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Meaning and Joy of Living
by Hideki Jinnai
Shimabara City, Nagasaki Prefecture
Messages of Peace from Chiran
13th Annual Speech Contest, 2002
Second, Adult Division

"Near the end of World War II with his beloved homeland facing an unprecedented crisis, he flew to the southern front with heroic resolve to give his one life for emperor and country. He attained his long-cherished ambition and fell as a cherry blossom. Chiaki Jinnai was appointed in 1944 as kamikaze [1] corps instructor for the Kanagawa Air Corps. After sending many loyal pilots to the front, he received orders to proceed to the Philippines, where he went down in fierce battle. With his fine plane, he accomplished a distinguished achievement in battle. On December 6, 1944, he crashed his plane near Bacolod on Negros Island as he fought with an enemy P-38 plane. 26 years of age."

This was recorded in the official listing of kamikaze pilots. It is the war record of my great-uncle, Chiaki Jinnai. I grew up looking at my great-uncle's photo in our house. I heard from my grandparents and my great-grandfather that my great-uncle was so skilled as an airplane pilot that he became an instructor of kamikaze pilots. Without knowing the meaning of kamikaze pilot instructor, I remember that I was excited that someone in my family line could fly an airplane. That photo in a gallant military uniform and with a kind expression, remaining young at 26 years of age, constantly watched over our home.

I who in those days was very young now am the same age as my great-uncle. Various types of sorrows that I could not understand in those days I now understand. Ironically, I got a job as a teacher at an agricultural high school where I send off into the world a generation the same as the young men who lost their lives during the war. They are children who yesterday seemed to be falling down but at some point get back on their feet and behave cheerfully. Children living while clumsily bumping into things here and there. Children living while steadily proceeding with their own rhythm. Daily life is difficult but fulfilling as I see all of them growing stronger in various ways with looks that I have not seen in the students up to now.

One day after school I was pasting photos of students into the school register. After finishing pasting all 40 students, it seemed the photos side by side were very precious. Each one of their expressions showed that they had been raised with much love. While I very happily considered the things of living, I recalled my great-uncle who was a kamikaze instructor. I wondered how he may have felt in those days when he gazed on the photos of his own men he was teaching. As a kamikaze instructor for the Kanagawa Air Corps, my great-uncle sent off many young men to the front. I think he felt deep sadness as he continued teaching them to a fly a kamikaze plane, put the bomb on the plane with fuel for only one way, and attack the enemy. My great-uncle, continuing to feel sadness, asked to break off his engagement to be married, flew to the front, and he too became a man who did not return. With his sense of duty that overcame his fear of death and with his breaking off his engagement, weren't there some words that gave him the determination to not return alive? When I think about this, my great-uncle's sadness across time presses upon my heart.

If my great-uncle had lived, he would be 86 years old now. I want to preserve this country's way of life and the spirit alive here for which my great-uncle gave his life to protect.

Without need for giving examples of multiple terrorist incidents and revenge attacks, it is clear that war throughout the world has not stopped. Also, even near Japan there have been suspicious ships and the problem with uninvited entry of Chinese police into the Japanese consulate. Conflict between countries is becoming more evident. When I see such news, I again feel the reality that Japan is behind the front line of battle. Also, I really feel that war comes about from the misery of starvation and poverty.

In order to have a world without war, I think it is necessary that the entire world achieve abundance in the true sense. Therefore, wouldn't it be necessary to not only have financial assistance and technology exports but also a spirit that mutually values the tradition and culture of other countries?

"For a country that eats rice, not assistance by giving wheat, but rather helping to improve ways to produce rice." I think such cooperation gives rise to true abundance and leads to world peace.

It was an age when the hopes in their hearts were not realized. About 60 years have passed, and today's Japan has peace and abundance. On the other hand, many young people have lost their hopes for tomorrow and do not know the best way to live. They are daunted by a huge number of choices and by too many possibilities. Also, they even say they do not enjoy the present since they will die anyway. But can this be good? Our current troubles echo in vain before the way of living of the kamikaze pilots, who continued to be concerned about their families and the men under them even though they faced death.

My favorite word is "otsukaresama." It does not have the meaning in English of "are you tired?" It's a word to show concern to other people that they may be tired for something done for you. We probably say this word many times during the day. It is thoughtfulness for the lives of others born in this island nation blessed with four seasons.

In three years of agricultural high school, the children are experiencing the life and death of animals and the sprouting and harvesting of plants. While they are living, they are learning naturally about staying alive through the lives of other things.

I am now learning together with my students what my great-uncle might have wanted to communicate to the young men going to die in battle.

The meaning and joy of living.


1. The Japanese phrase translated as "kamikaze pilots" is tokubetsu kōgekitai (or shortened to tokkōtai), which literally means "special attack corps" in English. The word "kamikaze" has been used where the original Japanese is tokkō or tokkōtai.

Translated by Bill Gordon
July 2005