Wednesday, April 14, 1999

Museum honors man who
planned Pearl attack

Japan's Adm. Yamamoto opposed the
war but he masterminded the strike
on U.S. ships in Hawaii

Associated Press


TOKYO -- A wing from a bomber and an English Bible are among the items on display at a new museum dedicated to the Japanese admiral who planned the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

Isoroku Yamamoto holds a special place in some Japanese people's hearts because he opposed the war and warned that Japan could never prevail over the might of the United States.

He opposed Japan's alliance with Italy and Germany, fearing war with the United States. But once he decided there was no alternative, he masterminded the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, which devastated the U.S. Pacific fleet and propelled the United States into World War II.

The $1.4 million museum in Yamamoto's hometown of Nagaoka, northern Japan, opens Sunday and will preserve the memories of the admiral "as a person," said Shinichi Hara, a Nagaoka resident who gathered donations from businesses for the museum.

"We think he wanted peace," said Hara. "It was the flow of the times that was behind what happened."

Last month, Japan opened its first national museum dedicated to World War II. It set off controversy because the exhibition fails to depict Japan's wartime atrocities or aggression. The museum, in Tokyo, focuses on Japanese civilian survivors of the war, skipping topics such as Pearl Harbor and the military's sexual slavery of Asian women.

The Yamamoto museum also skirts more public issues, centering on Yamamoto's personal artifacts, including a letter to his wife-to-be, Reiko, in which he asks her to marry him while warning that as a military man he would surely neglect her.

It also displays Yamamoto's works of calligraphy lamenting the destruction of war. A wedding photograph, his favorite deck of playing cards, his dagger and an English Bible of his also will be shown.

Yamamoto, who studied at Harvard University and later worked in Washington, D.C., was shot down by U.S. fighter planes while inspecting the front lines over the Pacific.

A wing from the Japanese bomber that he was aboard will be a centerpiece of the exhibition when the museum opens Sunday, the 56th anniversary of Yamamoto's death.

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