Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: George Yoshinaga Interview
Narrator: George Yoshinaga
Interviewer: Alisa Lynch
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: August 10, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-ygeorge_5-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

AL: When did you first learn about, I mean other than hearing about it, when did you first learn about the atomic bomb?

GY: That was it. And then somebody said it was a bomb capable of wiping out a whole city and I couldn't believe it.

AL: So how did you come to believe it? Did you see pictures?

GY: Well, no, we kept getting news everything was now about the atom bomb, and then that kind of altered our... we were supposed to land in southern Japan if the war didn't end, but when that happened they just shipped us to Yokohama and that was it.

AL: Have you ever visited Hiroshima, the museum there?

GY: Yeah, I have. In fact I have... I'm looking for it now because it was the anniversary, but I took a lot of pictures shortly it was maybe about a month after the bomb was dropped you know.

AL: What did you see there?

GY: It was terrible. The thing that I remember most is because it's such a devastation, you don't hear about it too much but corpse on the street rotting, and the living people are just trying to survive, so a lot of them don't even try to pick them up and do something, you know.

AL: Have you ever thought about or written in your column or like when just this last Friday was the 65th anniversary of dropping the bomb... no, yesterday, was it yesterday was the 65th anniversary of the bomb on Nagasaki.

GY: Yeah, 6th of August.

AL: Right and then three days later on Nagasaki. If somebody says to you... we always hear people say well that should have never had happened Japan was already losing the war they should have never dropped the bomb and Truman was using it as an experiment, other people who say if we hadn't dropped the bomb then a million people would've died. I mean, what's your personal opinion on the bomb and the necessity of the bomb?

GY: Well, when I first heard about it I thought... and knowing how the war was going, I felt it was unnecessary. It was just putting the trimming on the cake and the talk at that time was that we wanted to impress Russia that we had such a weapon. That was the main debate, that if Russia suddenly decided they'll go against us they would at least know we had the weapon to blow them off the map.

AL: And had you already heard that rumor when the first time you visited Hiroshima?

GY: Yeah, and I got to know a lot of the people that survived the bomb you know. And I don't know how they did it but I know I had... I used to be in boxing and I had a boxer that I brought to the U.S. and he failed the eye exam. So the doctor that looked at him said, I don't understand, I never saw anything like this so I didn't know his history so I asked him how come the doctor says he never saw a case like yours? And he said it was from the blast, he didn't get injured but something about the blast from the bomb affected his eyes.

AL: Were you writing your column at the time I guess it was what 1995 when they had the Smithsonian exhibit, they were going to put the Enola Gay on exhibit?

GY: Well, I used to write or contribute every once in a while to the Stars and Stripes, and then when I moved in Japan in '62 the Japan Times asked me to write. So I wrote a weekly column for them, but unfortunately Japanese mind being what it is, the person I was working for, somebody told him, "Did you know Yoshinaga's writing for the Japan Times?" So he called me in he says, "What are doing?" I said, "I'm doing it on my own time." He says, "When you work for me you don't have an 'own time.'" [Laughs] So I had to quit writing.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright &copy; 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.