Who became kamikaze pilots, and how did they feel towards their suicide mission?

Дата: 12.01.2016






     This extended essay is about the
Kamikaze pilots who made suicide attacks from the

     air during the Pacific War. This paper
aims to find who the pilots really were and how

     they felt about their suicide mission.
The hypothesis for the research was that any pilot

     could become a Kamikaze pilot, and
that the pilots probably felt scared, yet took the

     responsibility to carry out their

     Most of the investigations were made
through primary sources. Since the Kamikaze

     attacks were made from bases in
Kyushu, there are several museums there where

     information may be found. There, the
actual letters and diaries that the pilots had left

     behind are displayed. Also, fifteen
interviews with survivors of the attacks, relatives and

     other people related to the attacks
were made. Since the Kamikaze attacks were made

     only fifty years ago, a great quantity
of documents was available.

     The time period in concern is from
early 1944 to 1945, and the topic being the

     Kamikaze pilots, and the region of
research was within Japan, mainly Kyushu.

     The conclusion of this extended essay
was that the pilots were ordinary, average young

     men of the time who volunteered, and
that most felt that their dying in such a mission

     would improve the war situation for
the Japanese. However, exactly how the pilots felt

     could not be fully understood by a
student researching the topic fifty years after the

     actual attack.

          In blossom today, then scattered:

          Life is so like a delicate

          How can one expect the fragrance

          To last for ever?

          —Admiral Onishi Takijiro


     During World War II in the Pacific,
there were pilots of the Japanese Imperial Army

     and Navy who made suicide attacks,
driving their planes to deliberately crash into

     carriers and battle- ships of the
Allied forces. These were the pilots known as the

     Kamikaze pilots. This essay focuses on
how they felt about their suicide mission.

     Because right-wing organizations have
used the Kamikaze pilots as a symbol of a

     militaristic and extremely
nationalistic Japan, the current Japanese respond to the issue

     with ignorance and false stereotypes
and with generally negative and unsympathetic

     remarks. The aim of this essay is to
reveal the often unknown truth concerning the

     pilots, and above all to give a
clearer image as to who the pilots really were.

     The hypothesis behind the question,
«Who were the Kamikaze pilots and how did they

     feel towards their suicide
mission?» is that any pilot devoted to the country, who

     volunteered and was chosen felt
scared, yet took the responsibility to carry out his


     Part One

     The death of Emperor Taisho may be the
point when Japan had started to become the

     fascist state that it was during the
Pacific War. Although the military had been active

     ever since the Jiji period (1867-1912)
in wars such as the Sino-Japanese War

     (1894-1895), and the Russo-Japanese
War (1904-1905), it became extremely active

     when Crown Prince Hirohito became
Emperor Showa. Coup d’etats became frequent,

     and several political figures were
assassinated. By Emperor Showa’s reign, the military

     had the real authority.[1]

     According to those who have lived
through the early Showa period (1926-1945), the

     presence of Emperor Showa was like
that of a god and he was more of a religious

     figure than a political one.[2] In
many of the haiku that the Kamikaze pilots wrote, the

     Emperor is mentioned in the first

     Systematic and organized education
made such efficient «brainwashing» possible. In

     public schools, students were taught
to die for the emperor. By late 1944, a slogan of

     Jusshi Reisho meaning «Sacrifice
life,» was taught.[3]

     Most of the pilots who volunteered for
the suicide attacks were those who were born

     late in the Taisho period (1912-1926)
or in the first two or three years of Showa.

     Therefore, they had gone through the
brainwashing education, and were products of

     the militaristic Japan.

     Censorship brought restrictions on the
Japanese people. The letters, diaries, and

     photographs of individual soldiers
were all censored. Nothing revealing where they

     were, or what they were doing
concerning the military, could be communicated.[4]

     Major restrictions were placed on the
press, radio and other media. The public was not

     to be informed of defeats or damage on
the Japanese side. Only victories and damage

     imposed on the Allies were to be

     Another factor that created the
extreme atmosphere in Japan were the «Kenpeitai,» a

     part of the Imperial Army which
checked on the civilians to see if they were saying or

     doing anything against the Emperor or
the military.[6]

