Tuesday, September 08, 2015

"Elias had appeared" - Hero of the February 26 Incident

Ginza, Tokyo

Hero of the February 26 Incident

A Japanese Imperial Army officer felt strange uneasiness in the morning of February 26, 1936.

So, second lieutenant Otaka inserted real bullets into his middle-sized Mauser pistol.  Then he headed for the Imperial Palace, leading his platoon to guard the Palace in the center of Tokyo.  It was snowing.

Otaka set a commanding post at the Nijyubashi bridge to supervise soldiers patrolling in the precinct of the Palace.   Then, lieutenant Nakahasi accompanied by second lieutenant Imaizumi came to the Nijyubashi bridge to enter the Palace premises where the Emperor lived and maybe was already at work.  However the two officers familiar to Otaka did not look very normal at all to Otaka.

Imaizumi whispered into the ear of Otaka with a quivering voice: "I have done a terrible thing."  In fact, some soldiers led by Nakahashi and Imaizumi launched a surprise attack on the residence of Finance Minister Takahashi who was shot to death.  It was part of a large scale coup attempt planned by nationalists and carried out by radical young officers who led several platoons to occupy the central part of Tokyo in the morning of February 26.

Otaka, without knowing the occurrence of the on-going coup attempt, looked at Nakahashi who looked like nothing less than full alert.  Nakahashi said, "Let me pass here into the Palace!"  Otaka ordered his soldiers to set bayonets to their rifles.  Nakahasi's face turned to horribly aggressive and threatening, shouting, "What these bayonets for?"  Soldiers stepped back.  Otaka pulled up his pistol.  Nakahashi instantly took out his large-size Browning pistol that emitted smell of gunpowder as it had been used to kill Finance Minister Takahashi.  The two pistols were poised between the two Army officers.

Then suddenly Nakahashi looked like losing energy.  He turned away, leaving the post at the Nijyubashi bridge, the main entrance to the Imperial Palace.  Otaka stood there without moving for some time.  He found that the field in the Palace became all white, covered by falling snow.

The coup failed eventually.  It was the Emperor himself that put an end to this bloody attempt by insurgent military units to take over the Imperial Government.  The Emperor clearly stated to ministers and generals so much surprised and confused that those units were his enemy as they had already killed some ministers and high-ranking officers of the Imperial Government.

Those young, insurgent Army officers wanted to eradicate "bad" ministers and politicians to establish a new government with old generals who understood their motivation to improve the society of Japan, especially helping poor farmers in local regions.  But they were defined as an imperial enemy by the Emperor.  Army and Navy commanders promptly mobilized troops and military ships, aiming guns of tanks and cannons of naval ships at insurgent units of soldiers occupying the prime minister office, the Tokyo metropolitan police headquarters, areas around the National Diet building, etc.  Without actual exchanges of fires, the insurgent officers and soldiers led by them surrendered.    

Today, it is said that if the languishing and determinate insurgent officers entered the Imperial Palace to directly meet the Emperor, the situation could have been different.  The radical young officers might have forced the Emperor to accept at least some part of their requests, while outer regular forces could not attack the insurgents who put the Emperor in their custody.  In this context, second lieutenant Otaka saved the Imperial Government in this February 26 Incident as he bravely confronted the dangerous lieutenant Nakahashi to stop him from entering the Palace.

Maybe a key to this incident is that lieutenant Nakahashi, six years senior to Otaka, had once been a teacher of Otaka in the Army academy.  To get into the Imperial Palace and reach Emperor's residence, Nakahashi had to shoot Otaka, though he refrained from it for some reason.

Truly, one man sometimes must act as a hero without knowing what is happening around him or at the center of an empire.

(This February 26 Incident, however, paved the way for militarism prevailing in the Japanese society.  Citizens who got so shocked as they observed bare execution of military forces came to concede to claims of the military, while top generals of the Imperial Army and Navy started to send radical officers overseas, specifically to the Chinese Continent to avoid internal conflicts among military forces.  As a result, the Imperial Government rapidly came under military influences, wiping away influences of political parties and democratic movements.  The Emperor who felt an acute danger in person in this Incident also came to rely on generals and politicians who suppressed this coup without realizing the dangerous direction they were advancing to.)



$憂国の魔窟 護国道まっしぐら

**** **** ****

Luk 9:8 And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again.