The Ichiro is shunned for refusing to even fight.

The importance of Kenji’s character isn’t as simple as Ichiro’s best friend and person he confides in, Kenji and Ichiro are shown as opposites for a purpose. Kenji is a hero to the Japanese because he was injured in battle, while Ichiro is shunned for refusing to even fight. Ichiro’s family refuses to leave the Japanese culture behind, and Ichiro was essentially forcefully raise under the Japanese culture, while Kenji’s parents happily adjusted to the new land. It creates the complication that Ichiro believes Kenji deserves to live while he does not simply because Kenji fought in the war, assuming the Japanese would be free. Instead, Kenji gets a leg infection and ultimately dies, “Don’t wait too long.” Avoiding the revolving door, he stepped to the side and entered the hospital through a swinging glass door.” (129). The door and Kenji’s choice of words are symbolic that there isn’t much optimism that Kenji is going to just get amputated even higher on his leg and come out, that Kenji’s glass door on life was closing. Kenji’s injury makes Ichiro wonder if it’s better to be a dying veteran than it is to be someone with an unknown identity and someone who can’t integrate with either half of himself. Kenji’s family is an even bigger contrast than the two characters because Ichiro’s mother is a Japanese propaganda, Japanese culture, loving woman while Kenji’s household is motherless. Ichiro’s mother drowns herself in the bathtub at the realization that the country she loves lost the war. Both characters deaths are turning points for Ichiro, because his mother dies due to the refusal of wanting to integrate to American culture, while Kenji dies while making the attempt to integrate due to his leg injury suffered in the war. Kenji’s father contrasts Ichiro’s family because he stays in America because of the happiness of his children and the way that they have flourished in American society makes him attempt to understand American society more than Ichiro’s family. Hanako, Tom, Hisa, and Toyo are Kenji’s siblings who all integrate into American society successfully, by a variation of having kids, started family and stable jobs. “Dead, he thought to himself, all dead. For me, you have been dead a long time, as long as I can remember. You, gave life to me and to Taro and tried to make us confirm to a mold which never existed for us because we never knew of it, were never alive to us in the way that other sons and daughters know and feel and see their parents. But you made so many mistakes. It was a mistake to have ever left Japan. It was a mistake to leave Japan and come to America and to have two sons and it was a mistake to think you could keep us completely Japanese in a country such as America.” (165). The death of his mother isn’t as sad to him as Kenji’s because with Kenji he could live through his attempt to being American, but his own mother didn’t deem it necessary to try and attempt to learn who her sons wanted to be, she just wanted to force them to be who she wanted herself to be.