From the September 1999 issue.



By Henry Sakaida

I received correspondence from a gentleman who has in his possession a very large flag from the Japanese battleship Nagato. According to this man, the flag is well documented and certainly of great historical importance. He wanted to return it to Japanese hands and was hoping that there was a Battleship Nagato Association. I delved into this.

My friend in Tokyo, Mr. Jiro Yoshida, contacted two Pearl Harbor veterans: Mr. Takeshi Maeda and Mr. Zenji Abe, and a host of other former Imperial Navy men. This is what they had to say:

In the old Imperial Army, the status of their military flag was very important because it symbolized the spirit and dignity of their forces. A young first lieutenant would carry the flag at the head of the column. His only duty was to carry the flag and defend it with his life.

General Nogi. who commanded a regiment during the Seinan War (Japanese civil war), felt humiliated when rebel forces took his flag. He wanted to commit suicide, but Emperor Meiji persuaded him not to do so, and that he would be given another chance to dedicate his life for his country. This he did during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05. But on the day of Emperor Meiji's funeral, he and his wife immolated themselves.

But the flags of the Imperial Navy were regarded as expendable. When naval vessels left port, they carried a dozen or more flags. The harsh sun and salt air and the constant breeze faded and tattered the cotton flags. The Navy preferred crisp, new flags while the Army respected their worn, tattered flags. There was a vast difference in how these two branches of the military viewed their flags.

There is no Battleship Nagato Association in Japan, although there are a few survivors. And each year, veterans gather at Yasukuni Shrine to commemorate their, fallen comrades.

If any Banzai members are interested in this flag, please contact Andrew Clyde at . He also has a swallow tail flag and another flag from the same ship. The main rising sun flag is gigantic.


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