A Jap officer worth remembering

A Jap officer worth remembering

Jul 30, 2022, 9:18 AM
OpinYon News Team

OpinYon News Team

News Reporter

Capt. Isao Yamasoye, better remembered as 'Captain Yamasoy' is a WWII Japanese officer who ordered his men not to abuse the locals in Dulag, Leyte –including the prisoners. His friendship with the locals saw him playing judo and even serenading them.

In 1943, he was assigned to head the garrison at Dulag, one of the oldest towns in Leyte and situated 40 kilometers south of Tacloban.

At that time, there were many Japs stationed in the area, so much so that the town center was once dubbed as Little Tokyo.

As head of the garrison, Yamazoe ordered his men not to abuse the locals–including the prisoners. His friendship with the locals saw him playing judo and even serenading with them.

He went as far as initiating “morning calisthenics (radio taiso), athletics (tennis and basketball), and cultural shows, dances and movie screenings for the entertainment of the residents.

He became popular and was loved by the people of Dulag. His genuine concern for the welfare of the locals was finally tested when he learned of the guerrillas’ plan to raid their garrison. He knew that such an attack would mean death not only for the Jap soldiers but for all the innocent civilians living in the poblacion.

Wasting no time, Yamasoye asked the guerrilla forces to meet him and his men outside the town proper. By doing so, civilians would be unharmed.

Both parties agreed.But as he wason his way to the battleground, they were ambushed in Barangay Curva (now Del Pilar).

He was only 32 years old. When they received the news of his death, the locals mourned. The church bell tolled from morning to night. They also built a small memorial or cenotaph to honor the slain commander. It was later rebuilt into a 3-meter-high structure by the Dulag municipal government.

Today, a memorial for both “Captain Yamasoy” and the Dulagueños who died during the war stand quietly in the historic town. They serve as a reminder that even during the darkest of times, compassion and hope can still prevail. That kindness knows no boundaries. And that the people we thought were villains could turn into heroes when we least expect it.

A shrine had been built in his honor.

On February 11, 2021 the Artists Welfare Project Inc and the Municipal Government of Dulag composed a song for Captain Yamazoe.

A musical tribute to commemorate the fallen soldiers in Dulag, Leyte of the second world war led by Captain YAMAZOE Isao. The project aims to institutionalize the playing of the music through a municipal ordinance which will help the viewers give value to the lessons of war, and make them see that there can be peace through arts and culture.

In this special composition by Jed Balsamo a diverse group of artists collaborates, in the lockdown, from across the Philippines. Featuring performances by Rhenwyn Gabalonzo, Red Nuestro, EJ Pepito, Jed Balsamo, and Hiroko Nagai with singers and instrumentalists from the Municipality of Dulag.

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