Former signal corpsman Sadamu Setoyama shows how to transmit Morse code. (Video by Seinosuke Iwasaki)

SAITAMA--Former signal corpsman Sadamu Setoyama continues sending messages in Morse code to his fallen comrades killed in World War II, even 73 years after the end of the war.

He also continues tapping out messages for future generations, helping to keep the old technology alive through public demonstrations.

Setoyama, 92, who lives in Kita Ward here, joined a nonprofit group to speak of his experience and show how to communicate in Morse code with a device he used during the war.

One day last autumn, Setoyama showed how to tap out the famed sentence “niitakayama nobore,” a cryptogram used by the imperial military to launch the Pearl Harbor attack, in Morse code in a session themed on World War II in Fukuoka.

Quickly tapping the telegraph key repeatedly, Setoyama produced sequences of words based on short and long signals called dots and dashes. He also input messages such as “I love you” and “Give me money,” drawing laughter from spectators.

Participants were also allowed to touch the device.

Setoyama, who hails from Hyuga, Miyazaki Prefecture, dreamed of becoming an aircraft pilot since childhood and entered an army aviation school in Tokyo in spring 1942.

He wanted to serve as a pilot but was assigned to the signal corps. Though disappointed at the assignment, Setoyama engaged in training and obtained good results in the corps.

When his place of service was announced, Setoyama was ordered to become an instructor at the school. He felt strongly chagrined that he “could not even go up to the front lines.”

About three months later, a transport ship taking Setoyama’s colleagues to their assignment was sunk off the Philippines by torpedoes fired by a U.S. submarine. Many comrades with whom Setoyama went through thick and thin died in the sinking.

“I do not know what to say, considering the regrettable fact that they died just before arriving at their battlefield,” Setoyama lamented in an autobiography he wrote after turning 90.

His dormitory in Tokyo was destroyed in an air raid in May 1945, and his notebooks and books about communications technology were lost.

When the war ended in August, Setoyama wrapped his telegraph key in a handkerchief and took it home so it would not be destroyed by the occupation forces. The equipment was then put in a desk.

After the end of the war, Setoyama served as a Self-Defense Forces technical administrative officer but rarely used the telegraph key.

Around 2008, he began frequenting the former site of the branch school of an Imperial Japanese Army flight school in Okegawa, Saitama Prefecture, at a friend's invitation. He also joined a nonprofit group that organizes events to convey the experience of those living during World War II at the facility used as a training base for kamikaze pilots.

In hopes of showing off his Morse code skills, Setoyama maintained the long-unused telegraph key. He has since demonstrated how to communicate in Morse code on 50 occasions.

He is also expected to perform at an event in September in Tokyo’s Asakusa district organized by a group called the Japan Veterans Video Archive Project, which gathers accounts of former soldiers and others in the capital.

At the end of the interview with The Asahi Shimbun, Setoyama, asked to transmit words he likes, after a moment's thought, tapped out, “Rest in peace, comrades,” with his left hand.