Ph. D. Candidate,
Keaki Matsudaira is a PhD. student and also a PhD. candidate at the Graduate Program in International Relations at Sophia University. She has been doing her research on Japanese Americans’ military experiences in the Asia-Pacific. She conducts oral interviews in Hawai‘i with Japanese American Nisei who served as interpreters, translators and interrogators for US Military during WWII and occupation of Japan, Okinawa and Korea. With an approach of historical sociology, she focuses on these Nisei servicemen’s life histories to examine how they had transnational/trans-imperial interactions in the Asia-Pacific.
“Trans-Border Mobility and Military Experience: Japanese Americans in the Asia-Pacific”
The Japanese American Nisei (the second generation) military experiences have been highly nationalized in a heroic way. It is true that these Nisei soldiers who served for US during WWII fought to prove their loyalty. On the other hand, some literatures have focused on their transnational aspects by discussing on their military service in the Asia-Pacific and demonstrated that they empathized with the Japanese. In this paper, I would like to deepen the understandings of the transnational aspects on the Japanese American Nisei military experiences, by analyzing the Nisei individual mobilities. Since US military was in need of Japanese speakers for linguistic duties, it enlisted Nisei and some of whom spent their teen years in Japan before and during WWII. The paper examines the linkage between “mobility” and “military” experiences of Japanese American Nisei which illustrates more complexity than their empathy toward the Japanese. For example, a Nisei’s life in Japan before WWII made him a communist, how could he persuade himself to be a US soldier? With analyses of the personal accounts of Nisei’s life histories, this paper tries to indicate some meanings of Nisei’s trans-border mobility and military experiences.