September 9, 2008

米本土爆撃の人、藤田信雄:66 Years Ago Today, Nobuo Fujita Came

Nobuo Fujita and his plane, Yokosuka "Glen"

66 years ago today (sorry, my timer setting didn't work), Nobuo Fujita dropped two incendiary bombs near Brookings, Oregon, marking the first bombing of mainland America by foreign force. It completely burned down..., well, seven trees.

It was largely neglected in 9-11 incident (obviously for its lack of impact), but when I moved here 10 yrs ago, I came across a tiny little article about him on SJ Mercury. It had only five or six sentences and it might have been in News of the Weirds I regularly checked, but I was hugely impressed by the fact that some curious minds here shed the light on it.

As TechCrunch50 (Sept. 8-10) came up and the first three finalists arrived from Japan, somehow that little article came up to my mind, urging me to check his name. So, I dug a little bit to find out his name is Nobuo Fujita and it was Sept. 9, 1942.



(photo right: Japanese submarine I-25 Fujita flew from. After the second attack on Sept. 29, they left Oregon coast. On its way back home, it sank the Soviet sub, mistaking it for US sub...)

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What's interesting is its aftermath.
Forty years later, in 1962, Fujita was invited back to attend a local festival in Brookings as a guest.

Fujita, the ex-trainer of Kamikaze, carried his family treasure, a 400-year-old samurai sword he packed in 1942 air raid, with intention of killing himself if the worst should happen. But Oregonians welcomed him with such a generosity, and that's when he accepted the defeat for the first time. Following the Samurai ritual of surrender, he gave the sword to the city. Then, he made a promise to invite exchange students to his home, though he was in financial problem that time as his business went into bankruptcy.

With enough coins spared, he invited three students from Brookings in 1985, and received a dedicatory letter from an aide of Ronald Reagan. In 1992, he planted a redwood tree at the bomb site in his third visit, and he made one last visit in 1995. It was several days after American friend flew over to him and made him an honorary citizen of Brookings when he died on September 30, 1997, at the age of 85.

His sword is still on display at the Chetco Public Library. About a year later, his daughter buried some of his ashes at the bomb site.

As Makio Mukai (husband of NASA astronomer, Chiaki Mukai) responded here, not many Japanese knew that story (only recently there's a book and TV featuring him). As Mukai noted, in the post-war Japan, anything related to the war was abhorred. His love for US could have been parallel to veterans' neglect in Japan.

Here's in-depth story by Chuck Woodbury. His buddy, Brian Pahl, visited the site in March 1998, driving and walking for hours. Next time I drive up to Oregon, I wanna stop by the site.

Related:
Jap Incendiary Bomb Sets Oregon Forest Fire
5thstar_管理人_日記: 米本土爆撃の記憶、宗谷岬沖の死闘

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