I watched the movie, ‘Flags of Our Fathers’. It reminded me of my late grandfather on my mother’s side. He fought battles in World War II not in Iojima but in China. He was taken to Russia as a POW and was kept captive in the freezing Siberia prisoner’s camp. It was four years after the war when he was released and returned home. He had been away for eight years in total.
After he came back, he became a locally prominent man, being a mayor and working as a member of a board of education. People looked up to him. I’ve been treated with favor on several occasions as his granddaughter. In his later years though, he suffered from Alzheimer’s and he would shout “There came Russian soldiers!” during the night or even at a restaurant.
Writing about him recalled a peculiar incident. When I visited his house, I found that he had put up a big picture of the Japanese Emperor in his room. I uttered “You have bad taste!” because I believed in democracy. He replied sadly, “Hidemi, you should not say such a thing.” I’d forgotten the fact that he was one of the war veterans who went to the war for the Emperor. He was always so gentle that he rarely criticized anyone. That was the first and the only time that he reproved me…
Episode From An Old Tree in Kyoto /Hodemi Woods