I was born in Wailuku, on the island of Maui, Hawaii, on 13 December 1915. My parents worked on a sugar plantation, as most of the immigrants did at that time. In 1925, when I was in the 3rd grade, the whole family moved to Okinawa, Japan. After the family got settled, father returned to Hawaii alone It was a very brief visit for him. A few years later, mother took my two younger sisters and two younger brothers to Maui, Hawaii, to join the father, leaving behind both my brother and me to finish high school in Shuri, Okinawa, Japan. Both of us graduated from high school in March, 1934. My older brother left for Hawaii on the day of graduation, while it was not until January, 1935, that I was able to join the family in an isolated community far removed from urban areas. Neighbors were miles apart. There was no high school, but only a grade school in this area. The opportunity for higher education and employment was practically nil. To learn English was of a primary concern to me at that time. It prompted me to move to Honolulu to seek opportunities to satisfy my aspiration to learn English. I worked on a part-time basis to enroll at McKinley High School and graduated in 1938. I attended the University of Hawaii for one year, before transferring to San Francisco City College.
My student life came to an abrupt end in October of 1941, when I was drafted into the army, supposedly for one year. This was two months before the Pearl Harbor attack. It marked the beginning of nearly seven years of my military service. I took advantage of every opportunity that presented itself while in the military service to continue with my education. I took extension courses from University of California, University of Minnesota, and finally graduated from the Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan, but I continued to audit courses at the Waseda University, Tokyo, for two years.
While underrgoing basic training at Camp Roberts in California, Pearl Harbor was attacked. It was followed by declaration of war I initially was assigned to coastal defense duties in San Diego area without even completing the 16 weeks of basic trainings required. When the Japanese-Americans on the West Coast were incarcerated into different camps, the Japanese -American service personnels were also moved inland to be assigned to non-combatant duties. I was relocated to Fort Sam Houston, Texas. In December of 1942, I was transferred to the Military Intelligence Service Language School at Camp Savage, Minnesota, as a student. Upon graduation from the school in June 18, 1943, instead of being shipped overseas, I remained as an instructor until August 1946.
In September of 1946, I went to Japan. I was initially assigned to the Japanese Liaison Office G-2, General Headquarters (GHQ) Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP). I was separated from the service as Warrant Officer in May of 1947. I was then transferred to Government Section (GS) GHQ, SCAP, as a federal government employee.
The demilitarization and democratization of Japan were mandated by the Potsdam Declaration. When I was assigned to the GS, the new Constitution had been promulgated. The GS was, at that time, involved in a variety of reform programs to implement the provisions of the Potsdam Declaration. The reform programs covered such wide areas as the constitution, the police, the election system to provide women's suffrage, the demilitarization, the land, the purge, the civil service, the abolition of the Home Ministry to deny authoritative powers, the local government, etc. The GS also monitored legislation to determine whether the spirit of the constitution had been incorporated therein or not.
It was an interesting and enlightening period of the Japanese political process. I had the privilege of not only taking part in important meetings, but also meetings with many Japanese political leaders, some of whom later became prime ministers.
When Japan regained independence with the coming into force of the Peace Treaty, GS. was abolished. I was then officially transferred to the Civil Affairs Section Annex where I was previously temporarily assigned.
On 8 July 1950, General Douglas MacArthur SCAP authorized Prime Minister Yoshida to establish the National Police Reserve (NPR) of 75,000 men. The previous policy of a total disarmament was at this point reversed to pro-vide internal security and peace in the absence of U.S. forces, deployed to Korea. With the enactment of the law of 1 July 1954, the original NPR transformed finally into the ground, the maritime, and the air self defense forces to protect Japan from internal and external aggressions. The organizations that provided military assistance and advice, likewise, underwent many transformations. I was affiliated with the military assistance type of organizations as a language specialist and a liaison officer from the very inception of the establishment of the NPR in 1950 up to my retirement in 1989, spanning a period of almost 42 years. I received letters of commendation for my bilateral service from the Minister of State for Defence, Yasuhiro Nakasone, who later became the prime minister, State Minister of Defense, Taku Yamzaki, Foreign Minister, Sosuke Uno, for cementing U.S.-Japan relationship, chairmen of joint chief of staff, chiefs of staff of the ground, the maritime and the air self defense forces, and many others.
In 1986, I was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon from the Emperor of Japan.
The Japan Defense Agency hosted a farewell reception in my honor on 21 June 1989, shortly before my retirement. Over 550 guests attended the reception. The then Governor of Tokyo, Shunichi Suzuki, was the guest speaker, followed by the greetings and farewell speech by the famous Japanese actress, Machiko Kyo. Incidentally, when I was in GS, I used to deal with Mr. Suzuki in connection with the abolishment of the Home Ministry. And Miss Machiko Kyo has been a personal friend of both of us since 1954.
The Japan Defense Agency compiled a 194-page booklet entitled, "Shizu San, Aka San, Arigato, a Reminiscence of 42 Years in Japan". Over 120 friends contributed to the booklet. And 1,000 copies were printed for distribution to friends. The booklet contains many kind words, remarks, trusts and good wishes. My wife and I still remain in contact with many friends. She also did her share to promote U.S.-Japan friendship among the Japanese women. We enjoy reading sentiments expressed by friends in the booklet. It brings back fond memories of the bygone days.
As a tribute and lasting legacy for some 42 years of relationship with the Japan Defense Agency, I donated two sets of academic reference books of value to the Defense Academy. I was invited to the presentation ceremony. A section of the library is dedicated in my name, "Raymond Y. Aka".
At present, we are completely retired, and reside in Walnut Creek, California.