JUNE 2018

JUNE 2018
FOX NEWS during the 1890's


Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I have to wonder what the thoughts were of the Japanese emissaries, as they arrived back in le Shima Island. Were they seeing their lives as sacrificed in the service of their country? Were they daunted by what the future might hold for Japan? Were they encouraged by the firm courtesy they had found in Manila? The long flight back to la Shima must have been a flight in the dark, across the sunny central Pacific.
Then, upon landing back at at le Shima, there was bad news. The Betty damaged upon landing was not yet ready for a return flight to Japan. Suspicions were raised about possible American sabotage and all documents related to the surrender arraignments were divided between the two groups. Late in the afternoon the Betty carrying the head of the delegation, General Torashiro Kawabe, and seven other members of the group, lifted off from Birch Airstrip. They were accompanied by American fighters for a short time before continuing the flight back to Japan alone.It had been an emotionally exhausting forty-eight hours. There had been, and remained, the constant fear of being shot down – by both sides – and the uncertainty of what to expect from the enemy and their own countrymen, and the shame and humiliation of having to help their nation surrender to the hated Americans. It is no wonder that shortly after the plane left the ground General Kawabeall and the other passengers fell asleep. And then, just after midnight, August 21, one the pilots woke up his passengers to inform them that a fuel tank had sprung a leak, and one engine had begun to miss, and they were losing altitude and they were about to crash into the dark ocean. Life jackets were quickly pulled on and all the valuable surrender documents were given to Foreign Ministry representative Katsuo Okazaki, because he had once been in the Olympics (in 1924!). Then, before they were really ready, the plane slammed into the ocean. The passengers were thrown about the cabin. The plane bounced, and again, off the wave tops, until suddenly the plane stopped and seemed to settle for a moment into the waves. Both pilots rushed from the cockpit and while one tried to calm the passengers, the other ripped opened the rear door. Water rushed into the cabin and the pilot leaped out…into waist deep water. Somehow the crew had managed to bring their injured aircraft back right to the shore line of Japan.
Through twenty feet of surf was the beach in front of the tiny village of Hamamatsu, about 130 miles south of Tokyo. The passangers quickly waded to dry land. A fisherman was rudely awakened and reluctantly enlisted to show the soaked delegates to a telephone. A call to a nearby air base provided transport back to the capital, where, at last, half of the required documents arrived just seven hours behind schedual. The next morning the second Betty, carefully repaired by the Americans, made an uneventful flight back to Japan with the other half of the surrender documents. And on September 2nd , 1945, crash survivors General Kawabe and Katsuo Okazaki stood on the deck of the USS Missouri to sign the surrender documents, another emotionally exhausting day.What had been settled in Manila, in simple direct conversations, was that all Japanese soldiers would be disarmed by their own officers all across China and Burma and Japan, before Allied troops arrived in their area; another compromise.It was not the draconian surrender required in the Potsdam Statement, but rather a compromise, because suddenly peace was more important than complete and unconditional surrender. The Russians had not abided by the U.S. ceasefire, and were still grabbing Japanese territory, right up until the occupation was achieved. So the speedy U.S. occupation of Japan was in the interest of both parties. Still, it was decided that the actual landings would be postponed for three days, taking place, now, on August 28th, to allow local commanders to prepare their junior officers and civilians for the shock. The hunger to humiliate the Japanese was sublimated by the practical pragmatic desire to end to the war as quickly as possible.On August 25 the U.S. planes dropped food and medical parcels on the POW camps. And at 9AM, on August 28, an advance party of 150 communications engineers landed at Atsugi Naval Airfield, 20 miles southwest of Tokyo. They were the first Americans to land in Japan, and they were met by disarmed and obedient Japanese. Three hours later 38 transports arrived with security forces, supplies and equipment required to prepare the airfield for the arrival of U.S. forces. And then, on August 30th, the main occupation began. One C-54 carrying 44 men landed every three minutes, bringing in over the course of the day over 4,200 combat ready troops of the 11th Airborne division. At the same time men of the 6th Marine division landed without opposition at Yokosuka Naval base. The entirely peaceful occupation of Japan had begun two days before the peace treaty would be signed.
The war was really over. The mass murder had stopped, for awhile. And it had been brought to an end by courage and conversation and compromise, despite what you might have heard elsewhere.
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