A flag that belonged to a fallen Japanese soldier during World War II will be returned to his family after being kept on display
Return of the flag: The Japanese Good Luck Flag repatriation ceremony was held on the Hangar Bay of the WWII aircraft carrier-turned-museum on Thursday.
The Obon Society, a non-profit organization that has already helped repatriate over 500 flags back to Japanese families over the past 13 years, will be helping with the process, with its founders, Rex and Keiko Ziak, serving as representatives when bringing the flag home along with museum representatives, according to the press release.
About the flag: The flag, known as a Good Luck Flag, or Yosegaki Hinomaru in Japanese, is a flag signed by the family members and friends of soldiers before going to war.
Key details: The then-unidentified flag was donated to the museum in 1994. It was only recently when the museum learned that the owner of the Good Luck Flag was Shigeyoshi Mutsuda after one of his sons, now 82, recognized the signatures, Rex Ziak said.
He noted that the signatures on the flag were the same ones seen in a family photo of Mutsuda holding the flag.
The only remains: Hirofumi Murabayashi, consul general of Japan in Houston, said the flag, which is considered to be non-biological human remains, will be the only remains returned to the family as Mutsuda’s body was never found after he was reportedly killed in action.
Reunited with his wife: The flag will be symbolically reunited with Mutsuda’s wife, who died in May at 102 years old. Her funeral was put on hold until Mutsuda’s two sons and daughter received his flag at a ceremony in Tokyo in late July.
They wanted to bury Mutsuda’s flag with his wife so “they can … be reunited,” Murabayashi said, adding, “He will not only be reunited with his family but also his wife in heaven.”
Buried in the past: Details remain unclear as to who donated the flag to the museum in 1994 due to record-keeping issues at the time, museum director Steve Banta said.
Rex Ziak added that it was also unclear how the flag was found, noting that soldiers often “search battlefields for sensitive information, like maps, and find flags and other things and collect them as souvenirs.”