Fiammetta Positano De Vincentiis: Cruisers for the Rising Sun.

Fiammetta Positano De Vincentiis
Ed. De Ferrari, Genoa 2005

The work of Fiammetta Positano De Vincentiis is almost twenty years long and, due to the premature death of her father Salvatore, author of this diary set in the early twentieth century, he could not have firsthand news, but had to look for traveling and reaching the same places where the father lived.

Salvatore Positano De Vincentiis was a naval engineer who worked at the Cantieri Ansaldo of Genoa. He had been entrusted with the two warships, Nisshin and Kasuga, the pride of the Italian navalmeccanica, and whose construction had to be completed during the navigation. Derived from a project of the Inspector General of Naval Engineers Edoardo Masdea, they belonged to a class of ten units, originally created for the Italian navy and then exported abroad. In particular, the two protagonist units of this epistolary, "they had been offered to the Russian government, then to the English one and finally to Argentina, which had baptized them Moreno and Rivadavia"They were then sold from Argentina to Japan, at a cost of £ sterling 760.000 each, probably due to a diplomatic maneuver in England that did not want the two ships to end up in Russia's possession. After the 7 1904 January, 11 arrived in Japan the same year, two days before the beginning of the Russo-Japanese conflict. Incorporated in the second division under the command of Admiral Kamimura, they were part of Admiral Togo's fleet.

"Frenchmen and Spaniards, Nelson said, will also be able to build ships that are more beautiful and stronger than the English ones, but they will never be able to make English crews; Togo, much better than his great predecessor, could repeat the same words because, despite the colossal strategic error of Admiral Rojestvenski, the Japanese victory is the victory of men, of organisms and of military virtues. " This is what the author says to comment on the Battle of the Sea of ​​Japan, which will mark "The maritime supremacy of the Rising Sun on all the coasts of the Far East". Our two ships will take part and then end their lives, the Nisshin in the 1936 as a target ship, the Kasuga, survivor of the second world war even if damaged by the American air raids, in the 1948. This epistolary, started with a letter from 12 January 1904, and completed with a letter from 20 July 1905, in addition to being in part a logbook ("Now our ship is a real cosmopolis: an Argentine ship built in an Italian shipyard with an English commander, a Japanese admiral and a crew of Italians, Arab Englishmen: there is something for all tastes. Japanese"), allows us to have a description of the customs and customs of the era of the Land of the Rising Sun, where our engineer remained for 5 years as a commercial attaché at the Italian Embassy. And so we come to find out that "The superstitious people explain the frequency of earthquakes with a legend that says that Japan is placed on the back of a very long fish. The animal, in order to free itself from the uncomfortable weight and to stretch its limbs, sometimes gives a great shake, producing those upheavals that the men of science call earthquakes. "

Sad is the condition of the Japanese woman described by the author. "The Japanese woman, as in general all the women of the East, is in a continuous and humiliating condition of servitude that, stifling in her any initiative, it attenuates and compresses her intelligence."Another characteristic of the Japanese people is silence. "The Japanese studies silently, observes in silence, and smiles in silence". The Japanese has seen trampling their pride and pride, has been humiliated, but has been able to wait. So many scientists went everywhere in America and Europe to study where their power came from"And these nations, blind of vainglory, welcomed with compassionate smiles the commissioners, the engineers, the professors of the army and the navy, thinking that the Empire of the Rising Sun was still the country of small colorful cups, of fans and some paper lanterns. Meanwhile, the Japanese scholar, silent and tireless, treasured everything: good things to imitate them, mistakes to escape them. Today there is no eastern question in which European interests are not joined by those of Japan. "

Continuing reading we will meet several of these episodes that help us to get an idea of ​​how it could be then a people so far from us. And to complete everything, there is a photographic appendix with images that "They tell mostly stories of men, who are as important as those of the two ships, if not even more."

Gianlorenzo Capano