     Since the time of feudalism,
especially during the Tokugawa period, a warrior must

     follow the Bushido. This Code, and a
culture which viewed suicide and the death of

     young people as beautiful were factors
contributing to the mass suicides.[7]

     Part Two

     Although it was only from 1944 that
the General Staff had considered mounting

     organized suicide attacks,[8]
«suicide attacks» had been made since the Japanese

     attack on Pearl Harbor.[9] Two types
of suicide attacks had been made. The first was

     an organized attack which would, in
90% of the cases, result in the death of the

     soldiers. However, if the plan had
worked on the battlefield as it did in theory, there

     was some possibility that the soldiers
would survive.[10] The other type of suicide

     attack that had been made was
completely voluntary, and the result of a sudden

     decision. This was usually done by
aircraft. The pilots, finding no efficient way to fight

     the American aircraft, deliberately
crashed into them, and caused an explosion,

     destroying the American aircraft as
well as killing themselves.[11]

     Because these voluntary suicide
attacks had shown that the young pilots had the spirit

     of dying rather than being defeated,
by February, 1944, the staff officers had started to

     believe that although they were way
below the Americans in the number of aircraft,

     battleships, skillful pilots and
soldiers, and in the amount of natural resources (oil, for

     example), they were above the
Americans in the number of young men who would fight

     to the death rather than be defeated.
By organizing the «Tokkotai,» they thought it

     would also attack the Americans
psychologically, and make them lose their will to

     continue the war.[12] The person who
suggested the Kamikaze attack at first is

     unknown, but it is often thought to be
Admiral Takijiro Onishi. However, Onishi was in

     the position to command the first Shinpu
Tokubetsu Kogekitai rather than suggest


     In October, 1944, the plans for the
organized suicide attacks became reality. Having

     received permission from the Minister
of the Navy, Admiral Onishi entered Clark Air

     Base prepared to command the first
organized suicide attacks.[14] Onishi had not

     thought the organized suicide attacks
to be an efficient tactic, but that they would be a

     powerful battle tactic, and he
believed that it would be the best and most beautiful

     place for the pilots to die. Onishi
once said, «if they (the young pilots) are on land, they

     would be bombed down, and if they are
in the air, they would be shot down. That’s

     sad…Too sad…To let the young men
die beautifully, that’s what Tokko is. To give

     beautiful death, that’s called

     This statement makes sense,
considering the relative skills of the pilots of the time. By

     1944, air raids were made all over
Japan, especially in the cities. Most of the best

     pilots of the Navy and the Army had
been lost in previous battles. Training time was

     greatly reduced to the minimum, or
even less than was necessary in order to train a

     pilot. By the time the organized
suicide attacks had started, the pilots only had the

     ability to fly, not to fight. Although
what happens to the pilot himself in doing the suicide

     attack is by no means anywhere near
beauty, to die in such a way, for the Emperor,

     and for the country, was (at the
time), honorable.

     One thing that was decided upon by the
General Staff was that the Kamikaze attacks

     were to be made only if it was in the
will of the pilot himself. It was too much of a task

     to be «commanded.»[16]

     The first organized suicide attack was
made on October 21, 1944 by a squadron

     called the Shinpu Tokubetsu
Kogekitai.[17] Tokubetsu Kogekitai was the name

     generally used in the Japanese
Imperial Navy and Army. The public had known them

     as the Tokkotai, the abbreviated form.
Tokkotai referred to all the organized suicide

     attacks. Shinpu is what is better
known as Kamikaze.[18] The captain of the first

     attack was to be Captain Yukio

     How was Captain Seki talked into such
a task? According to the subcommander of the

     First Air Fleet, Tamai, who brought
the issue up to Captain Seki, the Captain had in a

     short time replied «I understand.
Please let me do it.»[20] According to another source,

     the reply that Captain Seki gave was,
«Please let me think about it one night. I will

     accept the offer tomorrow

     The document which seems to have the
most credibility is the book, The Divine Wind

     by Captain Rikihei Inoguchi and
Commander Tadashi Nakajima. According to this

     account a graduate of the Naval
Academy, Naoshi Kanno, was originally nominated as

     the leader of this mission. However,
he was away from Mabalacat on a mission to

     mainland Japan. Therefore, to take
Kanno’s place Captain Seki was chosen, and was

     called to Commander Tamai’s room at
midnight. After hearing of the mission, it

     appears, Seki remained silent for a
while, then replied, «You must let me do it.»[22]

     The reason this is the most credible
document is because it had been written by

     Captain Rikihei Inoguchi, who was
actually there with Tamai and Seki, and named the

     first unit, Shinpu. It is doubtful
that there was a flaw in his memory since the book was

     published in 1959, only 14 years after
the war.

