The owner of a gift shop in front of Sengakuji temple in Tokyo is seeking to return a Hinomaru flag that was apparently given to a Japanese soldier to commemorate his dispatch to the front late in World War II.
Yoichi Koizumi, 63, the owner of Koizumi Gishido, said that in early June a Dutchman in his 20s or 30s who went by the name of Robin visited his shop. The Dutchman was a fan of the "Chushingura" drama about 47 "ronin," or masterless samurai, who made huge sacrifices to avenge the death of their master. The actual samurai who carried out the vendetta are buried in Sengakuji, and Koizumi's shop has many items related to those samurai and the drama.
The Dutchman had a Hinomaru flag measuring about 68 centimeters by about 85 centimeters. The writing on the flag appears to indicate it was given to an Imperial Japanese Army soldier who left for the battle front on what was likely July 29, 1944. The other writing on the flag are messages of encouragement.
The Dutchman showed Koizumi the flag and said while he obtained it from a relative, he did not know how that relative obtained it. The Dutchman said he wanted to return the flag to its rightful owner.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Netherlands declared war on Japan. In early 1942, the Japanese invaded the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia, and took control of the territory, which was not relinquished until war's end.
"My father, who died seven years ago, also was dispatched to the southern front, but this is the first time I have seen such a Japanese flag," Koizumi said. "I want to return the flag if I can find anyone connected to the original owner."
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