Outline of Interview with JAMES MTTSUO FURUKAW on July 10, 2003, JAPANESE AMERICAN VETERANS ASSOCIATION ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
Date of Interview: July 10, 2003; Place of interview: Lutherville, MD 21093-6113; Interviewer: Terry T. Shima; Name of cameraman: Grant Hirabayashi; Name: James Mitsuo Furukawa, July 27,1925; Military Intelligence; Major; basic training in Wahiawa and went in for invasion of Okinawa after a 32-day ocean voyage on an LST.
B. Parents 1. Mother. Koto Ikeda a. Kamoto-gun, Kumamoto-ken, Kyushu, Japan b. Arrived in Hawaii: 1903 c. Occupation: Housewife, cook for sugar plantation manager and for single workers. Had a tofu business.
2. Father. Gentaro Furukawa a. Kamoto-gun, Kumamoto-ken, Kyushu, Japan b. Carpenter c. Arrived in Hawaii: Late 1890's and went to Maui to build sugar plantation worker's homes 3. Family returned to Japan in 1920; however, they decided Hawaii was best for the family. They returned to Hawaii in 1924. Since the choice was Hawaii, all sons had to convert to be American citizens (dual citizenships with Japan terminated).
4. Father's illness and mother's loss of cooking job caused me to leave school at 14 to support family. In the 1930's, practically everyone was poor; we were no exceptions.
C. Schools. Attended a Japanese school in Hana, Maui, HI, after English school, one hour daily (M-F) and on Saturday morning. The curriculum is a vague memory, but it did include reading and writing. In any case, I was not a serious student. [In later years, I regretted not having tried my best. Also, in retrospect, my entire adult-life hinged on the fact that I had attended Japanese school. During WWII as an interpreter-corpsman for doctors and even later it helped in obtaining a direct commission to second lieutenant.]
D. Discrimination. No discrimination felt in small district of plantation workers and farmers. Our English school teachers included Hawaiian, white, and orientals.
E. Scoutmaster: He was a Japanese-American and was also our elementary school science teacher. A positive factor in my life.
H. WARTIME BEFORE MILITARY SERVICE
A. Pearl Harbor attack. On the morning of December 7,1941, I was on my way to the hospital at Hickam Air Force base for treatment. On the previous day, as a construction worker, I had fallen from a scaffold and had stitches across my left eyebrow and the bridge of my nose.
B. Feelings. Feeling: In retrospect, I was happy to have been in Hawaii before and prior to the war. In other words, I was not sent to a relocation camp as were the Japanese in many of the continental U.S. I remember feeling deprived, however, because I was a Sea Scout Mate with a ship that could not be sailed. The restriction was accepted as necessary because of wartime conditions.
C. Actions: Served as a civil defense block warden; helped form a Scout troop at a local school; and became its assistant scoutmaster (too young to be Scoutmaster)
D. Schools: Both English and Japanese schools were miles away, because I had moved to Oahu from Maui and had quit both in 1939 after grade 9.
E. Executive Order 9066 did not affect me as far as relocation camps were concerned. Ironically, we built barracks to house internees in Hawaii.
1. December 7, 1941. Watched planes fly overhead and heard explosions. It was assumed that another military exercise was being conducted. Since the planes flying overhead had red circles, I expected them to be followed by blue planes. When informed of the attack, I looked at the smoke rising from Pearl Harbor and decided to go to a local hospital: The nurse's reaction when I entered the emergency room, My lord, another casualty. All Japanese-Americans were kept off the military base (Hickam Air Base) for several days. Later, when we were allowed access to the base, military guards with bayonets followed groups of construction workers. The effectiveness of the guards was questionable, for they were unable to climb to the roof of the huge barracks and hangars where repairs were needed.
Food and gas rationing were a part of life.
G. Draft classifications: I don't remember my exact category; however, I was exempt as a civil-defense worker.
H. Drafted in November 1, 1944 I. Family objections. There were no objections voiced on my being drafted.
J. Three experiences:
1. Racial differences: We had to wear badges with a black border and not allowed into "restricted" areas such as naval bases.