     In any case, Captain Seki agreed to
lead the first Kamikaze attack, and, on October

     25, 1944 during the battle off Samos,
made one of the first attacks, on the American

     aircraft carrier Saint Lo.[23]
Twenty-six fighter planes were prepared, of which half

     were to escort and the other half to
make the suicide mission. That half was divided

     into the Shikishima, Yamato, Asahi and

     Part Three

     The youngest of the Kamikaze pilots of
the Imperial Army was 17 years old,[25] and

     the oldest, 35.[26] Most of them were
in their late teens, or early twenties. As the

     battle in Okinawa [April to June 1945]
worsened, the average age of the pilots got

     younger. Some had only completed the
equivalent of an elementary school and middle

     school combined. Some had been to
college. There was a tendency for them not to be

     first sons. The eldest sons usually
took over the family business. Most were therefore

     the younger sons who did not need to
worry about the family business.

     Most of those who had come from
college came in what is called the Gakuto

     Shutsujin. This was when the college
students’ exemption from being drafted into the

     military was lifted, and the
graduation of the seniors was shifted from April 1944 to

     September 1943.[27]

     Many of these students were from
prestigious colleges such as Tokyo, Kyoto, Keio,

     and Waseda Universities. These
students from college tended to have more liberal

     ideas, not having been educated in
military schools, and also were more aware of the

     world outside of Japan.

     Where were the pilots trained? All the
pilots involved in the «Okinawa Tokko» had

     been trained in/as one of the
following: The Youth Pilot Training School, Candidates for

     Second Lieutenant, The Imperial Army
Air Corps Academy, Pilot Trainee, Flight

     Officer Candidates, Special Flight
Officer Probationary Cadet, Pilot Training Schools,

     or Special Flight Officer

     Part Four

     Since the Kamikaze attacks were to be
made only if the pilots had volunteered, and

     could not be «commanded,»
there were two methods to collect volunteers. One was for

     all pilots in general, and another was
for the Special Flight Officer Probationary Cadet

     (College graduates) only. The former
was an application form, and the latter was a

     survey. The survey asked: «Do you
desire earnestly/wish/do not wish/to be involved in

     the Kamikaze attacks?» They had
to circle one of the three choices, or leave the paper

     blank. The important fact is that the
pilots were required to sign their names.[29] When

     the military had the absolute power,
and the whole atmosphere of Japan expected men

     to die for the country, there was great
psychological pressure to circle «earnestly

     desire« or »wish.» The
Army selected those who had circled «earnestly desire.» The

     reason that the Special Flight Officer
Probationary Cadet had to answer such a survey

     rather than send the applications at
their own will was probably because the military

     had known that the students who had
come from college had a wider vision, and would

     not easily apply for such a mission.
For the regular application, the Army was confident

     that there would be many young pilots
who would apply. They were correct. Every

     student of the 15th term of the Youth
Pilot Training School had applied. Because there

     were so many volunteers, the military
had decided to let the ones with better grades go


     There are several factors which made
so many young pilots volunteer for such a

     mission. Extreme patriotism must have
been one factor for sure. Added to that, there

     was the reverence for the Emperor, a
god. Some say that it was generally believed that

     if one died for the emperor, and was
praised in Yasukuni Shrine, they would become

     happy forever.[31]

     The effect of the brainwashing that
the military had done to the students is surprising.

     The pilots felt it was
«obvious» that they were to take part in the Kamikaze attacks.

     Most pilots mention in letters that
they were happy, and proud of being given such an

     honorable mission. It is true also
that they believed that if they took part in the mission,

     it might improve the war situation for

     What the military education was like
was described in a diary kept by Corporal Yukio

     Araki, from the time he had entered
the Youth Pilot Training School, until the night

     before his original date of departure
for Okinawa.

