Tokyo, 1945

PrintPrintEmailEmail

The endings of major wars are important punctuation marks in history, but history, being change, goes on, and in a way the story never ends. Two examples: First, having been through the affair and having talked to a fair number of Japanese participants, I published shortly after getting out of the Navy a small book on the Japanese side of the Battle for Leyte Gulf. It sold reasonably well in America, but it did really well in Japan, which had been starved for honest accounts of the war. Soon I found myself a millionaire in yen blocked from free exchange. That was about enough for a summer trip to Japan for my wife and me, to give her a look at the place, to give me a look at something outside Tokyo, and perhaps to call on some of my acquaintances. Unfortunately my Japanese publisher had used the proceeds to subsidize publication of an uncle’s poetry, and poetry didn’t sell like naval war. The publisher went bankrupt, his creditors descended and stripped his office bare, and not a yen did I receive. I still haven’t been back.

The second event, of rather more significance than my troubles with publishers, was the postwar career of Mitsuo Fuchida, the highly intelligent and attractive leader of the attack on Pearl Harbor. After the war Fuchida converted to Christianity, and in 1952 he became a Christian missionary. As a naval aviator he had never been farther east than the air over Pearl Harbor, but the banner of the cross took him farther than that of the Rising Sun. In 1959 he toured North America and reached as far as Brooklyn, as a member of the Worldwide Christian Missionary Army of Sky Pilots.