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Saturday, February 19, 2000

Arthur S. Komori,
WWII spy, judge

Information he collected
posing as allied to Japan
went to MacArthur's staff

More obituaries

By Mary Adamski


Arthur S. Komori was one of the Hawaii nisei whose World War II experiences were the stuff of adventure movies.

He served with the Army Military Intelligence Service in the Philippines, recruited because of his ancestry and language ability to spy on Japanese nationals.

Komori, 84, of Lihue, Kauai, died Thursday in Wilcox Hospital. He was retired as an attorney and formerly served as a District Court judge.

Komori was attending the University of Hawaii when he was recruited by American military intelligence eight months before Pearl Harbor was attacked. He was sent to the Philippines, posing as an American draft dodger and merchant seaman who jumped ship, to report on Japanese activities there.

His pretense of being a Japan sympathizer led to a job at a Japanese newspaper in Manila. Information he collected went to Gen. Douglas MacArthur's staff.

He was arrested with other Japanese when the war broke out, then was sprung from a Philippine prison by the American Army. He resumed his American uniform to help interrogate Japanese prisoners of war and translate reports. As the Japanese army advanced, Komori and other nisei were evacuated to Australia where he worked in the counterintelligence force.

After the war he returned to Manila searching for his fellow spy Richard Sakakida who had remained behind and escaped into the jungles after being imprisoned and tortured.

Komori remained in the Army, continuing counterintelligence work, but resigned his commission in protest when President Harry Truman fired MacArthur.

The exploits of Japanese-American spies and translators remained secret, sealed in military records for three decades after the war ended.

He was awarded the Bronze Star and in 1988 was elected to the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.

He was a language instructor at the Army Intelligence School while studying for his law degree from University of Baltimore.

He is survived by his wife, Rosa V.; daughter Rosemary Gardner; brother David; sisters Aiko Hirai, Mary Setlak, Martha Yasue and Viola Imai; and two grandchildren.

Services will be at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Lihue Christian Church. The family asks that flowers be omitted and casual attire be worn.

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