Chapter 23-The Diary of Tokutomi Kowashi
It was May of 2003 when Tony officially secured the family name of the Japanese soldier. The Mission Foundation that had originated and paid for the dig of the soldier’s property said the name of the man was known by the Foundation simply as John Wesley which was why it was so hard to track down the soldier’s name. The soldier had become a Christian in 1937. His family had renounced him because of his new found faith. He had taken on an American Christian name, and, as a result, said, “Forever burying my given name for the sake of the Christ.”
These were words Tony found the diaries of the missionary, Paul Kinley. While reading them he found the story of John Wesley, the Japanese Christian soldier. Tony learned through deeper research that the soldier was Colonel Tokutomi Kowashi. His family had been in the tradition of the shizoku samurai. Although officially banned by the government in 1869 to receive any stipends or special ranking, the family had nonetheless carried on the samurai traditions.
Through the years the family had prospered turning to the western ways dropping most of the samurai trappings. Tony learned that the Colonel had kept up that tradition in the spiritual and physical sense to earn in his village and family’s eyes the rank of samurai. It had not influenced his military service record. His military victory and special commendation received, however, while in the Manchurian and the China campaigns by 1937, had distinguished Tokutomi Kowashi in military rank to lieutenant status.
All the time Tony was doing the research he had a peculiar feeling about Mr. John Wesley. He didn’t know what it would be like to have your family disown you for what you believed. He felt a sudden rush of humility pervade his emotions as he proudly lifted up the Japanese soldier in high esteem.
Shaking away the emotions of the moment Tony looked at the timer on his computer realizing he only had one hour before his afternoon class. This was Final’s Week. He was doing double duty in the absence of Rollie; teaching one of his history classes. Being Final’s Week gave him a little extra time to do the research on the soldier. Printing out a copy for his records he went upstairs to tell Cyndi that he was leaving.
On the way to the university Tony brooded over the facts from his research and transcribed them. John Wesley’s Japanese given family name was Tokutomi Kowashi. He had studied in the ways of the samurai earning highest recognition in that tradition. Young Tokutomi had come to America for his college studies at Yale University where he secured a law degree with specific emphasis upon military law and a PH.D from Southern Cal.
Tony was surprised of how much he was able to unearth in public records. From records found he learned that Tokutomi spoke fluent English. His father apparently had insisted on Tokutomi taking English and German languages as a child before college. Tokutomi’s enlistment in the army was a natural progression upon his return to Japan.
Since Japan was at war with Manchuria, enlisting as he did in 1932, he was given an officer ranking rising quickly through the ranks to lieutenant. Assigned as an intelligence and interrogation officer he had his first taste of combat five years after first enlisting. Most of his work prior to this time had been behind the scenes in an office translating documents handed to him by surveillance officers. His brigade had been sent to China. Since he had learned the language of the Chinese he was used exclusively as a translator.
It was in the Marco Polo Bridge south of Beijing, Tony learned, where Tokutomi earned his battle stripes. Tony finished the transcription noting his research of a Nanjing involvement, and records found indicating Tokutomi’s role in the interrogations of countless civilians who had been rounded up and then murdered.
Tony’s research confirmed mass acts of military atrocities against the civilian population in that city and others in China. Quite by happenstance the diary that he had sent off for translation arrived at Tony’s office that day and was on his desk when he arrived at the University. After his last class he poured into the contents of the diary translation. This proved to be instrumental in allowing Tony to make some final conclusions about this soldier Tokutomi. According to the diary, it indicated Tokutomi’s importance growing because of his knowledge of the German language. His involvement led to his oversight of the translation from German to Japanese of the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy in 1940. Tony found that fact fascinating, but he also discovered another side. The diary told more than just involvement in the war. It revealed the inner heart of this warrior.
Tony read with great interest that in 1937 Lieutenant Tokutomi Kowashi met a German missionary from the Philippines who was visiting an American missionary couple in Japan. They were an older couple who found out from whispers in the neighborhood that the Japanese soldier, home on leave, knew both English and German. The German missionary’s English language usage was very poor, according to the records written. The written records revealed his conversion experience to Christianity through the words he spoke in translation.
As he translated for the missionaries he became spiritually convicted of the atrocities he had witnessed, and took for himself the faith of the missionaries; a step which changed his life. According to the diary the soldier spoke of his pouring over the words written in the Bible and wondering how he was going to allow the war to shape his faith. Tony was fascinated by what the soldier wrote prior to his leaving for the Philippines. “When my leave ended I kept my faith cloaked, but I kept in contact with my friends, the missionary couple from the Mission, even when hostilities forced them to return to America.”
Reading further Tony found out that after the decision had been made to attack American forces in Pearl Harbor, Tokutomi was assigned to a brigade in the Philippines under the command of a General Hamma. The initial raids had been particularly brutal during the invasion of the Philippines.
