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Profiles in Focus: Kawasaki Yoshio

Former Gonohe Mayor Kawasaki Yoshio-san dances to a valse with BGSA members.

It was The Second World War. The year was 1943, two years before the end of the War. Japanese armed forces reached New Guinea and will soon come out of India. But the army was losing time and the war was turning against the Japanese. My father was part of a division in the Japanese army, the division was tasked in handling food supplies to be sent to New Guinea. Because New Guinea is very far from Japan to directly send food supplies to the army, Japan military headquarters sent many agricultural staff soldiers by plane to New Guinea.

Bayombong officials presenting a gift to former Gonohe Mayor Kawasaki Yoshio during a dinner.

My father was part of a 250 member division who were knowledgeable in handling vegetables and other food items. But, by that time, the United States Marine Forces already had a strong presence in the regions with its submarines. So, 23 ships left Japan and headed to Manila first. However, only three of those 23 ships arrived in Manila; my father was very lucky to survive the journey. After arriving, he [my father] immediately started working with the food supply with the help of Japanese and Filipino civilians. Almost 450 workers had to work on this task until the US forces came to Manila. Then, Admiral [Tomoyuki] Yamashita and the Philippine Japanese commanders commanded their troops to spread and flee to the mountain regions. Admiral Yamashita and his troops moved to the northern areas of Luzon island. Some of the troops came to Baguio but another group came to Bayombong. My father was one of those soldiers stationed in Bayombong tasked with securing food supplies coming through the town. At the time, my father established the food division headquarters, the house which would be later owned by Mr. Zuraek near the then called National Road. Two years later, the war would end. My father was very lucky to be able to come back to Japan; he weighed only 35 kilograms while most of his 400 member staff weren’t so lucky. Only 44 people were able to come back. He lost many of his staff to the war.

Kawasaki Nanao frequently visited Bayombong alongside his father. Here, they visit the Mamuric Family home.

16 years after the war, my father was elected as the Mayor of Gonohe. My father always had the desire to come back and visit the Philippines to honour and hold memorial services for the staff he had lost in the Philippines during the war. So, he joined a delegation by the national government to look for people born to the fallen Japanese soldiers in the Philippines. This was his first time visiting the Bayombong after the war. Upon arriving, he immediately started looking for the house where he previously set up his headquarters. When he arrived, it was the Tugab family currently residing at the home and so that was how he met the Tugabs for the first time.

Special thanks to Kawasaki Nanao-san for recounting Kawasaki Yoshio-san's history.

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