Mizuno Hironori Museum
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About Hironori Mizuno

Hironori Mizuno(1875〜1945)

His Infancy

Hironori Mizuno in a naval uniform
Hironori Mizuno in naval uniform
Hironori Mizuno was born in Mitsuhama, Onsen County, Iyo Province (present Mitsu, Matsuyama City, Ehine Prefecture). His mother passed away when he was only two years old, and his father Hisamatsu, who served as a warrior under the Iyo Matsuyama Clan, passed away when he was six years old. He had a brother, his senior of ten years and three elder sisters. Because his brother was handicapped with his leg due to a disease he had in his infancy, his father decided that Hironori would be his successor. After his father’s death Mizuno was sent to Sasaki, the brother of his mother and most trusted by his father. His parents entrusted Mizuno’s care to his uncle for the purpose of receiving a good education His brother and sisters were adopted by other relatives separately and brought up in unhappy home environments. He had been so naughty since his infancy and kept on getting into mischief with his elementary school friends. He was often forced to do after-school detention and sometimes inflicted with corporal punishments called ‘chokuritsu’ - in which a student is made to stand in front of the blackboard. However, he was smart enough to have gotten awarded in graduation examination. naval uniform

Quite a lot of money was needed to go to middle school in the Meiji era. It was often said in those days that a man could manage as long as he graduated from middle school. His father had gone through great lengths to save money for Mizuno’s education, even going as far as foregoing his own medication. Appreciating his father’s favor, Mizuno was able to continue to middle school. The position as a businessperson was not respected socially in those days when Japanese economy was not well developed. ‘Success’ meant not to become rich but to be a government official or military officer in those days. Mizuno hoped to join the army at first but later changed his mind to apply for the navy because his classmate told him that the navy had a brighter future.

The Naval Academy 〜 World War I

Photograph of a  torpedo boat
Photograph of a torpedo boat
 He failed the final exams for graduation in March, 1893 and was consequently forced to leave middle school. The subjects of admission to the Naval Academy were mathematics, English, and Chinese classics and no qualifications were required to take the entrance exam. At that time, it was not necessary to have a diploma or certificate issued by the principal. In the following year, however, some more general education subjects were added on to the above-mentioned three academic ones for admittance into the Naval Academy. Because he had not studied these subjects in earnest, he reentered middle school with the purpose of brushing them up over again. He successfully entered the Naval Academy of Etajima. After three years of training and ocean sailing, he was commissioned ensign at the age of 25.

The Russo-Japanese war broke out in 1904, the year after he was appointed a torpedo-boat skipper. During the war, he joined the Blockade of Ryojun Harbour Operation and the Battle of the Japan Sea as captain of the torpedo-boat flotilla. How he fought in the war is fully described in his books Sen-ei (The Shadow of War) and Kono Issen (This War). He authored those commentaries on the war at the order of the Military Headquarters. The articles were published in domestic newspapers and magazines, drawing attention for the fact that they were written by a military officer who took part in the real combat.

Text of Kono Issen(This war)'s manuscripts
Text of Kono Issen(This war)'s manuscripts

 Furthermore, because of Kono Issen (This War) he began to be treated as a man of letters. Literature enriched his life and after some introspection led him to be gradually dissuaded from coveting worldly titles and honors such as ranks or orders. Antipathy against the tyrannies of the strong and sympathy for the weak developed in his mind as he learned more and more about the status quo of society. In order to cope with the US military force which was then threatening to overpower Japan, he concluded that the only way for Japan to survive was to strengthen the Japanese naval potentials. With this idea in mind, he wrote yet another book titled Tsugi no Issen (The Next War) imagining a war between Japan and the US.

World War I occurred in 1914. Mizuno wanted to see with his own eyes this unprecedented world war, so he asked for permission to study in the European nations on a private basis. He set sail from Tokyo in July, 1916 and reached London by way of the Indian Ocean and the Cape of Good Hope. He surveyed things of London, Paris, and Rome and returned to Japan in August of the next year.

