Hi, I am a former citizen of Japan, born in 1930, and lived in Gifu-ken during World War II. I witnessed the rise and fall of the Japanese Empire and later married an American Airman, which caused my family to disown me. I'm currently living in America with my grandson, who is assisting me with this AMA.

Proof: http://imgur.com/v9aNlR2

EDIT: Born in Gifu, but moved to Nagoya when I was 8 years old. I remained there throughout the war. EDIT 2: I was initially disowned by my family. My mother disowned me and we remained that way until her death. My father was the same way, but eventually warmed up to my husband and changed his view.

FINAL EDIT: Thanks so much for all the questions everyone! My grandma was a little nervous going into this but really warmed up to it! It's late and she needs to go to bed, but I'm more than happy to have her answer other questions tomorrow, if you have them. Just PM me the question and I'll get back to you! Even if you're just coming across this AMA now!

Comments: 140 • Responses: 48  • Date: 

atheitarian39 karma

I have heard that many Japanese didn't really believe the Emperor surrendered after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Did you believe it when you first heard the news?

AznSnstn50 karma

We had been told so many times that we were going to win that when the Emperor announced our surrender I didn't believe it. It took a few days for it to sink in and for me to realize that we lost. I really began to understand once the officers began to leave their posts and return home.

nerfpirate27 karma

How did you think of Germany and the Nazis back then? Were you in support of them or did you dislike them? Conversely how do you view them now that what they did was revealed?

AznSnstn46 karma

I thought of them as allies, and of course I was in support of them. Our government was always telling us that they were our allies against the Americans. However, I didn't have any strong feelings towards them, and neither did anyone else from what I could see.

When I found out about what they did I was in disbelief. I couldn't believe that they had done that to all those people and couldn't help but wonder why our government had hidden it from us (I found out several years after the war had finished).

YaBoyDL19 karma

Did you ever have a negative view towards America or the Allies?

AznSnstn41 karma

Absolutely. We were repeatedly told that all our troubles were due to the Allies and the bombing raids. As a result I blamed America for our shortages.

Larkswing1310 karma

How did you reconcile those feelings when you moved here? I imagine they must have already been changed somewhat as you had married an American, but were there still lingering feelings of anger?

AznSnstn25 karma

By the time I moved to America I was perfectly accepting of Americans with no ill will. It was a big help that the ones I met in Japan were helpful and respectful towards us.

DillyDylan18 karma

Apologies if this offends you, but what are your thoughts on "Unit 731"?

AznSnstn14 karma

I don't know what Unit 731 is. Our government never told us about it so this is my first time hearing about it.

NotLurk1ng3 karma

I was also tempted to ask her about the Rape of Nanking...

AznSnstn11 karma

Hey, this is the grandson. Not sure if you saw but someone did ask about Nanking and she answered it below. Just wanted to follow up with you in case you didn't see it. If you have any further questions, feel free to PM me! She was really warming up to the AMA!

OgGorrilaKing16 karma

How did you feel aout Pearl harbour at the time? Did the Japanese government mention it at all? Did they attempt to justify it with the same 'Americans are coming to enslave us rhetoric?

And how were you treated when you first came to America? Was there a lot of anger towards the Japanese?

AznSnstn58 karma

The government told us that the Americans attacked Pearl Harbor since a large portion of the people there were Japanese. The government made a broadcast claiming that we could not stand by this injustice and had to make the United States pay. I never found out that we attacked Pearl Harbor until the end of the war.

We lived in the country when I came to America and our neighbors were very nice. When they heard that there was a Japanese person living nearby they came over and were amazed that my skin wasn't yellow! I had to ask my husband what that meant and he explained that "yellow skin" was a stereotype of the Japanese.

exwasstalking14 karma

How did you feel when America dropped the bombs?

AznSnstn29 karma

I was terrified. Every time the B-29's flew over our house I prayed that we wouldn't be hit. While we were never hit with a bomb, our house was destroyed in a raid.

justmadearedit12 karma

Who did you pray to? What were common religions in Japan at the time?

