WWII Japanese Yosegaki “Kill Them All” with Blood Stains

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Original World War Two Japanese Yosegaki “Kill Them All” USGI Captured with Blood Stains and fully translated. Signed by Japanese Colonel Takushiro Hattori who was an Imperial Japanese Army officer and government official. During World War II, he alternately served as the chief of the Army General Staff's Operations Section and Secretary to Prime Minister Hideki Tojo. After the war ended, he served as an adviser on military matters to the postwar Japanese government.

The traditional hinomaru yosegaki was given to men before their induction into the Japanese armed forces or deployment. Friends, family, and colleagues wrote their names, messages, and encouraging words on the flag in a ray-like pattern emanating from the sun. Additional text or drawings were occasionally added, and in rare cases, intricate and impressive art adorned the flag. The writing on the flag was traditionally done using a calligraphy brush and ink. It was customary to only sign around the red center, though some items may have additional characters written on the center in red.

The origin of the tradition of flag inscriptions is disputed, with discussion over when it originated. Although some suggest that signed flags were added to a soldier's belongings during the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895), along with a "thousand stitch belt" (senninbari), good luck flags prior to the Manchurian Incident (1931) are uncommon. It is generally accepted that most hinomaru yosegakiseen seen today are from the time just before or during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945).

 The hinomaru yosegaki was a symbol of communal hope and prayer for military personnel stationed far from home. It was thought that this flag, bearing signatures and slogans, would provide a powerful force to guide and support the soldiers through difficult times. This reminder of duty also acknowledged the sacrifices made by those who went to war, with the understanding that they may not return home. In some cases, departing servicemen would even leave behind clippings of their hair and nails for their loved ones to hold onto in the event of a funeral.

The concept of self-sacrifice held great significance in Japanese society during WWII, shaping much of the wartime mentality. It was widely believed that families of fallen soldiers, sailors, and aviators brought honor upon themselves by dutifully serving the country and Emperor, and that any soldier had a duty to willingly offer their life. This perspective stemmed from the traditional samurai code of bushido, which had been ingrained in Japanese culture for centuries and was particularly instilled in twentieth century soldiers, many of whom were not from samurai backgrounds.

Translation by King:

  1. Prayers for eternal good fortune in battle
  2. Congratulations to Mr. Kimura (no first name written)
  3. Certain Victory
  4. Monument to the faithful who died in battle (Having this written means that this flag will serve as the soldier's grave marker because he is expected to die in combat.)
  5. Colonel Hattori
  6. Captain Maetake
  7. 2nd Lt Inagaki
  8. Sgt Furuzawa
  9. Sgt Okachi
  10. Pure Loyalty
  11. Sgt Sata
  12. Kill them all
  13. Sincere faithfulness
  14. Pure sincerity in service to the nation

This flag measures 35” by 26.5” and includes papers indicating where each translation is on the flag. 

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Collections: Archive Tags: Flags & Ephemera, Japan, WWII