昭和 16 年 12 月八日
Ito and Yamashita sat inside the minister’s office. In front of them, on the desk, cleared of reports and files, sat a square box, a speaker. A wire, jury rigged along the ceiling and wall disturbs Ito’s sense of aesthetics. The technicians who installed it yesterday did a very poor job in his opinion, but Yamashita assured him that the offending speaker and wire would be taken down soon.
Last night they did not go home. After they finished work, Yamashita treated him to dinner and took him to a teahouse, 夏月, summer moon. There they enjoyed sake, and the pleasant conversation of two geisha who poured the drinks, played koto and sang for them.
They left the teahouse late, very late, and returned to the office across from the Navy headquarters.
Prime minister Tojo wasn’t pleased about their location. Never a very diplomatic man at the best of times, the general was voicing his displeasure in clearer and clearer terms. Officially he expressed concern that the distance from Tokyo and the rest of the government would hinder the minister of munitions and supply in performing his all important mission.
Of course, his concern was that the Navy, and his rival Yamamoto, would have too much influence on the minister and through him on the Japanese economy.
But that was a concern for another day.
On the desk, beside the speaker, was a bottle of Johnnie Walker and two glasses. Ito poured the Scotch for his master, and himself. He was unaccustomed to the expensive, foreign drink. Yamashita loved it and had ordered his assistant to purchase several cases two days ago. Ito spent two days searching through all stores in Hiroshima buying all available supplies of the liquor. Curiously, he met his friend Shiro, Yamamoto’s assistant on exactly the same mission. It did not take a genius to put two and two together.
“Kyō desu ka?” he asked.
“Yes,” Yamashita said, “today’s the day.”
North Pacific Ocean.
The cavernous hangar smells like oil, and gas. Inside the A6M2 fighters, the B5N2 level bombers and the D3A1 dive bombers, fueled and armed, sit, waiting. The mechanics have swarmed over them throughout the night, checking, cleaning, oiling, and fussing over the machines like a mother over her children. Now, the mechanics stand along the side of the hangar wearing overalls strangely devoid of a single spot of grease.
The flight crews woke up early and, despite the necessary water restrictions, they carefully wash and shave. They change into clean fatigues reserved for the occasion. Tradition demands that they enter combat with clean uniforms to show respect for the enemy. Many wear, under their uniforms, the thousand stitch vests, sent by loved ones, that should protect them from enemy bullets.
The kitchen serves them breakfast, tea, soup, rice balls. The best they can give their warriors.
Lieutenant commander Shigero Itaya climbs on the cockpit of his fighter. A green light flashes on the tower. He pushes the throttle forward, holding the plane back with the brakes and then, he is off. He doesn’t see the ground crews cheering as his aircraft rushes down the all too short flight deck. His machine appears to drop of the bow of the carrier but in a moment he rises above the deck and a new cheer rises on the deck.
ばんざい! ばんざい! ばんざい!
Similar cheers fly out of other flight decks. The airplanes head south west.
The first formations arrive over Pearl Harbor at dawn. Surprise has been achieved.
“To, To, To.”
Even before the first bombs fall, an explosion hides the side of a battleship: SSX Ha-19 scores the first blow of the war on the side of West Virginia.
Then, all hell breaks loose.
Itaya leads his hikotai strafing the airfield. All kinds of enemy airplanes burst into flames under his guns. His men, and Kaga’s do a brilliant job, not a single enemy airplane makes it into the air.
At a cost.
16 A6M2 fighters will not return.
The speaker on the desk breaks the silence in a burst of static.
“To, To, scrchh To.”
“Surprise has been achieved,” Yamashita translates.
Other signals come in.
West Virginia: 3 torpedo hits, 3 bomb hits, plus Ha-19s torpedo.
Oklahoma: 1 torpedo hit.
Tennessee: 6 bomb and 3 torpedo hits.
Maryland, Bomb hits 5, Torpedo hits 3.
California, Torpedo hits 4,
Nevada, Bomb hits 5, Torpedo hits 4,
Pennsylvania, Bomb hits 2, Torpedo hits 1
Arizona, Bomb hits 3, Torpedo hits 4
At Khota Baru, Singora, and a myriad other places, the Japanese forces strike against the European colonial powers.
When, at last, the speaker falls silent, the bottle of Scotch stands empty on the desk.
Appear at places to which he must hasten; move swiftly where he does not expect you.