AznSnstn36 karma

My grandfather was a Buddhist priest, so we prayed to Buddha. Buddhism was the most popular religion. Shintoism was rarely practiced, and I don't remember anyone who believed in it.

groundhoggirl14 karma

What kind of information did citizens have about the Rape of Nanking, and did it affect their perception of the Japanese army's actions towards its enemies?

AznSnstn35 karma

We were told that Nanking was bad and that we had to invade them to prevent an invasion of Japan. Once our soldiers were in Nanking we were told that the people were being helped. We were never told about what our soldiers were actually doing over there.

freedom1776usa13 karma

What was Japan like after General MacArthur took control?

AznSnstn26 karma

In the beginning things were hard because we had lost and morale was low. Having foreigners who we had fought against come and live here with their families was difficult to swallow. Overtime things got better; the American Soldiers were by and large very respectful towards us. The influx of money from the United States to rebuild our homes definitely helped us to accept Americans on our soil.

terminalsausage12 karma

What was your thought on the war at the time being so young?

AznSnstn15 karma

I was very nervous about my father going to war, but fortunately he wasn't drafted into the military. I knew things were going to be different, and was actually quite scared about what was going to happen to us.

LLv212 karma

You would have been 14-15 when the B-29 raids started. What city were you living in, and did you live through any of the incendiary raids? Also, what was the mood of the Japanese people when the bombing campaign started? Did they realize the war was lost?

AznSnstn26 karma

I was living in Nagoya at the time of the raids. The fire bombs were devastating. Our fire department couldn't handle the amount of fires to put out and eventually the city was destroyed. Everyone said that we were going to win, but I don't they believed it. If anyone said that Japan might lose they were taken away by the police.

LLv210 karma

Thank you for responding. Did you ever see any of the flyers dropped by the Americans that warned against the coming raids? What did the civilian population in the cities do after so much housing was lost?

AznSnstn20 karma

I only ever heard about the Americans dropping flyers, and I never believed it. After the houses were destroyed by the B-29's the government moved the now homeless people into a shelter which, fortunately, was never bombed.

EDIT: My grandson just showed me information about the US dropping leaflets prior to the bombings. That was very nice of them, but I still can't believe that they would inform people of an impending attack!

Greengenemachine9 karma

What do you remember most vividly from the war?

AznSnstn21 karma

The lack of food! We only had a little bit of rice to eat each day, and if we ate fish we had to go to the ocean to catch them. Meat was very had to get.

Paradox_Prevention9 karma

What was your reaction when you heard about the atomic bombing in Hiroshima?

AznSnstn32 karma

No one, including myself could believe that a single bomb could destroy an entire city. I thought this was going to be the end of the war and I felt that our military should lay down their arms and surrender. I never said this out loud though, since I could be arrested for saying such things!

NapoleonicCheese8 karma

What was your perception of the Chinese people and the people in the places Japan had taken overseas, such as in Thailand or Indonesia?

AznSnstn11 karma

I thought the Chinese were devious and couldn't be trusted. I felt the same way about the people in Thailand and Indonesia.

waghag2 karma

How do you feel now?

AznSnstn8 karma

I've softened a little on the Chinese, but I still feel like you can't completely trust them. My views on the other people who Japan had invaded has changed for the better and I feel that I can trust them.

Neyr_78 karma

Have you ever had any subsequent contact with your familt in Japan?

AznSnstn19 karma

I keep in contact with my sister to this day, and sent and received letter with my family after I moved to America in 1960.

bunnyfacer7 karma

Hiya, thank you for doing this AMA. My question is, how did you meet your husband?

Also, what is your opinion of the Japanese American Internment in the U.S. during WWII?

AznSnstn14 karma

I met him at the department store where I worked. One of my friends was dating an American soldier at the time and she would always bring me on dates with them because she was a still a little wary of Americans. I guess he got tired of having to pay for me as well so one day he brought in a friend, who I eventually married.

