Back to the future
First Lieutenant Nakano Kenichi surveyed the ocean below him for a sign of life. He shook his head.
It had been thirty minutes already, and both friendly transponders were dead. He recorded the warble of a single Chinese transponder, but did not focus on it. They were, after all, the clear aggressors in this engagement. Why should anyone worry about rescuing them? Let the bastard die of thirst in the salt water, he thought.
Both his squadron leader and wing leaders had been especially nervous after hearing the panicked transmissions from First Lieutenant Ishii, and insisted on accompanying the eight-plane formation out personally. It was no surprise, Kenichi thought, that they were nervous, and even less of a surprise that Ishii had reacted to the Chinese provocation this way.
First Lieutenant Ishii Akira was his roommate at Naha Air Base. His father, Ishii Shinobu, was a rabid nationalist, a former nuclear engineer who advocated revising Japan's pacifist constitution, massively increasing the defense budget, and acquiring nuclear weapons. He also happened to be the governor of Tokyo prefecture. Akira often spoke of his father in reverent, even worshipful, tones. Yet as far as he knew, the relationship was not reciprocated. Kenichi often had to cheer his roommate up when his father would chew him out for a poor classroom or training result; the elder Ishii had a close relationship with the base commander and got free access to his son's performance record. And, since, truth be told, Akira was not all that talented of a pilot, those lectures came fast and often.
Lieutenant Ishii's garbled broadcast had mentioned cloud cover, but the sky outside was clearing. White-specked wave-peaks appeared and disappeared at random across the brilliant blue water as the eight planes continued to circle over the crash site like enormous aluminum vultures.
Kenichi's mind dwelled briefly on how the old man must be feeling now. Confused? Angry? Hurt? Maybe even a little... vindicated? No, Kenichi, thought. It was wrong to ascribe thoughts like that to a man in such an unfortunate situation. With a silent flush of shame, Kenichi forced his mind to the task at hand. Scan for friendly debris. Circle the area and prevent further Chinese incursions. And await the arrival of two JMSDF destroyers racing up at combat speed.
The flag behind the emcee was nearly as tall as he was.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, the Japan Restoration Party thanks you for attending this fundraising luncheon today. Our first speaker is the esteemed Governor of Tokyo Prefecture, Ishii Shinobu."
Applause. Applause for the future Prime Minister of Japan, he thought. It was practically inevitable; in cannibalism of post-bubble Japanese politics, the chairs were soon due to revolve around to him. And yet, he thought, blinking back tears, he would give it all up for one more chance to see his boy, to tell Akira how much loved him, and how happy he made him, happy, and yes, even proud...
Ishii Shinobu stood up from his seat onstage and approached the podium with firm, purposeful steps. His smooth face betrayed no hint of the turmoil brewing inches behind his eyes. He extended a warm smile, the smile that he knew won him so many votes. "Kuruni", as he was called, was consistently considered not only among the most attractive politicians in Japan, but around the world. He had gained the nicknamed at a Hollywood dinner in the prior decade, when a keen-eyed Asahi Shimbun journalist photographed him sitting next to George Clooney. Shinobu began to speak, and his smile disappeared.
"My fellow Japanese, today I come to you not as a Governor, or a Party member, or even a citizen of Japan. Today, I come to you as a father. A father who has recently recieved the most terrible news possible."
Shinobu paused, waiting for the murmurs to die down in the audience.
"As some of you may know, my son, Ishii Akira, joined the JASDF to serve his Emperor and people last year. Recently, he has been defending our sovereign islands against the unrestrained aggression of our western neighbor. Some time ago, I was notified that he--my son, my firstborn--was shot down by forces of that... that country which you are all too aware of, and of which I shall not name."
The crowd looked amongst each other. Behind Shinobu, a military officer's face blanched as he realized what a gross breach of operational security Shinobu's speech was becoming.
"For far too long, we have suffered under the aggression of our revanchist enemies and, I daresay, the occasional negligence of our friends. I wish to let you know that if I am elected to lead our people in these next tumultuous years, I will draw the line. No more. I will not apologize for Japan. Never. And should any of those neighbors use our common history to justify their aggression, I will stop at nothing to teach them a lesson, a lesson to respect the absolute safety of the Japanese people, and the absolute integrity of our territory. I give you my word as a loyal subject of our Emperor, and father to a true hero."
Ishii Shinobu left the podium with steps as firm as those he took to approach it. In his wake, the other speakers heard applause, deafening applause, but all Shinobu could hear was the voice of his son, suddenly a child now, whispering in his ear to wreak a vengeance ten thousand times greater than the hurt which he had recieved.