Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Power of Nippon Kaigi

Limited Influence over Politics [?]

[says Nikkei's headline, but the article text contradicts this conclusion]

Nikkei Shimbun, October 16, 2016. (in Japanese) Provisional translation for scholarly discussion by Asia Policy Point

Nippon Kaigi [Japan Conference] proposes constitutional revision, visits to Yasukuni Shrine, and the introduction of an education system that better reflects the intrinsic values of Japan to conservative politicians inside the Liberal Democratic Party, the Democratic Party and other political parties. It hopes to attract like-minded lawmakers. It calls for support for conservative politicians and backs them. In this way it maintains its influence.

“This gathering became my first step toward a career in politics,” said Defense Minister Tomomi Inada when as LDP policy affairs chief she attended an annual national convention for the commemoration of war dead that the Japan Conference co-hosted with other groups last year at Yasukuni Shrine.

At this year’s event, Yoshitaka Shindo, the minister of internal affairs and communications in the second Abe cabinet, was present and called for support for the Japan Conference’s activities. Inada and Shindo are two of the core members of the group’s bipartisan parliamentary league, Nippon Kaigi Kokkai Giin Kondai Kai (the Japan Conference Diet members’ council).

Participation Is Merely “Adding Names to the Roster”
This parliamentarians’ group convenes a general meeting once a year. At the meeting held in March, over 30 Diet members attended and decided on policies on such matters as how to lobby for holding a national referendum on constitutional revision.

Speculation that the Japan Conference has a greater say in the government’s policymaking is sparked by the fact that many incumbent cabinet ministers belong to the group. Though the roster of the latest membership is not made public, Prime Minister Abe and 15 of 19 cabinet ministers belong, according to a source familiar with the matter.

But [asked about their membership,] the offices of several cabinet ministers replied they “have never attended gatherings of the league.” One office staffer said, “We are not aware that we belong to the group.” Though it has a membership of about 290 politicians, only a handful of them – mainly senior old-guard politicians – are active.

Then how much influence does the Japan Conference actually wield over elections? A person with the Japan Conference says that it acts as a “node” of various conservative forces and consolidates them into a single organism. This becomes the source of its influence.

The Japan Conference maintains its influence by closely working with the Shinto Association of Spiritual Leadership (Shindo Seiji Renmei, or Shinseiren), which comprises religious groups, such as the Association of Shinto Shrines (Jinja Honcho). With the help of the Shinto community, it has been rolling out a campaign to collect 10 million signatures to revise the Constitution.

But the Japan Conference has a membership of about 38,000 people. While Nichiiren (Federation of Japanese Doctors), the political arm of the Japan Medical Association, delivers about 200,000 votes to the LDP every election, the Japan Conference has an extremely small organizational base and is not in the position to field its own candidates. Its activities are mainly funded by membership fees and it cannot afford to make political donations to conservative members.

With the Abe government shifting to a realistic approach, how to maintain the national momentum of conservative movements will become one issue that the Japan Conference needs to tackle down the road.

The key is how the Japan Conference will keep facilitating discussions on constitutional revision. Within the LDP, there has been talk of extending Abe’s time in office as the party’s president. On the surface, it stands to gain if Abe, whom it backs, stays in power for a longer period of time, but matters are not as simple as that.

“Rather, we are concerned that there is a developing mood wherein constitutional revision needs not to be done quickly if there is an extension of the length of time the LDP president can remain in office,” said a policymaking committee member in the Japan Conference. There are fears the momentum of its national campaign for constitutional revision may slow.

Another worrisome issue is that its activities are not attracting wide support from the public. Birei Kin, a conservative critic and supporter of the Japan Conference, points out that “the same people always participate in its events” and deplores that its campaigns do not reach many.

The Abduction Issue Potentially Starting a New Fire

Now, the emperor, who is the greatest centripetal force of the Nippon Kaigi, also poses a new challenge for the organization. After the Emperor Hinted that he would like to step down while alive, the nervousness that the current emperor system (in which the Emperor plays a symbolic role) might change fundamentally is simmering inside the Nippon Kaigi. Although the organization on the surface to follow the direction that “we must realize it if that is the Emperor’s will,” inside oppositions and push backs are strong. For the Nippon Kaigi, the issue might start a new fire.

In recent years, new members recruited through the Internet, especially among the young, are increasing. That said, the trend of non-partisan groups’ conservatism is the real source of the growing attention paid to the Nippon Kaigi. If in the future the non-partisan groups’ preferences change, the possibility of the Nippon Kaigi losing influence certainly exists.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Monday in Washington, January 23, 2017

INTERNATIONAL LAW IN THE TRUMP ERA: EXPECTATIONS,HOPES, AND FEARS. 1/23, 8:30am-2:00pm. Sponsor: Federalist Society's Practice Group and Student Divisions and the American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA). Speakers: Prof. Timothy J. Keeler, Former Chief of Staff, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR); Prof. John O. McGinnis, Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice; Mr. Jeff Pavlak, Legislative Representative at Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO; Prof. Alvaro Santos, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center; Moderator: Mr. Matthew R. A. Heiman, Former Attorney Advisor, U.S. Department of Justice for the National Security Division; Hon. Brian H. Hook, Former Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations; Hon. Lawrence Korb, Former Assistant Secretary of Defense; Amb. Kristen Silverberg, Former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union; Moderator: Prof. Jamil N. Jaffer, Former Chief Counsel and Senior Advisor, U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations; Hon. John B. Bellinger, III, former Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State and the National Security Council; Prof. Rosa Brooks, Associate Dean, Graduate Programs & Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center; Moderator: Prof. David Stewart, President, American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA). 

PROSPECTS FOR THE DEFENSE BUDGET IN THE NEW ADMINISTRATION. 1/23, 10:30am-Noon. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: Mackenzie Eaglen,Resident Fellow at the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies, American Enterprise Institute; Richard Kogan, Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; Mark F. Cancian, Senior Adviser, International Security Program, CSIS; Todd Harrison, Director, Defense Budget Analysis, Director, Aerospace Security Project and Senior Fellow, International Security Program, CSIS; Andrew Philip Hunter, Director, Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group and Senior Fellow, International Security Program, CSIS.

