Saturday, September 18, 2010

Was He Blessed Losing His Arm in the War?

"Shigeru Mizuki" is a comic writer popular in Japan. He has contributed to preserving Japanese folklore mostly deals with supernatural activities, such as ghost stories, monster stories, weird stories, which are unexplainable in a logical way. He received numerous awards as a cartoon author contributing to protect Japanese local folklore, which we might have lost otherwise. Shigeru Mizuki, born in 1922, experienced World War II as a private soldier. He lost his left arm in the war. He later told people what he experienced in the war. He, in the war as Private Mizuki, was in the squadron, which perished in the fight against enemy.

In the fight, one day, his commander sent him to the front to observe and report enemy's movement. Being close to his enemy's front line, unfortunately, the enemy found him. As the enemy shooting him, he ran. He ran for his life. He jumped into a river and lost his weapons and ammunitions. He climbed a cliff coming out of river water, he found there were his enemy searching him. Hanging in the middle of the cliff, he wanted his enemy moved away from the cliff side. He thought he would be either found and shot or fall as he lost power in his arms.

Miraculously, his enemy did not find him. Unfortunately, again, he totally lost his sense of position because he ran around to escape from his enemy. He needed to wonder around inside of deep jungle almost all night. His clothes were all wet from the river swimming. He took off his wet clothes. Mosquitoes started to attack him. He later explains that, right after that night for weeks, there was no flat surface in his upper body.

He finally found the location of his squadron and found all the squadron was killed and perished. He was the only one who survived. Mizuki spent another day to reach the local military base. The base did not appreciate him. The base commanders believe him to be a coward running away from the enemy. The commanders ordered him to fight to death, in the next fight, at the top front line, against the enemy. They ordered him to die in the next fight.

It was that night he started to suffer from extremely high fever. He caught malaria due to the mosquito bites in the previous night. The base commanders could not keep him. They sent him to a local hospital for his recovery, accepting army surgeon's recommendation. After few weeks later, the enemy attacked this site, and there was no survivor from the fight.

During he was in the hospital, the enemy attack got more intense and bombed his hospital, since the hospital location was inside of Japanese Army base that time. Still suffering from high fever, he could not move, and one bomb exploded close to him. It did not take his life, but he lost his left arm from the bombing on that day.

Because he lost his left arm, the army decided to move him to a hospital, located further behind the fighting front, with better equipment and doctors. His enemy destroyed his hospital by bombing, and could not be used any more. Still he was in the part of battlefield, he was pretty much safe now. After several days passed in his new hospital, he heard that there was another violent attack to his squadron left no survivor. He was still in the hospital, when he heard that Japan surrendered unconditionally, and the war is over. He remembers that he had complicated feeling and emotion thinking about his friends died, but still be happy to be able to come home to Japan. I think it was a genuine feeling of Japanese soldiers at that time.

Later, he came home to Japan, moved to Tokyo, married, and became famous as a cartoon author. His wife was telling her friends that his family never thought about the fact that he does not have his left arm. When his daughter was 10, she asked innocently why her Dad did not have his left arm. He smiled, patted her daughter's head, answered back. "Honey, I could survive my war all thanks to my left arm I lost."

His wife does not have any unpleasant memory or experience, all because he does not have his left arm. Instead, she remembers he told her that he was lucky loosing his arm to survive when he thinks about his friends who died in the war.

It was 2009, he completed his masterwork cartoon, "Everybody must fight to death", based on his own experience in the war. He received an extraordinary prize for history preservation effort. The work vividly describes the truth about cruelty, craziness, and misery of World War II, Japanese Army, and any war.

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