2. Blackouts. As a block warden, we periodically checked to see that no lights could be seen from the exterior of a home. The local civil defense headquarters became a "social" club for members.
3. Casualties. The losses at Pearl Harbor and elsewhere are clearly remembered.
III. MILITARY SERVICE
A. Induction. Date amp; process of induction. November 1,1944, Wahiawa, Oahu, Hawaii B. First night. It is not remembered distinctly but about 50 recruits slept on folding cots in a barracks, one of many that housed the 3,000 or so draftees.
C. Training. Trained in pineapple fields of Halemanu, Oahu, Hawaii.
D. Company. About 300 of us formed a pool of Japanese language interpreters.
E. Treatment. Travel, training, or content: normal (out drill sergeant was of Hawaiian ancestry). We marched up and down valleys of the training area, rain or shine, muddy or dusty. It was a somewhat ludicrous sight to see, with rifles and soldiers sliding separately down the hills, and the company commander yelling at us to stay together.
F. Military assignments 1. From basic training in Hawaii, we went by ship (32 days?)for the invasion of Okinawa on April 1, 1945 2. Numerous military assignments, including: Allied Translator and Interpreter Service (ATIS), Tokyo; Repatriation Detachment, Hakodate, Hokkaido, and Maizuru, Honshu; 34th Infantry Regiment, Sasebo; 24th Division Headquarters Language Detachment, Kokura, Kyushu; Ft. Holabird; Pentagon; 441 Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC), Osaka, Japan; Armored School, Fort Knox; 441 CIC Detachment, Tokyo, Japan; Advanced Military Intelligence (MI) School, Fort Holabird; MI detachment, Korea; and Fort Holabird.
3. Combat or frontline experience. Landed and stationed at Kadena air base, Okinawa, at a Military Government field hospital. It burned during an air raid; therefore, those of us who were in the hospital detachment were evacuated North to Kin, Okinawa. Our detachment went on a rescue operation of another military government unit, but everything was under control by the time we arrived. Went on mop-up operations with infantry unit. (Etched indelibly in memory are the swarms of fleas in the caves). Japanese language training and first aid training (Boy Scout) were invaluable assets.
4. Medals: Bronze Star for Valor in rescuing patients from hospital and establishing order in Kadena town. I felt honored, however, I shall always remember a little boy who wanted to find his missing mother. When I found her dead lying in bed, with a trickle of blood at the base of her neck..
G. Treatment from local populace 1. Locals during wartime. a. They were happy to see us because we understood what they were saying and what they needed; thus, we acted as a bridge between US forces and the civilian population.. b. Served as a corpsman and interpreter for a medical doctor treating civilians.
2. Locals reaction, postwar a. They we happy to have us build a museum to safeguard their national treasures; revise and distribute educational materials; and provide for the artists and stage performers. Many years later (1993), I was invited back by the Okinawan government to a conference to recover missing cultural artifacts. b. They were pleased to have me accompany and act as a master of ceremonies for a group of performers to introduce Okinawan culture to US servicemen. c. On disarmament trip after the war, the people made us (Nisei) welcome. We shared each other's food and drink.
3. Locals during occupation a. Welcomed and respected us. b. Personally, I was fortunate enough to meet several relatives (half-brother) and a maternal grandmother. c. Learned from them about Japanese customs and traditions.
4. Humorous incidents a. I was asked to interpret for a visitor representing the Library of Congress. When I asked for a preview of quotations that might be used, the answer was "No quotes." During the talk, however, the quotation, "Fog crept in on cat's paws" was used.
b. While interpreting for a general, the local official did not understand a question. After a discussion of several minutes, I turned to the general and said that the answer was "No!"
c. When engaged in liaison with Japanese government officials, I frequently used a private club. The club was for the Furukawa electric company. However, one night, the manager learned that I was not related to the Furukawa electric family. Service was not as good thereafter.
d. We Nisei love Japanese food. The town where we were stationed was famous for dried cuttlefish (ika). During a Saturday morning inspection, the company commander opened the emergency fire extinguisher hose box; and out fell an Unauthorized bundle of ika.
