PROFILES IN SERVICE
Dr. Frank J. Kendrick
In November 2004, Betty Kendrick called her husband Frank’s attention to an ad in
The New York Times. NHK/ Japan Broadcasting Corporation was looking for
U.S. servicemen who had been in Japan during the post-WWII Allied occupation
and shot film during their stay. NHK was planning a series on U.S./Japan relations in the post-WWII period.
In May 2005, the couple left for Tokyo, where Frank would participate in an intensive two days of filming, revisiting sites from his 13 months in Japan as a U.S. soldier from
December 1951 to January 1953. Frank had already sent ahead the 1,000 feet of 8mm film he had taken in Japan. He also took the camera that he used for filming.
U.S. Military Service
A native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Kendrick graduated from Grinnell College in Iowa
in 1950 with a BA in Political Science, coinciding with the U.S.’s entry into the
Korean conflict. He worked for a few months in a social services organization before he was drafted into the U.S. Army.
Kendrick was inducted in February 1951 in a group of 100
men. He recalls that 90% of those inducted with him were sent to South Korea. Based on his job experience, he was assigned to the medical corps, receiving his training at Fort Sam Houston in Texas.
Following basic training, he was sent to the U.S. Military Hospital in Tokyo, formerly Doai Memorial Hospital, managed by the 8167 Army unit. This was a psychiatric facility handling U.S. military personnel flown over from South Korean who had been injured or fallen ill. He assisted psychiatrists and neurologists as a psychiatric social work technician as they made determinations about their patients, deciding whether treatment was likely to enable individual soldiers to return to combat and whether sufficient treatment had been provided.
Most of the
soldiers were in their early 20s, suffering from depression. If untreatable in Tokyo,
men were sent to hospitals in the U.S. or Europe. Patients included men from
Allied troops — French, Italian, British, Turks and Canadians. Some 200 U.S.
military personnel managed the hospital, including military police and guards as
well as medical staff.
Japan During Post WWII Occupation
From March 1945 through the end of WWII, B-29s based in the Marianas had carpet-bombed many Japanese cities. Tokyo, Osaka, and many other cities were leveled by firestorms of more 1000 Fahrenheit that may have killed as many as 500,000 people.
General Douglas MacArthur managed the terms of the post-WWII occupation, insisting on
retention of Emporor Hirohito as Japan’s symbolic leader. The Emperor told his subjects they were duty bound to follow U.S. military orders, thus allowing small groups of Allied soldiers to command towns without opposition. Transportation networks and cities were restored between 1945 and 1952 — an extraordinary achievement — managed under the Allied occupation with substantial aid from the U.S.
In Kendrick’s opinion, the Korean War set the Japanese economy on course for fast-paced economic growth. Factories built U.S. airplanes and weapons to supply troops
in South Korea. In the post-Korean War era, Japan extended its industrial growth in many economic spheres, including steel-working, car manufacturing and electronic goods.
A Soldier in Japan
During his free time, Pvt. Kendrick explored Japan and its culture. The U.S. Armed Forces maintained a night school where he studied Japanese language and
Far Eastern history two nights a week. Tokyo University students made a point of meeting U.S. military personnel, both to practice English and to seek jobs to help pay tuition. Students found jobs at U.S. military installations, some as laundry workers and others as secretaries.
Expedition to Mitake, Japan: Frank Kendrick (right) with Steven M. Scheiberg and Mr. Koje, June 1952
The U.S. Army provided a Chapel Center for Christian and Jewish services. Servicemen and students could mix there at receptions. Kendrick recalls being impressed with the students’ knowledge of the world, with their interest in going into business or politics and their desire to travel abroad to learn what they needed to work for the future of Japan.
Kendrick came to know three students well enough to invite them to accompany him on
trips to other parts of Japan. He paid their way on public transportation on weekend
trips to Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara. He also went to Nikko to visit Toshogu, Japan's most lavishly decorated shrine complex with its mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate.
Everywhere Kendrick went he saw civilians in very Westernized attire. Often he would travel on his day off to areas near Tokyo, deciding where to go when he reached the train depot ticket window. By then his Japanese language skills were good enough to allow him to get around on his own. In Tokyo, street signs were in the Roman alphabet. Also, many Japanese were endeavoring to learn at least some English.
