THE USS ARIZONA MEMORIAL HISTORICAL FILM'S "MISSING INGREDIENT" (Part 1)
By James Tetsuji Tanabe
The USS Arizona Memorial Historical Film is shown to visitors before they are ferried to the sunken vessel's Memorial. The film depicts Japan's December 7,1941 attack of Oahu. The film tells of then Hawaii's Commanding General Walter C. Short's fear of saboteurs among the Islands' Japanese. The next scene is the massive destruction of U.S. ships and planes by Japan's attack force. As my wife and I watched, we sensed something was missing. A year and six or more viewings later, it dawned on us. Seven minutes into the film a solitary Japanese cane laborer wields his cane knife at the edge of Pearl Harbor but is suspiciously stealing glances at a warship sailing by. The narrator speaks, "General Short, however, believed the great danger was not air attack, but saboteurs hidden amid Hawaii's large Japanese population." But there was no mention of the fact that not a single proven act of espionage or sabotage by the Islands' Japanese residents was officially recorded. This omission invited the viewers to conclude that such acts occurred or might have occurred. We had to do something. But first, let's go back and review WW II.
On that December 7 morning I was on Alewa Heights and saw the smoke by the ocean. I was ten. During WWII suspicion of Japanese Americans spread rapidly and they were imprisoned in 10 War Relocation Authority (WRA) internment camps and 36 other Army and Federal facilities: West Coast, Alaska and Aleutians, 110,400; East Coast, 400+; Hawaii, 2,685, among them my classmate and family. Hawaii Army Stockades held 3,433 men. Add 5,981 newborns for a total 122,900 souls imprisoned (See footnote). In Hawaii under Martial Law all efforts went into winning the war. Our immigrant parents threw themselves into it too, salvaging scraps, etc. And they sent their sons to war. But our homes were searched, belongings confiscated and family members detained.
Japanese Americans fought in every war, including WW I. Pushed to prove their loyalty in WW II, 28,000 Nisei joined the Armed Forces (including Occupation Forces), half of them from concentration camps. They fought in Europe and the Pacific, and distinguished themselves in combat and intelligence work; 830 gave their lives for their country that turned its back on them, even endured discrimination in the military.* Two cousins 100th Battalion; one a DSC recipient, under review for the Medal of Honor.** My wife's two brothers: 232nd and 442nd, one wounded, one served 20+ more years; a third brother: post-war Japan. My older brother: M.l.S. with US Occupation Forces in Japan. I was in M.l.S. during the Korean War where 247 Japanese Americans were killed in action.
Our alien parents, denied citizenship, taught us loyalty to our country, not theirs. The FBI investigated my father; he cooperated with the FBI, but they detained him periodically. The Army took over his thriving furniture business location, so his business suffered. Out of fear he destroyed ancestral samurai swords, Buddhist and Shinto shrines, etc. Our parents endured any indignity so their children might enjoy the benefits of being American. They demanded we excel in school, obey the law, told us to fight for our country and doing so, not to bring shame to our country and family!
Why recount all that loyalty amid injustice? Because when our loyalty was disbelieved, we proved our loyalty with our blood-voluntarily. The Memorial's documentary film, annually seen by 1 1/2 million visitors, portrayed us as saboteurs all over again. We could not allow that and have our parents' sacrifices count for nothing and their sons' lives given in vain.
History writes despite FBI, Army, Navy G2, and Honolulu Police all advising that a Sabotage Alert was unnecessary, General Short cancelled the existing Attack Alert and ordered the islands on Sabotage Alert, thus disarming his defenses and numbing his ability to read the signs of the approaching attack. History next reveals his saboteur suspicions were unfounded. Wrote Robert Shivers, FBI Special Agent in charge of
Hawaii's Anti Espionage Operations prior to and during the war, "There was not one single act of sabotage committed against the war effort in the Hawaiian Islands during the course of the entire war. " Army Colonel Fielder declared, "I have been in charge of military intelligence activities here [Hawaii] since June 1941 and am in a posftion to know... no acts of sabotage, espionage or fifth column activities committed by the Japanese in Hawaii, efther on or subsequent to December 7, 1941." Navy Intelligence (Capt. Mayfield), Police Anti Espionage Unit (John Burns) and Congressional investigations reported similarly. THE SABOTAGE DISCLAIMER IS THE FILM'S MISSING INGREDIENT!
The saboteur suspicion scene followed by graphic destruction of the U.S. fleet and over 2,000 soldiers powerfully appeals to the viewers' sympathy. This emotional sequence begs for a saboteur disclaimer. Without it the story is not whole and viewers are misled to believe sabotage occurred.
SYNOPSIS OF THE OBJECTIONABLE FILM FOOTAGE
The objectionable footage and narrative in the 23 minute movie includes visuals of a busy sidewalk with Japanese American pedestrians and a cane field scene with a solitary Japanese sugar cane cutter at Pearl Harbor's edge stealing glances of a U.S. Naval ship. Then follows a visual of Wheeler Field with U.S. warplanes parked wing to wing, unarmed, to secure them from local saboteurs. The General's fear of saboteurs in Hawaii's large Japanese population is told here.2 Then comes the Japanese Navy's attack fleet pressing toward Hawaii, and the attack.
