JANUARY/FEBRUARY, 2001 VOLUME IX * NUMBER 1
The presentation made by the staff and committee chairs at the last general luncheon meeting lasted a little longer than anticipated, but we hope that you were able to get an idea about JAVA and its workings. As you may have gathered, membership is our priority problem. We discussed a number of ideas on how to increase our numbers and introduced the obvious need to review the original concept of our organization as a tax-exempt veterans association. We also discussed the need to plan our meeting programs to attract younger generation veterans as well as family members. These and other matters will be taken up at the next Executive Council meeting, but we would appreciate your input to give needed impetus to our discussions. The change in the By-laws to allow active duty people membership at $10 instead of $25 is a step in the right direction. The By-laws call for two general meetings each year. However, it might be a good idea to have ad hoc meetings for BBQ's or crab feasts at outdoor locations once in a while. Also we need suggestions for speakers who can address current issues of interest to our membership.
Our plan to hold a gala dinner for Senator Akaka must be held in abeyance for the time being because of the inability of the Senator to commit to a date during the Memorial Day period. A time later in the year will be selected. Many JAVA members will be asked to lend their talents in the planning and organizing of this event.
We hope that someone who has an interest in searching for material at the National Archives on the MIS and the 442nd RCT will come forward to carry on the important work that Dick and Fumie Yamamoto and Maggie Ikeda have been doing for the past ten years or so.
There are veterans who must have interesting stories to tell about their war experiences who have hesitated to join our Speakers Bureau. The recent interviews conducted by the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service have brought out hitherto unknown experiences. Join us in spreading the word about what the Nikkei members of the Armed Forces have contributed to our country's victories in combat.
The Salute 2001 All-Nikkei Veterans and Family Event will be an opportunity for all veterans and their families to get together for a memorable weekend in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo to enjoy an interesting program of sightseeing and gatherings to renew friendships and reminisce about old times. The Southern California Committee, along with the Steering Committee have been working hard over the past year to make this event a memorable one. For WWII veterans this may be one of the last opportunities for a reunion. For brochures and applications, call Phil Ishio at (301) 460-0401.
Last year, by a special act of Congress, all who served with the Military Intelligence Service in the Asian and Pacific theaters were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. Responses to applications have been very slow because of the flood of applications for various awards being received by the Military Awards Branch. Because of this long delay, the branch supplied JAVA with a number of ribbons and has authorized the direct awarding of the PUC ribbon for those who have submitted applications. Four JAVA members, who have already applied, were presented with ribbons at the last general meeting. Organizations with members who have already submitted applications for the ribbon should inform JAVA of the number involved. JAVA will request the requisite number of ribbons from the Military Awards Branch for forwarding to the veterans organization making the request.
The Veterans' Oral History Project was created by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Clinton on October 27, 2000. Public Law 106-380 calls upon the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress to develop a program to collect and preserve audio and video recorded oral histories from America's War veterans. The law allows for the selective acquisition of documentary materials such as diaries and letters. The American Folklife Center is also authorized to develop online presentations of the collection as an accessible resource for the American people. The Center intends to work with a wide variety of organizations and individuals who wish to voluntarily assist in creating oral histories of war veterans, ultimately to be sent to the Library of Congress. The Center currently is identifying and locating the existing veterans oral history projects and collections at the national, state and community levels and encourages and supports immediate documentation of living war veterans. In the spring of 2001, plans will be developed for the collection of these materials and for the selection of those items to be made available over the internet. JAVA will look into the possibility of an oral history project provided sufficient funding is available. Contact Information: Veterans' Oral History Project, Library of Congress, American Folklife Center, 101 Independence Ave., SE, Washington, DC 20540-4610. Fax: (202) 707-1076. Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org.
FRANK S. BABA -- "THE MAN WHO HELPED ESTABLISH THE BROADCAST INDUSTRY OF JAPAN"
Though unheralded in America, Frank S. Baba is known in Japan, especially among journalists of the immediate post-WWII era, as a key figure in the establishment of modern Japanese broadcasting.
Tribute to the former Bethesda resident and Japanese American Veterans Association member was paid in a recent publication of the mass-circulation Maininichi Shibun as "The man who helped establish the broadcast industry of Japan."
"The Frank Baba Story," as Japanese journalist Kiyoshi Ishii dubbed his book-length piece, has just recently been translated in condensed form into English. The mass-circulation Mainichi is distributed in every corner of Japan.
