Human Torpedo turns Creative Consultant
by Hideo Nakajima
Hideo Nakajima, one of a few selected Japanese who were trained as human torpedoes, survived the war because it ended before his first mission. Meeting Moral Re-Armament after demobilisation he found a purpose for his future and a training for life. He then began using this training in his work in business, where he became sought after as a ‘trouble shooter’ for companies in difficulty. Later he joined the Caux Round Table.
IT was a fine day, the sky was blue, and the trees were green and fresh - a typical beautiful early summer morning on Mackinac Island, Michigan. When I entered the meeting hall in the Grand Hotel, which in those days had the longest porch in the world, I found just a few people in the hall and no Japanese at all. Until the day before, a Japanese delegation of about fifty were there. I was shocked and I panicked. All the other Japanese were gone and I was left alone!
Peter Howard and Paul Campbell, two close colleagues of Frank Buchman, came to see me and told me that I was invited to go to Los Angeles on the same train with Buchman. When I got to my compartment I found I had an upper berth and Peter had the lower one. In the next compartment were Paul and John Wood, another colleague at the heart of the MRA international force. So during the course of those three nights and four days they helped me clean up all the dirt accumulated in my character and I felt completely washed. This experience has helped me throughout life more than I can say. I saw my true nature and became convinced of the reality of sin.
In spite the name having been altered from MRA to Initiatives for Change, I hope the same fundamental conviction still exists among young people deep in their hearts.
During the second evening on the train, Frank invited me to have lunch with him the following day. All next morning, I was thinking and writing down what I should say to Frank and how to make a good impression. Lunchtime came, and Frank and I ate alone. I was trying to tell him what I had written in the morning, while Frank was watching the beautiful scenery of the American West passing, just as in a Western movie. Obviously Frank was enjoying both the view and the lunch, but I can remember neither. At the end of the meal Frank stood up, and I did the same. Frank said to the waiter, “Thank you. The lunch was delicious,” and walked back to his compartment.
I was thinking the whole afternoon and all next night. Early the following morning, a little voice in my heart came and said: “NOT Frank, but God!” Later, when Frank walked by, I said to him, “Not Frank, but God!” Frank stopped and looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and said, “That’s it, Deko, fine, fine, fine!”
This experience guided me throughout my life, for example when I served Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi during his time as secretary-general of the Asian Parliamentarians Union and afterwards as an Expert Committee member, and later still when I travelled with Prime Minister Take Fukuda. Both former prime ministers Kishi and Fukuda came to Caux in Switzerland with their wives, guided by Mr Saburo and Mrs Chiba, and did much to further rapprochement and normalisation of diplomatic relations after the Second World War.
Commitment to repent
There was a strange and awkward atmosphere at Manila airport. I had flown direct from the United States to Manila, and was at the airport to meet an international delegation of politicians and businessmen, as well as the cast of an international musical. What I saw there shocked me deeply. Every member of the delegation was welcomed with garlands of flowers except the Japanese. It was 1955; ten years had passed since the war, and I felt the people of the Philippines still harboured a deep hatred and resentment toward the Japanese.
All the members of the MRA delegation were invited by President Magsaysay to the presidential palace the next day. I had to present the Japanese delegation and left the Manila Hotel for the palace by taxi. “If you are going to meet with the president of the Philippines,” the taxi driver said to me, “you had better see one place on the way.” He stopped the taxi outside a ruined church and said, “Innocent people were burned to death here.” There were charred black stones inside on which victims had scratched their wills with their fingernails. I was shocked, and my first thought was, “I didn’t do it”. Then came another voice: “You attended the Naval Academy, so as a member of the Japanese armed forces you share the responsibility”.
I stood there and committed myself to God. “I will give my life to fight for Japan so that the same mistake will never be made again.” Half a century later, I still have the burning belief that I must fight for my country in this way.
President Magsaysay was very warm and grasped the importance of MRA, and for years his conviction was taken up by his successors. The MRA musical The Vanishing Island was performed to a packed audience. After the play, there were to be speeches by Niro Hoshijima, MP (who became speaker of the House of Representatives) and Kanju Kato, a Socialist MP who, because of his fiery nature, was called ‘Fireball Kato’. When they began to speak, the audience exploded and shouted back in Japanese with hatred, but when Yukika Sohma interpreted their heartfelt apologies for the past, with the same passion as the speakers, the entire theatre became deathly still and then burst into thunderous applause.
After the show, all the Japanese were standing in a corner of the theatre. A great many Filipinos surrounded us and told us how they had been made to suffer by the Japanese during the war but had found forgiveness for Japan that evening. People from both the Philippines and Japan were moved to tears. One person in a wheelchair came up and said, “I was healthy and normal but at the end of the war a Japanese soldier cut both my legs off. I had decided I would not speak about it as long as I lived, but when I heard leading Japanese sincerely apologising this evening I decided that though I cannot forget what happened to me I can forgive”.
