Peace on earth is a theme that we seem to revisit every December. And every 7th day of December will always be remembered in infamy as the dark day in 1941 when a squadron of 360 Japanese warplanes descended with bombs on the American Pacific fleet anchored in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. But for Captain Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese commander who led the attack, April 14, 1950—nearly nine years later—stands out in a strange way which only the hand of God could have arranged. And what is the story behind the story?
Mitsuo Fuchida, the fleet commander and the one who gave the order to initiate the attack, grew up in a home with no religious training. Though he was not an atheist, he had no relationship with God. Entering the Navy, he excelled in his commitment to the Emperor. Orders from his superiors were unquestioned.
According to war records, Captain Fuchida was the first to attack at Pearl Harbor and the last to leave. During the Pacific conflict, he had many close encounters with death. He crashed at sea six times. While he was undergoing an appendectomy on board a Japanese ship during the Battle of Midway, the ship he was on was bombed. In the tumult, Fuchida was injured and both legs were broken. The blast hurled him into the sea, but he was rescued and sent back to Japan to recuperate.
It seemed that nothing could stop him. He outlived all of the 32 squadron leaders and 7 commanders who initiated the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
After the war, Fuchida began farming—and he began to think. As he pondered the previous decade of his life, he didn’t like the very dark part he had played in history. He wrote, “My mind was gradually led to think of the presence of God. I came to feel ashamed of my former godless idea that man’s own power and ability was his only trustworthy resource.”
Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. Micah 4:2
He decided to crusade against war and began writing a book which he wanted to call, “No More Pearl Harbor.” But he began asking, “How can we ever have peace? And who will be the one to help establish this?” In the midst of his searching, as he was walking through the Shibuya railroad station in Tokyo, someone handed him a little booklet written by an American sergeant, entitled “I Was a War Prisoner of Japan.” In this story, Jacob DeShazer, an American pilot who had bombed Tokyo, told how his hatred for the Japanese was transformed in a POW camp as he read the Bible.
Fuchida had never read the Bible, but he remembered having heard other people tell how this book had changed their lives. So he bought a Bible and started reading. He said, “Before covering the first thirty pages my mind was strongly impressed and captivated. I then opened my heart and accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior on April 14, 1950.”
Long ago, Isaiah the prophet also predicted that someday God would look at men constantly at war with one another and say, “Enough!” Here’s the passage: “He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4).
Jeremiah 17:9 tells that “the heart of man is desperately wicked; who can know it?” and because of that may we remember that only God can change the hardness of the human heart and bring peace and forgiveness. But His transforming love and powerful Word are still doing just that. Mitsuo Fuchida, the lead bomber of Pearl Harbor turned Christ-follower and evangelist, would have agreed.
Resource reading: Micah 4:1-5