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It's a miracle, say family of Japanese soldier killed in WWII, as flag he carried returns from U.S.

26 Comments
By MARI YAMAGUCHI

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The shrine is controversial, as it includes convicted war criminals among those commemorated. Victims of Japanese aggression during the first half of the 20th century, especially China and the Koreas, see Yasukuni as a symbol of Japanese militarism. However, for the Mutsuda family, it's a place to remember the loss of a father and husband.

“It’s like an old love story across the ages coming together ... It doesn’t matter where,” Banta said, referring to the Yasukuni controversy. “The important thing is this flag goes to the family.”

A nice story of closure from tragedy and loss across decades and Mr. Banta seems extraordinarily gracious.

However it seems difficult to parse the moral perspectives here.

Would an article be written about a return of a Nazi SS "good luck flag" to a grieving German family and it described as "a miracle" and "a love story"?

Many times we are all complicit in the moral siloing and arbitrary division of tragedy and guilt.

-8 ( +10 / -18 )

“When we learned all of this, and that the family would like to have the flag, we knew immediately that the flag did not belong to us,” Banta said at the handover ceremony. “We knew that the right thing to do would be to send the flag home, to be in Japan and to the family.”

And thank you Mr. Banta for keeping the American Spirit , you can't take nor keep what doesn't belong to you.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

Seems rather odd to give a kamikaze a good luck flag.

Seems you know little or nothing of the history behind the kamikaze pilots and the mindset of many, if not most, Japanese people at the time. Be a good idea to study a bit before making comments that are nonsense in their meaning and context.

The soldiers remains weren't found or returned but the flag in perfect condition was.

Also you should again read some history books about how "souvenirs" were collected by US servicemen following battles and all sorts of items were taken back home, these flags were popular. It's not like anyone would be tagging or marking an enemies corpse following a battle.

I'm a bit sceptical he even died during the war .

There should be no reason for any skepticism, there were literally millions of people who died during the war that never had their "remains" found or repatriated, from all sides. That doesnt mean they didnt die!

Just burn the thing already

Actually it's for people like you that it should live on for an eternity. Folks like you who know little or nothing about the history are doomed in their ignorance to repeat it. It's folks like you who know nothing, that this history must be kept alive!

17 ( +20 / -3 )

Dagon summed it all up nicely underlining the crucial point of moral complicity in a criminal enterprise. It's a good thing the flag was returned to the family with all the names of family and friends who in their own way had "bought into" the war of aggression waged by their rulers. The troubling fact that most people seem unable for various reasons to join the dots and take the names of the militarists and politicians who conspire to violently seize what does not belong to them by means of sending the youth of the country to shed their blood in vain. This reluctance of the majority to blame and remember is a factor ensuring wars in perpetuity. The attack on Ukraine at the behest of Putin and his criminal cabal is the latest example of warmongers exploiting the sheeplike passivity of people.

0 ( +9 / -9 )

“Would an article be written about a return of a Nazi SS "good luck flag" to a grieving German family and it described as "a miracle" and "a love story"?”

Probably would not. Mr Matsuda wasn’t a member of the Nazi SS that tried to annihilate the entire Jewish population. Only someone with a warped mind would want to taint and tarnish a heartwarming story of reconciliation like this.

13 ( +20 / -7 )

It is a nice story.

A 5 yr old didn't commit any crimes against the US. It is a family keepsake and is also a way to show that Japan and the US have put past differences aside and are really partners in the world today.

Whether the father wanted or didn't want to fight against the US doesn't matter, not really, and not to me.

We live in different times and the past is to be remembered, not relived. Perhaps the family will share this flag with museums in Japan and in 20-50 yrs, it will return to the US for a few years to be shown in a USS Lexington exhibit again. It is part of our shared cultures and can be used to bring people together.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Obviously this flag had nothing to do with the "Kamikaze" denoting suicide plane attacks was just an incorrect description used at the Museum, since the IJA soldier died in Saipan. Although the term may have been used to describe the "banzai" charges on Saipan.