Study in Germany 〜 Activities as a Critic

Photograph of what appears to be a visa.
Photograph of what appears to be a visa.
 With the truce treaty signed in November, 1918, World War I was brought to a termination at long last. Mizuno made another trip to Europe privately in order to see the war-torn Germany. At the sight of a defeated Germany suffering in agony and misery, he could not but think about relationships between humankind and war, between state and war. While misery of those who lived in the defeated country is self-evident, Mizuno also wondered whether people of the victorious countries were happier than they were before the war. He found that each and every nation was suffering from famine, difficult livelihoods, and shortage of workforce. Even countries that had won the war were far from being able to make up for what was lost through the war.

Since Mizuno was at one point so obsessed with militaristic ideology as to consider war to be the best means to make a nation prosperous, his way of thinking was utterly overturned and shattered. After considering the morality of war and the value of humanity, he finally came to the conclusion that the abolition of military weaponry was of prime importance for realization of world peace and felicity of mankind.

In 1921, at the age of 46 Mizuno put an end to his 25-and-a-half-year military service. He resolved then and there not to bear arms himself unless legally authorized, and bid farewell to the sword for good. After retirement, he never ceased writing about the social condition in which all was geared to the Pacific War between Japan and the United States.

Quits the navy as captain to become a military analyst

Document of punishment
Document of punishment
 In January, 1921, the newspaper "Tokyo Nichinichi" (the present "Mainichi") published an essay Mizuno wrote in which he advocated the democratization and enfranchisement of the army. The public responded to the essay with much interest, saying that at last, even someone in the navy had come up to advocate "socialism". Because he had published the article with the permission of his supervisor, he was put under suspension for 30 days. On the August of that year he bid farewell to the navy for good. Since then, he switched from the sword to the pen and kept writing in leading magazines about abolition or disarmament of the military.

In one of his essays, he said: "The reason why the cabinet led by Premier Ugaki fizzled out early in the process of its formation was because there was a system under which the ministers of the Army and Navy must be assumed by the incumbent generals or admirals to constitute the cabinet. The military abused the system to prevent the cabinet from being formed by refusing cooperation. In other words, the reason why the military became able to manipulate the government can be attributed to this system." In this way, Mizuno penetrated into the defects of this system, emphasizing the importance of civilian control over the government. ("Chuo-koron" January issue, 1924) This indicates how far-seeing he was when the vast majority of the intellectuals had views quite opposite to his in those days.

Mr. and Mrs. Mizuno
Mr. and Mrs. Mizuno
In 1922, the Washington Disarmament Conference came to a conclusion. As the result, the number of capital ships Japan was allowed to possess was considerably restricted compared with those America and England could have. What's more, in 1924, in America, "The Anti-Japanese Immigration Law" was enacted, which set fire to anti-American sentiment among Japanese people in turn. This finally led to the declaration of war. There were some critics who went so far as to publish essays suggesting affirmation of the war against America. Mizuno was resolved to argue against this kind of agitation. He asserted, "If Japan should start a war against America, Japan would be sure to lose."

In January 1923, Prime Minister Kato and Strategy officer Uemura drafted a new-plan of self-defense that considered America an enemy state. On that occasion, Mizuno published an essay titled "Analysis of Japan's New Defense Plan". In this article, he states, "In modern war, it is not the strength of the armed forces alone national wealth and strength as a whole that play the leading role in deciding who wins or loses. All things considered, Japan is much inferior to America and could not stand a prolonged war.

"Only scatterbrains would come up with such a far-fetched idea as this defense plan". Needless to say, this was quite contrary to the prevalent public opinion. He also gave the following warning: "In a real war, the air force plays a first fiddle and then the whole part of Tokyo would be reduced to ashes overnight by an air-raid of American air force. We could not possibly avoid defeat if the war lasted long." What he predicted in his article, especially the Tokyo air raid and the succeeding defeat of Japan, became a reality 20 years later. As far as the conclusion of the Washington Treaty was concerned, he praised it so highly that he described it as the most sacred accomplishment human beings had ever achieved in history.