This is the first time I'm hearing about Japanese Internment! While I don't think that was right, I can understand why the American government did it.

bunnyfacer4 karma

Thank you for replying. You mentioned in the text that your family disowned you in regards to your marriage. Out of curiosity, what became of your friend and the American soldier she was dating? Was her family supportive in her relationship?

AznSnstn7 karma

They eventually married. I'm not sure what the outcome was but I think that her family accepted the marriage. It probably helped that the soldier was Nissei (second generation Japanese-American).

My family initially disowned me, but upon meeting my husband my father actually became very accepting, even going so far as to meet us at the airport before we left for America to bid the both of us a farewell. (Apologies, I'll put this change in the Bio text).

motownmods7 karma

What sort of emotions were you feeling during 9/11 as they pertain to Pearl Harbor and end of WWII? I would imagine you have a unique perspective on these events and I would love to hear about it.

AznSnstn10 karma

I felt very scared, just like everyone else! I felt that there were many similarities between what happened on that day and on Dec. 7. I couldn't understand why people were doing that since I wasn't aware of any war going on at the time. If the United States was at war with someone I could understand, but we were at peace!

justindi7 karma

Can you describe the propaganda in Japan during the war?

AznSnstn20 karma

They said nothing good about the Americans! We were told that they wanted to control our country, and Americans were monsters who would shoot us and enslave us.

-Oc-6 karma

Hi there! I've been fascinated with WWII since I was a little boy, especially the experiences of the average person living in those times, so thank you for doing this! I have two questions:

  1. What were the general opinions of Nazi Germany and Italy by the regular folk? Were they considered honored friends or fools that would be crushed later after Japan dealt with the Allies?

  2. On a scale of 1-10, 1 being no surprise at all and 10 being total and complete shock, how surprised were people when Japan started losing?

AznSnstn11 karma

  1. It was a feeling of mutual alliance. There was no real fervor to support them, we just knew that we were allies and had a common enemy. There was no talk about fighting Italy or Germany if we won the war.

  2. We were told so often that Japan would emerge triumphant that it was a tremendous shock to see our homes being flattened by the United States Air force.

neepster446 karma

I am an American who has been to Gifu and Nagoya many times (both very nice places). I can only imagine how much they have changed since you were a child there. Here's my question.

A large percentage (93%) of American bomber pilots who were shot down over Japan were killed, most supposedly soon after their capture and most supposedly by civilians. Did you ever hear or see anything that would indicate this was happening?

AznSnstn5 karma

I have heard of American pilots being killed by Japanese citizens. I myself saw a pilot bail out of his plane as it was crashing and parachute to the ground. I never knew what happened to him.

NDoilworker6 karma

Do you feel you chose the right country?

AznSnstn19 karma

When I first came to America I felt homesick and definitely questioned my decision to move here. Today I feel at home and don't regret it.

gritsan5 karma

Did you formerly renounce your Japanese citizenship? If so, why?

AznSnstn20 karma

Yes. The United States did not allow Dual Citizenship. I became an American citizen to stay with my husband when he moved back to the United States.

hugh9855 karma

Thank you so much for sharing your past with us first of all! I have a few questions if you don't mind.

What piece of information from the Japanese government that you were given during the war were you most surprised to learn was not true?

What was the general attitude towards invasion? I know many people say that the every Japanese person would have fought the Americans. Is this true?

AznSnstn9 karma

The government had spent such a long time telling us that Americans were monsters and would kill us if we surrendered that I was very surprised when they treated us with respect and courtesy.

Everyone was scared about an invasion. Again, the government had brainwashed us with so many lies about what the Americans would do that I believe we would have fought back against an invasion out of our will to live.

LJizzle5 karma

What was it like growing up watching the negative perceptions of the US, by the Japanese people, change to the generally positive view there is today? What factors do you think led to the close relationship the two countries have today?

