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I was very happy to get your letter and I will try to answer your questions, telling you all about my activities and my attitude concerning the war and myself.
I was born in the southern part of the main island of Japan in the town of Okayama a long time ago & I came to America in 1906 as a boy, all by myself.
When I was a boy I was very romantic, I wanted to see the entire world and all its people but I didn’t have any idea at that time that I wanted to become an artist. I just came here to the U.S. out of curiosity – and I planned to go home after a few years of studying English. Frankly that was about all I had on my mind when I first came here.
I landed in Seattle and then I went to Los Angeles where I attended public school. One of my teachers urged me to study painting because she thought I was talented in that direction. That was how I started my art career. – quite by accident. Although I always liked to draw & enjoyed seeing pictures
I didn’t dream of being an artist until that time. Nor did I think at that time I was going to remain in America so many years. I am glad and happy to say that I have stayed. I will stay all my life because this is my home. America has given me everything. It has taught me the democratic way of life. Which to me is its real essence of worthwhile living. If I had children I would be very proud of their being American.
I am very proud to consider myself an American artist and I am proud that I am generally thought of in that way. Artists are valuable to a country because they have vision and they add to the cultural background which is the strength of a democratic nation.
Do you know that how long I live here, I cannot ever become an American citizen because I was born in the Orient and Orientals are excluded from that privilege by law. In appearance I am oriental but my beliefs, my ideal and my sentiment have been shaped by my living in the free American atmosphere most of my life. At heart I am American & I see & feel everything in that way.
I wish you & your friends know everything about what we are fighting for – about the cruelty of the Japanese militarists & the savagery of the Nazis. It is a war of one set of ideals against another. The axis
nations are bent on the destruction of democratic civilization & wish to return to a world of barbarism.
We are determined to prevent them from succeeding. We visualize a better world in which everybody can be free. That is this war as I see it.
It is not a racial war. Look at the Chinese. They are an Oriental people, yet they are fighting the Japanese along with the ? & the United Nations. They feel the same and have the same ideals as Americans have. We must all fight to win – to a decisive victory without compromise. We will win because we know that our way of life is the only way to live and that determination will carry us to victory.
In the past people have asked me from time to time what I really felt about Japan. They were often kindly & considerate and made efforts to console me because I was born there. I have always replied that the children are born everywhere, all over the world & it was my fate to be born in Japan but the environment and circumstance will mold a man no matter where he originated. I am very grateful that I came here and became molded by free American attitudes & democratic viewpoints.
When Office of War Information accepted my offer last January to write scripts for the short-wave radio,
I insisted in doing it under my own name because I believed that the only way to transmit my messages to the Japanese. Whatever prestige my name enjoys could best be utilized by the U.S. in that way. My messages were to the cultural groups – to the artists – writers – musicians and professional people who should be capable of understanding what democracy is. I told them all about the kind life we lead here, what America is like, about what we believe in and the advantages of life in a democracy. I tried to make
it clear, why we are fighting, I told them about myself – how I was able to live as usual and continue painting. How I was able to continue teaching painting in the schools. Where in spite of being an “enemy alien” I had many more students than I ever had before.
I warned them that under such a government as that of Japan there will be no future for cultural pursuits such as art & literatures. I told them that it is never too late to awake and rise up in opposition to their cruel regime.
I have been actively Anti-Japanese since the first Japanese invasion of China in 1931 and needless to say my feeling towards the other axis powers is equally one of loathing.
Such are my beliefs – & I support China and all other United Nations and I shall continue to do everything I can. Recently I have been doing posters for the O.W.I. and I like this sort of work very much.
War Posters are to me weapons with which we can fight the enemy.
Writing to you this way – all about myself & my attitudes will explain why I do all the things you inquired about and I hope I have made it clear to you & your friends. Of necessity the letter has gotten very long. I hope that when you & your classmates have time you will write me again. I will always be glad to hear from you.
Good health & best wishes to all of you.
I hope that the color reproduction of one of my paintings reached you in good condition.