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Culture

Publication of "Late 1943: The Final Waseda-Keio Baseball Game"
- First joint research between Waseda and Keio -

Masashi Mochizuki

"Late 1943: The Final Waseda-Keio Baseball Game" (Kyoiku-Hyoron) has been published through co-editing by the Waseda University Archives and the Keio University Fukuzawa Memorial Center for Modern Japanese Studies. This work examines what is known as the "Final Waseda-Keio Baseball Game", which was held on October 16th, 1943, from the historical perspectives of both Waseda University and Keio University.

Catcher Kiyoshi Kondo (provided by Yukiyoshi Kondo)

The origin of this work was the exhibition "Late 1943: The Final Waseda-Keio Baseball Game", which was held by the Waseda University Archives in the spring exhibition of 2005. In 2005, a year which marked the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, an exhibition was held which focused on the period of the Asia-Pacific War. The first stage of this exhibition was the "Final Waseda-Keio Baseball Game". It was a very small exhibition which featured materials gathered over the span of a year and a half by visiting with individuals who had a relation with the game. The exhibition was held at the time of entrance by new students in 2005. Once the exhibition began, it was featured in various newspapers on consecutive days and created quite an impact. After completion of the exhibition, NHK created a television program entitled "History Moved at that Moment". The program was aired the following year, in October of 2006. There is also the fresh memory of the attention gathered by the movie "Last Game: The Final Waseda-Keio Baseball Game", which was released in the summer of this year. Furthermore, there was a series of related reports by television stations such as NHK and TBS. This work began when an individual editor became interested upon viewing the exhibition, and is the successful result of a publication plan that proceeded since fall of last year, the culmination of a year of joint research with the Keio University Fukuzawa Memorial Center for Modern Japanese Studies.

The Final Waseda-Keio Game and "Umi Yukaba"

The Final Waseda-Keio Baseball Game was a send-off baseball game between Waseda University and Keio University. The game was held on October 16th, 1943, at the Totsuka Stadium of Waseda University. (The stadium was named Totsuka training hall at the time. After the war, the name changed to Abe Stadium, and the current name is the Center for Scholarly Information.) The personality of this game was different from a normal Waseda-Keio game. This was a send-off game held immediately before the mobilization of students to war, held under the feeling of "everything is coming to an end" ("Student Mobilization", from the diary of Takeo Mori). Therefore, the current work gives this Waseda-Keio game the meaning of "an unusual Waseda-Keio game in which the main role was not occupied by the players, but rather by the students of both universities who had gathered before student mobilization". The response of Waseda University authorities leading up to the game is often brought up for discussion. Currently speculations on the circumstances surrounding this response are analyzed in Chapter Two of this work, and I hope that this chapter will be read.

During the creation of this work, both Waseda University and Keio University unearthed new photographs and material. Also, Waseda alone interviewed over 10 individuals who had a relation with the final game. A key player who participated in the game as Waseda's leadoff hitter, a team member who watched the game progress from the bench, an underclass team member who worked amongst the crowds in an attempt to bring order during entrance into the stadium, a student who brought his camera to the cheering section, friends who had their picture taken by that student, the junior high school student who watched the game while recording plays in a scorebook...each one of these individuals still possesses deep emotions toward this game even now, 65 years after the Final Waseda-Keio Baseball Game.

Photographs taken of Waseda University members and the cheering section on the day of the Final Waseda-Keio Baseball Game (Waseda University Archives).

One scene that is a particularly vivid memory for all those involved came after the game was finished. After both Waseda University and Keio University sang each other's school songs and cheering songs, there was a group chorus of "Umi Yukaba (If I Go to the Sea)". According to an article published the day after the game in the Mainichi Newspaper, "the solemn singing voice of Umi Yukaba, seemingly sung from out of nowhere, gradually became a group chorus that overwhelmed the stadium". This scene is the representative moment of the Final Waseda-Keio Baseball Game, however, this scene was not included in the movie "Last Game: The Final Waseda-Keio Baseball Game".

I am member of a generation that has never experienced a war, and I struggled with how this scene should be presented. I finally decided to introduce a single newspaper page as a footnote. The page introduced is the third page of the Asahi Newspaper dated October 17th, which reported on the Final Waseda-Keio Baseball Game. This page, probably by coincidence, allows readers to see two other articles related to Umi Yukaba other than the Final Waseda-Keio Baseball Game article. The first article described Umi Yukaba being sung at the end of an entertainment program for "bereaved families of the military country". The second article described a platoon leader beginning to sing Umi Yukaba during an offensive against the American army while battling at the New Guinea front. In the case of the first article, Umi Yukaba serves as a requiem, but it refers to a suicide attack in the case of the second article. By grasping these kinds of era-associated implications which are held in Umi Yukaba, it may be possible to gain an essential understanding of the Final Waseda-Keio Baseball Game, even in the modern era.