Mizuno was composed enough to use his own standard in seeing things from the proper perspective while most people were dancing to the tune of propaganda created by the government. Since he was aware that Japan's economy depended much on America, he described in metaphor like this: "If America wants to crush Japan, it won't bother to use cannons; American girls have only to go without silk." In this sentence he meant that cooperation between Japan and America was indispensable to Japan's economic growth and if the war should break out, a financial crisis would be sure to take place in Japan. Mizuno wished to avoid a war and kept severely criticizing those who were avid for a war against America in spite of not grasping the core of the situations exactly.

He advocates: No war with America; Disarmament; and the abolition of applying system of ministers in uniform

Hironori Mizuno in private clothes
Hironori Mizuno in private clothes
 In the fall of 1924, the Japanese navy carried out grand maneuvers in the Pacific Ocean with America as an imaginary enemy and this triggered a Japan-America war controversy all at once. Feeling danger in the rise of such public opinion, Mizuno suggested that the people of Japan and America should keep cool-headed.

He suggested that the cause of antagonism between Japan and America was based on mutual fear and apprehension as well as in vanity and conceit the Japanese people had regarding the war and their national character. He also criticized the mass media, the scholars and the imperialists for arising such suspicion and fear in the Japanese people. In January 1924, Issei Ugaki took office as War Minister and he set his hand to disarmament for the first time since the military organization had been established. To this Mizuno agreed wholeheartedly and in speaking to those in the military that opposed the disarmament, he argued that national defense should be focused on the defense of a nation. He also said that it must never be the defense of military personnel absolutely and those participating in national defense ought to be trusted by the nation They must strive to show prudence internationally and to be insightful internally. They must also not be militaristic nor who worship imperialism. It is surprising that there existed such a man who could judge things this way at the time when the majority of people were beginning to lose sight of the meaning of national defense.

He advocated that the system of appointing only military and naval officers to the ministers of army circles and the independence of the prerogative of supreme command should be abolished because these two were important factors with which the government was manipulated by the military authorities. Regarding the military and naval officers in the ministerial system he mentioned that the right man should be appointed to the right place regardless of whether he or she was from the civil functionaries because if the military personnel should deny alliance by this system there would be fear that no one would find it possible to form a cabinet and maintain it. Furthermore, as for the theory of the independence of the prerogative supreme command, Mizuno pointed out that if political tactics were sacrificed for army strategy, there would be fear that the damage would be tremendous.
(Theory of abolition of appointing system of the military ministers- August issue of the "Chuo-koron" in 1924.)

Prohibited from writing, alluding feeling in poems

Aggravation of circumstances made him give up writing. In 1934, Mizuno expressed his true feeling in the form of short poems, as follows:

(There are military personnel who are self-conceited and warlike enough to feel that they are sure to win any battles.)

(Some ambitious people agitate the uneducated people in public to the verge of a war.)

(Majority of innocent people tend to be misled by bragging and bluffing of those who don't live up to their commitments.)

(If we wage a war, we will soon be surrounded by foes in all directions. 3,000-year-old history seems evanescent, and we will perish in a flash.)

(It's obvious that we will end up in defeat as the result of pursuing the unrealistic dream of invasion. It's the people who will take the consequence of that.)

(I wonder if those who are about to wage a war are really sure that things they obtain by force are to be taken away from them by force in the same way.)

Mizuno’s criticism of Hitler and of the then political situations in Japan

Cover of a book of "Senei"
Cover of a book of "Senei"
 (He saw right through what Hitler really was.)

As Japan was heading for WWII, Mizuno's opportunities for expressing his views and comments in the media were gradually limited and so he had no other choice but to vent his personal complaints in his diary.

In 1939, WWII started with Hitler invaded Poland. Mizuno wrote as follows: "Military alliance between Germany and Italy has been formed. There are many people who advocate Japan's joining it. Dangerous!" He also caricatures the alliance in the form of a haiku poem.

  "Two foolhardy samurai
  go on a cherry blossom viewing spree
  hand in hand"

On the Cession of Poland he wrote in his diary of September 22, 1939: "This is a day-light robbery. The Soviet Union has finally degenerated into aggressionism. What's the difference between socialist regimes and capitalist nations? Stalin has also proved to be a slave to imperialism. What's the difference between Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini?"

