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Founder of Aikido (34): An Unforgettable Benefactor

by Kisshomaru Ueshiba

Aiki News #63 (September 1984)

The following is a chapter summary published with the kind permission of Mr. Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Aikido Doshu.

Kenji Tomita

After the founding of the Kobukan Dojo, the founder’s name become well-known around the country and things went smoothly except for the so-called Second Omoto Incident of 1935. Briefly quoting the “The Seventy Years of Omoto History”:

“…(It was) a great and thorough repression, … an effort (by) the Ministry of Internal Affairs… ‘to liquidate the heretical Omoto (religion) from the earth.’ … Onisaburo Deguchi and all his leaders were detained and a few thousand other believers were examined by the police.”

The initial arrests took place on December 8th and some 500 policemen arrested and tortured many persons. Some hanged themselves or died in jail. Others became mentally deranged afterwards. Buildings and holy gardens were blasted with dynamite. Despite differing opinions, it clearly was more than an attack against a “heretical” religion. The entire event had highly political and ideological overtones as was made clear by Mr. Karasawa, who had been the marshal in charge of the security police. In his book entitled “Memorandum” he describes the background of the event:

The personal activities of Onisaburo Deguchi, rather than those of Omoto Headquarters itself, were the problem…. Hiding behind his prerogatives as the supreme leader of a religious organization, he colluded with right-wing soldiers who were crying out for armed revolution….

Such activities made Omoto appear to be a radical, revolutionary and ultra-nationalistic organization. At any rate, the crisis called for preparedness on the part of everyone who had anything to do with Omoto. Although the Founder had not had much direct contact after he moved to Tokyo, the establishment of the Dai Nihon Budo Senyo Kai (The Greater Japan Budo Enhancement Association) reestablished an intimate, new relationship between him and the faith. Objectively speaking, it would have been natural for the Founder to have been thrown into prison but in fact he had only a very perfunctory police examination and no further problems at all.

Why should he have got off so lightly? The police may have worried about the social repercussions of arresting a famous budoka, especially one who was teaching many titled nobles. The authorities may have wanted to maintain the impression of controlling “heresy” so as to cover up their true intention of oppressing opposition elements. Thus, they may have decided not to arrest the budo man as “proof” that only religious issues were the problem. The Founder’s close relationship with influential nobles, military leaders, politicians and businessmen also must have protected him.

My own conclusion, however, is that the following three points best explain his exceptional treatment. The first was simply the Founder’s sincere personality. Secondly was his impeccable behavior in everyday life. And third was his relationship of human trust with Mr. Kenji Tomita, head of the Osaka-Fu Police at that time, and with Mr. Giichi Morita, Marshal of Sonezaki Police Department.

The first two points are self-explanatory, so I will simply add a little about the last point. The Founder did not like to talk about the Second Omoto Incident, but he once voiced a few words about it.

Among all my students…. Mr. Kenji Tomita’s unchanging good faith is unforgettable. When the Second Omoto Incident occurred, Mr. Tomita’s way of dealing with me is something impossible to forget no matter how long I may live. In those days, although my spirit was full of vigor, it was also true that I felt a little uncertain about the state of my physical health. If I had been interrogated by some heartless (police) officer … and detained… It is quite doubtful that aikido would exist today…

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