Aug. 26, 2012 Yutaka Iwasaki
Most of all
Thank you giving me the opportunity to tell my opinion in new book.
I have much learned and have much thanks from you and Grunion families.
I am very eager to tell about several things.
Most of all I have realized Sympathy beyond language, nation and generation.
And I have learned much about Americans as well as Japanese. Also my ancestors.
My nation’s virtue and fault. US citizenship and enterprise spirit, frontier spirit.
And what scientific mind is, how to decide and take action to solve old problem in newest way.
I have much thanks to your kindness to me and to forgotten Japanese sailors still remaining at Kiska.
For me the Grunion story contains wisdom and philosophy same as Book of Revelation.
They are truly principle that guide my life as a common father.
Also the Grunion story, kindness of Abeles and thanks from Grunion families led me to Mrs. Chiyo and Mr. Shinoda, that was another aspect of Grunion story told by Japanese.
Chiyo still kept a letter dated July 7th, 1942 with Kiska wild flower.
The flower, now a dried and fragile petal is a fortitude evidence that proofs one’s wish never die with his/her words.
The fact encourages me to live this modern life.
When we Japanese say ‘ The last war’, it means the war age 1937 to 1945.
Between that period there were full of family tragedy and sorrow,
I had read and heard so many talks since I was a child.
After talking with Abeles and thanked by Grunion families,
I had suddenly realized that it is the same as a mirror,
there are tragedies and sorrows in US families.
I think it is possible to prevent war because if Sympathy is shared we need not fight anymore,
even though it is impossible to abolish the war because it is hatred and terror combined with target and plan.
Many of old Japanese still remember the war tragedy.
Today it is getting to fade out. It must be kept as national memories.
I shall tell my own story.
When the last war continued, my wife YUKO’s father was a elementary school student.
One night June 1945, he was at river bank near his home where he had been born and still live there.
He was watching a flame shine over the hill beyond that burning OKAYAMA city, the capital of the prefecture.
My father, died 2011, was called up and was Army second lieutenant.
Until 1945 he was at Manchuria, Northeast China to prepare defense against Soviet Union.
In 1945 the war stage came to the end, Japan shifted the defense force in Manchuria to homeland.
My father’s division was selected and moved to his home prefecture, it is in SHIKOKU Island face to the Pacific Ocean.
Dad had an elder brother, my uncle, and was also Army soldier in Manchuria.
Before they departed, they met and talked that it might be safer to remain in China rather than returning back to Japan and fight against U.S..
My father and my family never meet him ever since.
Aug. 1945 Soviet Union declared war to Japan.
After surrender my uncle was captured and sent to labor camp in Siberia.
He died there. He had a son, my cousin, now keeps our family tombs at our home prefecture.
Aug. 1945, my father, a young army Second Lieutenant, was at some beach in SHIKOKU where he was preparing against U.S. landing. He was a platoon leader of grenade thrower.
One day after 50 years, Dad and I were at the same beach.
My Dad explained where they dug trench and set headquarter on a hill,
and how they planned a operation against U.S. landing.
After Japan surrendered, my father returned home near that beach on foot.
There his mother, my grandmother, was waiting her son.
7 years later he married to my mother and further 5 years later I was born.
The story begins
For me the Grunion story began at 2002, when a sole e-mail appeared in my PC, asking about Grunion – Kano Maru confrontation.
It is rather well known story between Japanese military fans, there are several resources.
Soon I had translated Aiura’s article and thought it was too plain.
So I decided to add my original chart to show where the confrontation occurred.
It was a kind of decryption.
The report by Seiichi Aiura states,
“On 0515 at off Gula point of Segula Is. 158 degrees 17 nautical miles changed course toward 255 degree. On 0547 two torpedoes attacked us. ”
Ahh I thought it was the cipher in ‘Gold Bug’ by Edgar Allan Poe.
“A good glass in the bishop’s hostel in the devil’s seat twenty-one degrees and thirteen minutes northeast and by north main branch seventh limb east side shoot from the left eye of the death’s-head a bee line from the tree through the shot fifty feet out.”
I had borrowed from my son SHUN, a set triangle and protractor.
And charted the Aiura’s description thinking course and speed of KANO MARU.
I sent this handwriting chart with the translation to Abeles.
I believe not only am I the only one but the first since Aug. 1942 who pointed the confrontation on chart.
I had been thanked by many Grunion families.
One wrote to me ‘You are the Miss Sullivan of Helen Keller, You made us see.’
It is too much praise for me, but I am very glad because I had made a little discovery by myself.
2006 and 2007 expedition
Abeles are impartial all the time.
I had joined the survey team and got a chance to give my opinion.
It was my happy time.
One day Art Wright of Williamson & Associates had sent me a Microsoft Excel file to vote where should be search.
It was a sea chart of Kiska with grid pattern. One can vote any grid with certain weight (number),
and then Art add up the votes after they are normalized. It was quite unique way for me to decide something and I thought it was reasonable and effective.
I thought ‘How much does it cost per grids to be scanned ?’
