This book is as much an autobiography as a study in the contrasts of human behavior. It is not based on any scientific studies. Rather, it is based on the observations of two people who come from two completely different sets of circumstances, historically, culturally, linguistically, racially, and religiously. Geographically, we were born halfway around the world from each other. The only similarity between us is that our birthdays are only one day apart.
I am pleased that this book is finally completed. I wanted to write it for quite some time – for three major reasons.
First, I have experienced three potentially fatal incidents as an adult. After the third one, I decided I owe it to those who survive me to pass on what I have learned in life.
Second, as I became older, I began to wish I could have known more about my parents, my grandparents, and ancestors – not so much about the lineage but the historical context that shaped their thought processes, how they lived or were forced to live, and what they experienced.
I wish I could have known each individual’s perspective in his or her own words. This book came from my desire to know about my ancestors and to share my perspective on them with our sons, grandchildren, and descendants.
Last but most importantly, I needed to express my profound gratitude to the United States of America before my time runs out here on Earth. It is also a message from my late parents, who experienced World War II as young adults in Japan. The way they always talked about America – as far back as I can remember – gave me a fascination with this country, its culture, its language, and its people. American ideals have a universal appeal to all human beings who are, or want to be, free to think for themselves. America has been my sanctuary. Here, I have pursued my ideals, the most vital of which are freedom and independence. I treasure these simple yet profound concepts. It has been my honor and privilege to be able to experience life in this country.
Research for this book showed me the deep extent to which Japan was supported by the United States long before the period in which my parents experienced the influence of America, which was after World War II. Nearly four decades of life here in America have provided me with plenty of evidence to make judgments about this country. The United States is a great nation that recognizes its power on the world stage and the accompanying responsibilities it shoulders for humanity. World history is filled with examples of countries taking over other countries through brutality. Japan is no exception. Yet, unlike most other world powers, invading Japan, or any other country, has never been the intent of the United States. Instead, its objective has always been to help develop other countries as trading partners. That relates to this country’s belief that countries need healthy economies to support their citizens. Independent citizens, who can provide for themselves and their families, lead to an independent nation. Independent nations, in turn, become good trading partners for the benefit of all. America, to me, represents a nation that understands human desires, human nature (both good and bad), and is committed to enhancing the lives of others, not by force but by reason. It is truly the best country I could have chosen as a place to live and see for myself what life with freedom and independence is really like. I am truly grateful for those who made it possible for me.
America is like a miniature of the world. One unique aspect of America, of course, is that it is made up of immigrants from all over the world, many of whom have experienced life’s tragedies elsewhere, compelling them to take the plunge and leave the familiar environment in which they once lived. Most of us came here to assimilate into a more ideal society where people can enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Each immigrant has a story, more often than not, an excruciatingly painful one. Mine is no exception. Perhaps because of it, my sense of gratitude for this country is magnified.
EPISODE I covers my life in Japan from 1949 through 1972.
EPISODE II covers my life in the United States from 1972 through 2009.