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Forgiveness
The war crimes trials after the war were a source of bitterness and frustration for Mitsuo Fuchida. Although he himself was not accused, he could not understand the moral ...

Forgiveness

The war crimes trials after the war were a source of bitterness and frustration for Mitsuo Fuchida. Although he himself was not accused, he could not understand the moral basis for the victors putting the defeated on trial. The Japanese military code allowed for no mercy toward a fallen foe and abhorred the idea of any form of surrender. He was convinced that atrocities toward prisoners must have been committed on both sides. He eagerly sought out returning Japanese prisoners to confirm his feelings.

In the spring of 1947 he met an old acquaintance, Sublieutenant Kazuo Kanegasaki, who had been a survivor of the aircraft carrier Hiryu’s sinking during the Battle of Midway. Kanegasaki had eventually been held in a Colorado POW camp. He told Fuchida the remarkable story of an eighteen-year-old American girl named Margaret Covell who came to the camp as a volunteer worker.

Over time, Covell’s unusual compassion aroused the curiosity of the prisoners. One of them asked her, “Why are you so kind to us?” She answered,“Because Japanese soldiers killed my parents.” As the prisoners stared at her in astonishment, she explained that her parents were missionaries before the war at a mission school in Yokohama. When she learned they had been arrested and beheaded, she was choked with hatred at first. But gradually, she became convinced in her heart that her parents would have forgiven her captors. Could she do less? As a sign of her sincerity, she volunteered to serve the Japanese prisoners.

On hearing this story, Fuchida was thunderstruck. The concept of forgiveness was foreign to his “code.” A teenaged American girl seemed to have an answer to the problem of hatred and suspicion in the world. Fuchida knew that such towering goodness could not have a human source. He wondered, “Where did this great love come from this love that could forgive enemies their cruelest deeds?”

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

—Ephesians 4:32


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