So Sad To Fall In Battle: An Account of War Based on General Tadamichi Kuribayashi's Letters from Iwo Jima (英語) ハードカバー – 2007/1/9
Kindle 端末は必要ありません。無料 Kindle アプリのいずれかをダウンロードすると、スマートフォン、タブレットPCで Kindle 本をお読みいただけます。
Advance praise for So Sad to Fall in Battle
“Kumiko Kakehashi’s detailed and moving new study . . . allows us to see the human face behind the fanatical Japanese of American war time myth. One finishes the book in awe of the way troops endured hellish conditions, and moved by touches of humanity that shone through their final days.”
–Philip Gabriel, author of Spirit Matters: The Transcendent in Modern Japanese Literature
LEAVING FOR THE FRONT
Lieutenant general kuribayashi tadamichi set off for iwo Jima on June 8, 1944. His family was not informed of his destination. Whether you were a career soldier like Kuribayashi or just a conscript, in those days your family never knew to which theater of war you had been sent.
“This time maybe even my dead bones won’t be sent back home,” Kuribayashi told Yoshii, his wife. But he looked so relaxed that she did not take his remark seriously.
The final meal served at home that morning was herring wrapped in seaweed, and rice steamed with red beans. Yoshii had not boiled the red rice to celebrate her husband’s departure for the front; she made it simply because it was one of his favorite dishes.
The Kuribayashis were a family of five. In addition to Tadamichi himself, there was his forty-year-old wife, Yoshii; Tarô, the eldest of the children and a young man of nineteen; a fifteen-year-old girl called Yôko; and finally another daughter, Takako, who, at nine, was the baby of the family. They lived in Tokyo, in a detached house not far from Higashi Matsubara on the Teito Line (now the Keiô Inokashira Line) to which they had moved less than two months earlier.
In September 1941, Kuribayashi had been appointed chief of staff of the South China Expeditionary Force (Twenty-third Army) in Canton and took part in the capture of Hong Kong in December of that year. In June 1943, he was made commander of the Second Imperial Guards Home Division, which was in charge of the defense of the capital, Tokyo. But he resigned this post in April 1944 to take responsibility for a subordinate who had accidentally started a fire, and was attached to the Eastern Army Headquarters. Obliged to leave the grand mansion he had lived in as division commander, he ended up renting the house in Higashi Matsubara.
Kuribayashi’s de facto sinecure at the Eastern Army Headquarters did not last long. On May 27, he was given the command of the 109th Division. With a range of battlefield skills, the 109th was a large-scale force capable of carrying out independent operations.
The 109th had been created largely from units already in place on Chichi Jima in an effort to strengthen the defenses of the Ogasawara Islands. After his appointment as division commander, Kuribayashi had no time to relax in his new house but instead headed straight for Iwo Jima to take up his post.
His wife, Yoshii, and Takako saw him off.
Kuribayashi was shaving out on the veranda when Tarô left for school that morning. The farewell between father and son was low-key: “I’m off to school!” “All right, then.”
Nine-year-old Takako was the one who worried Kuribayashi by bursting into tears. She was a student at Matsubara Elementary School, but it just so happened that, with school finishing early that day because of a parents’ association meeting, she was back home in time to see her father off. Still, no one had the heart to scold the normally sensible and obedient girl for her moodiness.
The car came to the gate of the house to collect Kuribayashi in the early afternoon. Takako, who had no way of knowing that her father was setting off into the jaws of death, kept crying long after he had gone.
She sat down in the hall and wept for hours. The place was full of memories of her father. A stickler for punctuality, Kuriba- yashi would be ready to leave the house early every morning. He was in the habit of waiting in the hall for the adjutant who came to pick him up by car. During this short wait, he would ask his youngest daughter, herself about to head out to school, to dance for him. Takako, who was later to make her debut as a starlet of the Daiei film studio, would use the hallway step as a stage and de- light her father by singing “Ame-furi O-Tsuki-san” (“The Moon in the Rain”) while mimicking traditional Japanese dance mo- tions.
On June 25, 1944, he sent Takako this letter.
My dear Tako-chan,
How are you, Tako-chan?
In my mind’s eye, I can still see you and Mother standing by the gate to see me off on the day I left.
Since then, I’ve dreamed several times of going back home and taking a walk around the neighborhood with you and Mother. Sadly, though, it’s something I can’t really do.
You know, Tako-chan, Daddy just can’t wait for you to grow up to be a support to your mother.
Build up your strength, study hard, and do exactly what your mother tells you to do. That will really put my mind at ease.
Now I must say “Good-bye.”
Daddy at the front
Takako had been born when Kuribayashi was over forty years old. He doted on her, addressing her with the pet name of “Tako-chan,” and generally made a fuss over her. She appeared frequently in her father’s dreams while he was at the front. On November 17, 1944, he wrote to her:
Tako-chan! How are you? I’m fine!
Last night we had two air raids: one just after I’d got to sleep and another just as it was getting light. But I still managed to have a funny dream.