Two by two
It was 1952 in Miami. We were preparing to go to Europe and Asia. Hisato Ichimada, Governor of the Bank of Japan, came to see Frank Buchman. Ichimada had come to the US with two purposes, first to secure money through the World Bank to build the Shinkansen (Bullet Train), and second to see Frank to talk over how to create an MRA Asian Centre. Frank and the cast of the musical Jotham Valley cared unstintingly for Ichimada. It so happened that when he was in Miami all the airlines were on strike, and he had seen how the struggle was settled in front of his eyes due to the efforts of MRA.
Ichimada, to whom Frank gave special care and attention, took his message deeply to heart. This clearly changed Japan. Ichimada approached top business people such as Keizo Shibusawa (grandson of Eiichi Shibusawa), Shinji Sogo who built the Japanese Bullet Train, Taizo Ishizaka who was chairman of the Federation of Japanese Economic Organizations (Keidanren), and Kichizaemon Sumitomo, head of the Sumitomo family. It was with their help that the MRA Asian Centre was built in Odawara.
It was due to Sogo’s commitment, together with Ichimada’s help in obtaining World Bank money, that the Bullet Train was built in time for the Tokyo Olympics. I worked with Ichimada when he was chairman of the Japan-India Society. He often recalled those days when he visited Frank in Miami. He once said, “That visit made my conviction clear. It was one of the turning points of my life”. On another occasion, we were gathered near the entrance of the hall in Caux, Switzerland, where we were holding the World MRA Conference. Kichizaemon Sumitomo and his wife were about to leave and Frank had come to see them off. “If you want to save your country,” he told them, “forget yourself and go all out.”
In the play Road to Tomorrow Sumitomo was cast as a tenant farmer who had stolen water. In the course of its tour of Japan it was performed at the birthplace and headquarters of the Sumitomo Corporation. All the top management were in the audience and everyone was shocked to see the ‘head of the family’ playing such a part. It was not only the Sumitomo people who were shocked but the whole city. And yet Sumitomo stood firm and spoke with deep conviction after the play.
Meanwhile, construction of the National Railways’ Shinkansen was going quite well, and National Railways governor Sogo visited Frank on Mackinac Island where an MRA world conference was being held. He expressed his gratitude to Frank for creating a really united spirit in the National Railways. After Sogo’s speech, everyone marched from the conference hall to the dining room with Frank and Sogo walking in front to the musical accompaniment of ‘Two by Two’.
Not right, not left, but straight
In 1958, Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi called Frank Buchman on the phone. Kishi was facing tremendous opposition in Japan influenced by agitation from the leftist camp. The prime minister explained the seriousness of the situation. Frank listened very carefully and said, “Please go not right, not left, but straight.”
On one occasion when Kishi was paying an official visit to several European nations, he brought with him to Caux Mrs Kishi and Takeo Fukuda (who later became prime minister) and his wife, together with Mr and Mrs Saburo Chiba. Later on, I was invited to work with these three statesmen and found out that Prime Minister Kishi had the idea of establishing diplomatic relations with Korea. Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda worked ardently to create heart-to-heart relationships with the ASEAN nations—the so-called Fukuda Doctrine. For his part, Saburo Chiba initiated the creation of the Asian Parliamentarians Union.
After he stepped down as prime minister, Kishi met President Park Chung-Hee of the Republic of Korea, and although President Park could speak eloquent Japanese, in those days circumstances did not allow him to do so. So I was invited to interpret Japanese into English, while a Korean interpreted from English to Korean. The main purpose of this meeting was to start to talk over how we could begin to normalise diplomatic relations between the two nations. Right at the beginning, Kishi expressed his heartfelt regret over the difficult years when Korea suffered because of Japan. As I was interpreting, I remembered that when Kishi had come to Caux he was very interested in the fact that Germany and France were beginning to build a new relationship through apology and forgiveness. After this discussion between him and President Park, normalisation talks were handed over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Japan-ROK relationship became normalised.
As prime minister, Kishi officially apologised to the ASEAN nations for what Japan had done during the Pacific war, and again at the joint meeting of the Australian Upper and Lower Houses he similarly expressed his regret for Japan’s actions. The Veterans’ Association of Australia was organising a demonstration against Japan, but after hearing Kishi’s apology they cancelled the demonstration, and soon afterwards the way was opened to normal diplomatic relations.
King and elevator boy
Frank Buchman was invited by many nations around the world, and his musical groups were received enthusiastically wherever they performed. World War 2 ended in 1945 but the world was divided into the eastern and western camps, and people were worried that we might face the same kind of disaster we had been through before. When we went around the various nations, leading politicians, industrialists and labour leaders were included in the delegation. And since I was president of a university student body, I was welcomed as a student leader. When we were invited to present our musical plays, the international group would visit places such as city halls, labour unions, and gatherings of university students.
