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Japanese navy veteran recalls Pearl Harbor 75 years on

Navy aircraft mechanic Kuniyoshi Takimoto watched as Japanese planes roared off the aircraft carrier Hiryu to attack Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

The shock assault 75 years ago Wednesday in Hawaii sparked patriotic celebration in Japan but left Takimoto feeling uneasy. “I wondered if such a poor country would be all right fighting such a big one,” the former real-estate agent, now 95 and one of the few Japanese participants still alive, told AFP at his home in Osaka. This attack brought America into World War II -- though it was already well underway for Europe, and China.

This year’s anniversary comes after President Barack Obama’s visit in May to Hiroshima, the Japanese city pulverised by a US atom bomb in the closing days of the conflict. Japan’s Pearl Harbor blitz fired up resolve in the US, with president Franklin Roosevelt declaring the day would “live in infamy.” 

“It was just a start... and more or less a deceptive attack,” Takimoto said, stressing that given its surprise nature some success was virtually guaranteed.

He and other crew members were stunned when first informed of the mission after their flotilla departed towards Hawaii. Reaching an area 460 kilometres from target, the first wave of some 180 planes, including nimble Zero fighters, roared off the Hiryu and other carriers, followed later by a second swarm.
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