By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
Yuko Tojo Iwanami, granddaughter of General Hideki
Tojo, who ordered the attack on Pearl Harbor, visits
the USS Arizona Memorial today.
fulfills Tojos wish
She lays a wreath at theBy Gregg K. Kakesako
USS Arizona Memorial for
the general who ordered the
attack on Pearl Harbor
Although more than 4,000 people visit the USS Arizona Memorial daily, today's pilgrim had a special tie to the site.
Her grandfather, Japanese General. Hideki Tojo, ordered the raid that dragged the United States into World War II.
Through an interpreter, Yuko Tojo Iwanami, 59, said she was fulfilling her grandfather's dying wish "to hold memorial services for fallen U.S. Navy sailors and American soldiers who gave their lives for their country."
Tojo was Japan's prime minister from 1941 to 1944. He was hanged by the Allies as a war criminal.
Iwanami was accompanied by her daughter, Nahoko Iwanami, 20, who will begin studying at South Seattle Community College this summer. The two will leave for Washington, D.C., tomorrow, where Yuko Tojo Iwanami hopes to place a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery.
She said her trip was prompted by a 50th-anniversary service on Dec. 23, 1998, honoring military people who were executed by the Americans after the war.
National Park Service Superintendent Kathy Billings said Iwanami wrote to the agency two weeks ago asking permission to lay a wreath at the memorial.
"Anyone is allowed to place a wreath or flowers at the memorial," Billings said. "We get people from all around the world who do that."
Navy veteran Warren Verhoff, who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, questioned the purpose of Iwanami's visit.
He described her grandfather as a "butcher."
"I know that he and Hitler started the whole mess," said Verhoff, who was aboard the USS Keosangua on Dec. 7 when it was bombed by the Japanese.
Stanley Igawa, a veteran of three wars, said he wasn't happy to learn that Iwanami planned to visit the memorial, where he works as a volunteer guide.
"I don't think this is a place for her to be," Igawa said. "This is just my personal opinion ... I just don't think it's a good idea."
The memorial was built in 1961 to remember the 1,177 Arizona crewmen killed during the Japanese attack on Dec. 7, 1941. The attack sank 21 American warships, killed 2,338 military personnel and civilians and destroyed 165 planes.
Yuko Tojo in 1992 published a memoir of her grandfather, which became the basis for a movie last year, "Pride," which portrayed the Japanese leader as a victim of the Allies.
Iwanami said she today she "wanted to contribute to the continuing friendship between the U.S. and Japan."
She also said she plans to build a memorial hall in Palau to honor all the soldiers, sailors and Marines who died in a battle there.