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MIS Interpreters

1944 MIS class; courtesy of Ted Yenarinat, National WWII Museum

Throughout the war, more than 6,000 Japanese Americans would serve in the MIS as translators and interrogators—often at great risk—for 130 units across the Pacific.  After the war the MIS Nisei were tapped for critical assignments during the occupation of Japan.

The Military Intelligence Service (MIS) consisted mainly of Nisei men, for further information on the Japanese-Americans who served, I have a series on them, that can be located HERE>

Nisei interpreters worked closely with American and Japanese officials to recover the war-torn nation and restore a peacetime government. They also worked as translators during war crimes trials held in Japan, China, the Philippines, French Indochina and the East Indies.

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One of the most valuable contributions of the Nisei in the MIS was the translation of the captured documents referred to as the “Z Plan,” which outlined the Japanese plans for counterattack in the Southwest Pacific in 1944.

By the war’s end Nisei linguists had translated an astounding 20.5 million pages of documents. Without a doubt, the intelligence gathered by MIS interpreters shortened the war and saved lives. The work that many Japanese Americans performed with the MIS extended beyond World War II into the Cold War years, including occupation duty. Nisei often served as a bridge between occupation authorities and civilians. This service often continued through the Korean War and into the Vietnam era.

During war crimes trials in the Pacific, Nisei translators and interpreters monitored translations, both English and Japanese, performed by Japanese interpreters. They listened for accuracy and possible corrections, ensuring a correct translation for the court records.

Nisei Women’s Army Corps, Ft. Snelling

The postwar contribution of the MIS included women; Nisei volunteers with the Women’s Army Corps [WAC] were trained in translation of military documents for occupation duty. Until the early 1970s many of the contributions of the MIS were classified, and the stories and service of Nisei linguists went unrecognized.

The first recognition of MIS veterans came with the Presidential Unit Citation awarded in 2000 by President George W. Bush. In 2010, MIS veterans received the Congressional Gold Medal along with the other Japanese American veterans of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Infantry Battalion.

Koso Kanemoto in Japan

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Fellow blogger, Koji Kanemoto speaks of his father’s, Koso Kanemoto’s, MIS duty in his posts….

“There’s No Toilet Paper in the Jungle of Burma”

WWII Military Intelligence Today

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Gerald Anderson – Coffee Springs, AL; US Air Force, Vietnam

Charles Bringe – Melrose, MN; US Navy, WWII, gunner / Korea

William Cook – Covelo, CA; US Army, Korea, Lt.

Gertrude Drummond – Glen Cove, NY; Civilian, WWII, Grumman Aircraft

Juan Jaurigue – Tucson, AZ; USMC, WWII, PTO, 3 Purple Hearts, Bronze Star

Wilbur F. Kohlmorgan (101) – Montrose, IA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 34th ‘Red Bull’ Division

Pauline Lagarde – New Orleans, LA; Civilian, WWII, Pentagon

Chester ‘Glen’ Norton – Mt. Eerie, IL; US Navy, WWII, gunner

Irving A. Troob – Providence, RI; US Army, WWII, Middle East & CBI, Technician, 96th Signal Battalion

Lionel Woods (100) – Alexandra, NZ; Royal Navy, WWII, # MX70124

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Pacific War Trials – conclusion

USMC Gen. R. Blake on Truk

There were 19 cases brought up for medical experiments at Truk. (Most people have only heard of these abominable acts from the Nazis.) Another was held for the slaughter of 98 Pan American airline employees on Wake Island in 1943. And ten others were sentenced to death; 18 were convicted of murdering civilians in the Palaus.

Upon Japan’s surrender, the Allies began organizing war crimes investigations and prosecutions throughout Asia. At the Tokyo Trial, the Allies prosecuted only 28 high-ranking ‘Class A’ suspects from various government and military departments on charges linked to the waging of war and war crimes.  Hundreds of lower-ranking ‘Class B’ and ‘Class C’ suspects of diverse ranks were prosecuted at other Allied trials operating across Asia.

