Below memoir is written by David Reed, a son of a holocaust survivor Sonia Reed who had escaped from Europe with help from a Japanese Vice-Consul Chiune Sugihara and other Japanese citizens. Upon discovering a photo of an unidentified Jewish girl featured in the WWII documentary film “Transit to Freedom” was of his late mother, David kindly agreed to have us interview him and given his thoughts on his impression of Japan, which was partially featured in our press release published on May 29th, 2014. Surprisingly, Sonia and her husband had a strong business relationship with Japan which gave them a chance to visit the country to appreciate its people and unique culture:
My parents owned a small precision sheet metal job shop on Long Island. I worked there at times while growing up and took a more active role after graduating college. They were early adopters of automated machinery such as numerically controlled turret punch presses. They owned two models made by an American company called Strippit.
A Japanese company called Amada (the American branch is US Amada) came out with a design by American engineers that Strippit had declined. My father thought this design (a bridge frame, and a thicker turret for holding longer, better guided tooling) was superior. Amada was also very aggressive about guaranteeing the machine, including a reimbursement if the machine was down for more than a certain period of time. As reliability of these machines was critical for the business, my father was impressed and seriously considered purchasing.
Amada flew my parents to Japan so they could see the factory and get to know the people and the country. The trip was from May 15 to 23, 1979. I have in front of me as I write this an album of pictures from this trip. They visited the Imperial Palace, Asakusa, Mei_ji Shrine, Odawara, Hakone, took the Sinkansen bullet train, Kyoto, Heian Shrine, Kinkaku-ji Temple, Nijo Castle, and more.
They were extremely enthusiastic about their visit. They very much appreciated the Japanese culture. They were impressed by the industriousness and serious dedication to customer satisfaction on the part of the company.
I remember when the machine was delivered. My father felt that the craftsmanship that went into the crate that held the machine was better than that used to build some structures here. In fact, I believe an employee took the crate to make a garage.
Similarly, they started to buy material, especially sheet aluminum, from Japan. They always remarked on the care and consistency with which the material was manufactured and packaged and shipped (paper between every sheet – a perfect finish – very tight tolerance on thickness).
They sent me to Japan before they purchased their second machine from Amada, and I saw what they so admired. In fact I went to Japan a second time consulting with Amada on some computer work.
While my father evaluated the equipment, my mother supported his decision to purchase from a Japanese company. They were both very dedicated to America and frankly reluctant to purchase from a non-American source. It shows how appreciative she was of Japan that she endorsed this – for them a very major transaction.