"With his Japanese and American heritage, Baba touched the pages of postwar Japanese history," Ishii wrote. "GHQ used his understanding of both cultures in the democratization of Japanese broadcasting…
"Trustworthy and loyal, he committed himself one hundred percent to the goals of GHQ and secured excellent results for both GHQ and Japan as he helped to build the base for modern day broadcasting."
Describing him as "modest and selfless," Ishii, who interviewed Frank in his home in Alhambra, CA, said Baba was instrumental in getting the U.S. Occupation forces in Japan, which originally rejected the idea of private broadcasting, to reconsider its position.
"Baba, not only influenced NHK, the public broadcasting system in Japan, but he also facilitated the development of the private broadcasting industry in Japan and promoted the growth and quality of its programming," Ishii added. (Today, in addition to NHK, there are more than one hundred private and commercial broadcasting companies in Japan. There was almost no private broadcasting in Japan prior to the Occupation.)
"In the decades following that he continued to be a bridge between America and Japan," Ishii added.
Baba has a number of firsts to his credit. With the Office of War Information's Japanese service, for examples, he was the first to broadcast the unconditional surrender of Germany in the Japanese language, and the first to convey to the people of Japan that their nation had accepted the unconditional surrender terms of the Potsdam Agreement. He, among other things, also initiated several innovative programs for Japanese broadcasting.
Baba, who had his early education in Japan, returned to that nation with the U.S. Strategic Bombing Team two months after the Japanese surrender but when that work was completed, was called into GHQ to work on the restructuring of the Japanese radio broadcasting system. What originally had been scheduled as a 60-day stay on special duty assignment in Japan ended six years later.
In November, 1961, Baba returned to Japan as chief of the radio branch of the U.S. Information Agency; stayed until 1964, then returned to his former post as chief of the Japanese Service at the Voice of America.
Later, he joined USIA's Foreign Press Center, whose purpose is to help correspondents from abroad cover America, providing interpreters, obtaining appointments, and providing a myriad of other needs. He, for example, arranged an interview by an NHK television team with President Kennedy, the first exclusive interview the late President granted to a foreign television crew.
Baba helped Japanese correspondents not only professionally, but also socially, opening up his home in Bethesda as an oasis to brighten their life in Washington and continued to help foreign correspondent even after his retirement in 1981.
Among honors for his work, Frank was awarded the Third Order of the Sacred Treasure by the Japanese government in 1986.
Frank had journalism in his blood from the beginning. His father, Tamotsu, arrived in America in 1904 on a journalist's passport. Though the father was unable to fulfill his ambitions in the newspaper field here, Frank, when he received the Order from the Japanese ambassador, said, "This day, my father has accomplished his mission through his son. If he was alive, he would have said his dream is realized."
ARMED FORCES TV & RADIO TO FEATURE JAVA MEMBERS DURING ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICANS HERITAGE MONTH by Norman Ikari
The Armed Forces Radio & Television Services (AFRTS) will feature interviews with ten JAVA members in a video-taped program during the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month next May.
Those interviewed for the program in early February include six veterans of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Europe and four from the Military Intelligence Service in the Pacific.
Film House, Inc., which produced the program for AFRTS, originally asked Hank Wakabayashi, then president of Java, for veterans of the European War. But then at the urging of current JAVA president Phil Ishio for a more complete picture of the Nisei in World War II, interviews of four MIS veterans were included.
The six-member Film House team will edit and prepare the TV report for showing when the Nation pays tribute to the contributions people originally from Asia and the Pacific Islands have made to America.
The first group interviewed, all 442nd veterans, included Joe Ichiuji, Norman Ikari, Saburo Inagaki, Yeiichi (Kelly) Kuwayama, Terry T. Shima and Steve Sus Yamamoto. The four MIS'ers were Grant Hirabayashi, Ishio, Yukio Kawamoto and Warren Tsuneishi.
The interviewees were encouraged by the moderator Wayne Campbell to comment freely and extemporaneously on their thoughts and experiences.
The Hawaii-based veterans at the time of Pearl Harbor -- Inagaki, Shima and Yamamoto -- talked about their shock and surprise on that fateful day and their subsequent movements that led to the 442nd RCT at Camp Shelby, Miss.
Each told stories that reflected the painful stress of those early days in Hawaii when Japanese Americans were under deep suspicion. However, the formation of the Provisional Battalion, quickly renamed the 100rh and its subsequent gutsy performance in combat, remains a source of great pride to the Hawaii group.
