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Jiji Press has confirmed the existence of a sword-slashed uniform of a former Ground Self-Defense Force officer attacked by author Yukio Mishima during his failed coup attempt 50 years ago.

The uniform was that of Katsumi Terao, 91, who was a GSDF major and budget officer at the Eastern Army headquarters at the time of the incident in the GSDF Ichigaya camp in central Tokyo on Nov. 25, 1970.

That day, Mishima and four members of his Tate no Kai private militia barricaded themselves in the office of the district army’s commanding general, taking him hostage.

Terao, who later became a major general, has disclosed the whereabouts of the uniform for the first time ahead of the 50th anniversary of the incident. Jiji Press confirmed the uniform was kept in a warehouse in the GSDF’s Kodaira camp also in Tokyo.

The uniform had U-shaped slashes and what appeared to be a bloodstain. It seemed to be the winter uniform introduced in 1958.

It had the rank badge of major and the badge of the Eastern Army. Terao’s full name was handwritten on the inside of the uniform.

Yukio Mishima delivers a speech at the Ichigaya garrison of the Ground Self-Defense Force on Nov. 25, 1970, shortly before his death. | KYODO
Yukio Mishima delivers a speech at the Ichigaya garrison of the Ground Self-Defense Force on Nov. 25, 1970, shortly before his death. | KYODO

When the incident began, Terao and others were having a meeting on the same floor as the office in question.

On hearing that the then district commanding general was taken hostage, Terao rushed into the barricaded room and held Masakatsu Morita, one of the four Tate no Kai members, down on the floor.

When Terao was trying to seize Morita’s knife, Mishima slashed Terao in the right arm and back with a sword.

At first, Terao thought Mishima was wielding a wooden sword. He did not feel pain when Mishima slashed him on his right side at first. “I felt I got a light strike,” Terao said, referring to a slash on his back.

The biggest slash on his back, which was 23 centimeters long and 5 centimeters deep, reached his ribs. But Terao said Mishima “could have cut my head off with a single blow if he intended to kill me.”

“I was holding Morita down on the floor, crouching, with my back exposed,” he said.

The uniform was donated to the Kodaira camp after being confiscated for a period by police.

The GSDF registered the uniform as a donated item. It is considering exhibiting the uniform.

During the 1970 incident, the 45-year-old Mishima delivered a speech from the balcony of the barricaded office, trying to inspire SDF members who had gathered below to join the coup.

But the attempt ended in failure. Mishima and Morita, then 25, committed seppuku, or ritual self-disembowelment, and were beheaded by others in the group.

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