Peter Kazunori Okada

Sexo Male
Birth date 1919-5-23
Local de nascimento Los Angeles CA, U.S.A.
Inducted 1943-6-1, Minneapolis MN
Tipo de alistamento Volunteer
Ramo das Forças Armadas Army
Tipo de serviço War
Tipo de Unidade Support
Unidades onde serviu 2nd Marine Division; Military Gov't.
Military specialty Military Intelligence
Stationed USA - Ft. McClellan, AL; Minneapolis, MN; Manila, P.I.; Japan
Separated Zama Ja
Major battles (if served in a war zone) None
Awards, medals, citations (individual or unit) Received regular military awards for those who served during WWII. None significant. Enclosing info on award received as Dept. Army Civilian.
Living conditions Can't recall any real hardship experienced during military career. One past-timme enjoyed in Tokyo was hopping a train to any likely station and passing out candies and gum to children who were denied sweets during the war and watching their expressions.
Most vivid memory of military experience The irony of a defeated country was one of my greatest remembrance. i.e. scenes of abject poverty in a dis-oriented society. Men addicted to cigarettes paying black market prices to support habit, over scarce food. Wealthy bartering kimono's/jewelry with farmers for rice. Prostitute for a candy bar or soap. Husband pimping for wife, etc.
Additional information Biographical Summary of Peter K. Okada

Born 1919 in California, employed by the City of Los Angeles Parks & Recreation Department until evacuation. Incarcerated at Santa Anita Assembly Center and Amache Camp, Lamar, Colorado. After serving one year for Father Flanagan of Boy's Town, Nebraska, enlisted in Military Intelligence in 1943.

Upon graduating from MISLS, landed in Manila in August 1945 and Occupational duty in October 1945. Served briefly with the 2nd Division Marines in Kyshu. Then transferred to the 108th Military Government Team in Osaka and continued serving until its deactivation in 1951.

Declined a field commission in favor of equal rank as a civilian serving in the Education Section, as Chief of the Information Section, later as Chief of the Agriculture & Forestry Sections. Returned to Los Angeles in 1951 to complete my education.

Back to Japan in February 1954 as a professional buyer and VP of Pacific Wood Products Company, one of the major plywood importers selling across the USA. After serving 10 years, resigned to establish own company, PWP Japan Inc., headquartered in Tokyo with branch offices in Manila, Philippines, and Rabaul, New Guinea. My firm dealt in importing hardwood logs, on a shipload basis, from many of the countries in the South Pacific. Later, the company represented several lumber mills producing high grade jumbo squares in the Pacific Northwest. Also founded Alpac Foods Inc., a company dealing in marine products, serving as its CEO.

After residing over 3 decades in Japan, returned to the US in 1980 to retire and am currently domiciled in Kirkland, WA. Married with five children and eleven grandchildren.

I participated on a panel during the reunion of MIS veterans in 1993, sponsored by the JA Veterans Association in Washington, DC. I spoke on the occupation of Japan and covered much of the activities I engaged in during my tour of duty.

The presentation was as follows.


Our comrades who preceded us, in the war with Japan, engaged primarily in BATTLE INTELLIGENCE. They participated in 'winning the war'. Because of military strategy, and all the action and drama related thereto, it was the more colorful and sensational phase of MIS, than the events which followed which was the 'winning the peace' commonly known as the OCCUPATION OF JAPAN.

It's the unhearalded portion of the belated MIS story.

It is said our peers shortened the war in the Pacific. I would speculate that we who were a part of the occupation abbreviated what could have been a difficult and prolonged recovery. I'm certain we assisted in the smooth transition to democracy.

Very much like the different tasks that our early fellow grads participated in, the occupation performers found themselves in many levels and in diverse assignments.

For openers, they were on the Missouri during the surrender ceremony, were major players in the war crimes trials at Sugamo prison during the incarceration of war prisoners, and so on.

Our members were in on all positions of status, such as interpreters for ranking generals with authority, including the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, Gen. Douglas MacArthur. We were also involved in all levels of Army units such as Genral Headquarters (GHQ); the Eight Army under Gen. Robert L. Eckelbuger; and Intelligence Headquarters under Maj. Gen Charles A. Willoughby. The latter included such lower echelons as the Counter Intelligence Corp (CIC) and the Civil Censorship Detachment (CCD) both of which monitored and prevented the Communist from infiltrating and making serious inroads into Japan. Our members were also involved with the Reparation Mission which assisted in making restitution to countries Japan had invaded. Many of us served in Military Government and the list goes on and on.