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UNDERSTANDING TRUMP AND TRUMPISM: PART FOUR. 1/23, 11:00-Noon. Sponsor: Heritage. Speakers: The Honorable Newt Gingrich, 50th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives; James Wallner Group Vice President, Heritage.

ASIAN IR: A NEW MORAL IMAGINATION FOR WORLD POLITICS. 1/23, 12:30-1:30pm. Speaker: L.H.M. Ling, Professor of International Affairs, The New School, Author, Imagining World Politics: Sihar & Shenya, A Fable for Our Times. Location: Georgetown University, Mortara Building, 3600 N St., NW, Conference Room. Contact:

THE WASHINGTON EU-U.S. CONFERENCE. 1/23-25, Lunch, Reception. Sponsor: Delegation of the European Union to the United States, Le Monde Diplomatique Debates, American University (AU) School of International Service (SIS). Speakers: James Barbour, Spokesperson of the Delegation of the European Union to the United States; Romuald Sciora, Head, Le Monde Diplomatique Debates; Moderator: James Goldgeier, Dean, SIS, AU; Klaus Botzet, Head of the Political, Security and Development Section, EU Delegation to the U.S.; J.D. Gordon, Senior Fellow, Center for a Secure, Free Society (SFS), former Pentagon Spokesman and former Director, National Security Advisory Committee, Trump Campaign; Jeff Lightfoot, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council; Dr. Garret Martin, Professorial Lecturer, AU SIS, Editor at Large, European Institute; Jeffrey Rathke, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director, Europe Program, CSIS; Dr. Randall Henning, Professor, SIS, AU; Frédéric Lefebvre, French Member of Parliament, former State Secretary of Trade and SMEs; Damien Levie, Head of the Trade and Agriculture Section, EU Delegation to the U.S.; Dr. Harvey Feigenbaum, Professor, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University (GWU); James Barbour, Spokesperson, Head of the Press and Public Diplomacy Section, EU Delegation to the U.S.; Lorenzo Morris, Professor, Howard University; Dr. Kimberly Morgan, Professor, Elliott School of International Affairs, GWU; Anne-Cecile Robert, Director of International Editions, Le Monde Diplomatique; Moderator: Michelle Breslauer, Deputy Director of Programs, Institute for Economics and Peace; Steve Clemons, Editor at Large, The Atlantic; Dr. James Goldgeier, Dean, SIS, AU; Anne-Cécile Robert, Director of International Editions, Le Monde Diplomatique; Caroline Vicini, Deputy-Head of Delegation, EU Delegation to the U.S.; Dr. Kate McNamara, Professor, Georgetown University; David O'Sullivan, EU Ambassador to the U.S.

Friday, January 6, 2017


How Defense Minister Inada's Yasukuni undermined reconciliation

By Mindy Kotler, APP Director

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s tour of Pearl Harbor highlighted reconciliation and putting an end to Pacific War history. However, Abe’s Cabinet officials were of a different mind. While Abe was in the air returning from Pearl Harbor, his Reconstruction Minister and good friend, Masahiro Imamura, paid homage to the war deities at the Yasukuni Shrine.

Shortly after returning to Japan, Defense Minister Tomomi INADA, who had accompanied the Prime Minister to Pearl Harbor, also visited the Yasukuni Shrine. She is said to be Mr. Abe’s preferred successor. When she was the LDP’s policy chief, she initiated a reevaluation the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal. She now administers this on-going investigation. Reportedly, she once said “Yasukuni is not a place to pledge not to repeat the horror of war again. It is a place to promise that 'we will follow in your footsteps if a contingency occurs in our homeland.'"

Yasukuni is not Arlington, nor is the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific that Prime Minister Abe visited in Hawaii. Yasukuni visits have been used in recent decades by Japanese politicians to be naughty. It is a cost-free way to demonstrate independence from the US. The irony is that the visits so antagonize the Chinese that the US is compelled to reaffirm its defense of Japan soon after, drawing Japan closer to the US.

The Meiji Emperor created Yasukuni to militarize a religion (Shinto) in service of the state and to de-legitimatize his enemies (they cannot be enshrined there). It is not a cemetery and it represents only one religion. There are no bodies buried on the grounds. It is for the spirits of the military dead who died fighting for the Emperor who can be identified (the unidentified have their ashes at a non-religious site not far from Yasukuni) and who are not from the under-classes.

Those approved are apostatized--they become gods, one with the Emperor. There are many convicted and otherwise war criminals turned into gods at the Shrine. The Shrine is also only for the Imperial era, which ended August 15, 1945. No one after that date is enshrined. The park surrounding the Shrine has many small memorials to military units that served in the Pacific War, including the Kempeitai (SS-like military police).

The Ministers’ appearance at the Yasukuni Shrine does lessen the impact of PM Abe’s visit to Pearl Harbor. It undermines through deed, his words at Hickam Field, barely 12 hours before. That PM Abe did not fire Inada—who visited Yasukuni as Defense Minister not in her personal capacity—suggests that he condoned her actions.

Abe’s tortured prose lingered on expressions of gratitude toward US treatment of defeated Japan. He interpreted reconciliation as American “tolerance” and posed Japan as being passive in its appreciation. It is as if a thesaurus was consulted for a politically acceptable word meaning compassion, mercy, and humanity.

Unsaid, and maybe unintended, was the contrast of American “tolerance” toward its conquered people to Japan’s own conduct of its war in China and the Pacific. Imperial Japan’s conquests were impressive military victories. They were, however, followed by unjustified and horrific violence against noncombatants, POWs, laborers, and the dead.

Condolences are what Mr. Abe gave to those military dead who died in combat at Pearl Harbor. He did not apologize or justify. The visit was framed as if he was going to Yasukuni to honor and pacify the spirits of warriors.

Standing tall at the water's edge does not turn Pearl Harbor into a symbol of reconciliation. It is not a tolerance for an enemies soldiers and sailors. Reconciliation is how today’s Japan answers to Imperial Japan’s wartime atrocities committed against the unarmed. It is no surprise that the trauma of these cruelties is intergenerational.