The mainland veterans -- Ichiuji, Ikari and Kuwayama -- who were early draftees, were juggled through various Army units. All were routed under different circumstances but finally arrived at Camp Shelby.
The film brings out the different combat experience of each of the six.
Fascinating individual accounts of the Japanese language schooling and subsequent assignments to various military units in the Pacific by Hirabayashi, Ishio, Shima and Tsuneishi spark the program.
The importance of the MIS'ers' contributions to the war effort were strategic and immeasurably important. But their performance in so many varied military units did not generate the cumulative publicity of the 100th/442nd's exploits in Europe.
Though the MIS story of the Nisei is still being written in book form, the program will offer gripping accounts of individual exploits in the WWII's Pacific Theater.
ANECDOTES FOR WWII NHK DOCUMENTARY ON OKINAWA
Touching anecdotes from the Battle of Okinawa, one of the bloodiest and most crucial of World War II in the Pacific, highlight interviews by Japan's Nippon Hoso Kyokai (NHK) of veterans who were involved in the fight for control of that crucial island.
Ms. Emiko Amagawa, of NHK-Okinawa, was in the Washington, D.C. area
working on a one-hour documentary on the battle with the focus on personal interaction between Military Intelligence Service interrogators and Japanese prisoners of war.
Ms. Amagawa along with Ms. Midori Yanagihara of Fort Washington, MD, as interpreter, interviewed Milton Zaslow of Silver Spring, and JAVA's Warren Tsuneishi, both of whom were with two interrogation teams made up of 24 Nisei and three or four Caucasians. Because of a conflict of schedule Ms. Amagawa was unable to interview Glenn Nelson of Vienna, VA, Marine Corps Japanese language officer and a new JAVA member.
Zaslow, who was an Army lieutenant attached to the XXIV Marine Corps, along with T/Sgt. Daniel Nakatsu of Honolulu (now deceased) interrogated a Japanese officer and an Okinawan nurse, who after they were captured, said that they wanted to get married.
The Army was accommodating, granted them their wish, even conducted the ceremony. But it also used photos of the wedding for its propaganda leaflets. Their story was later featured in Life Magazine. The couple still live in Japan.
Tsuneishi told of a Japanese pilot, then in his mid-thirties, who had been a flyer in civilian life and was inducted into the Imperial Navy's kamikaze (suicide) corps. Because of his experience as a civilian pilot, the man was able to pancake his explosive-filled aircraft along side a U.S. Navy ship, obviously preferring to live rather than die for the emperor.
Nelson was involved in the task of utilizing Okinawan prisoners to lure civilians who were hiding in caves during the battle to give themselves up. Nelson, who lured the civilians out with promises of safety and humane treatment and thus saved countless lives, still is in touch with one of his Okinawan assistants.
Ms. Amagawa's documentary, the first documentary of this century on the Battle Okinawa, is scheduled to be aired sometime in June on Okinawa.
The NHK producer also is working on a second documentary which will focus on other experiences and the feelings of Nisei MISers during the war. This documentary is scheduled for airing next December.
(Any MIS veterans who may wish to contact her with first hand accounts of their experiences, can reach her by writing to: Ms. Emiko Amagawa, Producer, NHK Okinawa, 1019 Takeyasu, Tomigusuku, Okinawa 901-0294, Japan. Her phone: 011-81-98-850-5155; Fax: 011-81-98-856-3677; e-mail: email@example.com.)
INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS BRIEFED ON NIKKEIS IN WWII -- by Norman Ikari
JAVA's Grant Hirabayashi and Alaskan visitor Sylvia Kobayashi recently spoke to a class in English as a Second Language on the evacuation of Japanese Americans from their homes on the West Coast, the internment camps and their subsequent outstanding contributions to America during World War II.
Their talk before the class at Edison High School in nearby Fairfax, Va. is part of an on-going effort by a team of JAVA speakers who have been reaching out to various civic and student groups in and around the nation's capital to inform them of the Nikkei wartime experiences.
The students, from Brazil, Columbia, Honduras, India and Korea, among others, were not only intrigued but surprised to learn of the traumatic experiences Japanese Americans were subjected to during the war.
Grant told the students of his experiences as part a Ranger with Merrill's Marauders behind enemy lines in the China-Burma-India Theater, adding, moreover that his and the other Nikkei's work with the Marauders constituted only a part of the critical role Japanese Americans played in military intelligence in other parts of the Pacific.