Tokutomi briefly recorded one of the raids that Tony found especially relevant. “The passengers of the boat my brigade boarded were being systematically killed. I was at a dilemma because of my new faith. I sought out whatever means I could to transfer what civilians I could to jobs that would keep them alive. The savagery of many of our soldiers and even some officers with a higher rank than mine, before I arrived at the boat, were horrific. I ordered the men to stop the killing, and, in fact, I killed some of our own soldiers for their savagery. However, I regret, as a Christian, my outburst of anger resulting in that action. After the killing was stopped I ordered my men to find out information from the passengers that could be useful. One man said the word gold in English. Initially, I did not recognize him by his face. He spoke fluently in English to me. The interrogation proved successful as he revealed his name as Enrique Salazar Bocani, goldsmith artisan from Mindanao.” Tony realized he had uncovered some vital information.
He continued to read with great interest. “I told the goldsmith that my name was Colonel Tokutomi; Gaining his confidence the goldsmith led me and my men to his cabin where several gold items were found that this artisan had made or was planning to make. I determined that ESB would be a valuable asset to Prince Mikasa. In due time Enrique, the goldsmith and I became fast friends.” Tony flipped out in excitement.
There was a definite link. “Maybe there is a mention in the diary of the lockbox or even a treasure map?” he questioned as he continued reading. There was a star beside the next entry in the diary. The translation had come back from the translator with the original Japanese text above the translation into English.
Beside the star was the notation, “Moved to Prince Mikasa’s command as translator and legal envoy and promoted to Captain.” “Prince Mikasa?” Tony thought for a moment. Then it hit him. “Prince Mikasa was the youngest brother of the Emperor Hirohito.” He recognized the name from earlier research on the Emperor. He continued reading the diary in his office until 6:30 pm. Cyndi called wondering how long before he would be home.
Deciding to pack it in for the night he tucked the diary under his arm and headed out the door. School was now out for the summer. He had no classes to teach. There were the graduation ceremonies yet to participate in over the weekend, but after that he was free. As he drove toward home he wondered if Rollie had uncovered anything that would connect the gold coins to a treasure map. Rollie and Laurel were now in Australia where Tony wished he could be.
He and Cyndi had talked about participating in Laurel and Rollie’s trip to Japan. Cyndi had made a point to tell him that they would need to make their decision tonight so that arrangements could be made. When Rollie arrived back from Scotland for a short stopover Tony had teased him about acquiring a brogue in his speech. Rollie hadn’t really picked up the Scottish brogue, but Tony couldn’t help but tease. He missed being with Rollie and couldn’t wait to see them.
After dinner Tony retired to his study to continue his preview of the diary records. One entry dated 1945 indicated that Tokutomi, now a Colonel, had responsibilities to destroy sensitive documents especially those related to Kin no Yuri. Again Tony’s eyes grew wide at the indication of something he already knew. The words were translated Golden Lily in English.
The next entry dated June 1945 indicated that Tokutomi had been wounded and sent back to Japan for recuperation. “Not sure if I will continue this life,” the entry read. The last words came soon after with a short entry. “I fear my wounds will not allow me to return to my duties. My life may soon be over. I so much wish I could see my dear friend of the Mission Foundation, Brother Paul, who brought me to a new life.”
Tony closed the diary cover thinking through the linking clues in the diary. No gold was mentioned except for a confirmation of the goldsmith with the initials that matched the ESB inscription on his lockbox and key. Then there was the reference to “Kin no Yuri” the Japanese phrase for Golden Lily which is the same Golden Lily the FBI agents were concerned. Tony thought through the words written in the diary and the items he found in Tokutomi’s home that had been torn apart in an American bombing raid to Choshi. “What is the link?” he asked while pacing the floor; his analytical mind clicking as it always did when he was on a dig.
Internalizing what he had read up to this point, Tony determined, “If Tokutomi was associated with Prince Mikasa, who was also associated with his older brother Prince Chichibu and his oldest brother the Emperor Hirohito, he without a doubt came in contact with at least some of the gold rumored to be hidden throughout the Philippines.” Tony glanced at the codebook lying in his desk drawer. “The lockboxes were smuggled out as a cash item only. The codebook is the key.” Taking it out Tony held it up speculating the secrets it contained.
Rehashing the story he retold it from a basic prospective writing it down in his journal. “While in the army Tokutomi had great success as a translator ultimately rising in rank to Colonel. Prior to World War II he was converted to Christianity through missionaries associated with the Mission Foundation. While in the Philippines he met Enrique Salazar Bocani. ESB worked for the Prince Chichibu.” Tony grimaced reflecting on “slave labor” as he wrote. “During Tokutomi’s tour in the Philippines he witnessed gold smelted and crafted by ESB, and where it was hidden. My conclusion is the codebook leads to gold.” Finishing the entry into his notes he took out the trash as Cyndi had asked.