As Abe ended his remarks, he acknowledged this by promising to continue to make his “wish a reality.” It is something that still needs work. And something that is a responsibility of the Trump White House.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Taiwan's Comfort Women

President Ma at opening of Ama Museum
Comfort Women” Museum Opens in Taipei, Reunites Korean Victim with Former Taiwan President

By Dennis Halpin
, visiting scholar at the US-Korea Institute at SAIS (Johns Hopkins University). He previously served as an analyst in the INR Bureau at the State Department and on the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives as an adviser on Asian issues, from 2000 to 2013. he is an APP member.

A version of this essay first appeared in the Global Taiwan Brief, Vol. 1, #13, December 14, 2016 and The Hankyoreh, December 19, 2016.
The highlight of the December 10th opening day of the Ama (阿嬤) (ama is a Taiwanese term of endearment for grandmother; halmuni is used in Korean) Museum was the reuniting of Korean “Comfort Woman” survivor Lee Yong-soo with former President of Taiwan Ma Ying-jeou. Halmuni Lee, 89, who was kidnapped at the age of sixteen and brought to Taiwan to service kamikaze pilots at the Hsinchu air base, had last met with Mr. Ma during his tenure as Taiwan’s President. 

The two embraced each other as old friends. Lee stated that, despite the horrific experience of being repeatedly raped on a daily basis as a young girl, she considers Hsinchu, located in Taiwan, her “second hometown after Daegu, Korea.” Halmuni Lee spoke of the bittersweet irony of the fact that many of the Japanese pilots she was forced to service spent their last night with her before flying off to their suicidal deaths.

Former President Ma stated that the words “Comfort Women” (慰安婦) were a misnomer and should only be used with quotation marks. Ma said that the correct words for what Halmuni Lee and other victims endured would be “military sex slaves” (軍事性奴隸). He said that the “Comfort Women” issue represents an international human rights and women’s rights issue and should be recognized as such, not only by the international community, but by the government of Japan as well. 

President Ma noted the especially harsh taboo in conservative Asian societies for women to discuss anything of a sexual nature, especially when it involves abuse. He pointed out that that was the reason that victims in Taiwan and other countries failed to come forward for almost half a century after the conclusion of the Second World War. He specifically praised the Korean “Comfort Women” victims who had the courage to come forward and publicly discuss their victimization in 1992.

Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation (TWRF, 婦女救援基金會) Executive Director Kang Shu-hua (康淑華) noted that the December 10th date for the museum opening, the first such museum in Taiwan, was deliberately chosen as it is UN Human Rights Day. Ms. Kang described the years of effort expended by TWRF in order to locate both an appropriate site for the museum, a 90-year-old building near downtown Taipei, and to raise the necessary funds for its construction. TWRF Chairperson Shu-Ling Hwang emphasized the universality of the issue raised by the opening of the museum: violence against women in armed conflict. She noted that this is an issue that continues to be relevant in today’s world.

The “Comfort Women” victims from Taiwan, estimated by TWRF to include “about 2,000, possibly more, Taiwanese women aged 14 to 30,” included both indigenous aboriginal women from the island as well as ethnic Han Chinese. TWRF established a hotline in 1992 for survivors to call and identified 58 victims in Taiwan. Only three victims survive today. One of them, Ama Chen Lien-hua (陳蓮花), 92, attended the museum’s official opening ceremony. The other two Taiwanese victims reportedly choose to maintain their anonymity. Taiwan’s Culture Minister, Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君), who also attended the official ribbon-cutting ceremony, noted that, “as a woman, I admire the courage of the Amas.” The museum includes both biographical information on a number of the Taiwanese victims, as well as artwork prepared by them. TWRF conducted wellness workshops on a regular basis for the identified victims between 1996 and 2012. The workshop participants made use of artistic expression as a form of therapy in dealing with the post-traumatic stress disorder from which they suffered as a result of extensive physical and emotional abuse.

Despite repeated denials by both official and unofficial circles in Japan, TWRF has chronicled extensive documentation verifying the “Comfort Women” military-established brothel system. A copy of a declassified official US government document titled, “Amenities in the Japanese Armed Forces,” published on November 15, 1945, “by command of General MacArthur,” was presented to TWRF as a part of the opening ceremonies. This report, widely referred to as the “MacArthur Report,” lists its sources as “‘captured documents and statements of Prisoners of War.’” It contains specific information about the organized trafficking of both Taiwanese and Korean women to Southeast Asia:

[They] embarked at FUSAN on 10 July 1942 in a group of 703 girls, all Korean, and some 90 Japanese men and women … They sailed on a 4000 ton passenger ship in a convoy of seven ships. Free passage tickets were provided by Army headquarters … They called at Formosa, where 22 girls bound for Singapore were taken on board, and at Singapore they transferred to another ship, arriving at Rangoon on 20 August 1942.

Members of the Korean delegation noted the continuing efforts of Taiwan to achieve a formal settlement with Japan regarding its “Comfort Women” victims. These efforts have so far been rebuffed by Tokyo. The Korean delegates cautioned their Taiwanese counterparts, however, that the agreement reached between Seoul and Tokyo last year regarding the Korean “Comfort Women” was highly flawed and should not be used as a model for any future Taiwan-Japan “Comfort Women” agreement. Phyllis Kim of the Korean American Forum of California also criticized the Seoul-Tokyo agreement reached last year, noting that it did not include any pre-consultations with the “halmuni” victims like Lee Yong-soo who was present in Taipei for the museum opening. Ms. Kim noted that any agreement which does not include the input of the views of those who were directly victimized is obviously not acceptable.

International delegations attended the museum’s opening ceremony, the largest being from Japan. This delegation included Mina Watanabe, General Secretary of the Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace (WAM) in Tokyo and Eriko Ikeda, WAM’s Chair of the Board. The delegation from South Korea included Professor Heisoo Shin, Director of the “Voice of the Comfort Women project for UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register;” Shin-Kwon Ahn, Chairman of the House of Sharing (residency for “Comfort Women” victims), Jeung Seun Anyi, Representative from the Daegu Citizen Forum for Halmuni; and Kuk-Yom Han, Co-Representative of the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan. The American delegation consisted of Phyllis Kim, Executive Director, Korean American Forum of California and her husband, Roy Hong; Tomomi Kinukawa, Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, University of California, Berkeley; and Dennis Halpin [the author], Visiting Scholar, U.S.-Korea Institute, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. The American delegation brought a congratulatory letter on the museum opening from US Representative Mike Honda of California, the chief sponsor in 2007 of House Resolution 121 calling upon the government of Japan to “formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Forces’ coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as ‘comfort women.’”

