Yoshiaki Fujitani
Military Intelligence Service

Military Enlistment

By spring 1943, Yoshiaki's friends, enlistees in the 442nd RCT, are assigned to Camp Shelby in Mississippi.

Sorely missing the camaraderie of his friends, Yoshiaki in fall 1943 agrees to serve in the Military Intelligence Service (MIS). His anger over the internment of his father subsides to allow him to make this decision.

Inducted in January 1944, he is sent to Military Intelligence Service Language School at Camp Savage in Minnesota.

Military Intelligence Service

[T]he Military Intelligence Language School was going full blast and they wanted more students. And so I remember just two people who came to Hawaii [October or November 1943]. One was Masaji Marumoto and the other was Edwin Kawahara. And it was Edwin Kawahara who approached me and asked whether I would consider going to language school.

And by then, I was - well, I guess, honestly speaking - I was very lonely because my friends - people I had known, did things with before - had all gone to 442nd and other places. And there was no one at home and so I was eager to get involved. And so I agreed to join the MIS.

I don't know [what my family thought]. I guess I was that kind of a guy, yeah. I didn't think of what they were thinking. I just had to go.

I don't think I worried too much about [fighting Japanese in the Pacific]. I thought, "Well, I might meet my cousins but meeting them would be a small chance." I think I thought about it that way.

And later on, I did talk with some of my cousins who were in the army. One was a captain, another was first lieutenant, another was a buck private. There were three of 'em. And I met them in Tokyo, in, I guess, November, December of [19]45. You know, when the war ended.

It was interesting that the captain was in charge of construction of pillboxes on an island south of Tokyo. I forgot the name of that island there but he was building fortifications. And when I told him that we had translated one of these manuals, fortification manuals, he said, "That's exactly the book we used to build." So that was kind of interesting.

He was a captain. And we visited his home in Tokyo, and he had hidden a large sword, a samurai sword, that he used. And I looked at the blade, and on the tip, was sort of stained. So I said, "You mean you killed somebody?" And he says, "No, I just killed a cat." (Laughter) He had to test it, you see.

Father's Internment

Dad [was interned] because he was a potentially dangerous enemy alien. And he was incarcerated at Santa Fe, at that time. And when I was in - I think it was at [Fort] Snelling. We went to [Camp] Savage and a few months later we moved up to Snelling. And I was there when I decided to go visit Dad.

Yoshiaki Fujitani and Reverend Kodo Fujitani

The way I look at it, his life was his life and mine was mine. There was no connection at all. But I understand the government did make that connection. There were some guys in the American army whose parents were detained and they tried to get these detainees out because of their son's participation in the army.

And so we heard that Dad was asked whether he'd like to be released to a camp or not or whether he wanted to go to Japan or not. You know, to be repatriated. And he wrote us a letter and the family had a powwow and they decided, well, no, we don't want to be repatriated with him, nor be transferred to a relocation center. So Dad had to stay in camp by himself.

I think it was his choice to stay because the authorities were saying you can be released if you want to. But he had no place to go. He didn't want to go to a relocation camp, so he remained. But he couldn't come back to Hawaii. I guess it was still under martial law or whatever.

Enlistment: January 1944

[W]e were inducted at Wahiawa induction center. And then, we were on our way. We might have spent a few nights there, but yeah, they shipped us out pretty. . . . It was in February that we got into Savage.

Yoshiaki Fujitani with younger brother

February was a very cold time, too.

Yoshiaki Fujitani's interview reprinted courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Yoshiaki Fujitani.

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