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TAN Nobuyoshi interview, 23 January 2011, Part Four

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When you lose your house, you really lose everything. We stayed with a family called the Nakamuras for about ten days, then we moved into another home. Were the Nakamuras relatives? They were relatives and they let us stay there. But it was wartime... Food and such supplies were scarce, so there wasn't a lot they could do. They helped us out for those ten days and after that, even though they were well off, we had to leave. After moving, we didn't have much in the way of furniture, bedding, or even kitchenware. We just really didn't have anything. I'd been very lucky up to that point. Compared to most people in Tokyo we'd lived fairly well. Of course, our air raid shelter wasn't as nice as the Okawa family's had been, but still... I suddenly felt just like a beggar. It was a big shock. It seemed so pathetic to me. SInce then I've always felt like losing your house was almost as bad as losing a member of your family. After the war ended I went through a bit of a traumatic phase. I think losing our home was one reason for it. Anyway the house we moved to was only about 150 meters from the Nakamura family's home. It was right on the edge of the Chofu airfield. The airport there is smaller these days. Back then it was an important part of Tokyo's air defenses. Air defense headquarters were there too. There were dome-shaped shelters here and there. I could see at least three but I'm sure there were more. One of the domes was only about 100 meters from our house. Inside there were housed both a Hien and a Hayate fighter! At least one or the other was always being worked on there. Mostly the Hien I suppose. I was even able to help the workers out. All I really did was hand them their tools or rags... But I absolutely loved it. I'd stay there from morning to night. The pilots would never talk to us. But the mechanics were quite friendly to us. Of course there were limits. They'd never share their food with us or anything like that. Food was just too important back then. But we didn't expect that kind of treatment anyway and we never asked them for anything to eat. ...The pilots were so silent. When an officer appeared they'd quickly stand at attention, but that was about it. One time when the mechanics were working on the Hien I happened to be right underneath the propeller when it began to spin. I guess they didn't notice me there. But fortunately one of the mechanics saw me just in time and whacked me out of the way. Just another fraction of a second and I'd probably have been killed. The man who saved me was named Hattori. One day just before the war ended, there was another accident in the dome after I'd already left for home. Hattori was killed in that accident. I just cried and cried. My mother scolded me. "If you cry, we'll lose the war!" That really shut me up. I thought I'd made a big mistake. That's what adults would always tell children if they cried back then. Another time..., I think it was July 28..., I was helping them at the dome like always It was around noon or so I think. On my way home... without an air raid siren or anything... Just as I was passing by an observatory that used to be visible on the north side an American P51 fighter flew by and strafed at us with it's machine guns. A woman to one side..., I think she was 19 years old but she might have been younger. Anyway, she was killed by the machine gun fire. I was lucky. There was only 50 or 60 meters between us. I don't know who she was because we were new to the area but she was hit and died while I escaped unhurt. When the Emperor announced the end of the war, I had no idea what he was saying No idea at all. All I could figure out from the adults' expressions was that we'd lost. The term Gyokuon Hoso became popular later. At the time it was just referred to as an important announcement. I remember being impressed by that term "important announcement." My mother seemed somehow relieved. We'd survived the war after all. I think I felt partially like that too: "I didn't die..." I didn't even think about the food shortages. I just remember being so impressed at how bright the light bulbs shined after the blackout was called off. I think that's a nice symbol of the war's end. ...On the other hand I was a bit disappointed too. I just couldn't help thinking, "Why did we lose even though we had those beautiful fighters?"

Video Details

Duration: 9 minutes and 4 seconds
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Genre: None
Views: 206
Posted by: japanairraids on Jan 30, 2011

TAN Nobuyoshi, former civilian researcher with the Japanese Ministry of Defense, discusses his experience of the WWII air raids.

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