For Kendrick, these trips were essentially for sightseeing and relaxation from work. Wherever he went he saw virtually no after effects of the war. The U.S. Army had taken Japanese military installations, including air fields, naval yards, barracks and schools, and converted them for use.
In the early spring of 1952, Kendrick’s father sent him a Revere 8mm camera. At that time in Japan, no one except certain military personnel and professional journalists
possessed such equipment. He sent exposed film to his father in the U.S. who sent him additional film in return. He shot 1,000 feet of film over an eight-month period before
returning to the U.S. in January 1953. His father developed the film and stored it in metal containers where it stayed for more than 50 years.
Kendrick saw Emperor Hirohito twice in Tokyo as he was driven outside the palace on
New Year’s to some formal occasion. He filmed parts of a political campaign, impressed by the number of women he saw participating. He recalls there were more women in the Japanese Diet at that time than in the U.S. Congress. Everywhere, he said, “I saw a society recreating itself, with people setting out to put the past behind them and working to build the future.”
Occupation of Japan by the Allied powers ended in April 1952. The Korean cease-fire came on July 27, 1953.
Back in the U.S.A.
Kendrick continued his education in Political Science, obtaining both M.A. and Ph.D degrees from the University of Chicago. He married Betty Grant in 1956 and they have four children.
In 1971, Kendrick joined the faculty of The University of Akron in Akron, Ohio, as Associate Professor of Political Science and Urban Administration, a position he held until 1989, when he became Associate Professor Emeritus.
During his university career and continuing into the present, Kendrick has focused on formal research into Latin American issues and participated in delegations to El Salvador, Nicaragua and Mexico. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow with the Council on Hemispheric Affairs and works with Companion Community Development Alternatives in El Salvador. He has co-authored two books and written numerous articles on politics, public administration, Latin America and U.S. Foreign Policy. He is currently writing a book on building peace in Central America.
Return to Japan
Returning to Japan,
Dr. Kendrick was among several respondents to the New York Times ad that ran in late
Fall 2004 by the NHK/Japan Broadcasting Corporation. The staff was especially interested in the film he had stored for the fifty-plus years since leaving Japan. He sent it to them for review in the early spring of 2005.
Their response surprised him — his film provided images of Japan that existed virtually nowhere else. What ensued was a flurry of e-mails back and forth between his home in Kent, Ohio, and Tokyo, as NHK staff viewed segments of his film and asked him about the locations, people and activities
shown in the film. They also asked numerous questions about his tour of duty and his perceptions of the Japanese at that time. Eventually they invited Kendrick and his wife to come to Tokyo for a filming session.
He and Betty had spent three weeks in Japan in 2002 with an Elder Hostel group,
traveling to five of the cities where he had traveled as a soldier, including Tokyo. They
were participants in briefing sessions and had in-home hospitality.
Dr. & Mrs. Kendrick arrived in Tokyo in May 2005. The overall objective of the program was to address U.S. influence in Japan in the 1950s that can still be observed in the country today. In the film, Kendrick was asked his opinions about contemporary Japan. He was impressed by the enormous changes he saw in Tokyo, yet he missed the
internationalization he had experienced when he was there with the U.S. military.
“I saw virtually no one who was not Japanese. Very few people speak English. This is a very self-contained culture,” he said, acknowledging that this surely will change in the future, given Japan’s rapidly aging population and workforce needs.
The actual filming took two days. Kendrick and his wife were taken to four parts of
Tokyo that figured prominently in his own film. He traveled first to the Ginza area of downtown Tokyo and was surprised at the height of the skyscrapers in Shinjuku ward, comparing their size to when no building in Tokyo was over 10 stories. The film crew
located the PX where he had shopped, finding that a new front had been added to the original building.
The old Doai hospital building that had housed the military hospital where he worked had been razed,
and a new one stood in its place. The new Doai Memorial Hospital houses some 20 medical disciplines, ranging from neurology to pediatrics to ophthalmology. There he was greeted by Nakajima Shigeru, who had worked in the laundry of the military hospital. This session was included in the documentary program.
The next day they visited Tokyo University and later the site where the Chapel Center
“My earlier trip to Japan did not prepare me”, he said, “for the experience that I had with NHK. I felt very honored that I had a film record that was so rare, that I was able to provide them something tangible that they value. They were also very interested in me as a person and my experiences during my military tour of duty.”
Nakajima Shigeru and Frank Kendrick, Tokyo, Japan, May 2005