5. Topics of discussion during social gatherings a. Family. Home, girlfriends, and wives b. Daily experiences c. Food d. Future 6. Entertainment a. Movies b. Cards c. Dining out.
7. Gripes a. GI food b. No comforts of home c. Wartime: buddy system with a white person d. Physical condition. Being either dusty or muddy.
8. Communication a. Wrote letters in English, with my sister explaining to my parents. b. Sent photographs home.
H. Korea and Vietnam 1. Korean War. As soon as the war began, I was ordered to Japan from the Pentagon. After three days in Japan, orders sending me to Korea were received. When I reported in at headquarters, I learned that someone had erred and returned to Osaka Stationed in Osaka for two years. Returned for further training with the Armor branch of service. After Armored school, overseas orders were received, but, again, I was stationed in Japan for four years. Finally went to Korea in 1961.
2. Vietnam War. Stationed in U.S.
I. Military experience had a profound effect on my life 1. Okinawa. My CO was Lieutenant Commander Willard Hanna, a Ph.D. at an early age. His colleagues that I met were also well educated. I was tremendously impressed when he submitted an application for a job by merely stating that his qualifications in brief were BA, MA, and Ph.D.
2. Began educational quest: Ended military service with a high school diploma, BS, M.Ed., Advanced Certificate in Education, J.D., and on the GI Bill earned a Ph.D.
3. Professor: Towson University.
J. Changes. Became more sophisticated and humane
IV. POST-MILITARY SERVICE
A. Date of discharge: September 1,1966 1. Service. 22 years (briefly interrupted by about a three-month hiatus as a reservist.)
2. Completed law degree before retirement and immediately began Ph.D. work at Johns Hopkins University while on leave from the Army.
3. After initial discharge, I met parents at home. They were, naturally, happy and proud to have me home.
4. After initial discharge, I resumed work, among other things, as a construction worker, I decided that I wonted more out of life.
B. Life after discharge 1. Initial discharge in 1946. I was unprepared for life. Pursued Ph.D. after second discharge and became a lecturer at Towson State College.
2. Significant contributions. Over a hundred and fifty papers and publications, including the development of a learning principle. It has been proven to be universally applicable in improving achievement in all grades and subject matter.
3. United States Armed Forces Institute and the GI Bill made meaningful life possible for me.
4. GI insurance continued. I also have health insurance with Kaiser Permanente from Maryland State, Medicare, and US Family Health Plan.
C. Family 1. Retirement pay contributed to the education of my children and even provided an opportunity for them to travel.
2. Permanent relations forged. A few persons have become very close (like family), beyond Xmas cards and occasional meetings.
D. Assimilation 1. Before WWII. I was active in the Boy Scouts and had made many friends.
2. After WWII a. Professional colleagues and numerous former students b. Helped form a Japanese Friendship Society and worked with Baltimore City and Maryland State in cultural exchange programs with Kawasaki City and Kanagawa prefecture, respectively. c. Began an Asian Arts Advisory Board for Towson University. d. Resurrected the Psi Chi honor society for psychologist at Towson University and served as its faculty advisor for many years. e. I have some very close friends in Hawaii 3. JAVA membership. Membership should be open to anyone qualified to join.
4. War resisters. All persons have to march to the beat of their personal drummer. Although not particular pleased with draft dodgers, I recognize their right to be different.
E. Sharing military experience. Sharing now because my research experience showing a need for historical antecedents. Also, I made several abortive attempts to write an autobiography and family history for my children. War, itself, is not particularly noteworthy. By sharing, perhaps a better future may become possible for someone else.
V. CONCLUSIONS (ADDITIONS). Education is worth its weight in gold; it is the great equalizer of society. I am proud of my accomplishments in the quest to improve education.END