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Liaison between the Americans and the Japanese

I already had a job lined up with a construction company at the time of the, when I graduated from technical college. And I went to their headquarters and reported for duty. And at that same time, they told me, says, "Well, you could go to a dam project in Shikoku." And my brother intervened and said that here I knew English, be able to communicate with the American forces. So the president of that company, he took a liking to me and he says, "Okay, you stay here." And I answered his, I replied -- well, I repaid, well, repaid him or I answered his call for a thing. He was looking for a job. The construction company had overseas offices in China, Korea and Manchuria, and he had the obligation to take 'em all back and see that they look after the welfare. But they couldn't do that without any job, and jobs from the government and local governments were hard to go by, you were strapped for cash.

But one day, I dropped in to the general headquarters in Tokyo, MacArthur's headquarters, and I was talking to, I happened to run into a lieutenant-colonel there. He says, "Sir" -- well, he came to me and he says, "You looking for a job?" They were looking for a good interpreter. I says, "Yes, I'm looking for some work." He says, "Well, we can use you right away." Says, "No," I says, "I don't mean that. I work for a construction company and I'm trying to see if there's any work the army wants done." Well, at that time, this colonel, lieutenant-colonel in GHQ headquarters, he was in charge of construction of a runway, air-, well, runway in a town called Toyooka that's, that's where the Japanese army had their air cadet school. They had a field there but it was a grass runway, and the Americans wanted a concrete runway. And they were looking for someone to build it for them. Since I knew nothing about the company, nothing about experience, I told him, I says, "Well, could you wait until tomorrow?" Says, "I'll have a bunch of engineers with all the answers."

So next day we went -- once I hurried back to the head office and reported back to the president, and he rounded up things. "Well, get him from somewhere," "Get him from somewhere," "Get him from, call him somewhere." They assembled within a day, and we went to, we went to the headquarters together. And it turned out that they wanted to build an airfield in, airfield in this former air cadet school in Toyooka.


building business construction construction industry economics management

Date: October 29, 2005

Location: Toronto, Canada

Interviewer: Norm Ibuki

Contributed by: Sedai, the Japanese Canadian Legacy Project, Japanese Canadian Cultural Center

Interviewee Bio

William "Bill" Tasaburo Hashizume was born on June 22, 1922 at Mission, British Columbia where he spent his early years. In 1939, after his father passed away, Bill's mother took Bill and his two younger sisters to Osaka, Japan for schooling. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Bill and his family were stranded in Japan. Hashizume resumed his studies and graduated from Kobe Technical College in 1944. Facing conscription, he enlisted in the Japanese Imperial Navy soon after and served as an Officer until demobilization in 1945.

After the war, Hashizume joined the U.S. military police in Japan, serving as an interpreter. As the Canadian government imposed a ban until the early 1950s on the return of Canadian citizens of Japanese descent who had been stranded in Japan after Pearl Harbor and those who had been repatriated to Japan in the late 1940s, Bill was not able to return to Canada. In 1952, Bill's Canadian citizenship was reinstated by the Canadian government and he returned to Toronto, Canada to join his sisters.

Hashizume became a full-fledged Canadian engineer at the age of 55. He was employed at the Ontario Department of Highways as an engineer and retired at 65. He has also researched and written a book on Japanese Canadian history of Mission, British Columbia. He currently leads an active and healthy life in Toronto, Canada. (August 23, 2006)

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