Last week was a bad week for the SDF following several incidents of its members falling foul of the law, but this week an MSDF private is making news in the Yomiuri for far better reasons:

Leading Seaman Yushi Wakita and his poetry

Leading Seaman Yushi Wakita and his poetry (Source: Yomiuri)

MSDF Member Popular Online for Inking Uplifting Poems

Leading  Seaman Yushi Wakita (26), stationed at MSDF Sasebo Naval Base (Nagasaki Prefecture), has been giving poems written in ink on square cardboard to acquaintances he made online through social networking sites.

Over 350 people have so far received these messages of encouragement. Wakita reflects, “Meeting these people through the internet and my poems is fun. I want to make many people smile.”

[Translator's notes: my apologies for the terrible translations of the poetry below, please offer better ones in the comments]

Creepingly, in full bloom, the whole you, is there is still something unseen in your full bloom? (Written for a woman named Asuka)
這い上がれ 咲き誇れ 君のすべてに まだ見ぬ何かよ 咲き誇れ(明日香さんという女性へ)

For society, for the people, for you family, congratulations for living your life and blessing people with your wonderful life. (Written for a baby girl named Kokomi)
世のため 人のため 家族のため 生きていけることにおめでとう 人に恵まれた素晴らしき人生を(心美ちゃんという赤ちゃんへ)

The poems are written at a dormitory for single bachelors. Taking the name of the recipient and forming an image of the message he wants to send, Wakita uses various brushes on the special cardboard to write carefully chosen rotund characters.

Wakita joined the MSDF when he was 23 years old. After being troubled by work and personal relationships while serving on an escort vessel, in September 2009, Wakita was transferred to base security – a position he had been hoping for. With this new opportunity, Wakita wanted to connect with all kinds of people, and broaden his horizons, and so joined Mixi, a social networking system. He began writing a journal, but at first his social circle didn’t seem to be expanding.

“I’ll try to put in more of my own feelings”, he thought. He remembered that in high school he enjoyed writing poetry, and so from May 2010 he published a photo of a poem reading: “I am grateful that I was able to meet you.” He received request after request for poems, and so after work and on weekends Wakita tried to fulfill each request.

Most requests come from 20-40 year old women. From places as far as Kagoshima and Aomori, Wakita even receives requests from new parents for poems for their newborns. In many cases, Wakita has no other information than the recipient’s name, sometimes the composition quickly comes to mind, and other times it takes 2-3 days.

After receiving their messages by post or by collecting them personally, Wakita is often told that he captured their emotions perfectly, with one person gratefully relaying, “After all the trouble I’m having at work, I didn’t want to go in, but I’ll do my best tomorrow!” As Wakita’s fame grows, he now writes 6-10 pieces a week.

Wakita enthusiastically states, “Upon hearing their grateful words of thanks, my spirit is uplifted. I want to keep on sending these positive poems.”

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A former contributor to World Intelligence (Japan Military Review), James Simpson joined Japan Security Watch in 2011, migrating with his blog Defending Japan. He has a Masters in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University and is currently living in Kawasaki, Japan. His primary interests include the so-called 'normalization' of Japanese security (i.e. militarization), and the political impact of the abduction issue with North Korea.
James Simpson has 254 post(s) on Japan Security Watch