Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois on November 26, 1970 · 88
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Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois · 88

Chicago, Illinois
Issue Date:
Thursday, November 26, 1970
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10- Section 2 CHICAGO TRIBUNE, THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 1970 Japanese Stunned by Samurai-Style Suicide of Novelist Mishima BY SAMUEL JAMESON Chief of Tokyo Bureau (Chicago Trlbum Preu Servic TOKYO, Nov 25-Waves of shocked disbelief reverberated across Japan today as the public tried to comprehend what one of its leading men of literature was trying to say in taking his life in the hara-kiri style of the ancient Samurai warriors The writer was Yukio Mishima, 45, considered by many American critics as a potential Nobel Prize winner. Mishima chose death early today in the style of the warrior spirit of which he had written and in which he had tried to live. Cancel TV Shows He did so by hara-kiri the act of cutting open one's stomach with a sword. Within an hour of the announcement of M i s h i m a 's death, Japanese newspapers were selling special editions on the streets. Television stations canceled regularly scheduled shows and replaced them with panel discussions and film clips of Mishima. Mishima was the author of short stories, novels, essays and plays, and was known thruout the world. His works have been extensively translated and he was nominated for a Nobel Prize. Mishima charged in a final speech and in a written document, that the Japanese had become self indulgent in their postwar prosperity, had forgotten their origins, had lost their national spirit, and had "thrown our own souls into a vacuum." Hits Nation's Politics He also charged that Japanese politics was sustained "only by egotism, a desire for power, and hypocrisy." His most direct protest was aimed at the nation's military and the so-called "no-war constitution." After Mishima had used the sword, one of his followers administered the traditional death blow a slash of a sword which severed the author's head from his body. Mishima's compatriot, Hissho Morita, 25, then cut his own stomach and another follower cut off Morita's head with a sword. Dies in Office The death scene was enacted in the office of the commanding general of the Japan Self Defense Forces' Eastern Re-g i o n headquarters in the Ichigaya section of Tokyo. This is not far from the Imperial Palace. Mishima was an ultrarightist who had not been connected with acts of violence. In 1968, he organized the militarist "Shield Society" of 95 young men, equipped them with military uniforms, and won permission from the Self Defense Forces for the society members to undergo military training at government sites. At 11:10 a. m yesterday Mishima and four young members of the society appeared at the headquarters of the Eastern Region Command dressed in full military uniform and carrying swords. There they met Lt. Gen Kanetoshi Mashita, 56, the Eastern Region commander. Mishima knew the general. The author had made the appointment the previous day. Mishima demanded that the general order all Self Defense Force personnel in the compound to assemble to listen to a speech by 'the author. The ' general refused and Mishima and his band drew their swords. 8 Are Injured , Eight officers and enlisted men rushed into the room when they heard raised voices and suffered sword and knife wounds in the ensuing struggle. Three of them were listed in serious condition. Mishima held Mashita as a hostage and forced the staff out of the room. He then ordered the Self Defense Force person-i nel to gather for his speech. About 1,000 officers and men gathered outside. Mishima stepped out onto a balcony. The short, muscular author was dressed in the uniform of an Test Your Facts Below each of the following questions are listed three answers. Make your choice, see the correct answer below and mark your score. 1. Easter always occurs between March 22 and a April 12, inclusive. Ib April 21, inclusive, c April 25, inclusive. 2. If your job in the circus was to play the series of steam whistles by means ot us Key board, you would be playing the a Theremin, b Calliope, c Marimba. 1 The Orinoco is a river in taj Venezuela, b Tibet, ic Australia. 4. What city is the greatest lish market in the world? al New York, lb London, tc Tokyo. ANSWERS 1. tc April 25, inclusive. 2. to Calliope. 3. la Venezuela, b London. army officer. Around his head was a white headband with a red sun emblem in the middle. He charged that the postwar constitution implemented during the American occupation had stripped Japan of its traditional virtues and had denied the very existence of the Self Defense Forces. Tells of Hope "I had thought that the Self Defense Forces were the only place in Japan where the spirit of the Japanese people survives toe'ey," he sa d. "Why do you defend the constitution which denies your very existence?" He was greeted by several jeers from the assembled personnel. "If that's the case, my dream for the Self Defense Forces had died," Mishima said. Then he turned to reenter the building and shouted: "Long live his Imperial majesty, the emperor." These words were the last Mishima was to speak in public. , Refers to Article His attack on the constitution was a reference to Article 9 of that document which specifies that Japan shall never maintain armed forces nor resort to force to settle international disputes. It was because of this clause that the present 256,000-man military is called Self Defense Forces rather than "armed forces." Shortly after Mishima went back to Mashita's office, one of the author's followers telephoned riot police called to the scene to inform them that the band was prepared to release Gen. Mashita. When the police entered the room, they found the bodies of Mishima and Morita covered with blood. Their severed heads were placed on the floor in front of them. Mashita, whose hands had been tied by Mishima's men, said that he had cried out to the author to "stop this madness.?' Mashita was uninjured in the incident. 3 Others Seized The three other members of Mishima's band were arrested on charges of being accomplices to murder, illegal detention and inflicting bodily injury. Yasunari Kawabata, 71, who two years ago became the first Japanese ever to win the Nobel Prize, arrived at the military headquarters two hours before Mishima's body was removed. Kawabata introduced Mishima's first literary work twenty six years ago. It was a collection of short stories, When Kawabata won the Nobel Prize, he said he had always thought it would be Mishima, and not him, who would become the first Japanese to win the coveted award.' Premier Eisaku Sato called the act "completely insane." "I have no idea of what could have caused him to do such a thing. It is an act that surpasses the bounds of common sense," Sato said. Defense Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone called the Self De fense Forces the victim in Mishima's act. "People Accept Force' "In recent years the Self Defense Forces have come to be accepted by the people and exist under the control of democracy. Attempts to destroy this type of military force, whether they from the left or the must be denounced resolutely," Nakasone said. Last year, at a military "Nonetheless, all Japanese should have military training so they will be able to rise up and defend their country and its customs if necessary. To increase the numbers of young people able to do this by even one person, I have formed this society," he said. The breadth of Mishima's came criticism of Dresent-dav society r'8M, i in JaDan and his fame here induced political and literary critics, who appeared one after another on television today, to review of his "Shield Society," , reflect not only on military Mishima told newsmen that he matters, but also on the very was not trying to revive ! nature of what the Japanese j m litarism in Jr.pan. i people have become. S&BV I SALE PRICES EFFECTIVE FOR 2 PAYSNLY- ' I fryV&- ' ' 1 i I, , ... i . . i .......... f , " ' '''" "' : "'M' "" - III '-"--III -- --TIIT - .., jith crushed rayon velvet top. Eock V ' t J j A k0i -M APvy Ars&w Pi misses nmifyl y w DUSTERS 9' WV,''.5IV A I fit Old Gold Vnflan Grnl Cornelia Pink Blu BIU Jtaipbarry NEEDLE-VOVEN FLORAL PRINT BED BLANKETS BED BLANKET fiea.4.58 "V Keg. 5.58 2 Days dm for M 2 Days Rayonpolyester blend. Rayonnylon. "Daisy Solid colors. 72x90". 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