As I write this article on Pearl Harbor Day, I know that many sorrowing children and grandchildren are recalling memories of loved ones lost today, but for me, I always think of the glorious work that God performed in the heart and life of a certain Japanese man, named Mitsuo Fuchida. Here is an entry from the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Mitsuo Fuchida was a Japanese captain in the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service and a bomber aviator in the Japanese navy before and during World War II. He is perhaps best known for leading the first air wave attacks on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. Working under the overall fleet commander, Vice Admiral Nagumo, Fuchida was responsible for the coordination of the entire aerial attack.
Fuchida was already a highly-decorated aviator when he was selected to lead the attack on Pearl Harbor, which brought the United States into World War II . After the attack, his decorations and promotions continued to come. He fought in many battles and his life was remarkably and unexplainably spared at the Battle of Midway as it was on several other occasions! After the Atom Bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Fuchida and about ten other men were commissioned by the Japanese high command to tour the devastation and report their findings. At that time the Japanese did not know about the dangers of radiation poisoning.
Within a short while, every man on that commission contracted radiation illness and died. All except Mitsuo Fuchida, who, strangely, never evidenced any symptoms at all. As we often find when reading the stories of God’s handiwork in the history of men, two heavenly stories were being written concurrently which God intended to weave together at just the right time. An American aviator named Jacob De Shazer had been shot down and taken prisoner in General Doolittle’s famous raid on Tokyo in 1942. Burning with frustration and rage against his cruel Japanese captors, he survived many torments only for the purpose of living to take his revenge!
Then, one day in his cell, he was given a Bible to read for one week. Jacob DeShazer consumed the Word of God and the Word consumed him. By the end of the week, he was a new creation and his life was changed forever. Amazingly, Jacob DeShazer obeyed the call of God and became a missionary to the people of Japan following the war. One of his testimony tracts fell into the hands of Fuchida and…actually Wikipedia does a pretty good job telling the rest of the story…
After the war, Fuchida was called on to testify at the trials of some of the Japanese military for Japanese war crimes. This infuriated him as he believed this was little more than “victor’s justice”. In the spring of 1947, convinced that the Americans had treated the Japanese the same way and determined to bring that evidence to the next trial, Fuchida went to Uraga Harbor near Yokosuka to meet a group of returning Japanese prisoners of war. He was surprised to find his former flight engineer, Kazuo Kanegasaki, who all had believed had died in the Battle of Midway. When questioned, Kanegasaki told Fuchida that they were not tortured or abused, much to Fuchida’s surprise, and then went on to tell him of a young lady, Peggy Covell, who served them with the deepest love and respect, but whose parents, missionaries, had been killed by Japanese soldiers on the island of Panay in the Philippines.
For Fuchida, this was inexplicable, as in the Bushido code revenge was not only permitted, it was “a responsibility” for an offended party to carry out revenge to restore honor. The murderer of one’s parents would be a sworn enemy for life. He became almost obsessed trying to understand why anyone would treat their enemies with love and forgiveness.
In the fall of 1948, Fuchida was passing by the bronze statue of Hachiko at the Shibuya Station when he was handed a pamphlet about the life of Jacob DeShazer, a member of the Doolittle Raid who was captured by the Japanese after his B-25 bomber ran out of fuel over occupied China. In the pamphlet, “I Was a Prisoner of Japan” DeShazer, himself a former U.S. Army Air Forces Staff Sergeant and bombardier, told his story of imprisonment, torture and his account of an ‘awakening to God.’ This experience increased Fuchida’s curiosity of the Christian faith. In September 1949, after reading the Bible for himself, he became a Christian. In May 1950, Fuchida and DeShazer met for the first time.
From that meeting came a twenty-five-year season of fruitful ministry for Mitsuo Fuchida to both Japanese and Americans alike, which this article does not have the space to describe. The Japanese had not only lost the war, they had lost their religion as well. Many in Japan had been taught that Emperor Hirohito was divine and worthy of their worship. The Emperor’s surrender to the Allied forces in August of 1945 brought great disillusionment to so many who had believed that victory was guaranteed to them by their Emperor’s divine nature. Fuchida’s message of a God of love and power whose eternal purposes will always succeed in the lives of his followers filled a great void in thousands of hungry, hurting hearts!
I encourage anyone interested to read some of the resources listed in the Wikipedia bibliography and, although I have no connection whatsoever to the upcoming book and movie, Wounded Tiger, you can find more info on this at: http://airpigz.com/blog/2011/4/22/pearl-harbor-the-doolittle-raid-and-an-epic-film-project-wou.html
From what I have read, I believe that it fell to the squadron commander (Fuchida) to announce to his fleet over the cockpit radio that the attack had been a “complete surprise.” This was spoken by the Japanese phrase,”Tora! Tora! Tora!” Ironically and gloriously, the very same phrase can be used to describe the awesome ministry God performed through the life of Mitsuo Fuchida, possibly the greatest Japanese evangelist of all time!
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20, NLT).