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"to die with sword in hand..."

On November 25, 1970, the same day that he finished the last novel of "Sea of Fertility", Yukio Mishima along with several members of his private army,called "The Shield Society" took over a military base in Ichigaya and demanded the resignation of Japan's prime minister. He read a manifesto to the soldiers who gathered in the courtyard encouraging them to rise up, overthrow their government and save Japan. When his actions failed to rouse the soldiers to revolt, he committed seppuku(ritual suicide).He was 45 years old.

Yukio Mishima has often been accused of being a right wing fanatic, but neither he or any other member of his private army were ever involved in any violence which is usually characteristic of most right wing political organizations. As a result neither he or any other member of the "Shield Society" were on the list of subversive groups that were monitored by the very cautious Japanese police. Some feel that the "Shield Society" was less of a real paramilitary organization and more of a theatrical group involved in political and social protest. But it is hard to ignore the political nature of the actions of Mishima's last days. After all, Mishima and his followers took over a military base, held a high ranking Japanese general hostage, and tried to incite the armed forces of his country to overthrow their democratically elected government before ending his own life by ritual suicide(seppuku).Whatever it's true purpose may have been, Mishima used "The Shield Society" to challenge his country to seriously reconsider the westernized direction that they had been taking since the close of the Second World War.

To see a picture of Yukio Mishima, click here.