     Since anything written was checked by
one of the military staff, nothing that would

     upset the military or contradict the
ideas of the Japanese government could be written.

     However, more importantly, because of
the lack of privacy, personal emotions could

     not be written. Therefore, in Corporal
Araki’s diary, very rarely can anything «personal»

     be found. The first several days in
the Training school, he simply lists the subjects that

     were studied that day, and what was
done for physical training. Later on he mentions

     what was done for training, the events
that took place, and other things he had done.

     However, most of what he wrote was
about the «warning» he received.[33] The

     following are some of the
«warnings» he had received:

          There is an attitude problem when
listening to the officers.[34]

          Some students seem to smile or
laugh during training, and others are being

          lazy…In general there seems to
be a lack of spirit.[35]

          Straighten yourself. It reveals
your spirit.[36]

     The education emphasized the mind,
spirit and attitude. Neatness and cleanliness were

     also frequently mentioned. Usually, a
hard slap in the face accompanied these warnings.

     The way the 15-year- old boy responded
to the warning was: «I must try harder.»[37]

     One of the listed subjects in the
diary was a course called «Spiritual Moral Lecture,»

     nearly every other day. What exactly
was taught in the course is not mentioned.

     However it seemed that in some of
these courses, great military figures who died for

     Japan were mentioned.[38] It is a
certainty that this course was one factor in making

     the pilots feel «happy and
proud» to be involved in the Kamikaze attacks.

     The military education was quickly
absorbed by these young pilots-to-be. It was in

     October 1943 that the young boy had
entered the Training School. By the next

     February, he had written a short poem
saying that a Japanese man should be praised

     when he dies as he should for the

     The amount of time students spent in
the Youth Pilot Training School was reduced from

     three years to less than two years for
the 15th term students. Therefore, the schedule

     was tight and tough.[40] There was
almost no holiday at all, and many of the planned

     holidays were canceled.[41] What
Corporal Araki called a «holiday» was very much

     different from what is normally
considered a holiday. An example of his holiday started

     with some sort of ceremony, followed
by listening and learning new songs (probably of

     war), and watching a movie. Something
related to the military was taught even on days

     called «holidays.»[42]
Therefore, they were given no time to «think.» There was

     something to do almost every minute
that they were awake, and they were taught what

     the right spirit was. By not giving
them time to think, they had no time to evaluate what

     they were being taught. They just
absorbed it, and as a result, by the time they

     graduated, they were brainwashed.

     Corporal Araki had an older brother
and three younger brothers. In his will to his

     parents, he mentioned that he wished
two of his younger brothers to also enter the

     military; one should enter the Navy
and become an officer, the other to enter the Army

     and also become an officer. He also
mentions that he wishes that his brothers follow his

     path (and be involved in the Kamikaze

     Mr. S. Araki, Corporal Araki’s older
brother, mentioned that his brother had greatly

     changed after entering the military
school. He remembers that his brother’s attitude

     towards him was not casual, and it was
not like he was talking to a brother. He felt that

     he had really grown up since he had
seen him last, both physically and


     There are three references in which
Corporal Araki’s thoughts towards the mission may

     be found: his will, last letters, and
his diary. In his will to his parents, and to his brother,

     he mentions that he has no nostalgic
sentiments. In his will addressed to his brother, he

     mentions that he would like him to
consider the mission as piety. In a postcard sent on

     the day of his mission, he calls the
mission, «an honorable mission,» and that he is

     looking forward to see them again at
Yasukuni Shrine.[45] It was in the end of March

     1945, that Corporal Araki«s unit»s
mission was ordered to take place.[46] From just

     before then, Corporal Araki had not
written in his diary. After an entry on March 16,

     there were no entries for two months.
He wrote, because he was busy, there was no

     time to write.[47] Could that be true?
Indeed, his squadron was on a tight schedule for

     March. From the 25th, they returned
from P’yongyang to Gifu prefecture.[48]

     However, Sergeant Kazuo Arai had been
able to keep a diary at the time.[49] It may

     be because of strong personal emotions
he just could not keep the diary. Or, it may be

     that he could care no longer about
keeping a diary. In either case the fact that he had

     not written an entry on the day that
the mission was officially ordered, when he had

     written every other special event
down, reveals that he was no longer in the state of

     mind that he had been.

