Bushnell and the Japanese POWs

Captured Japanese sailors
Japanese POWs were regarded as dangerously loyal to the Japanese Emperor, though some had been coerced into the Japanese armed forces.

While the Japanese American patients at Bushnell were in desegregated wards along with other Bushnell patients, enjoying dinners with local Japanese families, they were not the only patients of Japanese descent at Bushnell. Some Japanese POWs who needed advanced medical care were also sent to Bushnell. Though Italian and German POWs were allowed to work at Bushnell and walked the grounds with relative freedom, Japanese POWs were confined to a locked ward at the hospital, kept under guard as especially dangerous enemy aliens.

Headstone of Japanese POW Shigeo Shibata
Shigeo Shibata is the sole Japanese interment in the WWII POW plot of the Fort Douglas Cemetery in Salt Lake City, Utah. He died at Bushnell Hospital of wounds sustained before arriving in Utah. 

Even Russian POWs received less hostile treatment at Bushnell, though the USSR, like Japan, did not ratify the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of POWs.

Some of these Japanese men might have been loyal to Japan, but like the Germans, their levels of devotion varied. Many had been forced to serve in the army. Some Japanese residents of America who had been visiting Japan at the time war broke out were especially unfortunate to find themselves forced into fighting against their adopted country and even face-to-face with former American neighbors when they were taken as prisoners of war.

Foreign POWs who died in Utah were buried at Fort Douglas, and their graves are maintained there alongside American burials.

Sources for this Page

Louise James, “From Gunnison, Utah to Kagoshima, Japan: The Story of Mary Kimura Tokonami,” Utah Historical Quarterly 73, no. 2, 175-184.
 Kathy Kirkpatrick, “Japanese Prisoners of War in Utah,” GenTracer, https://www.gentracer.org/JapanesePrisonersofWarinUtah.html.
“Treat Jap Prisoners,” Salt Lake Telegram, April 20, 1944, available at https://digitalnewspapers.org/.
“Wounded Japs Arriving at Bushnell Hospital,” Ogden Standard-Examiner, April, 12 1944.