Military Intelligence Service
End of War
News of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings as well as the unconditional surrender of Japan reach Takejiro's unit en route from Okinawa to the Philippines.
He asks to be sent back to Okinawa to help with rebuilding but learns he is assigned to interrogate repatriating Japanese from the north for the 6th Division in Korea.
The Battle of Okinawa Ends
[T]he actual organized resistance [in Okinawa] ended in June 22, or 23. But mop-up operation continued for a few days. That part, I'm not sure because I wasn't there. Then after that, after Okinawa was secured, our division went back to the Philippines for a short R-and-R. Rest and recuperation. And on the ship back to the Philippines, there was all kinds of rumors. One of the rumors was that after the short break, we were scheduled to land somewhere in Kyushu on November 3.
Of course, on the way back, Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing took place. Then, the day we arrive at Mindoro, Philippines, August 15, the war officially ended. Unconditional surrender. So then we debarked and went to the plan. And then few days, there was talk about demobilization and the division was going back home for discharge.
So I ran into my colonel's tent, "Colonel, send me back to Okinawa, maybe still can be useful over there." Colonel looked at me, smiled, and said, "No, Junior, I cannot send you to Okinawa because you are scheduled to go to Korea."
I said, "What? Korea?"
"Yeah, you've been asked to be assigned to the 6th Division in Korea."
"No, you'll be asked to interrogate repatriating Japanese from north."
So I was sent to Korea in early September. I think it was September 3rd, I think. I went to Korea and stayed there until December 22 or 23, almost three months, interrogating the evacuating Japanese from north. Manchuria, as well what is now North Korea.
And what I heard from them and what I heard from our own senior officers in division headquarters, really disturbed me. For one thing, war just ended. This is what I overheard a couple division staff officers talking to each other - I'm a nosy buggah so, I'm listening to a lot of stuff, yeah. And a couple of them talking to each other, saying that we are Seabees widening the entrance and deepening the Inch'on Harbor so that bigger ships can go in and out easily. And the air force engineers enlarging and expanding the Kimpo Airfield - one of the main airfields - so that B-29s can go in and out easily. And they plan to build a super highway near Kimpo Airfield. And that can be used as a fighter strip in case of emergency. Okay, these are American sources, now. Overheard. I don't know if it's a fact or not, because I never actually saw 'em.
Then, from the Japanese side, they tell me they saw many airfields under construction in the north. Especially north of Yalu River. And some were carpenters, so, what appears to be the construction of a barracks up in the north. They don't know the identity of the airfield construction and the barracks. They didn't know who they were, whether Chinese or Koreans, they don't know. But anyway, construction was going on in the north. And this could be easily identified by the aerial reconnaissance.
So I made a notation in my interrogation reports, this and that. But what I heard from both sides really concerned me. I was confident, deep inside myself, I was confident we're going to have another conflict. Some kind of conflict within three years. And sure enough, five years later, Korea incident blew out.
Takejiro Higa's interview courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Truman Presidential Museum & Library Photographs.