|Days of Infamy |
POD: March, 1941;
Relevant POD: December 7, 1941
|Type of Appearance:||Direct POV|
|Nationality:||Japanese resident of Hawaii|
|Date of Birth:||1886|
|Occupation:||Fisherman, radio broadcaster|
|Spouse:||Reiko Takahashi (d. 1941)|
|Children:||Hiroshi and Kenzo (sons)|
Jiro Takahashi (b. 1886) was a Japanese-born fisherman from Yamaguchi Prefecture who emigrated to Hawaii at the turn of the century. He never took to the American lifestyle, as he was suspicious of its culture, and he never learned English. He was disappointed with how immersed in American culture his sons Hiroshi and Kenzo had become by 1941. He and his wife, Reiko, maintained their sense of themselves as Japanese and citizens of Japan.
Takahashi owned a fishing sampan called the Oshima Maru. The family was on the sampan working when word came that the Imperial Japanese Navy had attacked Pearl Harbor. Takahashi felt a great deal of pride, likening the attack to the Russo-Japanese War with excitement. He quickly realized that his sons did not share that excitement and national pride, but rather shared the Americans' feelings of rage and embitterment.
Tragedy struck the family when, during the Japanese invasion of the island of Oahu, the Japanese began bombing Honolulu. While Takahashi and his sons were out fishing their apartment building was hit. Reiko was killed. Kenzo and Hiroshi blamed Japan for her death, but Jiro blamed the U.S. for not surrendering sooner. The Takahashi men were moved into a tent in a refugee camp.
While the occupation was difficult for the inhabitants of Hawaii, Takahashi and his sons were able to maintain a certain level of comfort. As fishermen, they were able to feed themselves from their catch, as well as turn fish into a sort of currency.
It became Jiro Takahashi's practice to bring a fish to Japanese Consul-General Nagao Kita. While on such a visit, Takahashi met the vice-consul, Tadashi Morimura. Realizing the untapped potential of Takahashi's loyalty, Morimura saw to it that Takahashi did newspaper interviews and regular radio broadcasts extolling the virtues of Japan.
Takahashi's sons took issue with their father becoming a propaganda tool. However, he brushed aside their warnings that the Americans would be back until it was far too late. When the U.S. invaded in the summer of 1943, Takahashi realized that he might face dire consequences. Consul Kita insured that Takahashi was one of the few Japanese smuggled out of Hawaii by submarine. Before leaving, Takahashi accepted that his sons considered themselves Americans, and did not inform them of his planned escape. He returned to Japan, where he was relocated to Hiroshima to continue propaganda broadcasts. Although ironically, Jiro's stay in his homeland made him somewhat alienated, even from his own relatives that spoke very little of him.