In my dream, you, Tako-chan, had just got out of the bath and were sniveling and whimpering. “Why are you crying?” I asked you. “Was the bathwater too hot?” Then Mother appeared. She laughed and said, “I bet it’s because you want something nice and sweet.” Then she brought out her breast and put it in your mouth. The two of you lay down, and your cheeks, Tako-chan, were all puffed out as you sucked away greedily on the breast. You just looked so very happy.
Just then out came your big sister. “I’m shocked!” she said. “I’m shocked! Honestly, Tako-chan, still suckling at your age!” Then she started poking your cheeks.
That was about all that happened, but Daddy saw all your faces so clearly that it was just like being there with you.
What do you think? A pretty funny dream, wasn’t it?
Then, on December 23, 1944, he wrote:
Tako-chan, a little while ago Daddy had another dream with you in it.
In my dream, you were very tall—about as tall as me, in fact. You also had on Daddy’s pants, but your hair was in a bob.
I was marveling at how very tall you were, when, lo and behold, who should turn up but your mother! With her there, I thought it would be nice if the two of us swung you between us the way we always did, but you were so very heavy we just couldn’t do it!
Kuribayashi probably dreamed about Takako whimpering like a baby because he could not forget how she had cried when he had left for the front.
In his dream of the following month Takako was a grown-up. She was “tall” and “very heavy” and wore her father’s hand-me-down pants, while her hair was done “in a bob”—just as when they parted at the gate. Outside of this dream, Kuribayashi was never to see Takako as an adult.
栗林忠道中将の手紙はもちろんのこと、硫黄島守備隊のその他の兵士の手紙も記載されています。壮絶な戦いであった硫黄島上陸作戦ですが、意外にも守備隊は精鋭ではなく、むしろ中高年や予備役主体であったことに驚かされます。「flags of our fathers」の作者でもあるJames Bradley氏は「酒も女も娯楽もなく、また食料・水も絶対的に不足している中で長期間にわたって米軍上陸に備え、かつ大損害を与えた日本軍は驚きだ」と述べていますが、この当時の日本人の精神力の強さには感服します。
General Kuribayashi was the kind of leader who commanded respect because he gave it to everyone, from the lowliest recruit to the top-ranking officers under his command. He cared about them, worried about them,and was attentive to their needs. The army was an institution where social class distinctions were carried to an extreme … [F]or Kuribayashi to be so open and friendly with his inferiors' made him a most unusual officer (page xiii). This also made him unpopular with the military High Command in Tokyo.
He was meticulous in designing a plan to protect them for as long as possible,while at the same time inflicting the most damage to the enemy.Though it was completely contrary to the traditions of the Japanese army … and was derided as rash and aroused universal opposition at the time”(page 38),he held out for over a month and frustrated the goal of the Allied Command of defeating the Japanese in under a week.The Japanese military command lacked Kuribayashi’s grasp of on-the-ground reality and attention to detail.The grimmer the reality,” Kakehashi writes, the more commanders have to face it directly” (page 63) He verified things with his own eyes,and never allowed preconceptions or wishful thinking to cloud his judgment. His strategy was effective in battle precisely because it originated from such a starting point”(page 63).
And in the midst of it all -- the daily preparations, the sweat, the inadequate supplied and resistance from people in Tokyo -- he wrote daily letters to his wife and family in which he expressed love and concern for them and their welfare.
Why, when he knew he could never win, did he keep fighting when he could have surrendered and saved the more than 20,000 men under his command that died in the battle of Iwo Jima? Honor aside, the reason was keeping the airfield on Iwo Jima from the Allied forces for as long as possible so they couldn’t use it to carry out massive attacks on Japan’s main islands. Sadly, with the advent of Boeing’s B-29 Superfortress bombers, these attacks had already begun.
If it dawned on him that these attacks had begun, it might have thrown him into despair. According to Kakehashi,there is some evidence that it did. Sergeant Ryumae Shinya, who was in close proximity to him, wrote: When we escaped from the Command Bunker in the dead of night on March 17, he was not energetic… At first glance … he looked like some old man from the countryside being led outside by his children” (pages 189,190). The sight of the weak, emaciated, and ghostlike soldiers dying in such number as they faced the terrifying intensity of the American assault on one hand, while suffering from hunger and thirst on the other, seems to have been a crushing blow for Kuribayashi”(page 191). When he heard the news” (of the firebombing of Tokyo), (his) despair and sense of failure must have been tremendous. He did not even know if his wife and children were alive. They were, in fact, safe and sound ' but he had no way of knowing that.” For a compassionate man, I don’t see how it could have been otherwise.
In his final telegram to Tokyo, with a copy to his wife, he wrote “so sad to fall in battle.” And indeed, as it always is, it was. General Kuribayashi’s body was never identified. He had removed all insignias of rank from his uniform before the final charge.
Quite a man and quite a book.
A man of integrity and compassion who earned the respect of his troops not fear.
His letters to his family showed what great love and concern he had for them knowing he would never see them again.