There were sharp criticisms in his diary of Hitler's arrogant and self-centered behavior and Stalin's imperialism. In addition to that, he complained about Britain and France keeping a low profile. Also, he condemns Hitler severely in his September 30th diary entry.
"Does he have any conscience? Does he have any common sense? He is not only the destroyer of peace but the subverter of morals. I mistrust German people's conscience, since they chose him as the Fuhrer and defer to his commands submissively. How detestable, how despicable! That sort of evil must be eliminated. However, there are many Japanese who still respect Germany and adore Hitler. Aren't they slow-witted, stupid creatures? That sort of thing is a shame to those who believe in righteousness. What will cowardly Britain and France do in the face of Hitler's arrogant and shameless Proclamation?"

Looking back from the present day, Mizuno's warnings and predictions may be taken for granted. However, taking into consideration the political and social situation 70 years ago, how many of the intellectuals could have made those kinds of analytical comments with such accuracy?

Ban on Writing, Evacuation, and Death

Monument to Hironori Mizuno in Shojyu-ji(Shojyu temple)
Monument to Hironori Mizuno
in Shojyu-ji(Shojyu temple),
16-3 Suehiromachi Matsuyama-city
 Yuyu Kiryu (1873~1941) wrote in his critical essay (dated 8/11/1933), The Great Anti-aircraft Maneuver in "the Kanto District Is a Laughing Matter": If hostile planes were to air-raid Japan Proper, they would do immense damage to the cities and disable our ability to strike back. He also warned that it would be almost nonsensical to try to put out the fire bombs by carrying bucketfuls of water from hand to hand. About a decade prior to Kiryu, Mizuno had shown his extraordinary insight and foresight which his contemporaries never possessed then and continued to ring warning bells against war. However Mizuno should not be thought of as an anti-war campaigner, but rather as a man of philosophy, science, rationalism and a pioneer of freedom and liberty.

In February of 1941, the Intelligence Bureau of the Government presented a blacklist to the Chuoh Kohron Monthly Magazine for which Mizuno had written. Being on the list, his contributions were banned thereafter.

In 1943, while Japan was facing defeat near the end of the war, Mizumo was obliged to retire for a change of air to the isle of Toshima, his native village, annexed today to Imabari City of Ehime Prefecture in the Seto Inland Sea. It was there that he learned the war had come to a tragic close.

On the 15th of August, 1945 Japan lost the war. In his letter to his friend Matsushita the day after the defeat, he honestly wrote: As a soldier in a march to defending the nation, I could not fulfill my duty at the mercy of government, thus allowing Japan to be lost to the war. Regarding Japan after the war, he stressed the paramount importance in changing the public opinion and abandoning the superstition that the Emperor was to be revered as the Living God (9/27/1945). He advocated abolishing the Emperor System and establishing the new political regime by the free will of the populace.
On the 18th of October, 1945 Mizuno died in a hospital of Imabari City, Ehime Prefecture, at the age of 72.

He had expressed his view in the following 5-7-5-7-7-syllable tanka poem:
Without flattering the world,
Nor fawning upon the people,
I shall go on my own way
Which I believe to be right.
This tanka is engraved as an epitaph on his tombstone which lies in the precinct of Shojuji Temple in the city of Matsuyama. It is not too much to say that the verse truly represents the way he lived as a pacifist who opposed any kind of war for any reason.

Relations between Hironori Mizuno and the Akiyama Brothers

The preface was written by Saneyuki Akiyama for a book of "Senei".
The preface was written by Saneyuki Akiyama for a
book of "Senei".
  With the collapse of the samurai society during the Meiji Restoration and the death of his father shortly afterwards, Mizuno was the very picture of a feudal retainer when he was confided at the age of 6 to the Sasakis' care, his maternal uncle's family.

The Akiyama Brothers were Mizuno's cousins on his father's side and he would often visit the Akiyama household in Naka-Kachimachi. Saneyuki Akiyama had contributed a foreword to Mizuno's ' Senei', a work published in Ryojun Kaisen Shiki in 1914 which Mizuno himself held in high regard, but for some reason or another his foreword was not adopted.

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