Kazuo Miyamoto


Name Kazuo Miyamoto
Born 1897
Died 1988
Birth Location 'O'okala, HI
Generational Identifier

Nisei

Kazuo Miyamoto (1897–1988) was a Nisei doctor and author who was interned at various incarceration camps for the duration of World War II as a result of the publication of his observations during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945). Due to military fears of his possible loyalty to Japan, Miyamoto as well as other leaders within the Japanese community were interned following the Pearl Harbor attack as part of a strategy to weaken the leadership of the Japanese community. Following his incarceration at Tule Lake, Miyamoto returned to Hawai'i where he continued to practice medicine and publish further writings and was an active member of the Honpa Hongwanji until his death in 1988.

Early Life and Career

Born in 'O'okala, Hawai'i, Miyamoto grew up in a family that included two brothers and three sisters. Miyamoto attended Stanford University and studied medicine at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis, Missouri. At Stanford University he joined the Student Army Corps and although he did not see action during World War I, he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army with burial entitlement at Punchbowl National Cemetery.

Following his graduation, Miyamoto spent nine years in Honolulu as a general practitioner and then traveled to Japan to further pursue his medical career during two years of study.[1] Through acquaintances that he made at Stanford, Miyamoto enrolled at Tokyo's Jikeikai Medical College where he earned a PhD in allergy and during his free time, he traveled as much as he could. "In my travels over the weekends, I would record my impressions of the places visited," said Miyamoto.[2] In the midst of the Second Sino-Japanese war, Miyamoto was able to accompany a friend's father who was a Diet (parliamentary) member on a two-month trip to China. During these two months, he recorded his observations for future publication. "I was able to see, first hand, how the people suffered," Miyamoto recalled as "the Chinese just didn't evacuate from the war zone."[3] Although it was difficult to publish the book because of the shortage of paper during the war, Miyamoto was able to obtain enough paper to print 700 issues of Glimpses of Formosa and China under Japanese Occupation 1937-1939 through a friend at Heibonsha (a Tokyo publishing house). As Miyamoto recalled "I had to convince him that the book would be of service to Japan when I distributed it on the mainland and Hawaii."[4] However, this publication would have far reaching consequences as it would become the justification for his internment. With the outbreak of World War II, his friends, to whom he had distributed the publication, burned the book for fear of being implicated with Japan's war efforts.

World War II and Internment

On December 7, 1941, Miyamoto was called to Fort Shafter to help treat the wounded coming in from Hickam Field. That night, after returning home, FBI officials picked him up and took him to the immigration station on Sand Island. According to Miyamoto, "At Sand Island, there were many who were picked up for flimsy reasons. There was Iwasaki from Waianae who couldn't speak decent Japanese" but was arrested because his father was a toritsugi-nin (intermediary agent) for the Japanese consulate.[5] Although his father only recorded statements that were forwarded to Japan, these actions made Iwasaki himself suspect. Miyamoto recalled that there was another veteran at Sand Island, Futoshiro Arakawa, who was a first lieutenant at Schofield Barracks during World War I. "He was picked up because he was a leading Japanese figure in Hilo," Miyamoto recalled.[6] Miyamoto notes that in his particular case, the FBI never investigated the charges against him. "They had a lot of time to investigate me, but they just put me on their blacklist. There were other doctors who went through a similar process—minus the publication—who were not pulled in," Miyamoto recalled.[7] Miyamoto also pointed out that all of the fishermen who were arrested and brought in for interrogation were investigated and released but officials never investigated his case.

After the initial adjustment to confinement and realization of the futility of resisting, Miyamoto reconciled himself to his fate. He and a group of internees who included Kazuo Sakamaki, the first Japanese prisoner of war who commanded one of the mini-submarines that attacked Pearl Harbor, were soon sent to a succession of mainland incarceration camps: Camp McCoy, Wisconsin; Camp Forrest, Tennessee; and Camp Livingston, Mississippi. In Mississippi, however, the sixteen U.S. citizens of the group were called out and brought back to Hawai'i. Another Nisei from a different camp later joined them. From Mississippi, the group was taken to Los Angeles where Miyamoto noticed a change in attitude and behavior once they arrived in San Francisco. Miyamoto recalled, "They even escorted us when dining in Los Angeles. But when we went to San Francisco, we were thrown in to the brig."[8] Upon the group's return to Hawai'i, they were met by military officials, only to be re-arrested.

