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  • Narazaki Masahiko sensei --*caution* unpleasant content

    I've seen this formidable sensei interviewed in a very interesting video called "The Art of Combat". Most people know that he is the 9th dan sensei who spent 10 years on death row, and in that time developed amazing "kiseme" which he achieved by special breathing and stomach exercises, and meditation. The man's voice is something to hear as well: sounds like 50 miles of rough road. Come to think of it that's what his face looks like too.

    Which is what made me think he was likely to have done his time before the war. But then I came across this:

    "According to the testimony of Probationary Officer Fukichi Yamamoto, the next prisoner was led to a spot about five meters from the pit and was made to kneel, Japanese fashion, facing Probationary Officer Takashi Otsuki. The officer was given a crossbow and fired twice, missing the flyer. A third arrow struck the prisoner a glancing blow on the head. A fourth shot again missed. At this point, the demonstration a failure, the flyer was led to the pit. A newly arrived soldier, Probationary Officer Masahiko Narazaki, was ordered to kill the flyer with the "Kesagiri stroke." This type of blow cut diagonally inward from the victim's shoulder. After this, the prisoner was still breathing, and Narazaki had to stab him in the heart."

    from http://home.comcast.net/~winjerd/Page06.htm

    This refers to something called "The August 10 Incident", where allied airmen, mainly Americans, were executed without trial five days before the Emperor announced Japan's surrender, at a place called Aburayama, now part of Fukuoka City. It seems they were used as live demonstrations of several officers' budo prowess (or lack thereof). There were even some executions attempted where the method of despatch was karate (the karate was not effective BTW--all the Americans had to be finished off with swords).

    Is there anyone who knows more about this? How many of you were aware of this? Is this Narazaki Masahiko definitely the same one who went on to achieve 9th dan in kendo? I am curious because, like a guilty family secret, this stuff is never mentioned by the Japanese. In this case at least, if he is the same guy, he has done his time and "paid his debt". Which is more than a lot of war criminals. So I suppose for that he should be left in peace. Nevertheless I find myself driven to find out more. I think it is important to know about history.

    b
    Last edited by ben; 2nd April 2005, 09:19 PM.

  • #2
    I haven't heard of Narazaki Masahiko before, but I'm new to Kendo so maybe that's why.

    You have to put these events in context. Remember the time period we are talking about is just after the firebombing of Kobe and Osaka, and the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I don't think American airmen were a particularly valued commodity.

    That considered, atrocities always occur during wartime. Even a buddhist monk could be capable of some horrible crime. We are all human after all.

    I'm not surprised this stuff is never mentioned. The Japanese don't mention the atrocities they committed in China or Korea for example. We British don't like to mention our many crimes against humanity during Imperialism, but I guess at least we admit that they happened.

    Also in a millitary context, if you are being ordered to execute a prisoner, I suppose you don't have a great deal of choice in the matter. I agree with your sentiment that it is highly distasteful to use executions of prisoners as some kind of embu for budo skills. Having said this it is impossible to put yourself in the position of this person at that time.

    I agree it is important to know about history, so we can understand how utterly horrible war is, and strive to avoid it.

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    • #3
      Thats incredibly harsh on the American Prisoners, even though i don't really like some Americans not being prejudice (considering they ruined the Samurai and their Native American Kin), but i never knew that about the American Prisoners.

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      • #4
        Do you mean that the 9th dan was tried for executing airmen in that way/war crimes?

        I've tried to read alot about the Japanese side of the war, mostly about aircraft, kamikaze attacks etc. And my conclusion is that you can't beleive any one's view. American properganda and false reports from so called historians, confliting with actual Japanese testemonys and cover ups. Not just war crimes either. The Japanese fighter plane 'Mitsubishi zero' has 100s of different descriptions.

        The Pacific war was told way way different from Western front.

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        • #5
          Ben, what would you do if you are a Japanese officer and you receive the order to execute prisoner?

          IMHO People can do terrible things in the time of war, in WW2 American did have a fair share of terrible doing.

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          • #6
            You make many good points ZealUK and I'm totally in agreement with you. Not only were American airmen not a very valued commodity at that time because of the recent atomic and fire bombings, but also I think everyone of those Japanese officers who were subsequently indicted were in the grip of a kind of end-of-War frenzy. All knew that the end was coming, and all were preparing for the final "decisive battle" and maybe even the anticipated mass suicide of the entire nation. Therefore they weren't thinking in terms of their future actions being judged (at least not by their enemy), because I imagine they didn't see much of a future for themselves. Only when Japan surrendered and they found themselves occupied by their conquerors did they realise that what they had done would have repercussions and needed to be covered up.

