Today marks the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour and CBN had an interesting story on how Captain Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese pilot, who organized and led the Pearl Harbor attack on Dec 7, 1941, became a Christian, ironically, due to the influence of Jacob DeShazer.
Because DeShazer was an American air force service man, who was captured after his plane went down in China after the Doolittle Raid, that saw US B-25 bombers target several industrial sites in Japan in 1942, as a direct response to the Pearl Harbor attack.
Since the bombers did not have enough fuel to return to their carriers, they were told to fly on to China to hopefully be rescued by friendly Chinese soldiers or citizens.
DeShazer and his B-25 crew were captured by Japanese forces the day after their plane ran out of gas earlier than expected, forcing them to parachute into Japanese-controlled, Chinese territory.
DeShazer spent the next 40 months in prison of war camps in Japan and China. He was not only starved, beaten and tortured, but also spent 34 months in solitary confinement.
An atheist prior to the war, DeShazer asked a prison guard for a Bible. Though he only had the Bible for three weeks, it not only motivated DeShazer to become a Christian, it also provided him strength to persevere through the remainder of his imprisonment.
His reading of the Bible also resulted in him treating his prison guards with respect. And this, along with DeShazer’s decision to learn a few Japanese words, resulted in the guards improving their treatment of DeShazer.
After the war, DeShazer attended Bible School, and in 1948, he and his wife returned to Japan as missionaries.
It was here that DeShazer met Mitsuo Fuchida who had become a believer in 1950 after reading a tract that DeShazer had written entitled, “I was a prisoner of Japan.”
But God had started prepping the soil of Fuchida’s heart a few years earlier, as he had previously been impacted by the story told by Kazuo Kanegasaki, who had previously flown with Fuchida.
After the war, Fuchida was called to testify at the trials of Japanese military leaders. Convinced, that the allies had treated their prisoner similar to how the Japanese treated theirs, he sought out returning Japanese soldiers who had been imprisoned by the allies, hoping to use that information during the trials.
In 1947, he stumbled upon Kanegaski, who had been imprisoned after the battle of Midway. Fuchida had also fought at Midway.
Not only had Kanegaski been treated well by his captors, he shared the story of Peggy Covell, a young woman who had been particularly nice, even though her missionary parents had been killed by Japanese soldiers in the Philippines.
Having been raised under the Bushido code that considered revenge an honourable act, Fuchida could not understand how Peggy could love and forgive those responsible for her parent’s death.
Fuchida would go on to become an evangelist, sharing his faith in the US, Asia and Europe. He also wrote several books about the war, including From Pearl Harbor to Calvary. Fuchida died in 1976 at the age of 73, due to complications from diabetes.
The Doolittle Raid
The Doolittle Raid that was launched on April 18, 1942, in direct response to Pearl Harbour, was intended to show that Japan was susceptible to similar attacks.
The raid organized by Jimmy Doolittle launched 16 US B-52 from US aircraft carriers to bomb industrial targets in Tokyo. Since the bombers did not have enough fuel to return to the carriers, they were told to continue on to China, where they would hopefully be rescued by Chinese resistance groups who were fighting Japanese forces.
Sixty-nine of the 16 five-man bomber crews eventually made it back to the US. One crew member was killed in fighting, two drowned and eight, including DeShazer, were captured by Japanese forces, three of whom were eventually executed.