Sunday, 30 October 2016

Remembering Prince Mikasa

Prince Mikasa was married to Princess Yuriko for over 70 years
Prince Mikasa, the uncle of Japanese Emperor Akihito, passed away on Friday morning. He was 100 years old.

Reading his obituary in the paper, I read with interest how he was the only member of the imperial family with military experience, and because of that strongly advocated peace after World War II.

After he graduated from the Military Academy in 1936, the prince served in the cavalry regiment. He graduated from the Military Staff College in 1941 and was posted to then Nanking (now Nanjing), as an Imperial Japanese Army officer under a pseudonym in 1943.

The prince was posted in Nanking under a pseudonym
That city was the site of the infamous Nanking massacre by Japanese troops in late 1937 and early 1938. When the war ended he was 29 years old and a major.

Even before the war ended the prince began criticizing Japan's military leadership. In a book published in 1984, he recalled being shocked at atrocities committed by the Japanese military while he was serving in China for a year.

"Even today I constantly feel the sting of conscience over my failure to fully grasp the criminality of war," he wrote.

In a 1994 interview with Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, the prince recalled, "I was strongly shocked when an officer told me that the best way to train new soldiers is to use a living prisoner of war as the target of bayonet practice."

After the war he devoted himself to the study of ancient Asian history and taught at such universities as Tokyo Woman's Christian University and the Tokyo University of the Arts where he was paid US$6.40 a month.

The prince advocated peace after the war
He was the first in the Imperial family to get a driver's license and advocated birth control, even though he himself had five children. "It is not easy to practice what you preach," he conceded after the fourth child was born.

Together with Princess Yuriko, 93, whom Prince Mikasa married in 1941, he had three sons and two daughters, but the three princes died in 2002, 2012 and 2014.

When he turned 100 last December, The Japan Times reported the prince issued a statement thanking Yuriko for her support during their over 70 years of marriage, saying, "Nothing will change just because I turn 100 years old."


  1. ...about Japs, their bayonet & other brave practises, I am always reminded of 2 gifts to China:
    1.The Atom Bombs (well-deserved)
    2.The Chinese Communist Party (just let the brave Japs try their practises again. Ha, ha!

  2. ...forgot to add: similar greetings to Jap sympathizers.