Honor, duty, and shame are three virtues that have been deeply imprinted in Japanese culture for centuries. When a samurai warrior loses his honor, he can only restore his honor by taking his own life. Such an act is considered a heroic death and is honored in Japan.
Unlike in Western cultures, self-respect is at the core of Japanese culture and cannot be eliminated until the person does what is expected of the community. More than 100 years ago, the case of Masabumi Hosono, the only Japanese man who survived the sinking of the Titanic, is a clear demonstration of this idea.
Escape death narrowly
Masabumi Hosono was originally an employee of the Japanese Ministry of Transport. His life changed completely after he set foot on the Titanic in 1912. At that time, he had just completed a business trip to England to study the railway operation of your country. When he boarded the Titanic at Southampton, he finished his work and was on his way home with a second class ticket on the “ship of dreams”. Masabumi Hosono was also the only Japanese on the Titanic.
One night in April 1912, the world’s largest luxury ship sank slowly into the ocean after crashing into an iceberg, causing the most infamous maritime tragedy of all time.
Masabumi Hosono was one of the lucky few who was able to return home
At the time of the tragic shipwreck, Hosono was fast asleep. A knock on the cabin door woke him up and he quickly ran out. The ship’s crew instructed Hosono to move to the lower decks of the ship, some distance from the lifeboats.
Hosono’s experience of the horrific shipwreck is described in a letter he sent to his wife. He wrote that he was forever unable to “dispel the feeling of extreme fear”.
The man also said he was mentally prepared for his last breath and hoped “to not leave anything shameful as a Japanese”, while feeling extremely sad. despair at the thought of never seeing her loved ones again.
However, like anyone else in a panic, Hosono struggled to find a way out, somehow managing and saving himself from the icy cold water. At that moment, one of the officers assigned to load the lifeboats shouted that there was still room for two more. Right in front of Hosono’s eyes, a man jumped into the boat, and at the opportunity, he jumped too. In the end, thanks to that, Masabumi Hosono became one of 706 people who were lucky to survive, not having to die on the seabed like 1,500 other people.
Titanic is a famous shipwreck that took the lives of more than 1,500 people
With the rest of the survivors, Hosono went to New York. Not much attention was given to this Japanese passenger at first. With the help of friends, Hosono eventually returned to his hometown, where the front pages of the newspaper read him as “Lucky Japanese Boy”.
Honso has received invitations to interview and provide family photos for several newspapers in Japan, and this has brought him a certain amount of popularity. Soon, however, things took a turn for the worse when Hosono was rebuked in America. Archibald Gracie, a first-class passenger and another Titanic survivor, called him a “ticket contraband” because he was outraged that he had taken someone else’s “survival rate”.
Japanese newspapers quickly followed suit and openly criticized Hosono. The media accused Masabumi Hosono of “robbing” other people’s right to life. As a Japanese, he should have had a samurai spirit, determined to sacrifice himself noblely for others. Hosono’s act of choosing to save himself was labeled “selfish”, especially when he was a healthy adult man but did not give women, children, and the elderly the opportunity to board the lifeboat. .
The pressure from public opinion was so great that the Ministry of Transport had to fire Hosono. Textbooks refer to his case as an example of shameful behavior. The professors stated that Masabumi Hosono’s actions were unethical.
Hosono was later rehired with the explanation that he was a very skilled employee. He continued to work there until his death in 1939. However, the infamy still haunts the man, whether it is good luck or bad luck. He was ostracized and discriminated against by the people around him and could only live the rest of his life in error. He never dared to appear in the media again. Not only the “survivor” himself suffered the derision, but also his wife and children, the Hosono family also suffered the same fate.
Masabumi Hosono’s letter of “claiming” to his wife
Before his death, Masabumi Hosono expressed his pain at being “scorned for just surviving” in a long letter to his wife. Later, his descendants published this touching letter many times. The last edition of the letter was made by his grandson – Haruomi Hosono, a famous musician in Japan. Haruomi Hosono explains that re-publishing the letter gives the family some relief and helps restore honor to the entire Hosono family.
Source: The Vintage News