A WWII Japanese soldier’s ‘good luck flag’ is returned to his family from U.S. museum

A WWII Japanese soldier’s ‘good luck flag’ was returned to his family from a U.S. museum, after having on display for 29 years.

Driving the news: The flag, known as “Yosegaki Hinomaru,” carries the soldier Shigeyoshi Mutsuda’s name and the signatures of his relatives, friends, and neighbors.
* It had been donated and displayed at the museum aboard the USS Lexington, a WWII aircraft carrier, in Corpus Christi, Texas since 1994.
* The flag’s connection with the Mutsuda family was not discovered until earlier this year, which led to its return courtesy of museum director Steve Banta.

Key Connections: The link to the flag’s original owner was made when a visitor took a photo of the flag and sought an expert’s advice on its history.
* The grandson of Shigeyoshi Mutsuda saw the photo and brought it to the attention of the Obon Society, a nonprofit organization that has returned about 500 similar flags to descendants of Japanese servicemembers killed in the war.

Family Reaction: When the flag was handed over, family members including the soldier’s eldest son, Toshihiro Mutsuda, were overcome with emotion.
* Misako Matsukuchi, the soldier’s daughter, later said: “After nearly 80 years, the spirit of our father returned to us. I hope he can finally rest in peace.”

Historical Context: The family chose to receive the flag at Tokyo’s Yasukini Shrine, where the 2.5 million Japanese war dead are enshrined.
* The shrine is controversial due to the inclusion of convicted war criminals among those commemorated, but for the Mutsuda family, it’s an important place to pay tribute to their lost father and husband.

View original article on NPR

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