War Deaths and Defeat

One year and ten months later, how was the war defeat greeted by the Waseda University and Keio University students who gathered as both players and spectators at the Final Waseda-Keio Baseball Game? Among the Waseda and Keio players that were included in the memorial photograph taken before the start of the game, the students which died were 5 Waseda students. Their names were Kiyoshi Kondo, Shigeharu Tsuboi, Kazuyuki Yoshie, Toshiyuki Nagatani, and Hajime Sakurauchi. Among the deceased, a corner of the 2005 exhibition was dedicated to Mr. Kondo. After the exhibition, new personal articles of Mr. Kondo were discovered by his surviving family, and these articles were used in the current work.

Kiyoshi Kondo during his time with the Waseda Baseball Team (provided by Yukiyoshi Kondo)

Mr. Kondo had the experience of winning the National High School Baseball Championships, which were the equivalent of the present-day Summer Koshien Tournament. After entering Waseda University, Mr. Kondo was a key player while playing in games of the Big 6 Baseball League. In the Final Waseda-Keio Baseball Game, Mr. Kondo was the third batter while playing in left field, and he contributed to Waseda's victory with two hits. After the Final Waseda-Keio Baseball Game, Mr. Kondo joined the Japanese navy in December of 1943. On April 28th, 1945, during the Battle of Okinawa, he embarked on a suicide mission from the No. 2 Provincial Base in Kagoshima. He left behind the following message to his older sister, who had been paying for his tuition at Waseda University: "I am truly grateful for how well you have taken care of me for such a long time. I am in good spirits as I depart for my mission."

Also, it became apparent that the articles of Mr. Tsuboi, a reserve player, now belonged to the Bansei Peace Memorial Hall for Suicide Bombers, located in Minamisatsuma City in Kagoshima Prefecture. Several new facts were made clear when a survey was conducted by visiting the memorial hall in summer of this year. (A reporting crew from the NHK program "Ohayo Nippon" accompanied Waseda members during this survey, and the findings were aired on September 18th in a program entitled "Retelling the Final Waseda-Keio Baseball Game".) Among these articles is a letter that Mr. Tsuboi sent to his parents in the end of September, 1943. The letter contained references to the Final Waseda-Keio Baseball Game, along with the following lines: "I had wanted you to see me playing baseball just one time, but the opportunity never arose. I regret this more than anything."

We were also able to contact the surviving family members of Mr. Tsuboi. Shortly before departing from Bansei Base on a suicide mission, Mr. Tsuboi met with the woman who would become his sister-in-law after the war. Mr. Tsuboi asked the woman to care for his parents in the future. Not only did Mr. Tsuboi visit his parent's home, he also visited the training camp facilities of the Waseda baseball team. During that visit, it is said that Mr. Tsuboi meet a member of the baseball team at the training camp, and told his teammate that "I won't be coming back".

The historical meaning held by the Final Waseda-Keio Baseball Game becomes clear by following the subsequent fates of the students who gathered at Totsuka for the game. These students greeted the end of the war from areas spread across all of Asia, such as China, the Nanpo southern islands, and Manchuria. Even in the case of students who were based within Japan itself, they had already been assigned suicide missions or were preparing to battle the landing American forces. When considering October 16th, 1943 as the origin and interlacing all the subsequent events of the following one year and ten months until August 15th, 1945, I be1ieve that the Final Waseda-Keio Baseball Game was not just an episode between the two universities, nor was it simply a heartwarming story from the time of the war. I believe that the game occupies a clear position in the historical process of the Asia-Pacific War, and that there is historical meaning in continuing to transmit the game to future generations.

We are planning to hold a spring exhibition entitled "The Final Waseda-Keio Baseball Game: The 24 Years Lived by No. 3, Kiyoshi Kondo, Left Field" (tentative title) at the Waseda University Archives from March 25th, 2009. It is my hope that this exhibition will be visited by many people.

Masashi Mochizuki

Researcher at the Waseda University Archives and Part-Time Lecturer at the Waseda University School of Education. Completed the doctorate course at the Waseda University Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences. His co-edited works include "The Diary of Akira Kazami & Related Materials" (Misuzu Shobo) and "The Diary of Takayuki Sasaki" (Hokusen). His co-authored works include "Research of the Privy Council" (Yoshikawa Kobunkan).