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Kamikaze pilot inspired right-wing executive to fatally slash open belly near Yasukuni Shrine

TOKYO (TR) – Mitsuhiro Numayama, a 50-year-old male executive of a right-wing group, last month slashed open abdomen in apparently committing suicide near the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Chiyoda Ward, a deed that apparently was inspired by a kamikaze pilot.

At around 2:40 a.m. on May 11, a riot police officer found Numayama, who presides over the group Yasukuni-kai, slumped forward in a seated position with a knife protruding from his abdomen, reports the Sankei Shimbun (May 11).

Numayama later died at a hospital due to loss of blood. A letter found near Numayama contained wording whose meaning was difficult to comprehend, according to the Kojimachi Police Station.

File photograph showing Yasukuni Shrine on August 15, 2009 (The Tokyo Reporter)

“For our children”

Yasukuni Shrine is a source of inspiration for conservatives due to its enshrinement of roughly 2.5 million soldiers, airmen and seamen, many of whom were encouraged by the belief that their spirit will be enshrined should they die in battle fighting heroically for the Emperor. It also enshrines 14 Japanese leaders who were convicted as war criminals following World War II.

According to its web site, Yasukuni-kai has no connected to Yasukuni Shrine. The group was founded in 1960 “for a better Japan for our children.”

Later on May 11, former Air Self-Defense Force chief Toshio Tamogami took to Twitter to commend Numayama for his work. He tweeted, “[Numayama] always found it inexcusable that the citizens of Japan lack patriotism and that there is no environment in which the Emperor can visit Yasukuni Shrine. He took his life to warn people. He was a splendid samurai.”

Tamogami added that Numayama was considerate in ensuring that he committed the act outside the Shinto shrine, as opposed to within its grounds. However, he did visit the shrine just before taking his life.

Takamitsu Nishida

Five minutes before Numayama was found, he used the Yasukuni-kai Twitter account to issue a pair of tweets that included a blurry photograph showing a torii gate on the shrine’s grounds. In the tweets, Numayama referred to kamikaze pilot Takamitsu Nishida, who died in a raid in the South Pacific on May 11, 1945.

One of the letters by Nishida, who was a member of the Special Attack Unit, was included in the 2016 book “Cherry Blossoms in the Wind,” which compiles the last letters of kamikaze pilots.

Mitsuhiro Numayama
Mitsuhiro Numayama

“I no longer feel the ambition to make my beloved homeland of Japan into a major power like the former British Empire,” Nishida wrote in the letter. “I believe that, if the leaders of Japan truly loved their country, it would not be in the position it is today. My ideal that I dreamed of is for Japanese people to be able to go anywhere in the world with a sense of pride.”

In one of the tweets, Numayama acknowledged the anniversary of Nishida’s death and mentioned Kusunoki Masashige, a decorated samurai known of his loyalty. “If we do not mention the glorious deaths of those in the Special Attack Unit, which was inspired by the loyalty of Kusunoki, they will be forgotten by history,” he wrote. “For the pride of the Japanese people, please hand [their stories] down [to future generations].”

On June 23, a memorial service for Numayama will be held at Yasukuni Kaikan, which is located on the shrine’s grounds.