February 21, 2020

Zen Terrorism

“On an early winter’s morning in 1945, four months after the end of the Second World War, a shabbily dressed man in his late 50s walked into the General Headquarters (GHQ) of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers in Tokyo. His name was Nissho Inoue, a convicted domestic terrorist and lay disciple of one of Japan’s most famous modern Zen masters, Gempo Yamamoto, abbot of both Ryutaku-ji and Shoin-ji temples.

Inoue had been instructed to report for questioning as a war-criminal suspect because he had once been the leader of a terrorist band, popularly known as the ‘Blood Oath Corps’. His civilian band members were initially responsible for the deaths of two of Japan’s political and financial leaders in the spring of 1932, with plans to assassinate many more. A second group of military band members assassinated the prime minister Tsuyoshi Inukai on 15 May 1932.

Once inside the GHQ, Inoue was led to the office of Lt Parsons, the British officer who was to interrogate him. Lt Parsons began his interrogation:

Mr Inoue, I didn’t request your appearance today in order to find out what you did before and during the war. We already know what you did. We know you were not only an ultra-Right-wing nationalist but the leader of a band of terrorists as well. In fact, it is a matter of common knowledge the world over that it was you who started the Second World War. There’s no point denying it. It’s therefore unnecessary for me to enquire about any of this.”

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