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In 1930, while vacationing in Washington, D. C., Tennessee-born Gwen Harold falls in love with and marries Japanese diplomat Hidenari (Terry) Terasaki, despite her family's objections. When the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor in 1941, Gwen, Terry, and their daughter, Mako, are sent to Japan in exchange for American diplomats stationed there. Because of Terry's long opposition to the war party, he is stripped of all his stations and carefully watched by the Kempei-tai, the secret police. Furthermore, Gwen, torn between allegiance to her native country and affection for her new home, is often treated with hostility by the Japanese. An additional problem occurs when a friend of Mako's is killed during an Allied bombing, and Mako becomes embittered against her mother's country. When Japan eventually surrenders, Terry is appointed to act as a liaison between Emperor Hirohito and General MacArthur; but the war years have taken a heavy toll upon Terry's health, and he discovers that he has only a short time to live. To spare his wife and child, he suggests that they return to the United States where he will join them later. Though Gwen has learned of Terry's fatal illness, she respects her husband's wishes, and she and Mako leave Japan.