There was also a delegation present from the People’s Republic of China, demonstrating that despite political tensions there can still be cross-Strait solidarity on the “Comfort Women” issue and other issues related to WWII history.

APP's director sent a statement for the record to read at 
the Museum's opening.

December 10, 2016 

Congratulations and greetings from the United States. On behalf of Asia Policy Point’s Board and members, I welcome the opening of the Ama Museum by the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation. The museum is dedicated to telling and preserving the history of the Taiwanese Comfort Women, those who were forced into sexual slavery by Imperial Japan’s military and government during the 1930s through 1945.

The Ama Museum is a critical addition to world knowledge about this sordid chapter of Japanese imperialism and colonialization. The Ama Museum confirms that rape during warfare is no longer viewed as inevitable or excusable. Rape is no longer believed to be an aggressive manifestation of male sexuality; but it is a sexual manifestation of male aggression. The Ama Musuem is recognition that violence against women is a global health concern and a violation of human rights. The Ama Museum demonstrates that the story of the Comfort Women is not just a grievance between Korea and Japan or a historical war crime.

Most important, The Ama Museum confirms that the Comfort Women are no longer treated as outcasts. And we embrace them.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Niihau Incident: that other fallen Japanese pilot at Pearl Harbor

Shigenori Nishikaichi
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a stop at the stone and cement marker of the crash site of the Navy Lieutenant Fusata Iida at US Naval Air Station Kāneʻohe Bay (today's Marine Corps Base Hawaii). He was the flight leader of carrier Soryu’s squadron of 12 Japanese dive-bombers. The first Japanese aircraft destroyed in action during the December 7 attack were shot down at Kāneʻohe. The Iida marker may be the only marker on a US military installation dedicated to an enemy soldier.

However,  10 Zero pilots and aircraft were lost during the attacks on December 7, 1941.

Below is the story of the 10th pilot who died December 12, 1941 in a struggle with a Hawaiian on Niihau Island. The collaboration of two Japanese residents on the island with the pilot reportedly contributed to Washington's decision to intern Japanese living near the coasts.
The Niihau Incident

BY WILLIAM HALLSTEAD, HistoryNet, 11/12/2000, originally appeared in the November 2000 issue of World War II magazine.

PBS History Detective Special on the The Niihau Incident
A Podcast December 16, 2016 on "Omitted"

By midmorning, December 7, 1941, 22-year-old Airman 1st Class Shigenori Nishikaichi knew his Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero fighter was in serious trouble. Flying escort for a flight of bombers from the Japanese aircraft carrier Shokaku during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Nishikaichi and seven other fighter pilots from the carrier Hiryu had attacked targets in southeastern Oahu. The fighters strafed the U.S. Naval Air Station on the Mokapu Peninsula and then hit Bellows Army Airfield, 10 miles to the south. In both attacks, bombing followed the strafing. The fighters then made another pass to hit additional targets of opportunity.

After the raids, the Zeros reassembled and began the return flight to the carriers. The plan was to rendezvous with returning bombers just north of Oahu’s northern tip. The bombers would then lead the fighters–which had few navigation aids–back to the carriers waiting nearly 200 miles away. Before the Zeros neared the rendezvous point, however, a flight of nine American Curtiss P-36A fighters dived out of nowhere and a one-sided battle ensued. The lightly armed P-36As looked fierce, but they were already obsolete. The Zeros outclimbed, outturned and outran the slower, less maneuverable Curtisses. The American pilots went down one after the other, victims of the Zeros’ superior maneuverability.

In the aerial melee Nishikaichi’s fighter was hit, but at first the damage seemed superficial. As the Zeros regrouped, however, the pilot noticed an excessive rate of fuel consumption. In fact, one of the half-dozen hits on the plane had punctured its gas tank. The engine began to run rough, and Nishikaichi soon fell behind the others. By the time he reached the rendezvous area, he was alone. Then he spotted another Zero approaching, this one ominously trailing smoke.

During the morning briefing aboard Hiryu, the pilots had been told that crippled aircraft should attempt to make emergency landings on tiny Niihau, the westernmost of Hawaii’s seven main islands. There, survivors were to wait along the coast for the arrival of an Imperial Navy I-class submarine assigned to rescue duty. There would be no problems with locals on the island they were assured, since Niihau was uninhabited.

Nishikaichi made a quick calculation based on his rate of fuel consumption and reduced airspeed caused by the now faltering engine. He decided that a try for Niihau, about 130 miles to the west, was more feasible than attempting to reach Hiryu, which probably would be steaming away from Hawaii and back toward Japan. With the other damaged Zero trailing behind, he turned due west.

Twenty minutes later the two limping Zeros passed to the south of Kauai’s green slopes. After a few more minutes, Nishikaichi spotted dead ahead the lava cliffs on the east coast of 18-mile-long, 6-mile-wide Niihau. In tandem, the two faltering Japanese fighters circled the island. At that point Nishikaichi discovered that Japanese Intelligence had blown it. Contrary to the information he had received, the island was clearly inhabited. About a third of the way up the west coast was a large central building, along with several smaller structures. A mile or so beyond that was a small settlement, where he could see a cluster of people standing in front of what appeared to be a church. From his low altitude, Nishikaichi observed that the people appeared to be Polynesian natives.

In some confusion, Nishikaichi flew southwest, away from the island. The other plane followed. Then Nishikaichi faced the inevitable, realizing that he would have to either land on Niihau or crash at sea. He slipped back toward the other plane and signaled its pilot to head back to the island.

