The Boy Scout Statue in Japan

on December 2, 2008 in Scouting, story

A friend of mine sent me a story about a Japanese soldier and an American soldier meeting on the battlefield during World War II. The story takes quite a turn when they discover each had been a Boy Scout as a youth. Here is the story as it was sent to me:

Kyoto, Japan, is a city of many temples, among those temples stands a statue somewhat different than its surroundings. It is a statue of two young men, an American Scout, and a Japanese Scout, clasping hands. How it came to be there is a story worth telling.

Some of the worst fighting of World War II was in Okinawa. It was protracted, and bloody, and fought with fierce determination by both sides. In the midst of one of the battles, near the beach, a young American soldier fell wounded. As he lay there, bleeding and in pain, his vision out of focus, and about to lose consciousness, he saw a Japanese soldier standing over him, bayonet at the ready, poised to strike. He said afterwards he did not even know himself why he did what he then did. He was weak from blood loss and blacking out. But he raised his right hand in a familiar sign – the universally recognized Scout sign. Then he lost consciousness, expecting never to awake.

He did wake, though.

When he came to, he was in an American field hospital. His wounds had been dressed. And in his pocket was a note, written in Japanese. He was able to find someone to translate the note eventually, and this is what it said: “I could not bring myself to kill a fellow Scout.” The note also bore the name and address of the Japanese soldier who, instead of taking his life, had spared it, and tended to his wounds before moving on.

When the war had ended, the young soldier was assigned to the occupation force. He went to find his savior at the first opportunity. He discovered that the Japanese soldier who had both spared and saved his life had died later in the fighting on Okinawa. But his family had survived, and the American became their friend and helped them in every way he could during his time in Japan When asked why, he explained what had occurred, and showed the note, which he still kept. The people were so touched by this story, that they erected a monument which stands in Kyoto today.

It is a monument to our shared humanity – that in the midst of war and violence, of hatred and bloodshed, two young men found that they were in fact brothers. It is a monument to the ideals of Scouting – that even when thus deeply divided, Scouting is a link that joins us and encourages compassion, mercy, understanding, and peace. The statue stands among the temples of Kyoto, a monument to the spiritual values of the worldwide movement known as Scouting. It is also a monument to hope – the hope that if we can only recognize our common bonds, the world would be a better place.

I really like this story. After reading it I went online and tried to find a picture of the statue. To my surprise, I could not find one. Even Google did not help me. So I have a quest for you, the readers of this blog. I would like to see a picture of this statue. Do you have one? Do you know were I could find one? If you do, would you contact me at this address?

Thanks for your help.

Thanks for Sharing!

    9 Responses to “The Boy Scout Statue in Japan”

    1. Jerry says:

      Steve,
      Could not find the picture of the statue.. but I did find the story on at least 4 other blogs/websites.
      All used as a Scoutmaster Minute.
      Great story. I’d love to see the statue also.

    2. Nick Wood says:

      What a fantastic positive story. I’m sure BP would have been so proud to hear it!

    3. Anonymous says:

      I just read the story and tried a google search with no success. I’m not a bit skeptical of the veracity of the story. I would love to be proved wrong though …

    4. Anonymous says:

      Ok, in my post above I meant to say, “I’m now a bit skeptical.”

    5. Anonymous says:

      Our Cubmaster asked me to read the story at a Pack Meeting. I wanted to show a picture of the statue and came across this site.
      http://www.rogerknapp.com/knap/stfiles.htm

    6. Anonymous says:

      Steve, i really liked the story it was independent and it had a lot of details my big brother dosn't belive that the statue is real but he has NO manners and he's 13 and i'm 8! i belive you.and i'm a new one not that one in front of me.

    7. Andreas says:

      Dear Brothers,

      A few years ago I found 3 small photos of the statue taken by a man. I do not remember the site but if you would like I can send them to you via email. You can contact me at pigasos76@gmail.com

    8. Steve, I know this story is a couple years old but the recent disasters in Japan got me thinking about the story (which I had heard before as a Roundtable opening0. Don’t know if you ever saw it, but it looks like there are pictures online now at http://www.rogerknapp.com/download/JapaneseMonumentScouting.htm. -Scott

    9. Rich H from Linglestown says:

      Check this SM’s blog for three pictures. (Scroll down to the one entitled “Veterans Day”:

      http://troop693.wikidot.com/scoutmaster-minute-2011

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