institutions in the Far East and drew students and exchanges with all these institutions. I think lately they've been trying more of that. But I think we should have, the University of Hawaii should have had an earlier start.

MM: And based on what you said earlier in terms of the geographic location of Hawaii, I mean, it's a real natural thing.

RK: Yes, it is.

<End Segment 41> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 42>

MM: After leaving UH you went on to Tokai University.

RK: Well no, before that I was, I did some consulting work in Samoa and Micronesia and Puerto Rico. But I worked in the governor's office, John Waihee. And John, a relatively young university law school graduate, University of Hawaii law school graduate, was in the legislature and decided to run for governor. And I remember that, when John first approached me to help with the campaign, I said, "John, have you seen the poll figures?" He said, "Yeah, I know I'm way behind by thirty points or whatever, but we thought there was a chance." And he did get elected and he asked me to be one of his assistants. It was a very general assignment. I was one of several assistants and he said, "You help me in education and international -- national/international affairs." And supposedly I was part-time (but it) was a full-time job. But it was a very interesting task because I worked downtown in the middle of the city, got to know more of the business community and their views of the university. And also I accompanied the governor on most of his mainland trips. Two or three times a year there was a national governor's conference and I went along as one of his advisors and sat in on the meetings, wrote some of his responses and there I met interesting people like Dukakis and Clinton and got to know Washington, D.C. and also traveled to the governor of, made plans when he went to Japan to visit our sister cities, and when we went to Thailand, etcetera. I made his itinerary, prepared some of his speeches, and it was an interesting experience going around to all these different foreign countries. I went to Taiwan and meeting these different people. And so it was a very interesting time.

<End Segment 42> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 43>

MM: So it sounds like the time spent, about three years with, in the governor's office, was a very interesting experience for you

RK: It certainly was, yeah.

MM: And from there you went then to Tokai University. How did you make that transition?

RK: Well, my friends came to me and said, "There's this Japan University. It's a huge one, they want to establish a base in the United States, and starting with Hawaii, and wonder if you could help?" So initially, Mildred and I got an assignment to look at the feasibility of Tokai University of Japan starting something in Hawaii. And we recommended that they start with maybe a community college, because to have a full-fledged university required, you don't have to have athletic fields, but you need science laboratories, you need high-priced professors, etcetera. And why don't we start with a junior college. And they bought into the idea. And they put up a magnificent building, right close, well, in Honolulu, in a very nice area in McCully close enough to the university, close enough to the Ala Moana shopping center. It's a very attractive building. In many ways people think it's, looks more like a hotel, very nice accommodations. And so they gave me the job of starting a junior college. We called it Hawaii Tokai International College. And really wanted to make it international, although we knew that we would be drawing, especially initially, many of the students from Japan. And they gave me a short timetable.

And we opened up and they, was on six months' notice or whatever and all we could do was pick up sort of stray students from the streets of Honolulu, and we found quite a number of Japanese, what do the students call them? Ronin. These were students who didn't quite fit the strict Japanese educational system, rebelled, and so forth. Many of them came from wealthy families and as one of them said to us, he said to us, "I am enrolling because my father said as long as I go to school, he'll support me." And he came with this dyed hair. And you knew that, from the color of his skin, that he was a surfing bum. But he turned out to be one of our best students. But we picked up a lot of those so-called strays. And we had a great time. Many of them were very brilliant and I try to have a very flexible institution. At first I had a, I made the schedule such that we left one day free, it was Wednesday, because I said, "Now, we have these foreign students, they have to learn English, and that's one thing we don't do well." I said, I don't, it's no slam on those people teaching of English as a second language, but I said, "You really learn a language by using it, hearing it in real life. So Wednesday is a day when these students will be let loose or you faculty will plan field trips." 'Cause that didn't last long. We got a regular faculty who insisted that you have to meet every day and so on and so forth. But we got, especially, we got a very good instructor, Glen Grant, very imaginative person. And he was a pied piper. He was great. And he was entertaining, but he also had his standards and he really motivated students, which was important. Teachers and students loved him. Poor Glen recently passed away but that was a big loss. But with teachers like that, we were able to succeed.