AznSnstn19 karma

It was a nice change. The Americans treated us with respect after our surrender, which really changed my view after being told for years that the Americans were going to enslave us and kill us!

GrandmasterJoke4 karma

Thanks for a truly enlightening AMA. Which Japanese foods do you still regularly eat, and do you prefer American cuisine now?

AznSnstn12 karma

I prefer American food, especially steaks! I order it every time we go out to eat! I still eat dishes Japanese noodle dishes like soba and udon, but not as often.

cheshirewuzhere4 karma

This is so cool I always wanted to hear comments and discussion of a person surviving this war from a civilians side of the Axis powers. Thank you!

  1. Were you scared of America during the early war or around the time of the attack of Pearl Harbor?

  2. Besides air raids what else scared you during the war?

  3. Did you believe that your country was telling the whole truth about the war or did you believe there were things the government was hiding from the civilians?

AznSnstn11 karma

  1. In the beginning I wasn't scared of the United States, because I couldn't imagine them making it to our shores.

  2. Once, during a raid, our military shot down one of the bombers and I saw an American jump out and parachute to the ground. He was very close, maybe 300 meters away. I was very scared for him and hoped that he was alright, but I never heard anything about him after that day.

  3. During the war I believed everything I heard from the government. Once the air raids began I started to question the governments claims of victory.

cheshirewuzhere3 karma

Wow. Thank you very much for the both of you deciding to talk about this time in history and being so darn quick to respond back to comments about your life. One last question.

What was it like to move to America post-war and how did people treat you? (Don't know if someone already asked this)

AznSnstn13 karma

I'm happy to answer it again. We didn't live in the continental US for very long. We briefly lived in the countryside in Pennsylvania where our neighbors were few. The ones we did have were very friendly and expressed amazement that my skin wasn't yellow! I was very confused by this and had to ask my husband what that meant and he told me that was a stereotype of the Japanese during the war.

After Pennsylvania we were mostly moved around US holdings in the Pacific Ocean, so we were in with a lot of mixed groups with varying cultures.

suikoarke4 karma

After the war ended, how did most Japanese people view the Emperor? How did you personally feel about him?

AznSnstn15 karma

A lot of people, including me, didn't like the Emperor after the war. They viewed him as someone who was born into privilege and didn't experience any of the hardships they did during the war. While we were being bombed and going hungry he was able to eat what he wanted and live in relative safety.

suikoarke2 karma

Is that an open opinion among those who hold it? I hear that it's something of a taboo even after the war to think unfavorably on the Emperor, even to today.

AznSnstn10 karma

I haven't been back to Japan for a while, but I think people still believe you shouldn't speak ill of the emperor.

todayIact4 karma

Can you say what is was like growing up before the war?

AznSnstn12 karma

It was a very normal life. Go to school, do homework, play with friends, etc. We never thought that the war would reach our shores.

Blackspider11113 karma

After moving to America have you ever returned to Japan? Have you ever traveled to other countries after the war?

AznSnstn9 karma

Yes, I returned many times. Not so much during the first years of my marriage as many people in the community looked down on me for marrying an American. As time went on our trips back became more frequent. I have only traveled to Japan and America.

cheluche3 karma

What were your worst experiences?

AznSnstn9 karma

The lack of food. There was little food in the towns and rice became very valuable. People would trade their valuable jewelry for rice instead of money!

xAftermathz3 karma

What was your most memorised yet horrifying thought about the war ?

AznSnstn10 karma

That we would be killed by a bomb from a B-29. Even in the bomb shelter we never felt truly safe. We felt that if we were hit directly by a bomb we would be dead.

yeswesodacan3 karma

What sort of things make you feel nostalgic about Japan or your childhood there?

AznSnstn9 karma

I live in a place with a strong Japanese community and am surrounded by family, so not much makes me feel nostalgic for Japan anymore. However when I moved to America after marrying my husband eating any sort of food would bring back memories of my home. This was because of the food shortages and the worry that we would never be able to have an abundance of food again if the Americans invaded (fortunately this proved to be false).

thenamesalreadytaken3 karma

What kind of change (if any) did the war and your experience throughout the war bring in your way of seeing the world?

