HORSE’S MOUTH: The New Driverless Car

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

My favorite TV newscaster is David Ono, not because he is a fellow Japanese American but because of his skill with the mike and attention-grabbing personality. Because of his skill before the TV cameras, his station frequently assigns him to major news events all over the world.

Remember he was assigned to the earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan.

The one thing about David that I was not aware of was that he even knew I existed as a columnist for The Rafu.

I learned this when he contacted me about two weeks ago to participate in TV program about the evacuation of JAs during the early days of World War II that he is producing for a May presentation.

He wanted my views about life at Heart Mountain Relocation Center.

The interview was scheduled for this past Monday at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo. The museum is closed on Mondays, so he had the facility set up for the filming of my interview.

When I arrived at the museum, I was surprised at the set-up with his news crew and cameras.

A lot of questions I was asked involved identifying many photos of the Wyoming camp.

Since 70 years have passed since our stay at Heart Mountain, I couldn’t recall the names in most of the photos, although they looked familiar to me.

Needless to say, despite having been a newsman and columnist for all these years, I’ve never been contacted about my opinion and my experiences as a resident of Heart Mountain.

When David does air his program, I’m sure most people who view it will say, “Yoshinaga? Who is he?”

Oh, before I forget, I should mention that old friend Patti Hirahara set up my introduction to David. I knew her from my days at Kashu Mainichi. That was before I joined The Rafu.

Thanks, Patti. It was nice to get together with you after all these years.

It was a short letter I received that reminded me of the one-time campaign for the U.S. Postal Service to issue a postage stamp honoring the Nisei GIs and the “Go For Broke” military units. The note said:

“I received a Christmas card this year with the stamp pictured with a friend’s family dog, which prompted me to think whatever happened to the drive to get the ‘Go For Broke’ stamp issued.

“You know the post office might not survive with the computers everybody is using these days, so we’d better try again to get the ‘Go For Broke’ stamp issued.

“The ‘Go For Broke’ Nisei GIs deserve it as they suffered so much and not many are left to be honored. Most are gone to heaven.”

Thanks for your letter about the proposed stamp to honor the “Go For Broke” GIs. I’m not sure why the post office hasn’t recognized them.

The kinds of stamps they produce to “honor” so much junk make me curious why the Nisei are ignored for their contribution for winning the war.

In Hawaii, especially on Maui, one frequently hears the “locals” say, “There are too many haoles in the Islands these days.”

Well, there may be more truth than poetry in that statement.

One example might be an election on the island of Maui. In the next election for a local office, all six candidates vying for the post are “haoles.”

Can you imagine such a thing? Not a single Japanese American on the ballot. Yup. All “haoles” and not even a “kotonk.”

Since I chatted about TV newsman David Ono working on a film about Heart Mountain, I thought I would publish the following letter from Bob Nagamoto on a nurse who was the first to serve the people living in the Wyoming camp:

“I thought you might be interested in this booklet written by Velma Berryman Kessel, who was a registered nurse who worked at the hospital at Heart Mountain from 1942 to 1945.

“She accurately describes the hospital facilities, which was one of the finest among the 10 camps.

“This was given to me from a friend who attended the Heart Mountain Pilgrimage last August. I knew more than half of the doctors listed on Page 18 of this booklet from before the war started when they practiced in Little Tokyo and in fact, Dr. Paul Ito, who was a pediatrician, motivated me to become a physician many years later.

“He lived down the street from us before the war in Boyle Heights.

“Our family went first to Santa Anita Assembly Center and we were later transferred to Amache until that camp closed in 1945. My uncle and his family went from Santa Anita and moved to Heart Mountain.

“My cousin Reiko Ohara remembers you from Heart Mountain working on The Sentinel, the camp newspaper, as did Louise Suski, who was a close family friend. I really enjoy reading your column in The Rafu.”

Thanks to Bob for his letter. Anything about Heart Mountain rekindles so many memories about life there.

Well, maybe after David Ono’s TV production, I might get more stories from the camp.

I look forward to the memories they will bring back, especially about friends who have passed on.

One thing about knowing people who are political bigwigs is that they know a lot of other political bigwigs.

I won’t mention his name, but I was reminded of this when one of them sent me an autograph of another famed person who left us recently. That would be Sen. Dan Inouye.

Dan sent my political powerhouse friend a “season’s greetings” card with his large autograph on it. It was dated two weeks prior to his passing.

My friend thought it would be nice if he sent me Dan’s autograph since over the years I wrote about the Hawaiian senator frequently.

Yes, I’m going to frame his autograph and hang it on the wall next to my computer. I thank my friend for thinking about me.

Yes, I’m still being informed that we are in the New Year’s mode. That is, I am still receiving New Year’s greeting cards, which reminded me that Christmas cards fell to almost zero last year.

I’m not sure how to analyze this new trend.

A typical greeting card says “Happy New Year” in Japanese, “Shinnen Omedeto,” but not in English, and uses the word “Oshogatsu.”

Here is an interesting New Year’s greeting I received:

“I wish you and your loved ones had a wonderful Oshogatsu. I would like to thank you for itsudemo takusan educating us and giving all of us very interesting news/information, plus laughs.

“So please take good care of yourself and don’t even think of slowing down for a long time to come.

“I am not sure if you read The Rafu’s Japanese section. Just in case you missed it, the Dec. 22, 2012 issue of The Rafu had very interesting comments from the Jiji Tsushin. It’s about the writer, who wondered why American people elected Obama for another four years.

“He listed numbers of things that ordinary people did not believe/understand (about) what Obama did or did not do and (how he) brainwashed people in his first term, but we still elected him. I do not believe he is a Republican, but he was amazed and could not understand about the American people’s morals/thoughts …

“(If you can) translate this article into English and mention it in your column, some Democrats might open their eyes and regret. I am sure The Rafu has translators who can help you. If they are too busy, just mention a volunteer in your column. I guarantee someone will translate it for you.

“As you can tell, I am a Kibei and my English is very poor, so I am not capable of translating it for you. Gomen nasai.”

A friend who also reads my ranting — he might not be a friend for long — laughed when he told me the other day, “Hey, Horse, did you read about Toyota Motors producing a driverless car with their new Lexus model?”

I told him I did read it and wondered why he asked me the question.

He said, “Hey, you can go back to driving to Vegas without hiring your son to drive you if you have a new driverless car.”

Would you believe Toyota will be demonstrating the new model in Vegas?

One of the demonstrations will show the model parking in a space without a driver behind the wheel. It is equipped with radar and camera equipment that can detect other vehicles, road lanes and traffic signals, giving the vehicle the ability to navigate streets by itself.

It is also equipped with a detector to track pedestrians. If it detects pedestrians in front of the car, it will stop immediately.

WOW!

At any rate, I can’t imagine sitting in the passenger side of the car and sleeping all the way to Vegas with my son in a driverless car. Heck, he might fall asleep just sitting behind the steering wheel and not having to drive.

Hey, maybe I can go to Vegas every week.

There was no information on how much the driverless model will cost, but it probably won’t be cheap. It will be a lot more than the Toyota I own now.

I wonder if they already have the driverless model on the streets of Japan.

If they do, those of you who are planning a trip to Japan soon might rent one of those models instead of hailing a taxi.

Of course, you’ll have to use Japanese to give the car driving instructions.

Say you rent one of these cars and want to drive to Osaka from Tokyo. I don’t think it will be enough to use your limited Japanese and say, “Osaka, onegai shimasu.”

Heck, you might end up in Hokkaido instead of Osaka.

Oh well, let me wind up with a new word for your vocabulary. It’s “exhaustipated.”

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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