I had wanted to see some points where Japanese vessels may lying,
though considered the resources and schedule were limited,
and the weather must be severe that should cancelled everything.
So I had selected one grid where Aiura documents indicates and added adjacent grids north two and south one because at the south there are MacArthur reef that Aiura states KANO MARU were avoiding.
‘It is Admiral YAMAMOTO(of Japanese Navy) way’, I had talked to myself.
He always concentrated his force to one point, and when he scattered he lost.
Aquila/ survey ship
2006 expedition was handmade, amateur exploring project, I thought.
I felt ‘Minuteman’ sense of East coast Americans.
Since the War of Independence, US citizens fought by themselves to solve their own problems.
Aquila is crab fishing boat. However, Lo! captain Cook’s exploring vessel ‘Endeavour’,
was a coal transport and by today’s view the ship is merely a wooden bathtub,
even though they could do immortal achievement.
No gorgeous survey ship is required to reveal ocean mystery, that requires will and resolution, needs endurance and sense.
Who found the Grunion?
Directly they are Art Wright and Williamson & Associates team, by using newest technology of sonar, ocean surveillance ability.
In 2006 expedition, their work must be monotonous and severe in heavy weather.
They got wonderful result. It was merely coarse dot pattern of noise, however human imagination reveals what it is.
A submarine that clearly laid a shadow of sail and periscope and was curiously the length was shorter than actual.
Two subchasers, when they sank they formed transverse formation toward Kiska harbor, a witness report tells so, are lying just as their formation.
A destroyer, witness states that broke its keel and sank immediately like jackknife.
The coarse shadow shaped letter V.
Imagination set up hypothesis, then proof is required. How shall it be proofed?
In 2007 Abeles were preparing second expedition.
2007 summer was most exciting season.
Many who concerning were watching Aquila and the survey team,
thinking what that object Art found last year was.
Perhaps I was the only one in the world who expected the object was miraculously Japanese submarine I-9 which was sank a half miles east of Sirius Point, Kiska by attack destroyer Fraizer(DD-607) on June 19th 1943.
To proof the submarine is US made, John had searched writing on the wreck.
It was there, back of opened hatch, ‘Open’.
I had a little disappointed but regained a hope that I-9 is surely at neighbor of Grunion and shall be discovered in someday by someone at Davy Jones’ Locker, it was proofed, I thought.
Mr. Bruce suggested me that there must be an original of Aiura’s report somewhere in Japan.
I had not confidence but supposed that must be library of Japan Self Defense Force in Tokyo.
One day I had visited there by using night bus between Osaka and Tokyo, after one night trip.
Too early in the morning, at the clerk a librarian ordered me to wait until 9:30AM.
At that time the librarian saying ‘We don’t archive reports of merchant ship…’ typed the keyboard the words ‘KANO MARU’.
Within 10 minutes, I was reading the original of Aiura’s report. And saw the sea chart that had red marking indicates the confrontation.
The mark is where I had plotted five years ago by pencil, miles apart but same area.
This report must be written at Kiska Island by the date Aug. 1942, just after a month Isamu’s 7th July letter for Chiyo.
I felt sympathy with the one who wrote this chart, he is my ancestor and did quite proper work, accomplished his duty as best as he could.
Today everyone can see this documents at JACAR(Japan Center for Asian Records) homepage via the Internet.
However I love the original, its fragrant of paper, touch of writer and the atmosphere of library.
They charm me.
Wrecks at Kiska quite astonished me. How our grandfathers fought intensely.
They reminded me Testament Psalm 51 that is introduced in one Japanese novels.
‘I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.’
Wreck at Kiska, they are Nojima Maru, mini-sub and another ruins Japanese base,
antiaircraft guns with Navy type shield,
marvelously reveal the fact Japan invade the US territory.
Coincidentally Nojima Maru was of Nihon-Yusen shipping co. ,
that was the company of Isamu Shinoda, the commander of subchaser #27,
he was a civilian and recalled by Navy.
Even today Nihon-Yusen is still major shipping company.
Mini sub is well known as secret weapon of Imperial Japanese Navy
that attacked Pearl harbor. One of Pearl attacker was returned to Japan
and exhibit at Navy Academy to recall the patriot sacrifice.
I suppose perhaps someone at Kiska unconsciously or intentionally
left those wreckage as epitaph for old unknown warriors.
1/700 KANO MARU model
Before I visited Boston, my friend Motoyuki Iwashige made for me 1/700 KANO MARU model as gift to US.
He is a unique expert of Japanese wartime merchant marine.
Iwashige put mosquito size seaplane fighter
just as Aiura reported he picked up previous day of confrontation with a young pilot lost his home base in fog.
Aiura wrote he reminded his son when saw the pilot.
I knew the model is authentic and only one in the world.
I had thanked to Iwashige saying,
‘It’s reinforcement equal to six aircraft carrier.
In future this model shall be at proper museum,
or selling at an antique shop in Colorado for one dollar. ‘
July 7th letter
July 7th is TANABATA, Chinese and Japanese annual festival.
