TOKYO Manuscripts of an autobiography by Mitsuo Fuchida, best known as the pilot who led the air attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and transmitted the famous signal "Tora, tora, tora" that indicated that complete surprise had been achieved, have been kept by his elderly son.
The manuscripts describe the briefing on the attacks that his father, then a lieutenant commander in the Imperial Japanese Navy, gave to Emperor Showa, and recount how rivalry among officers affected major strategies stories that had previously remained untold.
Fuchida commanded the air squadron on the aircraft carrier Akagi, which was among the carriers used in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The manuscripts were written by Fuchida between the ages of 65 and 73, when he died. After his death, his eldest son, who lives in the United States, kept the manuscripts, not showing them to anyone for about 30 years. Two years ago, however, journalist Seiichi Nakata learned of the manuscripts and began work putting the papers in order.
According to the manuscripts, 18 days after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Fuchida went with Fleet Admiral Osami Nagano to the Imperial Headquarters to brief Emperor Showa on the results of the attacks, using sketches and photos.
The emperor was fascinated by the photos, looking at them from all angles, according to the manuscripts.
The scheduled 30-minute audience was extended to 90 minutes. After the audience, the emperor left with the photos, saying that he wanted to show them to the empress, Fuchida wrote.
The emperor, who had been reluctant to attack the United States, must have had mixed feelings on seeing the photos, but displayed his warm-heartedness by showing his concern for the empress, who was worried about the war, Nakata said.
To honor the nine servicemen who died aboard submarines that were sunk during the attacks, the Imperial Headquarters designated them "Kyugunshin" (Nine Military Gods), and announced that they were responsible for sinking the U.S. battleship Arizona, which had actually been sunk by the air attack, according to the manuscript. As a result, naval staff officers had to work hard to mollify the air crews, who were angry to be denied credit for their efforts.
Minoru Genda, then chief of staff of the Imperial Japanese Navy, was a classmate of Fuchida at the Naval Academy and directed the air operations in the early stages of the attacks.
According to the manuscripts, Genda, who became a lawmaker in the House of Councillors after the war, complained in June 1942, while en route to the Battle of Midway, that there was no time for him to prepare strategies for the battle as he was busy putting the navy in order after the Pearl Harbor attack.
The manuscripts attributed Japan's defeat in the war to arrogance and an underestimation of U.S. naval strength.
The Imperial Japanese Navy lost four of its main aircraft carriers in the Battle of Midway, with the losses turning out to be a major turning point for Japan in the war.
Fuchida suffered serious injuries in the battle, but went on to teach at a naval university and later became a staff officer responsible for air operations for the Japanese Navy, holding the post until the end of the war. After seeing the devastation caused by the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Fuchida converted to Christianity and traveled to the United States to preach his new religion.
Reading the manuscripts, writer Masayasu Hosaka said it was unprecedented for a commander to have been given an audience with the emperor.
"It goes without saying that the manuscripts are of great historical value. His life was also very interesting because he was a military man and a Christian," he said.
The manuscripts will be published soon by Kodansha Co.