According to Miyamoto, Sand Island had changed significantly since his departure. It was filled with internees from the Islands and "youngsters" also made up another group. Restrictions were also relaxed as it was after the battle of Midway and with the diminishing possibility of a Japanese invasions, families could also visit internees. During his second tenure at Sand Island, Miyamoto began writing Hawaii, End of the Rainbow, which took him seventeen years to complete.

Return to the Mainland

In November 1943, Miyamoto was again transferred to the mainland. This time he was accompanied by his family. The first contingent of 107 Kibei Nisei were sent to Jerome, Arkansas, with Miyamoto heading the group. However, the humid conditions of Arkansas affected his wife's asthma and Miyamoto requested to be transferred to Tule Lake with its altitude of 5,000 feet for his wife's health sake. According to Miyamoto, Tule Lake was the best medical training institute with the exception of Bethesda Hospital. Under the leadership of Dr. George Hashiba of Fresno, California, Miyamoto learned quite a bit during his tenure at Tule Lake due to its large population of 18,000 people. The medical staff consisted of three Japanese doctors and two Caucasians who had a" broad outlook on life," recalled Miyamoto.[9] Although he and the other medical staff members "worked like the devil out there" with major surgery being conducted every day, they received invaluable medical training and were able to do autopsies with the consent of family members to ensure that they became better doctors.[10] "Personally, I would not have minded if the war was a year or two longer," Miyamoto remarked as "I was learning" and expanding his medical knowledge.[11] Even if he was allowed to relocate to other areas outside the Pacific Coast, he chose to remain in the camp because "as a physician, I was most needed there."[12]

Final Return to Hawaii and Later Career

Following the conclusion of the war, Miyamoto recalled that there was quite a bit of friction when the internees returned to Hawai'i. Some of the men who remained in the Islands were accused of being inu without any actual evidence. "It was an unpleasant time," he remarked. "We were invited to a party when he came back. This man who was involved in the category (inu) was very active in the party organizing. We could see how uncomfortable he was. We, who were the returnees, could slap each other on our backs and talk about old times. He was left out."[13] Ironically, a few years later in 1951, Miyamoto was appointed as a medical consultant by the Surgeon General of the Air Force and given the rating of GS-16 (equivalent to a one star general). As he traveled attending meetings and speaking to doctors at various military outposts, he was treated like a general despite the fact the he was once an internee. Miyamoto remarked, "I think that's the strength of America."[14] Miyamoto continued to practice medicine and publish additional writings until his death in 1988.

Authored by Kelli Y. Nakamura, University of Hawai'i

For More Information

"Before the bombs fell: A look at pre-war Hawaii." Hawaii Herald 1:14 (December 5, 1980): 1- 6.

"Kazuo Miyamoto," Honolulu Advertiser, 19 February 1988, D-2.

Miyamoto, Kazuo. Hawaii, End of the Rainbow. Tokyo, Japan: Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc., 1964.

Miyamoto, Kazuo. Glimpses of Formosa and China Under Japanese Occupation in 1939. [Tokyo, 1939].

Miyamoto, Kazuo. One Man's Journey: a Spiritual Autobiography. Honolulu: The Buddhist Study Center, 1981.

Miyamoto, Kazuo. Vikings of the Far East, New York: Vantage Press, 1975.

Okihiro, Michael M. "Japanese Doctors in Hawai'i" Hawaiian Journal of History 36 (2002): 105-117.

Footnotes

  1. Kazuo Miyamoto, Vikings of the Far East (New York: Vantage Press, 1975), About the Author; Kazuo Miyamoto, One Man's Journey: a Spiritual Autobiography (Honolulu: The Buddhist Study Center, 1981), 84-85.
  2. "Before the bombs fell: A look at pre-war Hawaii" Hawaii Herald 1:14 (December 5, 1980): 4-5.
  3. "Before the bombs fell," 4-5.
  4. "Before the bombs fell," 4-5.
  5. "Before the bombs fell," 4-5.
  6. "Before the bombs fell," 4-5.
  7. "Before the bombs fell," 4-5.
  8. "Before the bombs fell," 4-5.
  9. "Before the bombs fell," 4-5.
  10. "Before the bombs fell," 4-5.
  11. "Before the bombs fell," 4-5.
  12. Kazuo Miyamoto, Hawaii, End of the Rainbow (Tokyo, Japan: Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc., 1964), 8.
  13. "Before the bombs fell," 4-5.
  14. "Before the bombs fell," 4-5.