It stands an old legend that star Vega of Lyra is a weaver and Altair of Aquila is a cowboy.
(Aquila is also the ship name of Kale Garcia, survey ship at 2006 and 2007.)
They must meet once a year on 7th July across milky way only when the sky is fine.
Ancient Aleutian explorer named landmarks of Kiska using star names,
they are Sirius point also Vega bay.
Japanese occupation force to Kiska renamed the names in Japanese for their convenience.
Vega bay called TANABATA-WAN.
On July 7th 1942 Isamu Shinoda, a commander of subchaser #27, wrote a letter to his wife
enclosed a flower adding word ‘ I put my heart on this flower ‘.
60 years later I saw this letter and the flower, dried chip of petals and the wife Chiyo herself.
She was age 97. The quiet old women, letter and flower shook my soul.
2008 January I have visited Boston to see Abeles and to pay respect to Katherine Abele.
It was my pilgrimage. First I wanted to thank to Abeles, their impartial kindness to Japanese
and rather more I wanted to see the letters that Mrs. Katherine had filed. I wanted to know her more.
I saw the letters of Katherine and Grunion families were in white binder.
Mrs. Susan selected one or two and tried to read for me because they are hand written.
But Mrs. Susan teared and could not read any of the letters. So in fact I have not read the letters yet.
Today, I am so glad I can read them in new book.
Truly the words never fade away.
How our ancestors lived same life, felt same sympathy, were tidy and honest, delighted and sorrowed.
The letters and documents are telling me.
The cemetery where Mrs. Katherine was buried is huge park in forest.
The gently slope were covered thin snow so we couldn’t find Katherine’s epitaph.
Mr. Bruce took a scoop from car trunk and Mrs. Susan pointed but not discovered.
I thought it was too cold for olds, so I put imitation flower from Japan on snow, a little higher place of slope, and nodded vaguely, said Good-bye in mind. ‘Adiew Mrs., I respect you.’
We had left the cemetery after visiting an old tombs of Civil war soldier.
Then also we had visited Newton Historic Museum, Jackson Homestead there once was very old farm and now Suzan is a librarian.
I saw old stone built well at basement where escaping black slaves had been sheltered.
That was a part of underground railroad, freedom trail. It was very interesting.
After in spring when the snow melted, Mrs. Susan send me the photo and I had read the epitaph.
‘Dynamic and loving, Samaritan and Tutor’
Toshi and I had once talked that we wondered why Grunion story fetched such wonderful peoples,
chain of citizens like pearl necklace, where and when they required.
When I see the epitaph I assented ‘ I see, Samaritan called Samaritan.’
Boston visit, etc.
In Bruce’s house we sat at large wood table and ate Susan’s sandwich for lunch.
Abeles were talking about next president candidate – Obama.
It was quite interesting topic for me at lunch time.
In 2009 he became the President of United States.
In Bruce’s house at living room there are big steel stove with legs.
Mr. Bruce made firewood by himself from a log in garden using chainsaw.
It reminded me the US frontier life.
In Boston I have felt atmosphere of US citizenship.
Mrs. Susan showed me Boston downtown. Especially I liked Monument on Bunker hill, USS Constitution at pier.
Destroyer Cussing Young(DD-797) at the same pier reminded me Mannert L. Abele (DD-733).
Mrs. Susan asked me if I would like to aboard on the ship. But I had hesitated because it was so realistic reminding those who young fought off Okinawa.
In Museum of Fine Art in Boston I felt comfort.
Because there were many Japanese old statues of Buddha in Japanese style room.
In US I had felt I was a mouse in Noah’s Ark. But in my familiar exhibition room I felt I was a portion as well as an agent of my own nation and national history. I had really felt our culture is admired and secured.
Oversea communication/ 2008 memorial
For 2008 memorial Mr. Bruce suggested me to join via Skype.
We did experiment to communicate.
First encounter with Skype was so funny.
Mr. Bruce appeared on PC, background Mrs. Susan appeared in nightgown asking ‘what are you doing?’. And behind myself there were forest of wet cloths drying in room.
Next Mr. Bruce and I tried Skype at outdoor. He tried to catch puppy in a camera, running after a dog on grass. It was fun experiment.
On the day of memorial I had joined with Mr. Iwashige from my home sitting in front of PC.
It was first time for both strangers each other, speak ‘Hello’ to PC.
We were a little clumsy. I felt new age that every individual are getting closer day by day.
When I visited Newtonville, Boston, I saw Bruce’s house. It has clapboard-built wall and reminded me the house of ‘Green Gables of Prince Edward Island.’ that I had seen in photo.
I had told my impression to Mrs. Susan and she delighted much remembering Anne Shirley.
This wooden house has wooden door, a little distorted.
When we came back together from going out I clasped the door nob and asked, ‘Mr., the door seemed locked’. Mr. Bruce smiled jokingly, said ‘Ah, the door shall be opened in this way’, he kicked the lowest door edge with a bang, and the door was opened.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comfort.
The door is opened, to Samaritan, to the future, I have acknowledged.