Consul General of Japan Koichi Ito hosted a reception at the Japanese Consulate on Feb. 20 to celebrate the release of the Japanese translation of the three volumes of “Japanese Eyes, American Heart.” The books were published by the Tendai Educational Foundation, headed by Bishop Ryokan Ara, in cooperation with the Hawaii Nikkei History Editorial Board. They were translated by Kaitakusha Publishing in Japan.
The reception was held one day after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 76 years ago. The order authorized the imprisonment of 120,000 Japanese Americans in interment camps in Hawai‘i and on the U.S. mainland.
In his opening comments, Consul General Ito said, “If we truly want to understand Hawai‘i, it is imperative that we understand how the Issei who emigrated from Japan built their lives here and how their Nisei children overcame their struggles and challenges during the war and went on to attain both honor and respect.
“Bishop Ara’s new book is of great importance in that it passes on the legacies of the Japanese Americans to future generations. It is my hope, too, that it will inspire the younger generations to really understand why the Nisei fought the war, despite the sacrifices, and how they triumphed over prejudice and discrimination.”
Ito said the Japanese translation is especially timely this year, which marks the 150th anniversary of the arrival in Hawai‘i of the first Japanese immigrants — the Gannenmono.
“I believe that this new publication will enable the stories of the Nisei to be shared with many Japanese citizens, and not just the people of Hawai‘i,” he said.
Included in the translated version is the Zadankai, or “talk story conversation” from Volume Three of “Japanese Eyes, American Heart.” The Zadankai was held at the Honolulu office of U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye in 2012, just months before he passed away. The discussants included Inouye; former Hawai‘i Gov. George R. Ariyoshi; the Rev. Yoshiaki Fujitani, former bishop of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii; former University of Hawai‘i president Dr. Fujio Matsuda; attorney Ted Tsukiyama; then-Consul General of Japan Yoshihiko Kamo and Bishop Ara.
The first volume of “Japanese Eyes, American Heart” featured the personal reflections of Hawai‘i’s World War II Nisei soldiers. The second volume consisted of stories from the home front in World War II Hawai‘i, and the third volume featured stories on the character values that shaped the Nisei generation.
A fourth volume is currently in the works. It will focus on the history and experiences of the Hawai‘i Nisei who served in the Military Intelligence Service during the war and in postwar Japan during the occupation years. These veterans were instrumental in forging the bonds of friendship and people-to-people goodwill that exist today between the United States and Japan.