Densho Digital Archive
gayle k. yamada Collection
Title: Don Okubo Interview
Narrator: Don Okubo
Interviewer: gayle k. yamada
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: January 8, 2001
Densho ID: denshovh-odon_2-01-0005

DO: Well, first of all, when you, when these prisoners saw me and I was Japanese, and we can communicate, which was very important. It meant that they felt a little more comfortable. And so whatever question I ask, they did reply. Because I have a Japanese culture and background, I told them about, I tried to put them at ease and that, "You'll be treated the best way we can treat you so you don't have to worry, and all you need to do is cooperate with me and help us shorten this war." So, in the beginning, he was kind of hesitant, but he started to give us, give me more and more information because it's for their own good. And because -- I know, the Japanese are very hard to convince them, but at that time, I was able to do that because of the information that I got from them. Other things -- I just talk to them about where they come from, and how many, if they're married, or if they have any families. I tell them I'm sure they'll be waiting for you to come home too. Since you're a prisoner, that you're able to go home. But, they said, actually, that they had no intention of going back to Japan alive. So I had to change their thinking.

gky: And how did you do that?

DO: Well, I told them, "If all you boys go back, doesn't go back, how Japan is going to rebuild?" Japanese government need young boys like that, you people to come home to rebuild the country." That makes sense. "You die for the country, but you die for nothing, you're not doing any good." They began to see what I meant.