Friday, October 28, 2016

Imperial Passing: Prince Mikasa Dies at 100

On October 27th 2016, Japan's Imperial Household Agency reported that Prince Mikasa had passed away. He was the oldest living member of the Imperial Family. Born in December 1915, he was the son of Emperor Taisho and the youngest brother of Emperor Hirohito (Showa) and lived through the reign of three Emperors (Taisho-Showa-Heisei). The late Prince Mikasa served as an Officer in the Japanese Imperial Army and fought as a Captain under the name "Wakasugi" in the Second Sino-Japan War. He is noted for being very outspoken critic of Japanese wartime atrocities in China. In a 1994 interview he said he was shocked by the use of live Chinese prisoners for bayonet practice. What impact his protest had is not known.
In 1940, he was shown films of using germ warfare in China that outraged him enough to force his brother the Showa Emperor top watch it. After the war he opposed After the war the Prince spoke before the Privy Council strongly urging the Showa Emperor to abdicate and take responsibility for the war. While the Prince is still seen as a controversial figure in China, one must give him credit for speaking up to what Japan's forces in China had done. While much of Prince Mikasa's wartime history is disputed in China, he became a figure for peace in the post war years. Men who have seen the horrors of war tend to do this and the Prince was no exception. He would go on to pursue academia in Tokyo University and is noted for his Middle Eastern Studies. On 2 December 2015, Prince Mikasa became the first member of the imperial family to live to 100. On his 100th birthday, he was quoted as saying: "Nothing will change just because I turn 100 years old. I'd like to spend my days pleasantly and peacefully while praying for the happiness of people around the world and thanking my wife, Yuriko, who has been supporting me for more than 70 years." He spent his final moments with his wife Princess Yuriko Mikasa (seen in photo below). It is said he outlived all of his siblings and all three of his sons.
We at American Mishima wish the Prince peace and farewell.

Chinese Checkers: JASDF Fighter Intercepts Draw Ire

Japan's Air Self Defense Forces have been really busy this year. It is reported that the JASDF has had to scramble fighters 407 times between April 1st and September 30th to intercept Chinese warplanes encroaching on Japanese Air Space. This is double the amount of fighter intercepts for the year of 2015. In a sense of irony, this has drawn cries of foul from Beijing who accuse Japan's pilots of recklessly endangering their pilots and interfering with their activities in or near disputed air space and territorial waters. Activities of which has included the militarization of international airspace and the building of artificial islands for military purposes that The Hague has since ruled unlawful. Despite the ruling, Beijing refuses to recognize it and continues to provoke and complain when someone call them on it. This is like that scene in the film Goodfellah's where Joe Pesci's character kicks Billy Batts to a bloody pulp then has the nerve to complain about what Batts did to his shoes. Well Japan is far from being a bloody pulp and it is up to the JASDF to make sure the PRC's warplanes are met to discourage any hostile action or mistaken intention that could start a war nobody wants. 
Earlier this year, several nations took the PRC to court at The Hague which as fore mentioned above has since ruled against the PRC. We have written about this many times and still do not understand why such provocations are taking place. But it is what it is and it's up to both the JASDF and the US Navy to give the PRC a pause and somehow keep the peace. We don't expect this situation to go away anytime soon and things are just getting increasingly dangerous for the pilots of both China and Japan. There have been incidents in the Miyako Strait and near Okinawa where JASDF fighters have had to turn on their electronic counter measures. In an article posted on CNN Col. Wu Qian, spokesperson for China's Ministry of National Defense said "Such high-frequency reconnaissance against China not only disturbs the routine training of the Chinese military but also undermines the security interests of China." Japan's Defense Ministry has responded by saying: "It has not taken any provocative actions against Chinese military planes nor endangered them as claimed by the spokesman of the Chinese Defense Ministry."
To be continued....

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Changing of the Guard: USS Wasp Heads to Japan

As times move on, so do ship deployments. As such, the recently modernized amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD-1) heads for it's new home port in Sasebo, Japan. The Wasp will be replacing the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) so it may return to San Diego and undergo much needed upgrades. The USS Wasp's upgraded it's defense systems to include the MK 2 Ship Self Defense System, SPQ-9B horizon search radar, MK 57 NATO Sea Sparrow Missile System, and a host of computer LAN systems to meet the ever growing challenges to their mission as part of the Navy’s Forward Deployed Naval Forces in Japan.
Of the Wasp's most prominent upgrade, none draws more attention that it's new accommodation of new USMC F-35B Variant Joint Strike Fighters of VMFA-211 "The Green Knights" Fighter Attack Squadron. This is the first deployment of the new controversial Short Take-off Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft that is best known for it's 5th Generation Stealth technology. This upgrade in combination with the Wasp's on board compliment of attack helicopters and V-22 Osprey's should give anyone thinking of challenging this ship some pause. We at American Mishima wish the crew and pilots of the USS Wasp fair seas and safe travels.  