And I really wanted to make it international. We didn't think we could handle, given the size of our building and our facilities. It was a... and we had excellent dormitory rooms. They were too nice. Each one had a private bath, complete bath and each one had a television set and view of Diamond Head and Waikiki. But any rate, we had, we couldn't have more than say, two hundred students. And heyday we had maybe hundred and fifty. And what was nice was we had students from all over the world, although the largest percentage would come from Japan. We had a good contingent from Korea, we had from Taiwan, and later on we got from Cambodia and Thailand and these Southeast Asian students turned out to be excellent. Whereas, frankly, we didn't get the cream of the crop from Japan. The cream of the crop went to England, went to Cambridge, went to Stanford, went to Harvard or to UCLA or Cal Berkeley if they could make it. But we got some very good students from Japan. And lo and behold, to our surprise, we got students from Canada, we got a student from Germany, we got students from Brazil, so for a while we had a rather international group, we even got a student from Mongolia. But when the economy in the Far East, especially Japan went down, the Koreans practically disappeared and well, it was only for what, three years or so. And gradually, I think it's now more Japanese students. But at one point we had it quite international. We had difficulty attracting our own Hawaii students, although we did give scholarships, for example, to a girl form Molokai who was very, was made it, gave it a very good mix on our campus. But we had difficulty because our tuition rates were comparable to what private junior colleges charge, which was way above what they would pay if they went to (Manoa), or went to a Hawaii community college. You know, Hawaii community college cost was ten percent what they'd pay to go to Tokai. So we weren't as successful in attracting local students. But I think some of our students had a great experience. A lot of them went on to the University of Hawaii or came to the mainland to go to different universities.

<End Segment 43> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 44>

MM: After leaving there, you now are working as a consultant here at the Japanese American National Museum for the International Nikkei Research Project. That's a change of pace. How's that been for you?

RK: Well, that's been a very interesting, worthwhile experience, especially as I work with very nice people. Akemi has been a wonderful leader and we've enjoyed working with her. But this whole project started with Frank Sogi, who was, who's a Kona boy, a Hawaii boy. By the way, he and I and Ralph Miwa started a pre-legal club at the university when we were freshman. But he and I got in the army together. And Frances Wisely went on and became a lawyer and was very successful. But in many of his travels he was, especially with Japan-U.S. relations but also throughout the world, South America, Europe, he traveled in his businesses, his legal business. And when he came to Hawaii he's telling these stories about meeting Nikkei in Brazil or Peru and how each one was different. And I said to Frank, "We should make a study of this. It'd be interesting, interesting for us to understand ourselves better but also interesting for Japan to know what's happening." And lo and behold, I think he came and talked to Irene and Akemi at the museum here and got into... and Akemi, I think, wrote the proposal that Frank took to Nippon Foundation. And lo and behold we got the first three-year project going which culminated in -- thanks to Akemi's leadership -- into the anthology and the encyclopedia. And as a follow-up, now we're working on this Nikkei legacy project.

<End Segment 44> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 45>

MM: It's been, from my vantage point, a very illustrious academic career that you have had at the University of Hawaii primarily. Here's a, maybe a cyclical question: how has your identity as a Japanese American affected your academic career? Or is it more pertinent to ask, how has your academic career affected your identity as a Japanese American?

RK: As I said, I grew up in a community that was very cosmopolitan, and since my parents were used to Caucasians and so forth, I don't think I had that problem And even in the army I worked with many, all kinds of non-Japanese officials. The university was interested in this and then so we did the oral history unit at the university. One of their projects was to talk to those of us who were Japanese Americans and had positions, professorial positions at the university. I guess I was one of the early ones, although I was preceded by people like Baron Goto and Shunzo Sakamaki. But I guess we were a rare breed then. But I didn't find it uncomfortable. As I say, a lot depends not so much on race, I think, as personalities. When I went back to teach at the university, a lot of the professors accepted me as an equal but there were one or two of them who always thought I was still a student. [Laughs] One of 'em criticized me. He said, "I went back, I went past your classroom and all the students are laughing. It's not a laughing matter, you know." [Laughs] I said, "Oh, I was just telling 'em old fashioned jokes to keep 'em awake." But I guess it was unusual in the beginning. And the University of Hawaii has an interesting policy. I don't think it's enforced now, but if you were a University of Hawaii graduate, they didn't want you to come back to teach. Because they said, they said it was inbreeding.

