Describe an interesting foreigner you know
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Who is this person
What does this person do
How did you know this person
Why do you think this person is interesting
Approximately 30 years ago while traveling for business I met an elderly Japanese man I found fascinating. While traveling together I had the honor of hearing about his life. He spoke perfect English with a slight British Accent. He told me learning English was discouraged when he was growing up. However, the challenge of rebelling and learning English was too great. He learned English by listening to the BBC shortwave radio broadcasts and reading anything in English he could find. His language ability served him well in later years when he would serve as a companion translator to Japanese businessmen and English speaking businessmen in Japan and abroad.
As the war in the Pacific dragged on, and it became apparent that Japan was losing, he was drafted into service by the Japanese military and trained to fly at a young age. He was pressed into service to be a Kamikaze. During his first battle he was shot down before he could crash his airplane into its target. He was rescued and imprisoned until the end of the war. The Japanese government thought he had died in battle. Therefore, he no longer officially existed. His family stayed together and alive due to being eligible for food rations. Since he did not officially exist, he could not receive any rations. His stories of subsisting during the post war occupation were sad and unsettling.
I subsequently had several opportunities to spend time with him both in the US and Japan. During that time in my career I tried to learn enough Japanese to be a polite visitor. But I also tried to learn as many Japanese colloquialisms and swear words to unexpectedly spring on him for laughs. About 10 years after meeting him, I learned that he had passed away. A most interesting individual whom I admired and was saddened by his passing.