‘1,000 Days in Siberia’ Author Sano Dies at 93

By MARTHA NAKAGAWA, Rafu Contributor

Iwao Peter Sano, author of “One Thousand Days in Siberia: The Odyssey of a Japanese American POW,” passed away on April 8. He was 93.


Iwao Peter Sano (Densho)


In his book, Sano chronicled his life as a dual citizen of the U.S. and Japan who was conscripted into the Japanese military during World War II and was captured as a Russian prisoner of war.

Sano was born in Brawley, Imperial County, the fifth of eight children of Ichizo and Tsuta Suzuki Sano. At the time of his birth, his parents ran a dairy farm in the Imperial Valley.

At the age of 15, he was sent to Japan as an adopted son, a youshi, for his maternal uncle and aunt, who were childless. He thus became Iwao Suzuki to carry on the Suzuki family lineage.

In March 1945, he received his draft notice from the Japanese military and made his way to Tokyo. He was transferred from Tokyo on March 7, missing, by a few days, the intense U.S. carpet-bombing of Tokyo that started on the night of March 9 and lasted into March 10, resulting in an estimated 100,000 civilian deaths.

After basic training, he was stationed in Manchuria. His unit was up in the mountains in Hailar, near the border of the Soviet Union, when Japan surrendered in August 1945, ending the war.