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Yoko Mossner and the Japanes Cultural Center

"A long time ago, in 1933, I was born in Tokyo, Japan. I told you the year I was born because that means I experienced World War II. I was a little girl, but I watched. There was no television, no computer, just radio, and the city was all taken over by the military.

I was in fifth grade when the bombing of Tokyo happened. They knew it was going to be bad, I guess, we were warned, and the Empress ordered us to evacuate all the elementary school children. I had to leave for about one year. About a year later the war was over. I came back to Odawara because my family moved while I was gone. Odawara was my mother's hometown and that's where the rest of my education was done.

After my schooling, I applied for a job in the American Army because I had to work. My parents died when I was really young but I liked to study English in school. So, I applied, had an interview and I was hired. I was working in the United States Petroleum Depot Headquarters. I was stationed as the Secretary to Captain Ash at the Quality Control Department.

I was very young and I'm sure a lot of the things I did were inadequate, but they were very kind. I did have an awful time on the telephone because I never talked to Americans before, but it only took about one year and I was comfortable.

My husband, meanwhile, was brought up in Saginaw and graduated law school. As soon as he graduated, he was drafted. He was sent to Japan and came to our building. We met and got to know each other. He proposed and brought me here to Saginaw in October 1957. I have been in Saginaw since then. I've never lived in any other place, besides Japan. Saginaw is my only home here in the States.

After World War II, President Eisenhower said he’d seen enough destruction and misery through the war. That we should never have war in this world, and in order to do that we have to understand each other, get to know each other, then we can prevent war.

He came up with the Sister City and People to People program. Communication directly, from people all over this country to people all over that country without going through the government. The whole world, and people everywhere would want the same thing because all people are human beings.

I think if you don't understand, you will have fear. Thinking “What are they doing? Why do they do that?” But, if you understand why, and understand what kind of thinking they have, you could create better relations and that's much better than war.

President Eisenhower said, I'm a five star General, and I want to tell the people that I want peace. So he says, I would like to be remembered as a man of peace, not the five star general.

The People to People and Sister City programs laid the foundation for the garden and the tea house and still exist today.”

- Yoko Mossner, Former Executive Director of our Japanese Cultural Center of Saginaw, MI