Letters From Iwo Jima Kanji
Letters From Iwo Jima Kanji – There are events held across the United States, including the two largest events held in Virginia and at Camp Pendleton in California. I wanted to learn more about the Battle of Iwo Jima and thought the best way to do that was to interview our former enemy. While Japan is now a trusted ally and trading partner, it was not always so.
There are still a few Japanese Army and Navy soldiers who vividly remember the day the US Marines landed on the desolate little piece of land called “Sulphur Island.” I interviewed many of them, in their own language, for my book, “A Tomb Called Iwo Jima”. I also spoke to Japanese widows and children of the dead whose mortal remains lie in countless sealed caves and bunkers that dot the island.
Letters From Iwo Jima Kanji
One of the most memorable former POWs I met was Tsuruji Akikusa, a 17-year-old Navy radioman who served in the
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(Southern Seas Naval Air Group) on Iwo Jima in July 1944. I interviewed him in person for his first-hand accounts in training, combat and as a POW. His gritty, calm, and sometimes graphic accounts of the Battle of Iwo Jima should be read by anyone interested in the Pacific War. Akikusa is just one of twelve Japanese people whose stories are in my book.
Aerial photo taken by a spotter plane from the USS Boston during the July 1944 attack on Iwo Jima.
I graduated in Japanese, moved to Japan and worked in a Japanese company for 10 years. As a result, I can read, write and speak Japanese. Since returning to the United States, I have returned to Japan dozens of times to interview WWII veterans to learn more about the Pacific War. I also traveled to dozens of Pacific battle sites during WWII to see firsthand what our aging American heroes experienced during WWII.
As a volunteer translator for the Iwo Jima Association of America, I have been to Iwo Jima 8 times and will return for the honor meeting which will be held on March 21, 2015. On my previous trips, I have met LtGen Tadamichi Kuribayashi. the late son Taro Kuribayashi and his grandson Yoshitake Shindo (who is a Japanese government minister), as well as the son of Colonel Takeichi Nishi. Kuribayashi’s grandson spearheads a movement to recover the bodies that were left behind after the battle.
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Although there are very few Japanese survivors, there are still hundreds of U.S. Marines, soldiers, sailors, Coast Guardsmen, and U.S. Army and Navy airmen who can remember epic struggle. Even though we commemorate February 19
On the date of the invasion, the navy and army shelled Iwo Jima from the air for seven months before the first leatherneck landed. Moreover, nearly a year before the first U.S. Navy UDT frogman emerged from the waves on the sands of Iwo Jima, U.S. submarines had all but smothered the island due to resupply. By late 1944, the Japanese defenders were dependent on supplies brought in by air from Betty bomber crews writing their wills before boarding their flight gear. I interviewed two of these crew members about their thoughts on their dangerous, and often one-way, missions to Iwo Jima.
The Japanese at Iwo Jima didn’t need more troops, they needed food, water, and medicine to heal the men they already had.
Due to aerial bombardment and naval bombardment by the US Army and US Navy, the defenders were forced to move underground to live in squalor and filth. Disease was rife in caves and tunnels, further weakening the Japanese’s ability to build the large-scale defenses envisioned by General Kuribayashi.
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Due to the combined efforts of U.S. submarines, naval aircraft, and Army ground bombers, the pace of construction of the Japanese defenders was reduced to a sluggishness, and hundreds of defenders fell ill before the first Marine don’t set foot on the black sand. beaches.
Radioman Tsuruji Akikusa said that in some ways the Japanese were their own worst enemy, as the infighting and political struggles between the Japanese army and the naval staff in Japan, and even between the defenders of the island, resulted in an uncoordinated defense that the Japanese survivors bemoan to this day.
Mrs. Teruko Abe lost her husband in the Battle of Iwo Jima. She handcrafts hundreds of small lucky charms with tiny bells for Americans who visit Iwo Jima each year for the memorial event in March. She recognizes the losses suffered by tens of thousands of Japanese and American mothers and wives. (Author, Teruko Abe, Sachio Kageyama).
Food and water were strictly rationed and medical supplies depleted by the dozens of defenders who fell ill with preventable illnesses. Akikusa and other Japanese survivors told stories of men gasping their last breaths with the words “water” and “mother” on their lips. No one would even put a drop of water on a dying man’s lips because it was too precious. The aid stations and hospital caves became a cruel form of hospice for the seriously ill and injured. There was no wood or time to cremate the dead left in shallow, unmarked graves that dotted the rocky ground around the hospital caves.
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If ill or injured, Marines and American soldiers could count on being received first and transported to a hospital ship. Japanese defenders said that in their filthy conditions, even a small injury could lead to infection and death. “Iwo Jima has become a graveyard for men who were dead but didn’t know it yet,” one advocate said.
Many of the pre-invasion deaths could have been avoided with adequate fresh water and good sanitation; but these were considered a luxury as the men were forced to dig miles of tunnels, bunkers and trenches with pickaxes, shovels and woven baskets to haul dirt up and out of the tunnels. Large numbers of men were worked to exhaustion and crammed into makeshift morgue pits deep underground.
It’s no secret that the Japanese defenders of Iwo Jima fought like lions. Even the Marines who fought against them will give them the same. They were tough fighters.
For Americans, the photo of the raising of the flag represents a historic moment of glory and triumph. For Japanese survivors, it has a different meaning; it represents failure and defeat, the ignoble death of countless friends and comrades who died of disease, even by their own hands. The defenders felt they had failed to protect the homeland and they had failed to protect their families from American carpet bombing.
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To make matters worse, the shame of becoming a POW prevented many of them from writing to their families from American POW camps. Akikusa said, “I thought the Americans would enslave us or execute us once we got to America.” He refused the offer of the Red Cross to include his name in the list of prisoners of war sent to Japan via Switzerland. “It would be better for my family if they thought I died on the island, so I refused to write even a letter home after my capture,” Akikusa said.
The island’s official name has been changed from “Iwo Jima” to “Iwo To”, but for men on both sides it will still be “Iwo Jima”.
He soon realized that the Americans had no such plans for POWs who freely admitted they were well treated. His wounds were operated on and he received three meals a day. His captors treated him kindly, offering him cigarettes with a sincere smile. “I was never mistreated as a POW, but we were often beaten by our own non-commissioned officers, especially during training,” Akikusa said.
Tsuruji Akikusa returned to Japan in January 1946. He arrived to find that his name and photo appeared in a funeral service held that afternoon by the townspeople for their fifteen war dead.
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Annual visits to Iwo Jima are conducted by the Iwo Jima Association through military historical visit logistics and coordination efforts.
To date, I have personally interviewed 100 Japanese Army and Navy World War II veterans. One of the things that struck me the most was the recurring theme of “War is terrible and must be avoided”. A majority of them struggled to talk about the friends and family members who died during the Japanese-started war. Almost all of them told me that they were surprised by the unexpected kindness and generosity shown by American military forces during the occupation of Japan.
To learn more about Tsuruji Akikusa’s experiences on Iwo Jima, please read the book “A Tomb Called Iwo Jima”, available in paperback on Amazon and Kindle.
King’s latest book, The Last Zero Fighter, is based on his first-hand interviews with 5 WWII Japanese naval aviators in their own language. Their experiences include the bombing of the USS Panay at Nanjing, Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, Midway, Port Darwin, Iwo Jima, Kamikaze attacks and other historic aerial battles. (Amazon & Kindle)
Letters From Iwo Jima