On Sunday, 140 of this blessed land's parliamentarians and local assembly members traveled by boat to the Senkaku Islands to take part in a perverse memorial service for an incident that occurred late in the Pacific War. (E)
On July 3, 1945, two ships set out from Ishigakijima, evacuating women, children and the elderly to Taiwan. En route the ships were attacked by a U.S. Navy PBY. One ship sank and the other was severely damaged. The damaged ship managed to ferry the surviving passenger to Uotsurijima. Several dozen of the passengers died in the attack. Several dozen more were to die on Uotsurijima, purportedly of starvation, more likely of a lack of fresh water -- the reason why the Senkaku Islands are uninhabited today. The survivors were not to rescued until three days after the war ended on August 18, ironically by Japan Navy ships that had remained on Ishigakijima as a part of the island's defense force. -- which of course, had never been needed, as was the evacuation, since Allied Forces made no attempt to land on Ishigakijima.
Women, children and the elderly dying in the war, marooned on an island -- very sad and worthy of being remembered -- but not by a band of right-wing nutbags.
First, as the Tsushima Maru Incident of August 1944 had shown, evacuating Okinawan women and children via commercial ships was a very bad idea. Putting military personnel on the evacuation ships was a doubly bad idea. Having those military personnel shooting back at an attacking U.S. Navy plane was a trebly bad idea.
Given when and how this evacuation was carried out, it was clearly not done with the interests of the civilians in mind. Rather it was to make sure women, children and the elderly were not on Ishigakijima lest they become burdens upon the island's military defenders.
Second, the incident was forgotten by main island Japanese. It was Okinawans who recovered the incident from obscurity, as a part of the grand history-writing project revealing of the losses the islands had suffered as the sacrificial lamb of the Japanese home islands.
Now, if the contingent of parliamentarians and local assembly member taking part in this trip to the Senkakus were the sworn enemies of the Japan Imperial State, persons who had a record of denouncing the Imperial Forces for having betrayed the Okinawans, or Okinawan politicians, then the visitation, with 10 of the politicians enthusiastically jumping out of their boats and wading ashore to carry out a memorial service to those who died, would have been acceptable. Illegal trespass but morally acceptable.
However, as is indicated by the outfit worn by the appointed spokesman for the 10 who waded ashore, Kosaka Eiji, an Arakawa City (a municipality of the Tokyo Metropolitan District) assemblyman so obscure the Yomiuri Shimbun account leaves off his personal name (J), these folks were exactly not anti-imperialists:
here. Even those without an interest with Kosaka's thoughts can enjoy the stunning Photoshop work on his appended portrait.
Given the circumstances that led to the deaths of the civilians on Uotsurijima in July-August 1945, this motley crew of fantabulist outsiders (the assembly members who landed on the island were reportedly all either from the TMD or Hyogo Prefecture) were the last persons who should have been carrying out a memorial service to those who died.
De profundis clamavi ad te Domine...
Photo image credit: Yomiuri Online