            KenshiJob I think you miss my point. I'm not saying that I would have acted any better, or that the Japanese are the only people who have committed terrible acts in wartime (or other times). I'm not that naive. My point is that Narazaki sensei is called Hanshi, which is a title that means he is considered an exemplary human being, one that we should, as students of kendo, strive to emulate. Personally I think he has paid his debt, if he is indeed one and the same person. But still I think we should remember what was done. The thing for us as kendoka is to remember that what was done was in fact totally in accordance with bushido. Kendo developed from behaviour exactly like what occurred at Aburayama. We must not fool ourselves that it was otherwise. This is the legacy and paradox of kendo.

            Also if you read further in the tabled evidence, it was noted by one of the witnesses that there was a young officer who refused to execute a prisoner, and he was not punished. Furthermore, since the Nuremberg trials of Nazi War Criminals, it is an established tenet of war that to say you were acting under orders is no defence. Every soldier, no matter how junior, is accountable for his (or her) own actions in wartime.

            Not-I I would be interested to hear your impressions of this incident. I think you have a good vantage point being an American student of Japanese culture in a former Nazi-city. I'm know you've considered the impact of Brian Victoria's investigations of Rinzai and Soto Zen priests during WWII. How does an organisation whose philosophy does not admit the exsitence of history apologise for an historical act? In what ways does the entire Japanese psyche subscribe to this ahistoricity? How should a Buddhist deal with the concept of war-crimes?

            b

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            • #7
              About your first post: I didn't know about that incident or any others related to testing ones prowess on human beings tho i knew about the testing swords cuting effectiveness on slaves or prisoners in olden days in Japan. I found the issues you mentioned in your second post pretty interesting, waiting for Not-I to shed some light on them.

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              • #8
                Some informations in french about Narazaki-sensei.
                http://www.tokitsu.com/fr/decouvrir/...i-kendo-zazen/

                He was at the 2001 Paris Taikai as head Sensei.

                After the end of the war, he spent 10 year in jail, including 3 years in death row...

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                • #9
                  For those interested a small text on Narazaki:

                  http://www.mcgillkendo.ca/eng/textes...RAZAKIengl.htm

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                  • #10
                    Drifting into politics is what will probably destroy this thread, what you all should remember is history is always written by the winning side, and is therefore not always guaranteed to be an acurate account, which is why it should remain what it is HISTORY!

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                    • #11
                      I agree with you on the history writing part but this thread is about a man who attained 9th dan and who's part of our kendo world not about any politics therefore i don't see why you voted it as a terrible thread though of course your entitled to your own views.
                      Is there any biography about the man? It would be interesting if KW's Alex or somebody that has more knowledge on the subject to shed some light about his past and his present.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Hisham
                        About your first post: I didn't know about that incident or any others related to testing ones prowess on human beings
                        Actually during the war it wasn't all that uncommon for Japanese troops to tie prisoners to a post or tree and use them for bayonet or sword practice. They treated prisoners very badly in general. The survival rates for Japanese POW camps were terrible, even for the Americans and British, who were treated better than non-Japanese Asians. The Japanese considered the non-Japanese Asians who fought them as more or less traitors to the race. Apparently they didn't consider invading China, Korea, the Phillipines, etc. etc. traitorous acts though.

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                        • #13
                          Testing weapons and techniques on more or less defenseless enemies or innocent bystanders has always been an important part of war. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki can be seen in this way too.
                          It may seem more brutal when done face to face with swords or similar sharp or pointy things, but in the end, is it very different from using a new gas or bomb?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Musashi898
                            Thats incredibly harsh on the American Prisoners, even though i don't really like some Americans not being prejudice (considering they ruined the Samurai and their Native American Kin), but i never knew that about the American Prisoners.
                            Hmm..just how did the Americans destroy the samurai?.

                            Jakob

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by JSchmidt
                              Hmm..just how did the Americans destroy the samurai?.

                              Jakob
                              American may not be the only cause of the end of samurai, but I think Commodore Perry's Black ship was one of the most important reason.

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