A Japanese-American Prisoner of the Rising Sun—The Secret Prison Diary of Frank "Foo" Fujita
Military History - World War II
6 x 9, 392 pp.
32 photos. 4 maps.
Pub Date: 12/01/2000
Price:        $19.95


Published by University of North Texas Press

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American Library Association Notable Book List, 1993
New York Public Library Book To Remember, 1994


A Japanese-American Prisoner of the Rising Sun—The Secret Prison Diary of Frank "Foo" Fujita

By Frank Fujita
Foreword and notes by Stanley L. Falk

These memoirs are unique because of the six thousand Japanese-Americans who saw military service in the war against Japan, only two were captured by the Japanese and one of them was Frank Fujita—the only combat soldier taken prisoner by the Japanese. For him, capture involved the implicit threat of torture and execution as a traitor to Japan. Fujita was also a prolific diarist who regularly, and secretly, kept a written record of his experiences. The diary was hidden in the walls of his barracks at the POW camp and later recovered by the army and used in several of the war crimes trials in San Francisco. Fujita also made drawings, which are included in the book, along with photographs—some from the Japanese prison camp.

Fujita was a member of the 2d Battalion, 131st Field Artillery, Texas National Guard. The 2d Battalion was sent to Java, Netherland East Indies, where it was captured intact by the Japanese when the Allied command surrendered there in March, 1942. Fewer than nine hundred Americans were taken prisoner on Java. The bulk of American POWs in Japanese hands surrendered in the Philippines, and most of the published POW memoirs reflect their experience. Fujita’s account of the defense of Java and of the fate of the “Lost Battalion” of Texas artillerymen serves to distinguish his memoir from all the others.

The late FRANK FUJITA was called back to active duty as a reservist during the Korean War. He then resumed civilian life and eventually carved out a career as an illustrator for the Air Force. He appeared on television on C-Span, was filmed at the Admiral Nimitz Museum, and was one of two prisoners of war interviewed by Ted Koppel on Nightline as part of the debate concerning the dropping of the atomic bomb. He was also interviewed as a former POW on the History Channel.

What Readers Are Saying:

“This work is quite different and is unique in that it chronicles the internment of the only Japanese-American combat soldier captured during the Pacific campaign of World War II. Frank “Foo” Fujita, a Texan who served with the “Lost Battalion” of the 36th Infantry Division, was captured during the defense of Java in early 1942. Despite the subject, the book reveals much of the humor of Fujita and his comrades. Foo is refreshing in that it never deviates from its view of the Japanese as the aggressors and barbarians of the Pacific War—the view of a Japanese-American who served his country with dignity and honor.” --Southwestern Historical Quarterly

“Fujita's chronicle is fascinating in its detail of the day-to-day life of a prisoner of war. He vividly recounts everything from the privations the POWs had to endure, to living conditions in Japan, to the various sexual encounters that occurred in the camp. The book itself is based on a journal Fujita secretly kept while in captivity and is liberally illustrated with drawings, maps, and personal photographs. The writing style is simple and unpretentious. The book is amply footnoted with information that complements Fujita's recollections. An excellent first-person account, one which will add greatly to the existing literature. Fujita's experiences make for compelling oral history and deserve to be told.” --Journal of Military History

“Readers will be impressed with Fujita’s ebullience and humor that persisted despite the prolonged ordeal he underwent. A gifted illustrator and cartoonist, his artwork from the period gracefully illuminates the narrative.” --Publishers Weekly

“His candid retelling of his experiences is vivid and powerful and presents the portrait of an intelligent and aware observer of life. A recommended memoir for both general reading and World War II collections.” --Library Journal

“A gripping book. A story of courage, tenacity and indomitable human spirit.” --The Dallas Morning News

“ A riveting account of brutality and the strength of the human will. Ably introduced and edited by Stanley L. Falk, former chief historian of the U.S. Air Force, Foo should interest readers of World War II and Asian-American history alike.” --Journal of the West

“Fujita provides interesting details about the mistreatment, starvation, and illnesses suffered by American prisoners of war.” --Choice

“His story is the stuff of movies. It chronicles the discovery of his ancestry by his Japanese captors, his subsequent treatment, and his efforts at survival. In final analysis, the Fujita story is one of survival. Through a combination of guile, bravery, adaptation to the enemy’s mindset, and sheer luck, Fujita was able to come through this experience and tell his story. This was one tough man.” --Ron Marcello, co-author of Remembering Pearl Harbor and Building th

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