MM: Uh-huh.

RK: So I was one of the lucky ones who was able to come back because my graduate work was all done at University of Minnesota. I was one of those who was lucky to come back to work. Increasingly, I think we have this happening now. I don't think ethnicity should be a real factor. I guess in some places where you have programs that emphasize this, it might be. I wish it would get to a point where, so often we talk about people being role models. I hope I'm not used as a role model because I'm Japanese. I think a role model should be if I was a, if I'm a good professor. This is what a good professor does regardless of whether he's this or that, or this or that ethnic extraction. So I hope we can get to a point where that racial factor isn't that much of a factor when you say "role model." Oftentimes that's what's emphasized and I hope we can get over that.

<End Segment 45> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 46>

MM: What words of advice would you have for somebody who's considering entering academia?

RK: [Laughs] I think it's rewarding, but you're not gonna make money. I still remember, 'cause I had some loans to pay off when I completed my graduate work and I went to the bank and I was talking to my banker friend and I said to him, "You know, I've gotta be able to support the family and do this and that, what advice would you give me?" And he said to me, "Quit teaching." [Laughs] There may be better money elsewhere, but I think the satisfaction you get -- some people call it psychic income -- is tremendous, I think. Well, I believe education is our most positive pursuit as human beings in the broadest sense. Now I distinguish between school and education. Lot of what we get in school is not education. But, and education can take place in different places and in different ways, but I think education is so important to all of us as human beings and important to the society. So I think it's a good field to get into. It's very positive and I worry about some of my friends who are stevedores or carpenters, they have a limited life because it requires them to be physically fit and after fifty or sixty, it's not that easy. But, I guess as professors, the mouth doesn't get that tired. [Laughs]

MM: As long as the mouth works. [Laughs]

RK: Even if the brain, even if the brain slows down and you know enough of the tricks to... but any rate, positively, education is such a important part of everybody's... it enriches one's life, enriches the community, the society and it's so... I used to say education is, going to school is fun and I always got teased for that, but I still think it's the case. If we do education right, it should be our most enjoyable enterprise. So I think more people should go into teaching and I think, especially on the high school and elementary levels, we should pay our schoolteachers not only greater respect but also we should pay them more. We should compensate them more for what they do and contribute.

MM: Any words of advice that you would give someone who was considering entering academic administration? Which is different than simply teaching.

RK: Well, I think it's really, as I said, it's a people business. It's not a matter of organizational charts and deadlines, although deadlines are important. But you should respond to almost every request as soon as you can, but it's a people business, so I think you have to be aware of people's perspectives and different points of view and opinions. I think you should take your job seriously and I'm afraid that if you take it seriously, you're gonna have long hours. There's no such thing as overtime, maybe days overtime work. Take the job seriously, but don't take yourself seriously. Step back sometimes, especially after a hard day, look back and laugh at yourself. The world is never perfect, we're not perfect, we're gonna make mistakes, but the thing is not to harp on those and try to be positive.

MM: Looking back on your career, what would you like to be remembered for down the road in terms of your contributions to education, to academia, or simply to the community of people? What are the things that you want to be remembered for?

RK: Oh, I think that just that I tried my best; that I enjoyed what I was doing. I enjoyed what I did. And I'm grateful for a very good life.

MM: Well, on behalf of the Japanese American National Museum and the legacy project, thank you very much for your time that you've given us here today. And I look forward to coming to Hawaii and visiting you and then both of us can go to the beach.

RK: [Laughs]

MM: Then you can say that once again you've returned to the beach.

RK: I look forward to that. Well, thank you very much.

MM: Thank you.

RK: I hope that people find something worthwhile in what we've been talking about.

<End Segment 46> - Copyright © 2004 Japanese American National Museum. All Rights Reserved.