Japanese Forces That Shoot Japanese People from Behind

“Japanese Forces That Shoot Japanese People from Behind”

Seiji Yogi (39与儀清治)
Date of birth: January 29, 1928
At the time: 17-year-old Okinawa Normal School Student, Blood and Iron Imperial Corps

Our mission included securing food for the commander. I have been to Cape Kyan on a different mission. It happened then. Hearing someone said that bullets would come flying, I lay low on a ridge of a sugar cane field. Then, an artillery shell exploded nearby, and I had difficulty hearing for about two hours. Since this kind of experience had become commonplace, I got up and continued walking. I remember passing through Komesu and heading toward Cape Kyan.

When I went out to secure food, I went to a nearby cabbage field, and took back what little cabbage leaves that were remaining on the stalk after the cabbage had been picked, along with the outer leaves of cabbage that were scattered nearby. In addition to securing food, I have also gone to draw water at a well located below a cliff by the coast.

Our last mission was after June 23. We were told to go out carrying 10-kg bombs that we had in our possession. However, a superior private (jotohei) who had experience fighting in the battlefront in China said: “Don’t lose your life for nothing. Don’t take that with you.” He even said: “Take this bomb somewhere and throw it away.” I don’t know whether that superior private is still alive, but I escaped imminent death again at that time.

I think that it was after the 23rd, but we ended up not having to attack the enemy with the bombs. We received instructions to go to the Yanbaru area, merge with other Japanese soldiers there, and continue fighting. Therefore, one squad went down to the beach and tried to head for Yanbaru along the coastline. However, it was bright during the daytime of course, and they could not advance along the coastline, while during the night, the area was illuminated by flares, so they could not proceed as they wanted to. Nevertheless, they tried to move along the coastline and ended up coming under attack by the US forces. In the end, they were unable to proceed. A number of people lost their lives at that time.

From around that time, there was no food. I only had a bag of dried noodles. Looking back now, I did something good during that battle. Just around that time, as I was hiding behind rocks, I noticed two children without any food leaning against rocks, trying to keep themselves hidden. I gave those children what little hardtack I had. I must have thought that since I would be dying anyway, food was useless to me. I saw a fellow soldier who had been under pressure enter a small cave upon saluting and saying, “Please excuse for going first.” He never came back from that cave. Some women did the same. What they committed was suicide using a grenade. Under these circumstances, I thought that I would also be dying anyway. That I why I gave the children what little hardtack I had. There were times I shaved off the butt end of my rifle and burn the shavings to cook rice in a canteen. We didn’t even have anything to burn to cook rice.

After the 23rd, we had no food, and we kept ourselves hidden behind rocks below the cliff. We were thinking that we had no choice but to commit suicide, but hoping to kill as many enemy soldiers as possible if we were to die anyway, I tried to climb the cliff and attack the enemy. My body was so debilitated that I do not remember how I climbed that cliff. When I climbed the cliff, there were many American soldiers right there holding up their guns. They were also lit brightly by flares. Thinking that this was not good, I temporarily went back down the cliff that I had climbed up. I tried to climb the cliff again the next day, but I was debilitated and I barely made it part of the way. I had no choice but to climb back down. When I thought that finally this would be the end, I remembered the dream I had the previous night. The dream was about my grandmother putting meat on my plate on New Year’s Day. Recalling that dream, I thought that perhaps someone in my family was still alive and thus managed to keep myself from committing suicide. Meanwhile, I became increasingly weak. Glancing at the ocean in front of my eyes, I noticed that there were many American minesweepers. Through loudspeakers on those minesweepers, I heard the Americans saying: “Become prisoners. Come out, come out. It’s all right.” So, there were some people heading toward the ocean to become prisoners of war.

However, the Japanese forces started shooting at the people who intended to become prisoners of war from behind. We could not proceed toward the ocean to surrender because we risked being shot from behind if we tried to surrender and become prisoners. We had no choice but to stay where we were.

In the end, I lost all my physical strength and got captured by the US forces. I probably responded to the call for surrender and went as close to the American soldiers as I could, staggering along the way. I think that after that, I became captive while being helped by the American soldiers. However, despite that, I was still in high spirits. When I was put aboard an American truck together with other prisoners and headed toward Minatogawa, I thought of jumping off the truck and fleeing by pushing off the American soldier who was holding up a gun and watching over us at the back of the truck. However, I was so debilitated that it was impossible for me to do that. Thinking back about that now, I feel scary about education that had fueled hostility back in those days.