These flags were sometimes given to a draftee, signed by family, friends villagers.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Great attitude of returning the flag to the family.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

We shouldn’t celebrate war related objects. I took my ex Japanese to an RSA in Aussie and it was full of hate. But locals were proud.

-15 ( +2 / -17 )

This reluctance of the majority to blame and remember is a factor ensuring wars in perpetuity. 

I guess that explains why the US has been in perpetual war for most of the past 80 years. Populations that allow war in a "sheeplike" fashion are not unique to Russia or Japan.

Meanwhile, anyone with a heart is glad that a son finally receives something meaningful of his long-dead father's, with evidence that he was loved and supported by friends and family.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

One of the really big war trophies in the European Theater during WWII was the German Luger. When I was a kid growing up on a quiet street in Ohio, there was a WWII vet who lived across the street and he came across a dead German officer during the Battle of the Bulge. He took the dead officer's Luger as a souvenir, but not without some risk. It was strictly forbidden for U.S. soldiers to bring that kind of stuff back, so it had to be carefully smuggled. Obviously, that Luger would fetch a pretty penny today in an auction.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I helped locate one of the original owner of these flags once. During the meeting, it was amazing that there were virtually no feelings of vengeance or hatred between US and Japan, even the people directly involved in the war. Though emotional they were getting closure, forgiving each other.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

War is a terrible thing regardless of which side a person ends up on, normally through no individual choice of their own. Think of little plots of land or islands that were fought over, with young men on both sides dying or possibly worse being maimed for life. Then the war ends, agreements are made by guys in suits, and the land that was fought for foot by foot is negotiated away with pen and paper.

Think of the thousands of men from both nations who died over the battle of Iwo Jima. Today it is jointly operated by the US and Japanese militaries.

It's touching that this flag was returned to the family.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Wonderful story.

Anyone criticizing this has no understanding of history or human values.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

This flag will have much more meaning to the family than it would have to visitors to the USS Lexington. It is good that it was returned to the family.

Mr. Matsuda was not a war criminal, but a soldier who fought for his country.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Would an article be written about a return of a Nazi SS "good luck flag" to a grieving German family and it described as "a miracle" and "a love story"?

There are similar stories, yes:

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/wwii-veteran-returns-wedding-photos-dead-german-soldier-68-years-flna1c7501581

Mr Matsuda wasn’t a member of the Nazi SS that tried to annihilate the entire Jewish population.

As for who was the worst, anyone can find the number of people killed during the Jewish vs. Asian Holocaust. But that is not the point of this article, is it?

-11 ( +0 / -11 )

Great!!..

Respect for the Japanese soldier and his family..

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Yasukuni shrine is a buriel site for japanese soldiers who died fighting for their country and have paid the ultimate price.

I am against war but those soldiers have families who want to remmber them and they have all the right to do so .

The allies coalition committed war crime as well and we all know it.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Yasukuni shrine is a buriel site for japanese soldiers who died fighting for their country and have paid the ultimate price.

Yasukuni is NOT a burial site!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yasukuni_Shrine

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The allies coalition committed war crime as well and we all know it.

How many were convicted as "Class A" war criminals? Oh and deflecting to justify Japanese actions is really disingenuous.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

My grandfathers were both fighting against these invaders during the Second World War.

My father found some of them ,still resolutely Imperial,during The Confrontation in Borneo during the'60s.

Obviously,the good luck didn't work.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@stormcrow

I have a Luger,given to us as Cubs(!) to educate us in the use of repeating pistols.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

How many were convicted as "Class A" war criminals? 

None. That's the advantage of having a powerful military. You get away with stuff others can't.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It's too bad they put war criminals in Yasukuni, because that's what it is firmly associated with. Because for millions of families, it's the resting place for unfortunate young loved ones who were pulled away from their budding lives to needlessly die for a lost cause.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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