World / War heroes

We were treated as 'war expendables' by Imperial Japan

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-08-14 10:09

TOKYO - When the Japanese Emperor Hirohito announced Japan's unconditional surrender at the end of World War II, 16-year-old Mitsuru Mita was under training as a suicide attacker in a navy base and was ready to be sent to the battlefield at any time with many of his companions.

"At that time, many people cried for Japan's defeat, but on the contrary, I felt a sense of relief and couldn't help shouting out 'Banzai' (a celebratory cheer) in my head," Mita, now 86, revealed his true feeling 70 years after the war, to Xinhua in an exclusive interview.

Mita believed that a large number of Japanese soldiers became victims of the upper echelons of the regime. "Nobody cared for our personal opinions and standpoints. We were just 'war expendables' and were determined to die," he said.

Referring to his war experience, Mita told a miserable story.

"I went to Beijing with my parents when I was a child and graduated from a Japanese junior high school. After that, I returned to Japan and joined the army on April 1945," Mita recalled.

Japan was on the verge of defeat at that time but the Imperial army still planned to put up a desperate struggle. Under this situation, many young people, including Mita, were recruited by the army to conduct suicide attacks, as they were more effectively than conventional attacks.

"My parents did not want me to join the army as I am the only son in my family, however, if I declined to go, I would be treated as a traitor," Mita told Xinhua at his home in Yokohama, south of Tokyo.

In the four-month period from his recruitment to Japan's surrender, Mita experienced incredibly strenuous training, coupled with cruel and torturous corporal punishment as his daily routine. "My weight decreased to 48 kg from 62 kg due to both physical and mental torture. If that was sustained for months, I would die anyway."

At the navy base, Mita and his companions learned about plenty of special attack tactics, including in the air, land and sea.

"One tactic is called 'Fukuryu,' which literally means ' crouching dragon' and has also been called 'suicide divers'." Mita explained, "People were armed with a mine containing explosive and would dive and stick the pole into the hull of an enemy ship, destroying themselves in the process."

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