The gallows for 18 prisoners charged w/ crimes at Changi, 1946

It is hard to arrive at the exact number of Allied trials held in Asia, as there continues to be access restrictions to some national trial records. Some latest estimates of the number of war crimes trials held by different national authorities in Asia are as follows: China (605 trials), the US (456 trials), the Netherlands (448 trials), Britain (330 trials), Australia (294 trials), the Philippines (72 trials), and France (39 trials).  In 1956, China prosecuted another four cases involving 1062 defendants, out of which 45 were sentenced and the rest acquitted.  The Allies conducted these trials before military courts pursuant to national laws of the Allied Power concerned.  Altogether 2244 war crimes prosecutions were conducted in Asia. 5700 defendants were prosecuted: 984 defendants were executed; 3419 sentenced to imprisonment; and 1018 acquitted.

JAPANESE WAR CRIMES TRIAL IN SINGAPORE (SE 6985) Lieutenant Nakamura, his head covered with a white hood, is led to the scaffold where he will be hung after being found guilty of beheading an Indian soldier with his sword on the Pulau Islands, 14 March 1946. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205208817

The British conducted national war crimes trials (the Singapore Trials) pursuant to a 1945 Royal Warrant adopted by the British executive under royal prerogative powers (1945 Royal Warrant). The British military was given the responsibility of implementing these trials in different locations across Asia and Europe.  330 trials were organized by the British military in Asia. Of these, 131 trials were conducted in Singapore.

As of mid-1946, the British military had established 12 war crimes courts in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Rangoon, Hong Kong, and Borneo. Eight of 12 courts established were located in Singapore. There were also ‘travelling courts’ that made their way to particular locations to hear a case.

3 September 1946. Nisei Activities, Tokyo, Japan. Nisei monitors both civil service employees for the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, War Ministry Building, Tokyo, Japan. Mr. Sho Onodere, Language Division, IMTFE, from Los Angeles, California, left, and Mr. Lanny Miyamoto, Language Division, IMTFE, From Los Angeles, California, right, listen to courtroom procedure. As the Japanese interpreters for the court make their translations, these men listen to their statements for accuracy and possible corrections, thus insuring a correct translation for the court records. Their job is twofold, for when the English speaking attornerys have the flloor, translation of English into Japaense must also be monitored. This is one of the many important positions held by Nisei in the Tokyo Area. Photographer: Davis.
Box 444

Singapore served as the base for the British military’s war crimes investigations and prosecutions in Asia. Investigations were conducted out of Goodwood Park Hotel. Post-war conditions in Singapore posed many challenges to the organizing of these trials. There was a shortage of food, basic necessities, and qualified personnel in post-war Singapore.

Trials conducted in Singapore concerned not only Japanese military atrocities perpetrated in Singapore but those committed in other parts of Asia

A substantial number of trials addressed the abuse and neglect of POWs and civilian detainees in prisons and camps, such as Changi Prison, Sime Road Prison, Outram Road Gaol, and Selarang Barracks.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Nikyisha T. Boyd – Kissimmee, FL US Army, Midlle East, Sgt. 1st Class, 1st Special Forces

Paul Coleman – Roswell, GA; USMC, WWII, PTO

William Degen – Buffalo, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, 7th Army

Dallas G. Garza – Fayetteville, NC; US Army (MFO), Egypt, Chief Warrant officer, KIA (South Sinai)

Marwan S. Ghabour – Malborough, MA; US Army (MFO), Egypt, Chief Warrant Officer, KIA (South Sinai)

Robert C. MacDonald – Hamilton, CAN; RC Air Force (RAF), WWII, CBI, Sgt., radarman

Kyle R. McKee – Painsville, OH; US Army (MFO), Egypt, SSgt., KIA (South Sinai)

Jeremy C. Sherman – Watseka, IL; US Army (MFO), Egypt, Sgt., KIA (South Sinai)

Seth V. Vandekamp – Katy, TX; US Army (MFO), Egypt, Captain, KIA (South Sinai)

Joseph Watson (102) – Waikato, NZ; RNZ Army, WWII, Pvt. # 6290224, 50th Northcumberland Regiment

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