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by Kiyoaki Murata

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 4-770-01609-3
Publisher: Kodansha

 Japanese journalist Murata warmly remembers his six-year career as a student in the US during WW II, maintaining the awestruck tone of the diary he began as a teenager. Barred from his own country's top colleges due to a lung disease, Murata (b. 1922) leaves his rural town in 1941 to come to America, where an aunt has pledged to support his studies. A patriotic product of Japanese public school during its military campaign against China, Murata plans to earn a degree as fast as possible and return to serve in the Japanese army. But less than six months after he begins studying English in San Francisco, his country bombs Pearl Harbor. As he ponders why Japanese-Americans express embarrassment at the bombing rather than being ``just as angry as any other American,'' the federal government begins to plan to evacuate all Japanese and Japanese-Americans from the West Coast. Here, Murata is not interested in investigating the complaints of other Japanese who tell of their property being seized and of being held against their will. He asserts that his own stint in Arizona's Poston War Relocation Center was ``more or less satisfactory under the circumstances''; Murata is able to leave the camp after nine months with a letter from a prospective employer. Staying away from concentrations of Japanese, he successfully earns a B.A. from Carleton College after two-and-a- half years of intensive study, and goes on to earn an M.A. in international relations from the Univ. of Chicago. Impressed by ``American friendliness'' and other national traits (such as ``not laughing at or abusing someone for failure''), he observes himself picking up some American traits--and winds up tutoring American officers-in-training in Japanese customs in preparation for the postwar occupation. Controversial only in its omissions, Murata's tale has the charm of a traditional wartime boy-comes-of-age account, with an international twist. (Eight pages of b&w photographs.)