It was like water flowing into a dry desert, since everybody was longing for ideas on how to keep peace in the world. And since every year the MRA world conference was held on Mackinac Island in the US and/or at Caux in Switzerland, national leaders also visited these places. When, as in the case of Japan, management and labour from leading industries participated together and found answers to their conflicts, whole nations began to wonder, “What is the secret?”
In this way, top government people began to be interested, and kings and queens, presidents and their first ladies, prime ministers and their wives did too, and news of this was always announced enthusiastically to the cast of the musical and the international delegates. Then when we talked to people we would mention “this country's king” or “that country's president”. In other words, we became swollen-headed.
Frank came back to Europe and visited Milan, in Italy. I was with him when we entered one hotel elevator and the elevator boy said, “Hi, Frank. Welcome back to Milan.” Frank called him by his first name and asked, “When do you get off work today?” “This afternoon, Frank,” he answered. Frank invited him to his room for tea. I was invited, too. When I entered, the boy was sitting there already. He was the only guest, and we explained MRA to him with the same conviction and passion as we would to kings and queens. I also spoke from the heart in telling him of my commitment to repent when I pledged myself to God in the Philippines.
Asian Parliamentarians Union
Saburo Chiba once visited Frank in Tucson, Arizona. After that, Chiba and I began to plan how to organise an Asian Union. One problem was the Japanese foreign aid programme that was typical of the bureaucratic attitude in government. Japan gave away huge amounts of money and material assistance, but always with self-serving strings attached.
Chiba, who had many friends in Asia before the war, was deeply concerned with this situation. Japan was trying to provide aid but was resented by the receiving nations because of this attitude. After talking this over with Prime Minister Kishi and Takeo Fukuda, Chiba and I were chosen to make the rounds with the object of organising such a Union. In the discussions that followed, the ODA programme among other matters was discussed with parliamentarians from the Asian nations and a list of priorities was drawn up. Almost no one in Japan realises how dangerous it was for our country when Mao Zedong and Chou En-lai made an all-out effort to oust Prime Minister Kishi and create a successful revolution in Japan. Kanju ‘Fireball’ Kato and his wife, Senator Shidzue Kato, together with Yukika Sohma, stood by the prime minister when the Japanese Parliament was surrounded by demonstrators who were attempting to overthrow the government.
It is very hard to convince people now how Frank Buchman protected the democracy that God had given us by taking his message to leaders and others during those days. This was why Prime Minister Kishi and his team strove so hard to build free and peaceful Asian nations.
Speaking at the ASEAN Conference in Malaysia, Takeo Fukuda, then prime minister, emphasized the importance of ‘heart to heart relationships’. Later, he became chairman of the Asian Parliamentarians Union and his heart-to-heart relationships became a household term among the APU nations. I accompanied Fukuda when he toured the ASEAN nations, and saw for myself how he gave his own heart to education and population problems. In Kishi I saw a man of strategy, in Chiba one of initiative, and in Fukuda a man who won hearts. They were the right men at the right time and all played important roles.
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Caux Round Table
The whole world was bashing Japan. Every nation was attacking the country because it was enlarging its share of products in their markets. The Japanese were puzzled. We were taught: “Work hard to produce better and cheaper products. Work hard to sell and increase your market share so you can sell better and cheaper products.” So the Japanese worked hard and single-mindedly. And the harder they worked the angrier the world became.
Fritz Philips, chairman of the Dutch company Philips, felt strongly that something should be done. His company had a special relationship with Matsushita and he knew many Japanese industrial leaders. He invited European, American and Japanese business and industrial leaders to Caux for a round table discussion. This came to be called the ‘Caux Round Table’ (CRT). Ryuzaburo Kaku, chairman of Canon, responded that “Japanese should live and work together for the common good”. He talked with top leaders of Japanese industrial companies. The Federation of Economic Organizations of Japan, and the Japan Committee for Economic Development responded and numerous companies took the need for social responsibility and ethics seriously.
Many nations joined the Caux Round Table, and it soon became clear that Western nations have a tendency to reason and theorise while Japan tends to emphasise the importance of the process and the result. People at the CRT meetings found it difficult to understand what the Japanese were thinking as they tended to just sit there and say very little.
Not long after the CRT was formed and the meetings were still going on, I talked with the late Peter Hintzen, a son-in-law of Fritz Philips. “How about giving one whole afternoon for the Japanese groups to report?” I suggested. The CRT responded favourably and Mr Kaku spoke about how one must begin by building unity among the managers of a company, then between management and labour, and expand that to other Japanese companies in the same field, and eventually to the whole world.
Frank Buchman taught that, “Unless you know what the other person is most interested in, you cannot make friends.” It is an invaluable lesson. Basic moral and ethical principles are vitally important in every level of our lives.