The sabotage fear and Japan's inflicting of the worst one time damage of a U.S. Naval Fleet are facts. Our objection is the missing ingredient: There was no sabotage or espionage by Hawaii's Japanese. Without the disclaimer, the film's historicity is compromised and the viewers are invited to conclude that sabotage did occur in assisting Japan's attack or subsequently. The damaging footage also evokes distrust of all Japanese Americans, and justifies their mass incarceration. A sabotage disclaimer would remove the erroneous and undeserved suspicion of disloyalty against us, and eliminate viewer confusion.
Historical integrity and eliminating viewer misimpression demand correcting the film. We do not accuse the U.S. Park Services of arranging film footage to intentionally cast doubt on Japanese American loyalty. Our focus is to make the film authentic and consistent with the total concept of the USS Arizona Memorial. It is a shrine to the fallen, where truth lights our way, honor and courage inspire us, and tolerance and peace are its goals. Our purpose is to honor these ideals.
RECOMMENDATION FOR FOOTAGE MODIFICATION
The CANE CUTTER SCENE appears as an interpolation purely for illustration. Sugar cane fields were located at Pearl Harbor's edge, and workers looking out at ships is perfectly natural. We object to the use of this natural scene to illustrate saboteur suspicion.
INCLUSION OF A DISCLAIMER: At the appropriate footage position, as after the Wheeler Field scene, interpolate a verbal or printed statement that no sabotage was committed by Hawaii's Japanese residents during the entire course of the war, or quote the FBI Report.
REMARKS: Numerous visitors to the Memorial told us a saboteur disclaimer would have enlightened them and its absence left them to assume Hawaii's Japanese committed sabotage, invited them to conjecture their own conclusion, or left them unsettled.
8/15/98; Revised 8/15/99, 5/10/00,11118100
James Tetsuji Tanabe & Yoshie (Ishiguro) Tanabe (Waipahu, HI)
*lronically, 300+ interned draft resisters' act of loyalty was to fight their unjust internment They would gladly join the Army, but only if their people were released. They were convicted and jailed. Their own people scorned and ostracized them as cowards. Their convictions overturned later, they fought and gave their lives in the Korean War, but they remain invalidated by many.
**Late note. He was one of 22 upgraded from Distinguished Service cross to Medal of Honor, June 2000.
2 This obsession with America's Japanese being disloyal resulted in the incarceration of some 123,000 Japanese in America, most of whom were Amencans Latin American countries and Canada did likewise.
SOLUTION REACHED: ARIZONA MEMORIAL HISTORICAL FILM IS EDITED! (Part 2)
We Japanese Americans and our resident alien parents experienced irretrievable losses, pain and injustice during WWll. In fact, all Asians were targets of prejudice since immigrating to this country. We are still "suspicious aliens." While U.S. Germans and Italians were selectively detained, we were the same as the enemy en masse, incarcerated, doubted, isolated, watched. The U.S. even kidnapped 2,264 Latin American Japanese and exchanged them for US prisoners.1 By 1941 our parents established themselves as law abiding and trustworthy US residents of more than sixty years.2 But prejudice, war hysteria, failure of political leaders and our physical appearance made it suitable to scapegoat us as the enemy. But while distrusted and abandoned by our country, we stuck it out in guarded camps, went to war and stubbornly remained loyal to her.3
It is with this historical backdrop that my wife and I noticed the omission in the Arizona Memorial Historical Film. That scene where the narrator said Hawaii's commander General Walter C.
Short feared not air attack, but saboteurs "hidden amid Hawaii's large Japanese population" haunted us. Had the filmmakers had the narrator state a saboteur disclaimer, such as, "However; General Short's fears were unfounded. There was no case of sabotage by U.S. Japanese. In fact, their loyalty was proven beyond measure by their extraordinary contributions to the U.S. war effort," then the film footage would have cleanly dispelled doubts about our loyalty. Absence of the disclaimer misled the viewer to conclude the Japanese in America were disloyal and saboteurs. (Note: FBI's Robert L Shivers' et a Congressional reports stated the total absence of saboteurs within Hawaii's Japanese population. The same was true of mainland Japanese. Shivers, John Burns, Col. Fielder and Capt Mayfield of Army and Navy Intelligence worked with Hawaii's Japanese Amencan leaders* from a year before the war. They included Shunzo Sakamaki, Masaji Marumoto Shigeo Yoshida, Mitsuyuki Kido, Masatoshi Katagiri, Ralph Honda, Thomas Kurihara, Shigeo Soga, Uichi Kanayama, Dr. Ernest Murai, Y. Baron Goto, Dr. Katsumi Kometani, et al, and Chinese American Hung Wai Ching. As result, Hawaii's Japanese community significantly contributed to U.S intelligence services.)
