Yoshio Kubota, also known as Mike, was born August 30, 1923, in Amauulu Camp 1, near Hilo, Hawaii, T.H. Amauulu Camp was for sugar plantation workers. He was one of the seven children (two daughters and five sons) of Sakuichi and Yuri (Okine) Kubota. Sakuichi first arrived in Hawaii in 1906 from Minaga-mura, Saeki-ku, Itsukaichi-machi, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan. Yuri was born on Hawaii island, taken to Japan at age 4 in 1891, and returned to Hawaii in 1917.
After high school, Yoshio moved to Oahu. He signed his WWII Draft Registration card on June 30, 1942, Local Draft Board No. 2. At the time he was employed by the Hawaiian Pineapple Company at Kaukonahua on the North Shore. His point of contact was his father, and he was 5’1”, 112 lbs. In 1943 he had moved to Honolulu for work and was called up from Local Board No. 6 for enlistment on March 25. His civilian occupation was listed as “lab technician/assistant.” Three days later he was among over newly enlisted 2,000 Nisei soldiers at Schofield Barracks to assemble for the community farewell ceremony at Iolani Palace.
On April 4 Yoshio was among these same soldiers that left Honolulu on the SS Lurline for Oakland, California. They were sent by train to Camp Shelby, Mississippi. According to his diary, basic training was extended from the original three months for an additional two months. He completed training as a member of Company L, 442nd RCT.
At this point, in September 1943 his superiors noticed that he had 12 years of Japanese language school education. They selected him for the Military Intelligence Service and he was transferred to the MIS Language School at Camp Savage, Minnesota.
Kubota completed MISLS on March 25, 1944. He then served as an MIS interrogator in India, Burma, and China between June 1944 to August 1945. One of his duties was aiding the British military in interrogating Japanese prisoners of war (POWs). His service was scheduled to include six months of post-war occupation duty in Japan. However, he had enough “points” to be discharged, and was sent to California where he served for a while aiding Japanese prisoners.
In August 1944, Kubota’s name and serial number 30105350 appear on a Military Hospital record, diagnosis “enterocolitis.” He was discharged back to duty. No location was given.
He returned home to Hawaii on January 16, 1946, and was discharged from the U.S. Army at Schofield Barracks. In 1947 he attended the University of Colorado, Boulder on the GI Bill and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biology. He later attended the University of Hawaii, Manoa and earned a Master’s degree in Microbiology. On August 27, 1958, he married Marian Masako Kurasaki of Kapaa, Kauai. They settled in California where Kubota worked as a medical researcher.
In his personal life, Kubota had grown up as a devout Buddhist, who even taught Buddhist Sunday school. But during the war, he had been converted to Christianity by an Army chaplain. Yoshio loved gardening and fishing. At the age of 78, he learned to use a computer, and wrote his 100-plus-page memoirs complete with photos. They amplified the wartime diary he had kept. (See the separate article and transcription of Kubota’s diary on this website.)
On January 26, 2003, Kubota was interviewed for the Japanese American Military History Collective Oral History Project. To see the interview, go to ndajams.omeka.net/items/show/1053333.
He treasured his family most of all. Four days before his death there was a family gathering in Kubota’s modest house. He declared, “I am the richest man in the world, because I have all my children and grandchildren surrounding me.” Yoshio Kubota died on June 24, 2004, in Los Angeles and was buried at Rose Hills Cemetery in Whittier, California. As of this writing (2021), his wife Marian splits her time between California and Kauai and the Kubota family includes 5 children, 13 grandchildren, and 1 great-grandchild.
Older brother Sadaichi Kubota in Hilo volunteered for the U.S. Army at the same time as Yoshio. They sent each other letters essentially saying, “I signed up, so please stay home and take care of our parents.” The letters crossed in transit, so they both ended up serving their country. Sadaichi fought with the 442nd RCT in Europe. (See his separate bio)