Yoda was born on March 31, 1934 in Tokyo, Japan, the only son of a family of manufacturers. After Yoda graduated high school, he enrolled at Keio University to study law. During this period, Yoda met Edward Ugast, then general manager in East Asia of 20th Century Fox. Ugast encouraged Yoda to pursue a career in acting. Yoda abandoned his studies and immigrated to the United States, whereupon he enrolled at University of Southern California in August 1958 with aspirations of becoming a film producer. In summer 1961, William White, a USC faculty member, received a call from Joe Pasternak of MGM seeking a young man who could speak English and Japanese. White contacted Yoda, who was then put in touch with MGM’s casting office. After a series of interviews, Yoda was cast in the part of Sgt. Roy Tada in The Horizontal Lieutenant. Yoda’s success in that role led him to be cast as Imperial Japanese Navy Seaman 3rd Class Fujiwara “Fuji” Takeo Kobiashi in the American television series McHale’s Navy. He was recast in the role in the later feature-length films McHale’s Navy and McHale’s Navy Joins the Air Force.
Yoda continued attending school while acting, eventually earning a degree in cinema arts.[dead link]