Ed. note: This article first appeared in Japan Times.
TOKIO -- Swords are still a prime necessity in war time, despite airplanes, armored tanks, machine guns and repeating rifles. It has been found, and the government has taken special steps, to see that officers have blades which will suit their needs.
However, the blades they carry these days are not up to the standards of olden times, according to Hikosaburo Kurihara, expert swordsmith, who recently returned from the Shanghai area, where with a party of smiths he has repaired 15,000 swords for Japanese officers.
So great was the need found for this repair work that the master smith has gone to the North China area, where he will attend to the needs of the officers there.
Manchurian steel has been found the best material for blades as proved by experience of officers in the Shanghai district, the expert said, and he recommended to the War Ministry that metal of that kind be used in future whenever found available.
"We mended about 15,000 swords in Shanghai," the swordsmith said at his home in Hikawacho, Akasaka-ku. "Blades of good steel do not snap easily, as did some of those we found. I recommended to the War Ministry that they make available Manchurian steel to all the swordsmiths in the country. It is about as strong as any we know of."
"An officer with a damaged sword, and who expects a battle next
day is a pitiful sight. I saw many of them working late at night on their
weapons, which may mean life or death to them."
JNC Nov 1999.