The Japanese Scouting Unknown Soldier Story

by | Feb 4, 2021

About 70 years ago, in the final days of the second world war, the U.S. marines and Japanese Imperial army soldiers were fighting in an area of the southern Pacific Ocean.

On One of the small islands of the Pacific, the marines, among them one from Salt Lake City, were in combat against a Japanese army garrison.  One of them was wounded on his left foot and he fainted.  His own fellow soldiers didn’t know about his injury, and they moved on to the next combat area.

How much time had passed, he didn’t know, and then he woke up.  As he looked around the combat area, he understood that he was the only one still alive.  He could not stand up himself, and all he could do was wait for his fellow marines to come back to get him.  About one hour later, he heard a faint noise.  He weakly looked in the direction of the noise.  Something caught his eye.

A Japanese!… not an officer… he thought to himself.

The Japanese soldier quickly moved in the shadows, and very carefully kept a low position.  His helmet was camouflaged with grass.  He looked at things and paused from time to time, taking stock of his position.  He was looking for his fellow Japanese soldiers.  His type 38 rifle had a long bayonet; it reflected the orange evening sun.  The marine felt a cold sweat running down his back, and his breathing became a bit noisy.  The Japanese soldier heard this.  When the marine when to get his pistol from his holster, he made some noise.  The Japanese soldier jumped away quickly and looked at the marine.  They were only ten meters apart.  The American had been found.  The Japanese carefully approached him and realized that the marine could not move.  The soldier cocked his rifle.

I am going to die on such a little island, so far from my home, thought the American marine.  The Japanese will kill me.  My life will be over.

The Japanese soldier was young, about the same age as him.  His eyes showed hatred.  He decided not to use his rifle, as it would be too noise, and swung up his bayonet like a lance.  The marine lost consciousness again, as he reflexively covered his face…

He came around again, later.  The sky was dark, and it had beautiful shining stars in it.  From the beach, there were flashes, and the sound of artillery.  I am still alive, he thought.

The Japanese soldier was gone, and the marine’s foot had a good bandage on it.  Who took care of me, wondered the marine?

After some hours, he was rescued by his fellow soldiers.  The friendly marine picked up a folded piece of paper from a burnt branch and thrust it in his pocket.

At the field hospital, he remembered and opened the paper and read it.  It was written in good English.

Dear you,

When I went to kill you with my bayonet, you unconsciously saluted me with three fingers.  I understood you are a brother Scout.  I was a Japanese Boy Scout.  We are brothers.  I cannot kill my Scout brother.  You fought bravely against my unit, and you were wounded.  Soldiers who are injured become non-combatants.  My country follows Bushido, the Samurai’s Code of Honor, like your knights in the middle ages.  Samurai never kill injured Samurai.

It is amazing that you are a real American soldier, a bitter enemy to me.  I nursed your injury.  Sorry, I did not have satisfactory medicines.  Good luck!  In better times, maybe we would have met at a Scout Jamboree.

World War II was over soon.  The allied forces won.  The marine returned to Salt Lake City, and he told his family about this story.  His father was greatly impressed, and he recounted the story to a Mr. Jackson, who was a top leader in the B.S.A.  The father said that this story was evidence of true international brotherhood.

After a lapse of several years, the United States held an international Scout meeting.  Mr. Jackson told this story to the delegation from Japan, and he asked the delegation to look for the Japanese soldier.  But they could not find him.  Probably the soldier did not return to Japan.  Maybe he fell in combat.

This unknown soldier story was circulated among Japanese Scouts.  The story inspired them, and they were proud of the unknown soldier.  The started an unknown soldier fund, contributing from their meager savings.  After several more years, they were able to build a monument.  The tribute to this unknown soldier shows a Japanese soldier holding a U.S. marine in his arms.

You can see this relief monument at Kodomo-no-Kuni children’s park in Yokohama.  In front of the relief is a Scout statue which proudly guards the two honorable soldiers.