Saotome Katsumoto insisted that Japan should not forget

5/21/2022 5:35:00 AM

The ceaseless chronicler of the Great Tokyo Raid died on May 10th, aged 90

The horror of atomic warfare seared Hiroshima and Nagasaki into public memory. But the air raid on Tokyo that killed just as many was brushed aside and buried

The ceaseless chronicler of the Great Tokyo Raid died on May 10th, aged 90

OK-29s were sent from the Marianas to destroy the Shitamachi district, a poor and densely crowded part of the city, with the aim of not only crippling Japan’s war production but, in the words of General Curtis LeMay, to wipe Tokyo off the map.The inferno had begun with his father yelling at him, sometime in the earliest hours of March 10th 1945. He leapt from bed and pulled on his clothes: his khaki civilian uniform, then a judo robe. He also grabbed his only treasure, a cloth pouch of old coins. The family was poor, his mother a seamstress and his father, when he wasn’t drinking, a street-seller. Treasures were scarce.

Read more: The Economist »

Masked knifeman caught on camera in living room as homeowner sleeps on sofa

'It is wild when you think that somebody has been in a house like that, so close to you' Read more >>

US won against Japan is the era's biggest jubilee. It would be ever more happy if they captured the emperor I read the obituary aloud to my wife, and I could hardly proceed without crying.. It was so moving, Katsumoto’s dedication so necessary, the atrocity so horrible, and its erasure so shameful. Imo, hvg grown up in US in 50s, I hv long thought a false silence set us badly astray.

Ukrain is next (thanks to Zelenskyi which was ignored Minsk agreements!!) Japanese cannibals who are microwave mania kill famous people to intimidate ordinary people who fear a real war due to their own cowardice that preserves the evilest war criminals who never hesitate to end Japan in WW3. Unless I am mistaken the fire bombing of Tokyo resulted in more deaths than either Nagasaki or Hiroshima.

Not by the WWII history freaks … The Tokyo raid was one if most horrific bombing raids of the entire war … the intentional fire storm caused horrors the are unparalleled in warfare. The US had absolutely perfected it by the time they unleashed on Tokyo with their wood houses. Japanese were well deserved!

Japan troops invasived China in world war II, why choose to ignore? Ok. Get into it. Thats war - Japan killed an estimated 30 million Chinese, where is their mention? Why was the Tokyo Air-raid neglected?

Royal Mail warns of possible price hikes to battle surging inflationThe group recently hiked the cost of posting letters by an average of around 7%

‘Different from the US’: why Japan does not worry about inflation\n\t\t\tKeep abreast of significant corporate, financial and political developments around the world.\n\t\t\tStay informed and spot emerging risks and opportunities with independent global reporting, expert\n\t\t\tcommentary and analysis you can trust.\n\t\t Bad demographics and strong manufacturing capacity Somewhat superficial analysis. Japanese companies use a weaker yen period as an excuse to raise prices. And when you have the PM as well as the biggest part-time job magazine pushing for salaries and wages to go up, you can be sure that it will happen, albeit under the radar. …yet

New London Tube map is released including the Elizabeth lineThe transport company is insisting the new £20bn over budget cross-London line is not an underground but a new east-west railway. Demolish imperialist and colonialist monarchy which is nothing but representation of white supremacist culture 💀🇬🇧💀🇬🇧💀🇬🇧

Brown Is The Unexpected Spring Hue That Celebrities LoveForget florals for spring.

Why superyachts are still a buoyant businessBrokers insist sanctions are having little impact beyond Russian owners and their networks Because the superrich aren't paying enough taxes and salaries, with the governments blessings. Easy, FT, easy...

Corrie's Michael Le Vell opens up on forgotten soap role before Kevin WebsterMichael Le Vell has become a Coronation Street icon over the years playing Kevin Webster and fans of the ITV soap will be surprised to know he previously played another Weatherfied resident

Your browser does not support the element.Pic: Steve Parsons/PA Wire Cautioning over possible further price hikes, Royal Mail has revealed plans to ramp up cost cutting.Make informed decisions with the FT Keep abreast of significant corporate, financial and political developments around the world.Transport for London (TfL) releases new Tube map with Elizabeth line included ahead of May 24 opening.

Listen to this story Save time by listening to our audio articles as you multitask OK Most readers of this news story shuddered and turned the page. Saotome Katsumoto’s reaction was quite different. Facing “significant headwinds” from higher wage demands, surging energy and fuel costs, their cost savings target is increasing from around £290 million to £350 million. Here, brought into the glare of daylight, was the tragedy that had been his only subject for as long as he had been a writer: the American bombing raid on Tokyo which, on a single night in March 1945, had killed around 100,000 people and left a million homeless. A fleet of 334 b -29s were sent from the Marianas to destroy the Shitamachi district, a poor and densely crowded part of the city, with the aim of not only crippling Japan’s war production but, in the words of General Curtis LeMay, to wipe Tokyo off the map. It said it was also keeping its prices under constant review to combat rising inflation, which comes after it recently hiked the cost of posting letters by an average of around 7%, and parcel prices by an average of about 4%, on top of a fuel surcharge. It was the most deadly single air raid in history, with casualties close to those in Hiroshima and surpassing Nagasaki, where atomic bombs were dropped.

