All four of us - Kurokawa, Nishiguchi, Yawate and myself - assembled in front of
Headquarters at 1500 hrs ... The ''Tai'' commander Komai, who came to the observation
post today, told us personally that in accordance with the compassionate sentiments of
Japanese Bushido, he was going to kill the prisoner himself, with his favorite sword. So we
gathered to observe this. After we had waited a little more than ten minutes, the truck
The prisoner who is at the side of the guard house is given his last drink of water. The
surgeon, Major Komai, and Headquarters Platoon Commander come out of the Officers'
Mess, wearing their military swords. The time has come. The prisoner with his arms bound
and his long hair now cropped short totters forward. He probably suspects what is afoot but
he is more composed than I thought he would be. Without more ado. he is put on the truck
and we set out for our destination.
I have a seat next to the surgeon. About ten guards ride with us. To the pleasant
rumble of the engine, we run swiftly along the road in the growing twilight. The glowing sun
has set behind the western hills. Gigantic clouds rise before us and dusk is falling all
around. It will not last long now. As I picture the scene we are about to witness, my heart
I glance at the prisoner. He has probably resigned himself to his fate. As though saying
farewell to the world, he looks about as he sits in the truck, at the hills the sea, and seems
deep in thought. I feel a surge of pity and turn my eyes away. The truck runs along the
seashore now. We have left the Navy guard behind us and now come into the Army sector.
Here and there we see sentries in the grassy fields and I thank them in my heart for their
toil, as we drive on; they must have 'got it' in the bombing the night before last; there were
great gaping holes by the side of the road, full of water from the rain. In a little over twenty
minutes, we arrive at our destination and all get off.
Major Komai stands up and says to the prisoner, "We are going to kill you". When he
tells the prisoner that in accordance with Japanese Bushido he would be killed with a
Japanese sword and that we would have two or three minutes' grace, he listens with bowed
head. He says a few words in a low voice. He is an officer, probably a Flight Lieutenant.
Apparently, he wants to be killed with one stroke of the sword. I hear him say the word
''one''; the Major's face becomes tense as he replies: "Yes".
Now the time has come and the prisoner is made to kneel on the bank of a bomb crater,
filled with water. He is apparently resigned. The precaution is taken of surrounding him
with guards with fixed bayonets, but he remains calm. He even stretches his neck out. He
is a very brave man indeed. When I put myself in the prisoners' place and think that in one
minute it will be good-bye to this world, although the daily bombings have filled me with
hate, ordinary human feelings make me pity him.
The Major has drawn his favourite sword. It is the famous masamune sword which he
has shown us at the observation stations. It glitters in the light and sends a cold shiver
down my spine. He taps the prisoner's neck lightly with the back of the blade, then raises it
above his head with both arms and brings it down with a powerful sweep. I had been
standing with muscles tenses but in that moment I closed my eyes.
A hissing sound - it must be the sounds of spurting blood, spurting from the arteries: the
body falls forward. It is amazing - he has killed him with one stroke.
The onlookers crowd forward. The head, detached from the trunk, rolls forward in front
of it. The dark blood gushes out. It is all over. The head is dead white, like a doll. The
savageness which I felt only a little while ago is gone, and now I feel nothing but the true
compassion of Japanese Bushido.
A corporal laughs: "Well, he will be entering Nirvana now". A seaman of the medical
unit takes the surgeon's sword and, intent on paying off old scores, turns the headless body
over on its back and cuts the abdomen open with one clean stroke. They are thick-skinned,
these keto (hairy foreigner - term of opprobrium for a white man); even the skin of their bellies is thick.
Not a drop of blood comes out of the body. It is pushed into the crater at once and buried.
Now the wind blows mournfully and I see the scene again in my mind's eye. We get on
the truck again and start back. It is dark now. We get off in front of Headquarters. I say good-bye to the Major
and climb up the hill with Technician Kurokawa. This will be something to remember all my life. If I ever get back
alive, it was make a good story to tell; so I have written it down.