It was a somber occasion as hundreds of fans of far-right Japanese author Yukio Mishima gathered in Tokyo on Thursday to mark the anniversary of his shocking samurai-style suicide after a failed coup attempt 40 years ago.
Mishima, who was 45 and an international celebrity when he committed ritual "seppuku" suicide by disembowelling himself with a sword, is considered one of the most influential writers of post-World War II Japan.
AdvertisementDespite the longevity of his fame after his death, the mainstream press have largely boycotted him because of his far-right views.
The conservative Sankei daily, one of the few media outlets covering the anniversary of Mishima's suicide, reported on the publication of books commemorating him.
But at Tokyo's Kudan Kaikan hall, a few blocks from the Yasukuni war shrine, which honours 2.5 million war dead including top war criminals, organisers said around 1,000 people gathered to honour Mishima at a special ceremony.
A huge portrait of Mishima hung above an altar next to a Japanese national flag at the event, as a Shinto priest read prayers.
"The ideology of Mishima still appeals to many people after 40 years," said Hiromi Tamagawa, 62, one of the memorial organisers.
"Japan still hasn't achieved real independence, is still caught in a legacy of wartime."
The 40th anniversary of Mishima's suicide follows recent rallies by anti-Chinese demonstrators protesting Beijing's muscular diplomatic approach in the latest territorial row over disputed islands in the East China Sea.
Mishima earned three nominations for the Nobel Prize for Literature. His first novel, "Tozoku" (Thieves) was published in 1946, followed by numerous books, plays, poetry, short stories and essays.
But the author veered towards a far-right ideology in the last decade of his life, even forming his own private army, "Tatenokai" or "Shield Society".
On November 25, 1970, Mishima and his followers stormed into the army headquarters in Tokyo, urging the troops to rise up in the name of the Emperor and rearm the pacifist nation.
But greeted only with jeers, Mishima shouted "Long Live the Emperor!" three times and thrust his 17th century short-sword into his stomach before one of his followers eventually beheaded him, under a samurai knight rite of honour.