He also fielded questions on the Nisei in Europe such as the rescue by the 442nd RCT of the Texas "Lost Battalion" in France where the rescuers suffered several times more casualties than the number of men rescued.
Sylvia, who was in the assembly center at Puyallup and then Minidoka, but now makes her home in Alaska, spoke not only over her own experiences during the war but also of some of the trials and tribulations of Aleuts and other Native Alaskans.
THE CANADIAN NIKKEI STORY
(Editor's Note: During World War II, Japanese Canadians were subjected to the same type of discrimination as the Nikkei to their south, though in many ways their treatment by the Canadian government was much harsher. But they found inspiration in the successes of their cousins in the United States. The following is the text of an e-mail message from a young Canadian of Japanese ancestry, Mark Tomo Tasaka.)
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Dear Japanese American Veterans Association:
I sent you an e-mail last week inquiring about whether they are still reproducing the 442nd Combat Regiment Team's should patch. I received two e-mails in response. The first was addressed to Mike, and indicated surprise over the knowledge that Japanese Canadians experienced similar conditions as their Japanese American counterparts during the war. The second was from Mr. Henry Ikemoto, a World War II and Korean War veteran, who said hat he would send me one of his shoulder patches.
In my e-mail I do not think I adequately expressed the significance the 442 has on my life, despite being born three decades after the end of the Second World War. I first learned about the 442 from my father, who was born in Greenwood, British Columbia in 1942. Greenwood was one of the relocation sites where the Japanese Canadians were sent during the internment. My father and other Japanese Canadian internees knew about the 442's accomplishments in Europe. The 442 gave them hope during those dark years.
As a university student studying sociology and cultural anthropology, I developed an interest in the Japanese Canadian experience. The history of the Japanese Canadian experience is linked, in many ways, to the success of the Japanese Americans, in particular, by the accomplishments of the 442. In many ways the 442 embodied the struggles and accomplishments of Nikkei on both sides of the border.
It is truly an honor to be writing this e-mail. There are a few books on the Japanese Canadian experience I would like to send you. These are just a small token to say "thank you" for being such a powerful on my life, and the lives of the other Japanese Canadians. Therefore, can you please send me your mailing address so that I could send you these books.
As you will discover, when you are reading these books, that Japanese Canadian internment experience differed in many ways. First, families were separated during the internment, where the men were sent off to work in labor camps in the interior of B.C., and the women and children were sent to relocation centers, which took the form of make shift camps, ghost towns or farming communities in the prairies.
Second, those Japanese Canadians who protested against the internment were sent to the P.O.W. camps of Angler or Petwawa, where they were required to were uniforms with large red circles on their backs. The circles were targets for the guards to shoot at.
Third, after the end of the war, Japanese Canadians were put on trial, where they were given a choice to either move "East of the Rockies" or be deported to Japan.
Fourth, the Japanese Canadians were not allowed to return to the Pacific Coast, where the Japanese Canadian population was concentrated before the war, until April 1, 1949 -- four years after the end of the war.
Finally, the property and possessions of the Japanese Canadians were put in trust by the Canadian government, and later sold without the owner's consent.
The Japanese Canadians did not discover the truth about the internment until the late 1970's, when the government documents pertaining to the internment were finally released. While the internment was justified on the basis of national security, national security was not really the issue, since the Japanese Canadians were not a threat to national security.
A year or so before Japan's assault on Pearl Harbor, the Canadian government concluded a study on the loyalty of the Japanese Canadian community in Canada. They found no evidence of disloyalty among any of the Japanese Canadians. Moreover, some of the strongest opponents of the Canadian government's decision to intern the Japanese was found in the Canadian military and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. For instances, RCMP Assistant Commissioner Fredrick John Mead, and Major General Ken Stuart, Chief of the Defense Staff, were vocal opponents against the internment…
Mark Tomo Tasaka.
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(Addendum: Mark has also sent along the following books on the Japanese Canadian experience:
(Obasan by Joy Kogawa; Bittersweet Passage; Redress and the Japanese Canadian Experience by Karyka Omatsu; Justice in OurTime: The Japanese Canadian Redress Settlement by Roy Miki and Cassandra Kobayashi; Powell Street Monogatari by a. Katsuyoshi Morita; The Nisei Mass Evacuation Group and POW Camp '101" by Robert K. Okazaki; This is My Own: Letter to Wes and Other Writings on Japanese Canadians, 1941-1948 by Muriel Kitagawa and Roy Miki.)