     The planned date of the mission of the
72nd Shinbu squadron (which was the squadron

     to which Corporal Araki belonged) was
initially, May 21, 1945. However, because of

     rainy weather, it was postponed to May
27, 1945. In his last diary entry on May 20,

     1945, he wrote:[50]

          …at ** o’clock I received the
thankful command to depart tomorrow. I

          am deeply emotional, and just
hope to sink one (American battleship).

          Already, hundreds of visitors had
visited us. Cheerfully singing the last

          season of farewell.[51]

     and is cut off there. His handwriting
however was very stable, and was not as if he was

     losing control. If for some reason he
had to leave the diary for a while, why did he not

     go back to it? Was it that he had
become extremely emotional that he could no longer

     write? In any case, he never returned
to his diary.

     Part Five

     In reading the last letters of the
Kamikaze pilots, there are generally two types. One,

     the «Typical» letters and
the other, the «Unique» letters. Most of the typical letters were

     written by graduates of military
schools such as the Youth Pilot Training School. The

     «Unique» ones were written
by the Special Flight Officer Probationary Cadets—the

     graduates from college. The first two
of the following five pilots have written a typical

     letter, and the other three have
written unique letters.

     Corporal Masato Hisanaga of the 72nd
Shinbu Squadron was twenty years old. In his

     letter, he thanked his parents for the
years that he was alive, and reported to them how

     he had been doing, and informed them
of the kindness of the people where he had

     been. After asking his parents to say
«Hi» to various people, he says that he will take

     revenge for his older brother (who, as
it appears, must have been killed in the war) by

     sinking the enemy’s battleship and
killing its soldiers. He too asks that his younger

     brothers follow their brother
(himself). «All of the (Japanese) population is the

     tokkotai.» He too mentioned,
«I have no nostalgic sentiments.»[52]

     Corporal Shinji Ozeki, 19 years old
wrote a will to his mother saying:[53]

          As a man I will courageously go.
Now, I have no special nostalgic

          sentiments. However, I will go
regretting that although being born a man, I

          have not had filial piety.

          To give this young self for the
protection of the imperial nation, I believe is


          I hope that you will forgive my
sin of being undutiful and that you will live

          in happiness.[54]

     This is similar to what Corporal Araki
and Hisanaga had mentioned. All reveal their

     thoughts towards their parents. They
believed their dying was piety, which shows that

     they were doing it for their family.
All had mentioned having no nostalgic sentiments

     possibly to make their parents feel
easier. Because these are «Typical» letters, many

     others had written just as they had.

     The unique ones written by the college
graduates included more personal feelings. For

     example, Second Lieutenant Shigeyuki
Suzuki wrote:[55]

          People say that our feeling is of
resignation, but that does not know at all

          how we feel, and think of us as a
fish about to be cooked.

          Young blood does flow in us.

          There are persons we love, we
think of, and many unforgettable

          memories. However, with those, we
cannot win the war.

          To let this beautiful Japan keep
growing, to be released from the wicked

          hands of the Americans and
British, and to build a «freed Asia» was our

          goal from the Gakuto Shutsujin
year before last; yet nothing has changed.

          The great day that we can
directly be in contact with the battle is our day

          of happiness and at the same
time, the memorial of our death…[56]

     Second Lieutenant Ryoji Uehara, a
graduate of Keio University was 22 years old. His

     ideas were «radical» for the
time, and if known by the Kenpeitai, he would not have

     been left alone.[57] In a note, he
wrote to a journalist just before his mission that he

     was greatly honored to be chosen as a
Kamikaze pilot.[58 ]Yet he also wrote, thinking

     logically with the skills he had
gained in college. He believed in democracy. He believed

     that the victory of democracy was
obvious, and although fascism would make the

     country appear to be prosperous
temporarily, only decline would wait for it. He

     mentioned the fact that Fascist Italy
and Nazi Germany had been defeated, and that the

     power of «Freedom» will
appear in history. He says that if his ideas were correct, it

     would be a tragedy for the nation but
that he would be happy. In the end of the note he


          Tomorrow, one believer in
democracy will leave this world. He may look

          lonely, but his heart is filled
with satisfaction.