Friday, October 21, 2016

History Restored: Japanese Naval Flag Donated to Pearl Harbor

There have been many cases since the end of the Second World War where the children of Veterans discover old war treasures and choose to return such items to history. For the Hartman family of Robert Hartman who served in the US Navy during WWII, such a treasure had been kept in their possession. It had been taken by Robert Hartman when the US took possession of the Nagato. What they had was the Admiral's flag of the IJN Battleship Nagato which served as Admiral Isoroku's Flagship during the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was said the flag was used by the family as a blanket years ago but after Mr. Hartman passed away, his daughter Dianne Hall having realized the historical significance of this flag choose to donate the flag to the US Park Service (which oversees the care of the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center) so that it will honor the veterans who fought on that day. The Park Service says it will seek to preserve the flag for future generations. No word on when it will be on display but know that it is in safe keeping.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

1956 Dodgers Goodwill Tour in Japan Remembered

60 years ago this month, the then Brooklyn Dodgers (prior to the move to Los Angeles) made a Goodwill tour of Japan in October 1956. It was while we were researching Dodger history for our upcoming WWII historical fiction novel DIAMOND IN THE PACIFIC that we came across this unique moment in time that captured the Japanese nation. The then Brooklyn Dodgers had just lost game 7 of the 1956 World Series to their crosstown Yankees rivals when they were put on a Douglas DC-7 plane headed west to Los Angeles then onto to Hawaii before reaching Japan. 
If you could go back in time to any great Dodger game, this would have been one tour to remember. This had legendary players such as Duke Snyder, Pee-Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, Don Demeter, Billy Herman, and legendary Color-Barrier breaking baseball great Jackie Robinson. This was Jackie Robinson's last year with the Dodgers marking the end of what has been called The Jackie Robinson Era. They played several games including against the Kanto All Stars at Miyagi Stadium and their final game against the Yomiuri Giants at Korakuen Stadium. 
While we don't have the complete details of the tour, we have enough to fit this historical gem into our novel's storyline. In it, we tell the fictional tale of two baseball players one from Japan and the other the United States whose lives are disrupted by the outbreak of war. Our fictional 1st Baseman Kenshin Yoshimoto of the Yomiuri Ginats and Pitcher "Meteor-Mike" Murphy of the Brooklyn Dodgers will face each other in THE DIAMOND IN THE PACIFIC. But how this ties into this real life 1956 Goodwill Tour is quite unique. While our two war time foes respected each other as players on the field, they do not become friends until after the war when Yoshimoto encounters Murphy posing for photos with Japanese school children and his team mates at Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park. What many people may not know is that legendary Dodgers Manager Tommy Lasorda was a second year player who happened to be on that tour. He plays a fictional part in our story and this tour serves as a vehicle for how we tie our story arc together. We hope you stay tuned for updates on our Amereican Mishima novel. We believe both baseball fans and WWII buffs alike will enjoy our upcoming epic to be published in 2017. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Tale of Two Propagandists

Earlier this month we had learned that the infamous Vietnam War Communist Propagandist Trịnh Thị Ngọ better known to former American GI's as "Hanoi Hannah" had passed away in the former Saigon at the age of 87. There has been much said among many American Veterans who many found her choices in music and outrageous exaggerations of the Communist efforts to be entertaining and infuriating. Her broadcasts were largely heard in what was formally known as I-Corps and largely heard by the US Marines who fought in Quang Tri Province along the former DMZ that separated the north from the Republic of Vietnam.
It has been said by those who do not harbor hard feelings that she did her job to incite mistrust through her Communist propaganda. As the son of a Vietnam Veteran I have little sympathy for her. She is said she believed in the NVA written statements she broadcast. It is not believed that anyone deserted by her broadcasts but it has been said that many Marines would often toast beer cans when she would mention their exact unit names as being destroyed or captured. Her broadcasts ran for 8 years and ended at the end of the American Withdrawal from Vietnam. She died on October 2nd 2016 at the age of 87.
Moving back a bit earlier, we at American Mishima had set out to write about American & Japanese interaction and in doing so we are able to tie this article to a better known Japanese Propagandist named Iva Toguri better known as "Tokyo Rose." Often we hear comparisons of Hanoi Hannah to Tokyo Rose but here in lies the difference. Where as Trịnh Thị Ngọ was an unapologetic die hard Communist who believed in what she was doing, Ms. Toguri was in an entirely different situation. You see Ms. Toguri was an American born Nisei from Los Angeles who in 1941 left for Japan to visit an ailing relative. Once war broke out she was pressured by the military government of Hideki Tojo to renounce her American Citizenship and participate in broadcasts denouncing the United States. She refused their demands and subsequently was denied a ration card for food. By 1943 she was forced to broadcast the "Zero Hour" show where she called herself "Orphan Annie" often referring to her "fellow Orphans" aka Americans. She along with captured Americans who smuggled her food made these broadcasts but never denounced the United States. 
After the war Ms. Toguri was charged with 8 counts of treason based on some shaky prejudiced evidence. They convicted her on one count and she served 6 years of a ten year prison sentence. Talk about a raw deal! She was later granted a full pardon by President Gerald Ford in 1977. She ran a small grocery store in Chicago and died there in 2006 at the age of 90. By evidence, there is no real comparison between Trịnh Thị Ngọ and Iva Toguri. Some would say Ngo's broadcasts were a cheap imitation of Toguri but that would not accurate or even close. Both women had a job to do but their motivations were entirely different. While we do feel sympathetic to the indignities of Ms. Toguri, In regards to Ms. Ngo I would best quote my late father in who once spoke of his Vietnam experience as leaving him feeling nothing. The war is long over and hard feelings do subside over time. Perhaps in time, so will ours. All we can wish for these two ladies is that "May they both have found peace."