AznSnstn18 karma

I viewed the world as a typical child would - everything and everyone was nice, and things worked themselves out. Once the war started and we began to experience food shortages and regular bombings by the United States I realized that the world can be a very mean and terrible place. After marrying my husband and living the rest of my life I feel like the world can still be a nice place to live in.

pm-me-ur-window-view3 karma

Did your children encounter any prejudice growing up in the US? What was it like for you as their mother?

AznSnstn12 karma

As far as I know my children didn't experience any prejudice. My husband was still in the military we moved to a lot of places where the population was very diverse. We also didn't spend much time in the continental US, instead we were mostly moved around the US holdings in the pacific.

Raising them as a mother wasn't stressful. I was fortunate that there were a lot of accepting people around us. Again, I believe it was because we lived in areas with a diverse population of people and cultures.

Quizzelbuck3 karma

After the war, how long did it take for you to realize every thing was going to be OK? What was the first event you experienced that made you realize you could accept the new status quo?

I wonder if it was an event like finally having a day out, or getting fresh fruit again? Was it gradual? was it the first time you realized a foreign occupier wasn't going to do the horrible things you'd been lied would happen?

AznSnstn6 karma

Near the end of the war we moved away from Nagoya because the bombing was becoming really intense. As a result information was slow to reach us after the surrender and it took about a year for me to realize that things were going to be alright. Many of us had lost our homes, jobs, and loved ones due to the bombing and it was hard to see the light.

The realization that things were going to be alright came gradually. I eventually found work at a department store and subsequently had to deal with Americans who were living in the area. At first I didn't trust them, and always viewed them with suspicion when they came to buy something. However they were all very honest and payed what they were supposed to and eventually I came to realize that things were going to improve.

mancohbit3 karma

What kind of jobs were available for civilian women/children or anyone else who couldn't help with the frontline war effort?

AznSnstn11 karma

It was entirely a war economy. Anything that could be used to kill the enemy was made. I myself participated in this war production, although I was never told what I was making would be used for. It was a long, flat piece of rubber about a foot wide and required 2 people to carry it because it was so heavy. I thought it was a part of a tank.

Dr_Chausable2 karma

What did you do during Japan's "golden age" (after its post WWII recession) when it transitioned to a democracy?

Because that question wasn't very good, a follow up question.

What was the hardest part for you about going through the war?

AznSnstn6 karma

I only lived in Japan until 1960, afterwards I moved to America with my husband. During my remaining time there I worked in a department store.

The hardest part about going through the war was seeing the men be drafted for the military. I remember the son of one of our neighbors went to Manchuria and disappeared. They didn't find his body.

spicycabbage2 karma

When did you move to America, and since it wasn't during the war, why did you move?

AznSnstn9 karma

I moved to America in 1960, a year after marrying my husband. I left Japan because my husband was being brought back to America by the US Military.

Larkswing132 karma

Do you regret leaving behind your birth country at all?

AznSnstn5 karma

Initially I was nervous, but now I am happy with where I am.

gopec2 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA. I would like to know your opinion on the release of remaining Japanese war crimes prisoners in the late 1950's. Do you feel it was just? Was support for the amnesty movement mainly spurred by the bombing of Japans civilian population? Thanks again.

AznSnstn3 karma

I think some of the releases were just. After reading some books about the war crimes and those responsible, I feel that some of those imprisoned were used as scape-goats.

Jeremyt941 karma

Thanks so much for doing this AMA. The very first Godzilla movie came out in 1954 and dealt heavily with issues regarding the usage of atomic bombs against Japan. Have you seen this film? And if so, what were/are your thoughts on it?

AznSnstn6 karma

I'm sorry to say that I've never seen this movie, so I can't comment on it!