The granddaughter of a former war criminal has published his personal notes for the first time, detailing events over a month after Japan’s World War II surrender, until prisoners of war were handed over.

Satoko Kogure released the notes through the website of Newsweek Japan, where she works as a journalist. 

Kogure, 39, said she wanted to pass down her grandfather Makoto Inaki’s experiences because living memories of the war are rapidly fading.

“Not many people still remember that there were prisoners of war in Japan,” she said. “I wanted people to know how my grandfather, who was 29 then, acted with hundreds of POWs amid the confusion following Japan’s defeat.”

Inaki’s accounts, titled “Time to Surrender,” span 132 pages of manuscripts, which were penned in his later years but had remained unpublished for decades, until now.

Inaki was the head of an internment camp in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, when Japan surrendered in 1945. He was incarcerated for five and a half years at Sugamo Prison in the capital after he was convicted by a court trying class B/C war criminal suspects.

Inaki became a reporter for a news agency after the Allied forces’ occupation of Japan ended in 1952.

But Kogure knew little of her grandfather's past. He passed away when she was just 7, without ever recounting any of his wartime memories to her.

Kogure grew up in Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture. It was in the summer of her second year at high school when she learned for the first time that her grandfather was a former war criminal.

When she could not bring herself to focus on her schoolwork, failing to find purpose in it, her mother handed her a series of articles he wrote for a magazine.

In the articles, Inaki discussed his agony and outrage over the follies of war while describing his correspondence with a former Dutch POW.

The articles awoke Kogure to a part of her grandfather that she had barely known. It led her to study history.

She looked for former POWs who knew Inaki while she studied in the United States and Britain. She found that they, too, were struggling against indelible emotional scars left by war.

The encounter with her grandfather’s past and former POWs inspired Kogure to become a journalist so she could help shed light on unknown stories and strengthen the public’s collective memory of war.

“The way I feel is not that I have confronted my grandfather face to face all those years, but we have been engaged in a dialogue side by side,” she said.


This article was corrected on Oct. 7, 2020.

The original story mistakenly called Satoko Kogure’s grandfather as Makoto Inagi.