When we brought this film oversight to the Arizona Memorial National Park Service's attention, they were responsive to our concern. We worked with them for the next sixteen months in solution searching. The joint effort resulted in the Park Service/Interior Department committing to a film edit. The film can now be viewed in its edited form! You will not see the suspicious appearing Japanese sugar cane cutter stealing glances of a moving ship in Pearl Harbor. You will not hear the last six words (underscore) of the narration, "General Short believed that the great danger was not air attack, but saboteurs hidden amid Hawaii's large Japanese population." We celebrate this solution! Col. (Ret) lwao Yokooji exclaimed, "Our honor has been restored!" Now the public has the benefit of a more accurate film.
Cane Cutter and Misleading Narrative deleted
While the film edit did not meet our original request for an explicit disclaimer, it nevertheless removes a misleadingly offensive footage of implied disloyalty. The film is now devoid of a direct reference to U.S. Japanese as WW II saboteurs. The Park Service's action on a sensitive issue has been hope inspiring. The Park Service also plans to include AJA exhibits in the Memorial's future museum. "A Question of Loyalty," is a recently installed video selection. Two books, Patsy Sumie Saiki's "Ganbare" and Catherine Embree Harris' "A Dusty Exile," were added to the Memorial's bookstore.
This was an effort to convey history uncompromisingly, particularly of a time when a national racial paranoia rained undeserved suspicion and injustice upon a group of U.S. residents, both aliens and citizens, who were and remained law abiding and loyal to an America who turned her back on them. The fact that an estimated one and a half million visitors come to the Memorial annually (second most visited place in the State) made it cmcial that the 28 daily showings seven days a week in two theaters will depict the truth about the Japanese in America. We claim our dignity as Americans. Cheered Interior Department's Gary Barbano, "You did an American thing!"
In reflection, what instructions shall we take from this film-editing effort? Be vigilant and act against injustice and prejudice. Keep our heritages viable so succeeding generations may be nourished by them. As people, complement, not strive against, one another. Our survival as a nation of ethnic peoples and native sovereign peoples will depend on our affirming and ensuring every group's right to survive in its rightful place and the recognition of its dignity and pride.
Faithfully submitted, with appreciation to all our friends named below, and unnamed, whose inestimable encouragement, counsel and courage validated the task!
James T. and Yoshie (Ishiguro) Tanabe
94-1017 Waiolina St., Waipahu, HI 96797-4308
(808) 677-4785 I <email@example.com>
1 92% of U.S. mainland Japanese were incarcerated in 46 facilities. However, 5,000 were initially forced to relocate without detention. 4,500 Justice Dept detainees are vaguely accounted. Japanese Latin Americans had no countries to return to at war's end, as the Latin American countries refused them. The U.S. branded them "enemy aliens!" Nearly 1,000 were exchanged for American prisoners! 21,000 Japanese Canadians were herded from their homes into barbed wire internment or work camps, or ghost towns, in racially hostile inland areas of British Columbia, Alberta & Ontario. Mexico and Cuba incarcerated their Japanese citizens!
2A handful came as early as 1865. If not for the citizenship prohibition of Asians, our alien parents would have been citizens long before vw'(ll. Improbable, but true, alien Japanese were denied citizenship after they, with their American sons (838 inducted of 29,000 drafted!), fought in the First World War!
3As this loyalty was proven with blood and under anguish of prejudice and injustice, it defies definition by common parlance. A 442nd soldier killed in action had a letter in his pocket revealing he had just learned that vandals burned down his parents' California home and barn in the name of patriotism while his parents were in a relocation concentration camp. He had volunteered for every possible patrol!
The named Participants:
National Park Service (Arizona Memorial), Ms Kathleen J. Billings, Superintendent * Mr. Daniel Martinez, Park Svc Historian *
U.S. Department of the Interior (HI), Mr. Gary Barbano, Chief, HI Office
Sen. Daniel K. Inouye
Sen. Daniel K. Akaka
Rep. Patsy T. Mink
Rep. Neil Abercrombie
Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, * Mr. Robert Kinzler, President Mr. Everett Hyland, Member
Americans of Japanese Ancestry (AJA) Veterans Council: (100th lB, 442nd RCT, MIS [Military Intelligence Service], 1399th Eng)
Japanese American Citizens League, HI Chap, Mr. Clayton lkei, President* & Bd of Directors
Japanese American Citizens League, National, Mr. John Tateishi, Director
State Office of Veterans Services, Mr. Walter Ozawa, Executive Director
Japanese American National Museum, HI office, Ms Renee Tomita
KITV TV Station, Ms Jill Kuramoto, Reporter Hawaii Herald Newspaper,
Mr. Mark Santoki, Editor American Civil Liberties Union,
Mr. Ku McMannen, Staff
Col. (US Army Ret.) lwao Yokooji, Pres MIS *
Rev. Yoshiaki Fujitani, MIS Veteran Mr. Stanley Igawa, WWII, Korean War Vet, MIS Vet, Arizona Memorial Volunteer
Prof. Geoff White, U. of Hawaii East-West Center (Anthropology)
Ms Marilyn B. Lee, Hawaii State Rep
*lndividuals of the small work group who gave extraordinarily of their time, study and counsel to resolve this worthy and courageous task!
The Combined Effort in Editing the Arizona Memorial Historical Film
9 April 2000 (Revised 5/10101, 06/30/02)