The pilot of the other stricken Zero, Airman 2nd Class Saburo Ishii, waved away that suggestion. He had just radioed his carrier, Shokaku, that he intended to return to Oahu and crash-dive into some worthwhile target. A few minutes later, Nishikaichi watched Ishii climb steeply, then inexplicably dive straight into the sea. The shaken Japanese pilot turned toward Niihau and began looking for a place to land.

Nishikaichi soon discovered that whoever lived on Niihau had better prepared that small island for a possible war than the military authorities had on Oahu. With admirable foresight, Niihau’s manager had ordered potential landing sites to be heavily plowed or studded with rock piles.

With his fuel almost gone, Nishikaichi finally found a relatively level, uncluttered stretch of pasture near an isolated house. He eased the Zero into a shallow approach glide and braced himself for a hard landing.

The island Nishikaichi was about to land on was strictly kapu, or forbidden, to any outside member of the public. In 1864, King Kamehameha V had sold Niihau to the Robinson family, in whose hands it has since remained. The native Niihauans–and the Robinson family, for whom most of them work–were and still are a fiercely independent lot. In 1959, Niihau was the one out of Hawaii’s 240 precincts to vote against statehood.

The predominantly native Hawaiian inhabitants herd sheep and cattle and gather honey, and they have made the island famous through the export of highly prized jewelry made of tiny shells collected on the island’s beaches. Humpbacked little Niihau–known throughout Hawaii as the ‘forbidden island’–has a very dry climate since most rainfall is intercepted by the towering mountains of Kauai, 17 miles to the east across the Kaulakahi Channel.

As the Japanese pilot flared out for a landing in this benevolent private fiefdom, the Zero’s wheels struck a wire fence, and the plane nosed in hard. Nishikaichi’s safety harness tore loose, and he slammed against the instrument panel.

Watching the dramatic arrival of the sleek airplane with its red circle markings from his front yard was native Hawaiian Howard Kaleohano. Born and educated on the Big Island of Hawaii, he had been permitted by island manager Aylmer Robinson to visit his sister on Niihau in 1930. He had stayed on and married, becoming one of the few native Hawaiians on the island who was fluent in English.

Kaleohano rushed to the crashed Zero, hauled the groggy pilot out of the wreckage and took away his sidearm and what looked like official papers. Speaking in schoolboy English, Nishikaichi asked Kaleohano if he was Japanese. ‘I am Hawaiian,’ Kaleohano told him. He then took the pilot into his house, where his wife served the visitor breakfast.

When it became evident that Nishikaichi’s limited English was of little use, Japanese-born Ishimatsu Shintani, a 60-year-old beekeeper, was summoned to help. When he arrived, the beekeeper was not at all happy about being asked to translate for the Japanese pilot. Shintani had lived in Hawaii for 41 years, and his children had been born there, so they were by birth American citizens. But Shintani himself was barred from U.S. citizenship by the law then applicable in the Territory of Hawaii. With his own background in mind, Shintani was nervous about becoming involved in this unusual situation. After he and Nishikaichi spoke briefly, Shintani was seen to turn pale, as though he had received a shock. The beekeeper then left the house without relaying much useful information to Kaleohano. Clearly, Kaleohano needed to find someone else to help him.

Next summoned to the scene were the Haradas, who spoke both Japanese and English. Yoshio Harada, 38, had been born to Japanese parents on Kauai in 1903. His birth in Hawaii made him an American citizen, but he had three brothers in Japan, and his wife, Irene, had been born to Japanese parents. Speaking Japanese, Nishikaichi told the Haradas of the attack on Oahu. He also demanded that his pistol and documents be returned. Because the Haradas knew the Niihauans regarded them as more Japanese than Hawaiian, they kept what Nishikaichi had said to themselves. That was the beginning of a sell-out that would cost them–as well as the nation–dearly.

Unaware that the United States was now at war with Japan, the Niihauans treated the pilot to a luau at a nearby house. Nishikaichi even sang a Japanese song at the gathering, accompanying himself on a borrowed guitar. He was probably wondering when the rescue submarine would arrive and send a shore party to escort him aboard. He was not going to be rescued by sub, however. A submarine had indeed been in the vicinity, but at 1:30 p.m. Hawaiian time its commander had been ordered to sail on toward Oahu and intercept any incoming American relief ships.

By nightfall, word of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the other Oahu military installations had reached Niihau by radio. The pilot was questioned anew, and Yoshio Harada realized he had better accurately report what Nishikaichi had told him.

Now the problem was what to do with the enemy pilot. Aylmer Robinson, Niihau’s absentee landlord, lived on Kauai and made weekly visits to Niihau to look after family interests there. The island’s former resident superintendent, John Rennie, had died in September, and Robinson had appointed Harada paymaster in Rennie’s place. That had made Harada a man of stature on Niihau, and he was now torn between his American citizenship and his Japanese heritage. While the Niihauans debated what to do with the enemy interloper, Nishikaichi was lodged for the night at the home of John Kelly, the luau host. The Haradas stayed there with the pilot.

The next day Nishikaichi was taken by tractor to Kii Landing, near the northern tip of the island. Robinson’s boat from Kauai docked at Kii when he made his inspection visits, and he was expected to arrive on December 8. Robinson did not appear, however. Unbeknown to the Niihauans, newly imposed wartime restrictions had precluded boat traffic across the 17-mile channel between the island and Kauai.

The time spent waiting at Kii was an opportunity for Nishikaichi and Harada to converse on the beach by themselves. The pilot apparently had sensed Harada’s ambivalent loyalties, and he began to play on them. If the shaky defense of Oahu was a typical American response, he told the uncertain Harada, Japan was sure to win the war. Nishikaichi gradually won over Harada and, to some degree, Harada’s wife Irene.

On Thursday, December 11, with the pilot still being treated as a guest, albeit not a very welcome one, Harada brought the beekeeper Shintani back into the picture. The three of them conferred privately at Harada’s home, where Nishikaichi was then staying, and the following day Shintani appeared at Howard Kaleohano’s house and demanded the papers he had taken from the plane. Kaleohano refused to give them up. Shintani muttered a threat, and Kaleohano threw him out.

