A Chimney (part 2)


(read part 1 here)


It happened a year after the Korean War broke out, Japan regained its own sovereignty by becoming a disarmed state: “Japan desires, as a provisional arrangement for its defense, that the United States of America should maintain armed forces of its own in and about Japan so as to deter armed attack upon Japan.” [1]

*   *   *

Goodbyes were hard – most of her huihui-san friends left Japan after the Korean War. Appreciative of what the huihui-sans had done in taking care of Turkish wounded, the Turkish government showed their gratitude by giving the huihui-sans what they desperately wanted and needed – nationality.

When the USSR was established in 1922 White Russians lost their nationality. Japan had a discriminatory, ethnocentric nationality system. Thus huihui-sans remained stateless foreigners in Japan guarding their religious freedom the best they could.

*   *   *

The Turkish government’s appreciation of human lives was direct, brave, and effective. And they remember long, too. It was such selfless humane deeds that saved 215 Japanese. Two Turkish Airlines’ DC-10s[2] flew over Iranian territory during the Iran―Iraq War to evacuate them, when Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein had warned that in a few days Iraq would attack all aircraft flying over Iranian territory. The Japanese Ambassador in Iran had requested rescue aircraft, and the Japanese government’s response was to attain a assurances from both Iran and Iraq that the planes would be safe. These guarantees unforthcoming, the rescue aircraft from Japan never arrived.[3]

It was the Turkish who understood the predicament of people stranded in a war zone, the desperate need for rescue. They remembered Japanese villagers from Kushimoto saved 69 stranded sailors from the ‘Ertugrul,’ an Ottoman frigate that sank while returning from a goodwill voyage to Japan in 1890. With these thoughts in mind the brave Turkish pilots and crews went out on the rescue mission on March 19, 1985.[4] They were two of the very last flights to take off from Tehran before the 8pm deadline.[5]

“Turkey is a lifesaver,” said Junichi Numata 30 years later, one of the passengers. Later, Foreign Minister Shinzo Abe would proudly claim that Japan Airlines was all ready to take off. To this, Numata cut straight to the heart of the matter: “Full of lies.” [6] Lives are cheap in Japan. It took Numata a while to face that fact: “I [Numata] was ashamed of myself that Japan abandoned me and I harbored the feeling that I didn’t want my family to know the fact that Japan abandoned me.”[7]

*   *   *

So, the huihui-sans moved on after surviving the Red Army, living some 30 years within the Japanese community, to Turkey, and to the USA. The USA welcoming Russian asylum seekers must have served as part of the anti-USSR campaign during the age of the Cold War. Thus, huihui-sans no longer constitute the Forever Forest Upper Field community scenery.

*   *   *

It was around this time in the 1980s – the beginning of the bubble economy kodokushi phenomenon started[8]: Kodokushi is a solitary death where one dies completely alone without being taken care of or accompanied by anybody.”[9]

And it was around this time, too, that the tall chimney drew its last breath: the smoke of the deceased that nobody cared about burning in the furnace; the incense remembering death that visits everybody equally. The odor that made the area peripheral ― the area was not appropriate for the living. The crematorium used to drive people away. A modern crematorium is there today, without a chimney, hidden in the high class residential area.


Tomomi – rest in peace. Tokyo, May, 2016.

(end of part 2; read part 1 here)


Ömer Ertur. The Sirens of Funagora: The Ottoman Frigate Ertugrul’s Luckless Diplomatic Journey to Japan 1889/90. Istanbul: Create Space, 2014.


Setsuko Adachi is associate professor in the Department of Information Studies at Kogakuin University, Tokyo. Her main research interests are identity formation and cultural systems analysis.



[1] “Security Treaty Between the United States and Japan; September 8, 1951,” The Avalon Project, Yale Law School Lillian Goldman Law Library, 2008. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/japan001.asp

[2]“Turkish Airlines special plane “KUSHIMOTO” lands in Narita Airport; an emotional meeting after 30 years,” Turkish Airlines, January 29, 2016. http://www.turkishairlines.com/en-int/corporate/press-room/press-releases/press-release-detail/turkish-airlines-special-plane-kushimoto-lands-in-narita-airport-an-emotional-meeting-after-30-years

[3] From report of a symposium “Evacuation from Iran: Turkish Airways Rescuing Japanese” held on October 28, 2007 at The Middle Eastern Culture Center in Japan in Anatolia News no. 121. in Junichi Numata’s report, March 19, 2012. 第9話 『なぜ、日本は救援機を出さなかったか?その真実を知る』 NPO法人「エルトゥールルが世界を救う」http://ertugrul.or.jp/?page_id=1010

[4] Article Exerpt by Keigo Sakai on “Trip through Time / Turkish Pilot Who Rescued Japanese: Orhan Suyolcu (1926-2013) in Istanbul,” The Daily Yomiuri, May 13, 2014. https://www.questia.com/newspaper/1P3-3300295101/trip-through-time-turkish-pilot-who-rescued-japanese

[5] From report of a symposium “Evacuation from Iran: Turkish Airways Rescuing Japanese” held on October 28, 2007 at The Middle Eastern Culture Center in Japan in Anatolia News no. 121. in Junichi Numata’s report, March 19, 2012. 第9話 『なぜ、日本は救援機を出さなかったか?その真実を知る』 NPO法人「エルトゥールルが世界を救う」http://ertugrul.or.jp/?page_id=1010

[6]  “…日航機は派遣の準備は全部整っておりましたし、最終的にはイラン、イラク両国の領空の安全についても、両国政府からこれを保障するという連絡があって、いつでも飛び出せるという形になっておったわけですが…”  From An Excerpt of the Minutes of The House of Councilors of The Committee on Foreign Affairs at 102nd Diet, April 3, 1985, in Junichi Numata’s report, March 19, 2012. 第9話 『なぜ、日本は救援機を出さなかったか?その真実を知る』 NPO法人「エルトゥールルが世界を救う」http://ertugrul.or.jp/?page_id=1010

[7] 沼田準一「帰国」『イラン・イラク戦争 奇跡の救出劇~日本・トルコ友情物語~ -沼田凖一さん編-』第7話 Junichi Numata’s essay published on the homepage of Junperial Shop,  January 3, 2012. http://junperial-shop.jp/?mode=f3

[8] Justin Nobel, “Japan’s ‘Lonely Deaths’: A Business Opportunity,” Time, April 6, 2010. http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1976952,00.html

[9] “Why Kodokushi or Lonely Death Phenomenon is on a Rise in Japan,” Pitlane Magazine, March 2, 2014. http://www.pitlanemagazine.com/lifestyles-and-subcultures/why-kodokushi-or-lonely-death-phenomenon-is-on-a-rise-in-japan.html

Kodokushi in the text is italicized by the author. The estimate number of 10 per day in Tokyo is that of the year 2006. The numbers are thought to be increasing today. For the data on kodokushi, lonely deaths, see the report compiled by Tokyo Medical Coroner’s Office:『東京都23区における孤独死の実体』(東京都監察医務院), 2010, p.5.  http://www.fukushihoken.metro.tokyo.jp/kansatsu/kouza.files/19-kodokushinojittai.pdf

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