This Wednesday, August 6, will be the 63rd anniversary of the atomic bombing of 広島 (Hiroshima) and on Friday, August 9th, will be the 63rd anniversary of the bombing of 長崎 (Nagasaki).
Both cities will have ceremonies this week to mark the solemn occasions, as they do every year.
Of course as an American, I know that next December 7 ( 2008 ) will be the 67th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.
I guess it should come as no surprise that both Japan and America observe the anniversary of the date that they were attacked, not the date that they did the attacking.
War is terrible and I don’t want to get into politics or which country (if either) was justified or not.
I just wanted to put something on this site to commemorate the anniversary of the somber dates.
I consider adding quotes from the online journals of the atomic bomb survivors, but as heart-wrenching as they are to read…I decided to post about someone who is often demonized in the West (especially America) but seen as a tragic hero in this country (Japan).
The 神風 (Kamikaze pilot).
The word 神風 (Kamikaze) literally means divine wind, and it’s actually the name of a 台風 (typhoon) that is said to have saved Japan from attack by Mongolia in the 13th century.
The official Japanese name for the 第二次世界大戦 (WW2) fleet of pilots that intentionally crashed their aircraft into Allied ships when Japan was low on ammunition is 特別攻撃隊 (Special Attack Units).
Common people began to refer to them as 神風 (Kamikaze). (By the way, the correct pronunciation is kah-mee-kah-zeh (not a “long E”)).
Unlike their image overseas (which is often one of faceless lunatics with a death-wish crashing their planes rather than fighting the conventional way), in Japan 神風 (Kamikaze) are viewed as having given the ultimate sacrifice. Japan was low on ammunition and many pilots were called on to join the “Special Attack Units“…and for the honor of themselves, their families, and their country, they agreed.
As I mentioned above, I don’t want to get into the politics of it. But the 神風 (Kamikaze) were allowed to write last letters home to loved-ones.
These letters are kept in the same places that the “souls” of the 神風 (Kamikaze) and all warriors who died for Japan are enshrined: 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine).
Here’s a translation of one letter from a 神風 (Kamikaze pilot) to his infant daughter:
You often looked and smiled at my face. You also slept in my arms, and I gave you your baths. When you grow up and want to know about me, ask your mother and Aunt Kayo.
My photo album has been left for you at home. I gave you the name Motoko, hoping you would be a gentle, tender-hearted, and caring person.
I want to make sure you are happy when you grow up and become a splendid bride, and even though I die without you knowing me, you must never feel sad.
When you grow up and want to meet me, please come to Yasukuni Shrine. And if you pray deeply, surely your father’s face will show itself within your heart. I believe you are happy. Since your birth you started to show a close resemblance to me, and other people would often say that when they saw little Motoko they felt like they were meeting me. Your uncle and aunt will take good care of you with you being their only hope, and your mother will only survive by keeping in mind your happiness throughout your entire lifetime. Even though something happens to me, you must certainly not think of yourself as a child without a father. I am always protecting you. Please be a person who takes loving care of others.
When you grow up and begin to think about me, please read this letter.
P.S. In my airplane, I keep as a charm a doll you had as a toy when you were born. So it means Motoko was together with Father. I tell you this because my being here without your knowing makes my heart ache.
[Lieutenant Sanehisa Uemura
Kamikaze Special Attack Corps, Yamato Unit
Died on October 26, 1944
25 years old]