At that point, Harada and the pilot realized they could not count on the old beekeeper, but they were determined to proceed with Nishikaichi’s newly chosen plan for himself–death with honor. By now, the pilot was under casual guard by several Niihauans.

That same day Harada had stolen a shotgun and a pistol from the building near which the Zero had crashed–the Robinsons’ ranch house, now unused and locked. Harada had been entrusted with a key. He loaded the firearms and took them to a warehouse used to store honey from the island’s thriving beekeeping industry.

Returning home, Harada notified his wife and the pilot about the weapons he had secured. Only one of the four assigned guards was on duty at that point. When Nishikaichi asked to use the Haradas’ outhouse, Harada accompanied him outside, followed by the guard. When the pilot emerged, Harada said he had something to attend to at the nearby honey warehouse. The unsuspecting guard accompanied them there. Thereupon Harada and Nishikaichi grabbed the hidden weapons and locked the guard in the warehouse.

Just then, the guard’s wife appeared in a horse-drawn wagon. The two plotters commandeered the wagon and ordered the woman to drive them to Kaleohano’s house, where they allowed the woman to flee on the horse. When they discovered that Kaleohano was not home, the pilot and Harada made a quick trip to the nearby downed plane, which was now guarded by a 16-year-old boy. Nishikaichi tried to work the radio, but to what purpose is uncertain. The two men then forced the young guard to go back to Kaleohano’s house.

Now Kaleohano’s apparent absence was explained when he suddenly rushed from his outhouse, where he had hidden in an effort to escape the armed duo. Harada leveled the shotgun and fired at him–but missed. Being shot at settled Kaleohano’s politics, and he managed to get away from Harada and Nishikaichi. He rushed to the village and warned the residents, then borrowed a horse and headed for the northern tip of the island, intending to build a signal fire. First, however, Kaleohano stopped at his now deserted house and picked up the plane’s papers, which he took to his mother-in-law’s home.

The guard who had been locked in the warehouse was able to escape at that point and dashed to the village, where he corroborated Kaleohano’s earlier story. As a result, nearly all of the villagers fled to remote areas of the island.

A bonfire had already been set on Mount Paniau, Niihau’s highest point, by a group of alarmed men, but when Kaleohano arrived he decided that relying only on signals was too chancy. Shortly after midnight, he and five others set off in a lifeboat from Kii Landing to Waimea, on Kauai, a 10-hour pull against the wind.

Robinson, who had learned about the signal fire and was chaffing under the travel prohibition, was astounded when he received a phone call from Kaleohano in Waimea. For several days Robinson had been trying to get the commander of the Kauai Military District to send a boat to Niihau, but the Navy’s ban on all boat traffic had frustrated his efforts. Now briefed by Kaleohano on the situation, Robinson finally received approval to organize a rescue mission.

In the meantime, Nishikaichi and Harada recaptured the escaped guard and forced him to walk through the deserted village, calling on any remaining inhabitants to come out of their houses. Only one man, Kaahakila Kalima, appeared, giving the renegades their second prisoner. They then returned to the plane, stripped off the Zero’s machine guns and remaining ammunition and stowed them on a wagon. They also tried to burn the plane, but the fire they set in the cockpit did not spread. Harada sent Kalima to tell Irene that he would not be returning that night. Then he and the pilot–apparently drunk with power–walked through the now silent village firing their weapons and yelling for Kaleohano to surrender.

Once away from his captors, Kalima made for the beach, where he found his wife along with Ben Kanahele and Ben’s wife. Kanahele, 49, was a 6-foot native Hawaiian sheep rancher, noted for his prodigious strength. Kalima and Kanahele managed to avoid Nishikaichi and Harada and removed the machine-gun ammo from the wagon. But when they and their wives attempted to return to the village for food, they were captured.

After nightfall on December 12, Nishikaichi and Harada searched Kaleohano’s house for the plane’s papers, then burned it down in frustration. They then forced Ben Kanahele to search for Kaleohano. Kanahele, who knew that Kaleohano had left for Kauai, put on a show of calling for him.

Nishikaichi, now holding the shotgun and with the pistol stuck in his boot, told Kanahele that if he could not produce Kaleohano, he and all the others on the island would be shot. The placid Niihauans were normally slow to anger, but by this time the islanders had had enough. Speaking Hawaiian, Ben Kanahele demanded that Harada take away the pilot’s pistol. Harada refused, but he indicated to Nishikaichi that he needed the shotgun.

As the pilot handed over the gun, Kanahele and his wife lunged at him. Nishikaichi was too quick for them. He yanked the pistol from his boot and shot Kanahele in the chest, hip and groin. Enraged, the big Hawaiian grabbed the pilot, hoisted him in the air and threw him against a nearby stone wall. Grabbing a rock, Kanahele’s wife began to bash the fallen pilot’s head. Kanahele then drew a knife and slit Nishikaichi’s throat. Harada, no doubt realizing that he had abetted a disastrous chain of events, jammed the shotgun muzzle into his own gut and pulled the trigger.

When an Army rescue party from Kauai finally arrived the following morning, it seemed that the remarkable episode was over. But that was not the end of the story.

Ben Kanahele recovered from his wounds. In August 1945 he was awarded two presidential citations, the Medal of Merit and the Purple Heart.

For his peripheral part in the Niihau incident, Ishimatsu Shintani was taken into custody and interned on the U.S. mainland throughout the war. He blamed Japan more than the United States for his actions. With the postwar repeal of racial barriers to immigration, he became a naturalized American citizen in 1960.

Irene Harada lost not only her husband but also her freedom. Thought to be a Japanese spy, she was jailed on Kauai on December 15, 1941. She was transferred to a military prison on Oahu, where she was reportedly questioned but held her silence. Irene was released in late 1944 and returned to Niihau, embittered for life.

The actions of Shintani and the Haradas, all Niihauans of Japanese ancestry, were noted in a January 1942 Navy report as indications of the ‘likelihood that Japanese residents previously believed loyal to the United States may aid Japan.’ With the nation in an uproar over the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, there can be no doubt that the Niihau event influenced the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt to summarily remove more than 100,000 persons of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast and intern them in the U.S. interior.

