An Irishman's Diary
The letter was written on Titanic stationery which had been in his pockets and it is believed to be the only such document known to exist on Titanic stationery.
He arrived home to much press interest and happily granted interviews as the “Lucky Japanese survivor”. All changed though when the inquiry into the sinking of the Titanic opened. Hosono was accused – at a US Senate hearing – of having passed himself off as a woman in order to get on a lifeboat. Hosono had been mistaken for another Asian passenger who was judged to have acted “ignobly” by taking the place of a woman on Lifeboat 13.
From hero to zero. Hosano had been “named and shamed” at the Titanic inquiry. Overnight he was sacked from his job at the ministry of transport. The previously friendly Japanese press denounced him as a coward and a school textbook used his story as an example of dishonourable behaviour. He was denounced as “immoral” for saving himself at the expense of women and children. He became “Japan’s shame” and was ostracised. The experience broke him and he never spoke of the Titanic again – even forbidding mention of the ship in his company. He died in 1939 – disgraced and unmourned.
But the letter he had written to his wife while on the Carpathia was still somewhere. Even though it vindicated him, showing he was on Lifeboat 10 not 13, the family didn’t want to revisit the story for fear of a new round of incrimination, so it lay hidden in a book at the bottom of a drawer.
Following the opening of James Cameron’s Titanic film in 1997, an Exhibition Titanic Japan event was staged the same year in Tokyo. There was only one Japanese passenger on the Titanic so a researcher for the exhibition, Matt Taylor, approached Hosono’s grandchildren to ask if they could supply any material. As Taylor remembered: “I discovered, folded between the pages of a book, a brown page with the letterhead “On Board RMS Titanic”. It was an amazingly powerful document”.
The letter revealed that Hosono had helped save the lives of his fellow survivors by quickly rowing Lifeboat 10 away from the pull of the sinking Titanic. His grandson – Haruomi Hosono – a member of the famous music group Yellow Magic Orchestra – now says: “Honour has been restored to the Hosono family”.