With the limited time available, I would like to briedfly describe my experiences during the period from October 1945 to May 1951.

My long dream and ambition, and my reason for enlisting with the MIS was realized when I set foot in Yokohama in October 1945. We landed with steel helmet, full field pack, and mounted bayonets, and marched to Sakuragi-cho station where we boarded trains for Tokyo.

Curiosity seekers, who lined the road, were mainly kids and seniors with looks of bewilderment. They probably thought we were turn-coats, but it wasn't long before they learned otherwise from the media.

We were billeted at the ATIS Headquarters or the NYK Building. My maiden assignment was with a team consisting of about 25 men on TDY, with the 2nd Marine Division stationed at the great naval base in Sasebo, Kyushu.

The late Roy Kaneko and I were assigned to a labor battalion consisting of about 75 men and women, whose task was to dispose of ammunition, pre-formed gun powder and Zero fighter engines after rendering them unuseable. The Japanese had cached the engines, gun powder and ammunition in various caves in the hillsides of the base. We dumped the ammo in the bay and burned 60 tons of picric acid gun powder daily. The melted down engines provided raw material for the early start of one of the industries which made aluminum foot lockers for the GI's.

Then in the Spring of 1946, I was transferred to the 108th Military Government Team which underwent a number of name changes to Osaka Military Government Team, Osaka Civil Affairs, and lastly as some of the adjacent local teams were deactivated, as Kinki Civil Affairs Region.

I was to remain with the unit with each successive change until Gen. MacArthur was relieved of his command in April 1951. It was undoubtedly the most interesting and rewarding experience of my life - so much so that the satisfaction I got from playing the role of the bridge later launched my lifelong business career between the two countries.

The institution through which the Supreme Commander, Gen. MacArthur, guided and revived the people and the bankrupt economy was largely through the Military Government. He issued orders to the Prime Minister whose cabinet rubber stamped and sent them on to the governors of all the prefectures, who in turn sent them to mayors of cities and chiefs of towns and villages.

Copies of these orders were sent to all the local Military Government teams and our job was to observe and report to GHQ as to how these decrees were being implemented at the grass-roots level.

My initial job at MG was to set up an interpreter/translation section for the team. Later I turned down a field commission and remained as a civilian promoted to the Education Section with a rank equivalent to my military counterpart. Then I served as the chief of the Information Section and finally as the chief of the Agriculture and Forestry Section of the Economic Division.

The early period of the occupation involved a lot of negative instructions from GHQ. For example, while serving with the Education Section, my work included calling on schools unannounced with a long check list to see if the 'kamidana' or God Shelf in each class room had been taken down, the 'Goshin'ei' or the photograph of the Emperor and Empress had been removed from the auditorium, that the martial weapons had been turned over to the local police, the the 'hoanden' or the shrine on the school ground containing the Imperial portraits had been destroyed, and so on.

As the occupation proceeded, things turned positive and the return of Japan to the family of nations had begun about the time I returned in 1951 to the states to complete my education.

Then one day years later in 1991, when returning from one of my trips to Japan, I was shocked and surprised to receive an invitation from the Commissioner of the American Football Association in Japan, inviting me to be honored at half time during one of the games in Osaka.

I was astounded to learn that most of the rudiments of football I had taught to students at two high schools, Toyonaka and Ikeda, during off duty hours when I had been with the Education Section, had taken root and had blossomed to become part of the regular sport curriculum in high schools in the entire Kinki region. Players graduating provided colleges with experienced recruits, thus upgrading and shortening preliminary training periods.

I discovered that the intricate rules of the game were understood and that winning teams from Osaka and Tokyo were participating in the annual playoffs with the finalist receiving a Peter Okada Trophy, a gift I had given years ago and long forgotten.

So in 1992, we were met by a delegation when we arrived at the Osaka train station. My eldest daughter and two grandsons, who were vacationing in Japan at the time, joined us in being wined and dined for several days. Later, I was honored at mid-field with players lining both side lines, during half time, at the Nishinomiya Bowl - as the high school father of American football in Japan!

I question whether this little episode is of substantial significance. Whatever the degree of significance, I feel very humble when I realize that unconsciously, I made a very small contribution, and left a very tiny footprint, as a member of MIS, during the early and heady days in the aftermath of a tragic war.

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