In Hashihama, Japan, the hometown of young pilot Shigenori Nishikaichi, there is a stone column that was erected in his honor. Chiseled in granite is a version of his exploits over Oahu that claims he died ‘in battle.’ Also engraved there are the words: ‘His meritorious deed will live forever.’

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Abe at Pearl Harbor

Japanese PM Abe hugs survivor
Abe offers ‘everlasting condolences’ at Pearl Harbor as Obama praises partnership in peace


Japan Times, December 28, 2016

HONOLULU – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s historic visit to Pearl Harbor wrapped up Tuesday with addresses from the Japanese leader and U.S. President Barack Obama on the power of reconciliation and its ability to transform once-hated enemies into close friends and strategic partners.

Seventy five years after the “day of infamy,” on Dec. 7, 1941, when Japan attacked U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor, Abe and Obama recalled the past but also focused on the importance of the present postwar U.S.-Japan strategic alliance. Abe’s visit and meeting with Obama, who leaves office in less than a month, was an attempt to gird the legacies of both leaders in the Asia-Pacific region in the face of uncertainties surrounding the fate of bilateral relations under President-elect Donald Trump.

In a meeting between the two leaders, Abe thanked Obama for his efforts to work with Japan on a number of issues ranging from dealing with North Korea’s nuclear program to his support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, despite opposition by congress and large portions of the American public, as well as Trump, who has announced he will cancel the TPP on his first day in office.

For Abe, the hope is that his trip to Pearl Harbor also sends a message to the U.S., and especially to Trump, that the long-standing postwar relationship should continue, and that the military alliance in particular needs to be strengthened in order to deal with a host of challenges relating to regional security.

While U.S. veterans of Pearl Harbor invited to attend Tuesday’s ceremony appreciated Abe’s visit, how it will be received by the larger American public remains uncertain. Some groups expressed disappointment that Abe offered no apology for the attack, or suggested his administration needs to make similar efforts at reconciliation with not only the U.S. but also other nations victimized by Japan during the 1930s and 1940s.

In a carefully worded address that avoided an apology for Japan’s decision to go to war with the U.S., Abe spoke about the necessity of never repeating the horrors of war. [TEXT]

“As prime minister of Japan, I offer my sincere and everlasting condolences to the souls of those who lost their lives here, as well as to the spirits of all the brave men and women whose lives were taken by a war that commenced in this very place, and also to the souls of the countless innocent people who became victims of the war,” he said.

Abe, who favors revising Japan’s postwar pacifist Constitution to allow for a more proactive military, added that since World War II, Japan has resolutely upheld its vow to never again wage war.

“To the souls of the servicemen who lie in eternal rest aboard the USS Arizona, to the American people, and to all peoples around the world, I pledge that unwavering vow as the prime minister of Japan,” he said.

Obama, who hosted the prime minister in Pearl Harbor seven months after Abe hosted him at Hiroshima, called the visit a historic gesture and also spoke of reconciliation and Pearl Harbor’s historical legacy. [TEXT]

“We cannot choose the history that we inherit. But we can choose what lessons to draw from it. The fruits of peace always outweigh the plunder of war. This is the enduring truth of this hallowed harbor,” Obama said in his remarks following Abe’s address.

In a veiled reference to concerns both in and outside the U.S. created by Trump’s election, Obama also referenced the Japanese phrase otagai no tame ni — doing things with and for each other — as words to follow when resisting the urge to demonize others or turn inwards.

“Over the decades, our alliance has made both of our nations more successful. It has helped to underwrite an international order that has prevented another world war and that has lifted more than a billion people out of extreme poverty. And today, the alliance between the United States and Japan — bound not only by shared interests, but also rooted in common values — stands as the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Asia Pacific and a force for progress around the globe. Our alliance has never been stronger,” Obama said.

Following their statements, Abe and Obama shook hands and exchanged greetings with three survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack, who are now in their 90s. All three welcomed Abe’s visit.

“Apologize for the attack on Pearl Harbor? What for? There’s nothing to apologize for. The U.S. and Japan are friends now,” said Everett Hyland, who was on board the USS Pennsylvania when the attack began and was severely injured by a bomb.

Total U.S. casualties for the Pearl Harbor attack were 2,403 dead and 1,178 wounded.

Abe received a brief tour of the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center before proceeding to the Arizona memorial and holding a separate meeting with Obama. He then addressed a crowd that included large numbers of U.S. military personnel and Japanese-American residents of Hawaii.

The visitors center includes displays and explanations of the political situation in the U.S. and in Japan in the 1930s, describing the decisions, especially by Japan, that led to the attack as well as details of the attack itself. It also describes the impact it had in the U.S. as a whole and on Hawaii’s Japanese-American community.

The center’s chief historian, Daniel Martinez, told Abe that “The exhibits reflect the voices and views of people who were involved in the attack or the war, not the opinions of academics.” Abe was accompanied by Defense Minister Tomomi Inada — who in the past has espoused revisionist views of Japan’s wartime history — and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.

Abe’s gesture was widely welcomed in Hawaii and among Americans and Japanese who deal directly with each other. Its impact in the U.S. as a whole, three-quarters of a century after the attack, is less clear. For most Americans, Pearl Harbor was a long time ago — a different century.

However, for those concerned about historical reconciliation issues in the Asia-Pacific region, there were calls to continue the reconciliation process, especially with Japan’s Asian neighbors.

In an open letter released on Christmas Day, over 50 international historians, filmmakers — including director Oliver Stone — and others asked the prime minister about his views on Japan’s history and about previous public statements he’d made.

“You state that you are going to visit Pearl Harbor to ‘mourn’ the 2,400 Americans who perished in the attack. If that is the case, will you also be visiting China, Korea, other Asia-Pacific nations, or the other Allied nations for the purpose of ‘mourning’ war victims in those countries who number in the tens of millions?” the group asked.

They added that in Diet questioning on April 23, 2013, Abe, as prime minister, indicated that the definition of what constitutes “aggression” has yet to be established in academia or in the international community.

“Does that mean that you do not recognize Japan’s war against the Allied and Asia-Pacific nations and the preceding war against China as wars of aggression?” the scholars asked.

