The death of General Nogi Maresuke

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Peter H
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The death of General Nogi Maresuke

Post by Peter H » 11 Sep 2005 06:33

From Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan by Herbert Bix,pages 42-43.

General Nogi's suicide in 1912.

At the beginning of the Taisho period, on the day of Emperor Meiji's funeral, General Nogi and his wife closed the door to their second-floor living room and prepared to end their lives. He had removed his uniform and was clad in white undergarments; she wore black funeral attire. They bowed to portraits of Meiji and of their two sons, killed in the Russo-Japanese War. While the funeral bells tolled, they proceeded to commit ritual suicide. Mrs. Nogi acted first; he assisted, plunging a dagger into her neck, and then he disemboweled himself with a sword. The departed hero of the Russo-Japanese War left behind ten private notes and a single death poem. (The writing of waka death poems was another practice from Japanese antiquity that was revised in the nineteenth century.) In one note he apologized for his action to four family members, including his wife, and acknowledged having contemplated suicide ever since losing his regimental flag in the war of 1877; he also mentioned his aging and the loss of his sons. In another note, to a military doctor, he bequeathed his body to medical use....

Nogi's death poem, intended for public consumption, told the nation that he was following his lord into death--a practice known as junshi that even the Tokugawa shogunate had considered barbaric and outlawed "as antiquated in 1663." Conservative intellectuals ... interpreted Nogi's suicide as a signal act of samurai loyalty, pregnant with positive lessons for the nation, and for its armed forces. Nantenbo, Nogi's Zen master, was so enthralled by the majesty of his pupil's action that he sent a three-word congratulatory telegram to the funeral: "Banzai, banzai, banzai." The Asahi shinbun, however, editorially criticized those who called for the establishment of a new morality by reviving bushido, and asserted that Nogi's harmful action could teach the nation nothing. Kiryu Yuyu, a writer for the Shinano Mainichi shinbun, went further, not only decrying Nogi's death as "thoughtless" and "meaningless" but warning presciently that "to comprehend death as loyalty" was a mistaken ethical idea that could only "end up encouraging great crimes in international relations."

When informed of "Schoolmaster" Nogi's death by the chamberlain in charge of supervising his education, Hirohito alone of his three brothers was reportedly overcome with emotion: Tears welled up in his eyes, and he could hardly speak. Doubtless he was too young really to understand the general's action, let alone the harmful effect that his anachronistic morality of bushido might have had on the nation. But as Hirohito remarked late in life to an American reporter, Nogi had a lasting influence on him, instilling precepts of frugality and stoic virtues of endurance and dignity to which Hirohito never failed to adhere. The brave Nogi was to Hirohito a giver of orders who meant what he said and was willing to lay down his life for his master. Hirohito not only identified with Nogi, he also derived from him the conviction that strong resolve could compensate to some extent for physical deficiencies. In Hirohito's imaginings, Nogi was to be emulated almost as much as his other hero, Meiji.


More on Nogi here,the victor of Port Arthur:

http://www.ndl.go.jp/portrait/e/datas/160.html?c=0

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 11 Sep 2005 06:38

The death of Nogi's two sons,under his command,at Height 203,Port Arthur.

http://www.npf.org.tw/PUBLICATION/NS/09 ... 92-159.htm

If Height 203 was taken and field artillery deployed there, Port Arthur would be bombarded to smithereens in no time. The Russians heavily guarded the hill. They were equipped with machine guns, that cut down charging Japanese troops like hay by a scythe. Thousands of Japanese officers and men were killed in their suicidal charges on the fortified hill. One of the charging Japanese officers was First Lieutenant Katsusuke Nogi, the elder of General Nogi’s two sons. The younger Nogi led a company attack and was shot down almost as soon as he gave orders to charge.

Immediately after that suicide attack, the younger brother of the fallen company commander was assigned to General Nogi’s third army. Second Lieutenant Yasusuke Nogi, fresh from the Military Academy, reported for duty at his father’s headquarters. General Nogi’s chief of staff decided to keep the young lieutenant as an aide-de-camp to the father. The general vetoed the decision of his chief of staff, who argued that if the lieutenant was not kept at the headquarters, he would be killed in action just like his elder brother and that there would be no son to continue the Nogi family line. General Nogi told his chief of staff: “If my two sons were not killed in action, how could I face the parents of those thousands of soldiers killed at the foot of Height 203?” Yasusuke was made a rifle platoon leader. He led his platoon on a suicide attack on Height 203 only a week after he had met his father at the latter’s headquarters. Height 203 was taken a couple of days after Yasusuke had been killed. The Russian garrison at Port Arthur surrendered in January 1905 soon after the Japanese had captured the fortified hill.

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Lt.Amuro
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Post by Lt.Amuro » 11 Sep 2005 15:39

Gen.Nogi is one of my favorite generals.

Nogi and Togo
Image

Nogi and Stessel
Image

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 12 Sep 2005 10:50

From Glenn's website.

Nogi in Vienna,1910:

Image
http://www.austro-hungarian-army.co.uk/ ... japan3.jpg

I assume he lost the banner of the 14th Regiment in the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877.

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Kim Sung
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Post by Kim Sung » 12 Sep 2005 14:29

In a novel of the famous Japanese writer Natsume Soseki, the death of General Nogi Maresuke is mentioned.

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