Fighting Two Wars – Gov. George Ariyoshi: Child’s Selflessness Forecast Japan’s Recovery

Fighting Two Wars – Gov. George Ariyoshi: Child’s Selflessness Forecast Japan’s Recovery

Photo of Gov. George Ariyoshi, speaking at the "Japanese American Veterans Tribute"

Gov. George R. Ariyoshi
Governor of Hawai‘i, 1974 to 1986

Aloha everyone . . .

Before I say very much, I want to express my appreciation to all of the veterans who served and made it possible for a younger person like me to be able to move after you, and I thank you very much for that opportunity.

Photo of Akira Otani served in the Hawai‘i Territorial Guard, Varsity Victory Volunteers, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service

Akira Otani served in the Hawai‘i Territorial Guard, Varsity Victory Volunteers, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service — most of those years while his father was interned.

I saw another MIS veteran, Rev. [Yoshiaki] Fujitani, and I want him to know that on that December 7th morning at 7 o’clock, I was at the YBA (Young Buddhist Association), playing ping pong, and I did not know that there was an attack taking place. We heard a lot of extraordinary shells going off, but we all thought that the Army was practicing much heavier on that particular day.

Photo of MIS veterans (from left) the Rev. Yoshiaki Fujitani, Dr. Yoshinobu Oshiro and Herbert Yanamura share their experiences with Bishop Eric Matsumoto of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii.

MIS veterans (from left) the Rev. Yoshiaki Fujitani, Dr. Yoshinobu Oshiro and Herbert Yanamura share their experiences with Bishop Eric Matsumoto of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii.

I did not get home until 10:30 that morning and I did not know that there was that going on. I met my mother, who was very concerned about my safety, not having come back sooner. She was well-prepared with a bag for each of my family — a bag with food, water, canned food and other things, just in case we had to evacuate. And that was the first time I learned, about 10:30, about the attack on Pearl Harbor.

I was a sophomore in high school at that time and my life in high school changed very drastically. On December 7th, all civilian [privileges] were taken away. The military took over completely and we had general orders every morning, telling us what they had to do in the community. One of those that had a great impact on us was curfew. Curfew was 6 o’clock and we had to be off the streets. My curfew was 5 o’clock, because my mother did not want me to miss the 6 o’clock and get in trouble. And because of that curfew, we also could not take part in sports activities that others of our generation could take part in. I tell my children that during my whole high school years, I never went out at night. I spent every night at home with my family. And I learned a lot about my father’s and mother’s Japanese values, which stayed with me and helped me.

We saw, during my high school years, many AJAs being called to volunteer. And they volunteered for the MIS, volunteered for the 442. As Gov. Ige told you earlier, the 100th Battalion had preceded all these groups. We heard about the casualties and I remember the first AJA casualty when I was in high school, [Shigeo] Joe Takata, who was a brilliant ball player for the Asahi baseball team, and many others followed after that.

Photo of Akira Otani served in the Hawai‘i Territorial Guard, Varsity Victory Volunteers, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service

Akira Otani served in the Hawai‘i Territorial Guard, Varsity Victory Volunteers, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service — most of those years while his father was interned.

We decided to fight the battle of the plantation — the weeds and the grass that grew on the plantation. Every month, we went out to the plantation to fight the weeds and the grass. We also felt that we had some responsibility to participate by trying to sell war bonds and they tell me many years later, that McKinley High School had sold enough war bonds to buy an aircraft.

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