Jan Thompson, president of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society, said she was impressed by the sincerity of Abe’s speech, saying it took moral courage. She said she knew that he would not apologize for the Pearl Harbor attack but encouraged him to visit other Asian countries as well.

“It’s taken 75 years for us to get to this point where a Japanese prime minister can come to Pearl Harbor and make that kind of a speech. However, while some people are saying that his visit means reconciliation with the wartime past is over, it’s actually only one step on the road. Reconciliation is cross-generational,” she said.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Japan reconsiders and reinterprets the Pearl Harbor attack

And ignores the Prime Minister's upcoming visit

BY MARK SCHREIBER, a Tokyo-based writer

THE JAPAN TIMES, December 24, 2016

In May, U.S. President Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to make a historic visit to Hiroshima, the city that became the birthplace of the age of nuclear warfare. It should come as no surprise that Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is scheduled to make a reciprocal gesture of reconciliation this week, possibly making him the first sitting Japanese prime minister to visit the USS Arizona Memorial.

So far, however, news coverage in Japan has been disappointingly spotty, partly because the story has been eclipsed by the usual year-end roundups, interspersed with breaking news stories: the Osprey crash in Okinawa and resulting blowback; the terrorist incident in Berlin; heavy pollution in Beijing; and President-elect Donald Trump’s latest tweet.

In December, the January 2017 issue of prestigious monthly magazine Bungei Shunju was released with a 13-page essay by history critic Masayasu Hosaka titled “Pearl Harbor: The true nature of the blunder.” Though written long before the announcement of Abe’s upcoming visit, it nonetheless provides some scholarly insights into how Japanese reacted to news of the attack 75 years ago.

At 7 a.m., on Monday, Dec. 8, 1941, a young NHK announcer named Morio Tateno told radio listeners, “The Naval department of Imperial headquarters announced that at 6 a.m. today the Imperial Navy, during predawn hours, initiated hostilities with the British and American navies in the Western Pacific.”

On the night of Dec. 8, Prime Minister Hideki Tojo invited the heads of the army and navy to celebrate with a Chinese-style repast at the prime minister’s residence, during which he effused over the “better than anticipated results” of the attack and expressed anticipation of President Franklin Roosevelt’s imminent downfall. Extra editions of newspapers were passed out to pedestrians on the streets and stirring martial tunes such as “Warship March” emanated from loudspeakers. Company workers at their morning assemblies were exhorted to exclaim “banzai” cheers. Stock prices on the Tokyo exchange shot up by 10 percent.

As Hosaka observes in Bungei Shunju, “The exhilaration over the successful attack on Pearl Harbor was the beginning of what was to become a stream of glorified lies on the progression of the war.”

But, unlike Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, who went to war with the specific goal of recovering their former empires’ lost territories, Japan had no clearly defined purpose for initiating hostilities.

“Having gone to war with vague goals,” he wrote, “Japan had no means of determining how to bring the war to an end. Even after Tojo’s Cabinet fell, it could not speedily halt the war.”

This year, several magazines chose to run articles about Pearl Harbor with strongly revisionist slants. The January issue of conservative monthly Rekishi-tu featured two, one that accused the wily President Roosevelt of “maneuvering” Japan into attacking the U.S., and another maintaining U.S. intelligence had broken the Japanese naval code before Pearl Harbor and, therefore, had advance knowledge of the attack. The January issue of Shincho 45 magazine ran an article that claimed British leader Winston Churchill knew of the Japanese plans but chose not to inform the Americans. Move on folks, nothing new here.

In a live telephone interview on New York’s WABC Radio, Tokyo-based American entertainer Dave Spector remarked, “In America, it’s ‘Remember Pearl Harbor.’ In Japan it’s more like ‘Forget Pearl Harbor.’ “

Nonetheless, in a poll of 959 people conducted earlier this month by NHK, 34 percent of respondents said they “strongly approve” of Abe’s visit, with another 48 percent giving their qualified approval. Only 3 percent voiced completely negative opinions.

On the other hand, Sunday Mainichi (Dec. 25) opined, perhaps Abe’s not the right person to go there. After all, over the past several years it has been the Emperor and Empress who traveled to Saipan, Palau and the Philippines to console the war dead. A visitor from the Imperial Family would carry more weight than a prime minister and, Abe’s good intentions notwithstanding, it’s unlikely his visit will erase the lingering U.S. sentiment that the attack on Pearl Harbor was a “cowardly act.”

Contradicting most news reports, meanwhile, it appears that Abe might not necessarily be the first sitting Japanese prime minister to visit the USS Arizona Memorial after all. Shukan Post (Jan. 1-6) claims the former Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita also went there in June 1988, during his tenure as Japan’s leader.

Takeshita, while traveling aboard a government-chartered Japan Airlines DC-10, stopped in Hawaii on the return leg of a summit meeting in Toronto. The magazine’s check of airport flight records notes that Takeshita’s aircraft first flew from Toronto via Chicago to the island of Maui on June 24, for a two-night stay. At 8 a.m. on June 26, he flew to Oahu, and returned to Tokyo’s Haneda at 6:23 p.m.

Allowing for a flight of 30 minutes from Maui to Oahu, and the seven to eight hours flying time between Honolulu and Haneda, Takeshita would have had a stopover of from one to two hours in Oahu. No records exist, however, of his having gone to Pearl Harbor.

“While no record of such a visit exists, there have been cases where visitors do not go through military channels,” Daniel Martinez, chief historian at the USS Arizona Memorial, explained to Shukan Post.

A member of Takeshita’s entourage says that the prime minister slipped away to Pearl Harbor while the others in his entourage went golfing, so only a few Diet members could have accompanied him. Efforts to identify other eyewitnesses were inconclusive, but the story’s source emphasized, “I’ve only been to the Arizona memorial once, so my recollection couldn’t possibly be wrong.”

The Dec. 24 Tokyo Shimbun can claim bragging rights for nick-of-time historical research. It has discovered that two other prime ministers, Ichiro Hatoyama and Nobusuke Kishi, also visited Pearl Harbor during their tenures, in 1956 and 1957 respectively. The Hawaii Hochi newspaper covered the events.