But that new-forged horror seared those two cities into public memory, whereas the fire that devastated Tokyo—the worst of dozens of raids since November 1944—was brushed aside and buried, like the skeletons on the Tozai line. On a reported basis, pre-tax profits fell 8. Mr Saotome was determined to break the silence. The Great Raid had to be talked about and described in school textbooks, where it did not rate a mention. Royal Mail said it hoped to meet earnings expectations for its UK business over the year ahead, if it can agree a pay deal with its union that is “broadly” in line with its current offer. Evidence had to be gathered, both from the ground and from survivors. If no one else dared upset the Japanese government, which was unwilling to reopen any questions about the war, he would; because only he, it seemed, still carried the fire inside him. Royal Mail cautioned that it expects revenues in its core UK postal arm to fall over the year ahead, with a significant drop in Covid testing kits and also a drop in parcel deliveries as consumers rein in spending.

The inferno had begun with his father yelling at him, sometime in the earliest hours of March 10th 1945. He leapt from bed and pulled on his clothes: his khaki civilian uniform, then a judo robe. Mr Thompson said the firm was already seeing “some impact” of the cost-of-living crisis on parcel demand and a “fall away from peaks” during lockdowns when shops were shut. He also grabbed his only treasure, a cloth pouch of old coins. The family was poor, his mother a seamstress and his father, when he wasn’t drinking, a street-seller. Year-on-year, parcels fell 7% on the lockdown boosted previous year, while letters rose 3% thanks to the lifting of restrictions. Treasures were scarce.

He was a worker too, though he was only 12 and still a runny-nosed schoolboy. Mr Thompson said: “As we emerge from the pandemic, the need to accelerate the transformation of our business, particularly in delivery, has become more urgent. He collected scrap metal for the local ironworks to make into grenades. Proudly, he wore his hachimaki headband with the word kamikaze on it, divine wind, and the red sun of Japan. “Our focus now is to work at pace with our people and our trade unions to reinvent this British icon for the next generations. In school he was taught that Japan could not lose this war, because they were all the emperor’s children and the emperor was a god. He felt doubtful about that, but of course never said so.” Get all the latest news, updates, things to do and more from your local.

He looked outside. The night sky was scorched crimson, and flashes of light seemed to pass behind his eyelids. His mother was fussing and gathering up cooking pots; his father was shouting that they had to evacuate. Fire was already consuming Shitamachi, where they all lived cheek-by-jowl in wooden houses. It took only 12 minutes for one of those houses to burn down.

With their stuff piled on a handcart, they struggled down the street: himself, his parents and his two sisters. People were crowding and shouting everywhere, pushing from every side. But so was the fire, chasing them like a living thing. Alleyways were blocked with blazing futons, and molten glass hung from windows. The heat was so intense that if they passed a water-bucket his father would douse them all, but in moments his judo robe was dry again.

The wind, a strong north-wester rather than the kamikaze they needed, fiercely fanned the flames. Afterwards, when they had all miraculously survived, he remembered the dreadful futility of that night. His father carried a bamboo water-gun, a bigger version of a child’s toy, with the imperial chrysanthemum crest. A posse of neighbours, outside their shelters, wielded bamboo fire brooms. A paper notice on the gate of the ironworks urged workers: “Don’t be put off by such a little thing!” But nothing mattered in the end except water and life.

With the eye of a budding writer, he also noticed incongruous beauties. The flames, reflected in the underbellies of the b -29s, looked like tropical fish swimming in the sky; as he ran, sparks darted round him like swallows. But horror ruled: a man beside him instantly decapitated, bomb-blasts wrenching children from parents, and the sight with the dawn of dozens of charred bodies being dragged, with hooked poles, out of the Sumida river. That night made him a pacifist, and in the name of pacifism he needed to live and relive, record and teach, how terrible war was. Since 1952, he had written novels and children’s books based on the raid.

After 1970, when a professor told him that only historical evidence would keep the raid in the public eye, he began systematically, with notebook and pen, to gather the memories of other survivors. Eventually he turned their painful, halting conversations into six published volumes of recollections. He accepted that, fundamentally, Japan was to blame for what had happened and for the Asia-Pacific war itself. He had no animus against Americans, except for LeMay, who was given the Order of the Rising Sun for rebuilding Japan’s air force; and even that he held more against Japan, for being so craven. But the raid of March 10th was, for him, an obvious breach of international law.

He hoped the government would help his cause, but was disappointed. No help was offered to civilian survivors. In 2002 he opened his Centre of the Tokyo Raid and War Damage, filled with relics, maps and manuscripts, but it had to be built on a modest scale, with private funds, on the edge of the city. Clearly he hadn’t said, or gathered, or written enough. As for his chief ambition, to end war, that was also far off.

In his last weeks he watched footage of Ukrainians fleeing their country; and saw among them still the figures of men and women fleeing Shitamachi as it burned, pushing their handcarts, screaming after their children, indelible as ever. ■ This article appeared in the Obituary section of the print edition under the headline"The forgotten fire" From the May 21st 2022 edition Discover stories from this section and more in the list of contents .