One of the last living Japanese naval aviators, Bishop Paul Saneaki Nakamura spoke to members of the U.S. Marine Corps last month recounting his conversion to Christianity.
One of the last living Japanese naval aviators, the former Anglican Bishop of Okinawa, the Rt. Rev. Paul Saneaki Nakamura spoke to members of the U.S. Marine Corps last month recounting his training as a kamikaze pilot in the closing months of the Second World War and of his subsequent conversion to Christianity. “The ultimate message I wanted everyone to leave here with is that arms will never achieve peace,” Bishop Nakamura told the III Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Hansen. “Peace only comes through discussion, dialogue and an understanding of each other.” Bishop Nakamura, a native of Okinawa was a member of the Special Missions Unit of the Imperial Navy Air Corps and trained fledgling aviators how to crash their planes into American naval vessels in order to halt the advance on the Japanese home islands in 1945. The bishop was stopped from carrying out his own mission when the war ended. The shock of defeat changed Bishop Nakamura’s life. “We gave our lives and placed our loyalty wholeheartedly to the emperor, and he betrayed and severed Okinawa. And that is the time I decided to stop worshipping the emperor,” he said. It was through war and defeat that he “found true freedom and peace through God. … Despite the hardships I endured, becoming a Christian has given me faith, joy and hope again,” the bishop said. US Naval chaplain Lt. Andrew Burns, the organizer of the meeting said he wanted to help Marines “understand the mindset of an individual willing to give up their life, tying back into the conflicts of today with Afghanistan and Iraq, … It has to do with the beliefs and the faith the individual has, whether in a divine being or an emperor. We can compare and contrast what causes these decisions.”