     Second Lieutenant Uehara believed that
he would not go to Yasukuni Shrine, but go to

     heaven where he would be able to meet
his brother and the girl he loved, who died


     Second Lieutenant Toshio Anazawa was
engaged. Yet being chosen for such a mission

     that [engagement] was to be canceled.
He wrote in his last letter to her all the

     thankfulness he felt for her and her
family. He tells her that he does not want her to

     reflect on the time they had spent
together.[60] He wrote:

          As an engaged man, as a man to
go, I would like to say a little to you, a

          lady before I go.

          I only wish your happiness.

          Do not mind the past. You are not
to live in the past.

          Have the courage and forget the
past. You are to create a new future.

          You are to live from moment to
moment in the reality. Anazawa no longer

          exists in the reality.[61]

     Unlike the first two letters, which
contained the words, «I have no nostalgic emotions,»

     he wrote: «It’s too late now, but
I would like to say some of my wishes.»

     He then listed the books he wanted to
read, what he wanted to see, what he wanted to

     listen to, and that he was eager to
see her, and to talk to her.[62]

     The last three writings probably spoke
for themselves and require no further

     explanation. They just made clearer
the different ways of thought the college students

     had from the others who attended
military school.

     Not only in writing had the thoughts
of the pilots appeared. In actions, and in speeches

     too were the emotions visible.
Corporal Mineyoshi Takahashi, according to Mr. Yasuo

     Takahashi, his older brother, had
changed since entering military school, and his

     attitude in talking with Mr. Takahashi
was not as it used to be.[63] (The way Mr. Y.

     Takahashi explained the differences
before and after Mineyoshi joined the military was

     similar to the way Mr. S. Araki had
explained Yukio’s changes.) He remembers that

     the last time they met, he took
Corporal Takahashi into the ship he was working in.

     Suddenly, Corporal Takahashi had asked
his brother: «Which part of the ship is the

     weakest?» Mr. Takahashi remembers
that he was extremely surprised, but pointed to

     the place which he knew was the

     This reveals that Corporal Takahashi
was thinking of his mission rather calmly. He had

     asked the question, probably thinking
of which part of the ship he should drive his plane


     Corporal Takamasa Senda before his
departure had been singing many songs with

     children, and at times, sat quietly
alone, burning old letters in an expression of deep

     thought. The last night, he looked up
at the stars and said, «You are lucky, this will be

     the last time I see the stars…I
wonder how my mother is doing….»[66] His singing with

     the children was probably to forget
the coming mission, and his burning the letters was

     to forget the past. Saying that he
wanted to be able to see the stars again is an

     indication that he wanted to live.

     Whether patriotism was the answer to
the way they felt can be doubted in the case of

     Second Lieutenant Fumihiro Mitsuyama.
His real name was Tak Kyong-Hyong.[67]

     He was Korean, but like other Japanese
men, he too was sent to war, and was chosen

     as a Kamikaze pilot. The last evening
before his mission, he went to the cafeteria

     appointed by the Army, which was run
by a lady, Mrs. Tome Torihama, who was

     called «Okasan» (mother) by
the young Kamikaze pilots of Chiran Air Base. He went

     up to her and said, «I will sing
you a song of my country,» and sang Ariran. By the

     second verse he was in tears.[68]
Because he was a graduate of college, he had not

     volunteered willingly but was probably
pressured to circle «desire earnestly» in the

     survey, especially being a Korean.

     According to survivors, all say that
they felt quite calm, and normal. They were not

     scared of death but were happy that
the day had finally come.[69] Mr. Itatsu was a

     pilot who had departed for the mission
but because his engine had stopped on the way,

     his plane fell into the sea, and he
survived.[70] He says that he remembers being happy

     when he was chosen for the
mission.[71] He said that the young people then who had

     gone into military schools did not
have the ability to think logically, and therefore sent

     applications without much thought. He
also says that these pilots were really innocent,

     and thought purely that they would be
able to serve, and protect the country.[72] An

     author and a critic, Tadao Morimoto
said in a T.V. program that he believes that it was

     not true that they were happy to die
for the country.[73] Mr. Itatsu says that he

     disagrees with him because some young
and innocent pilots died believing they could

     become happy dying that way.[74] Since
Mr. Itatsu was one of the Kamikaze pilots

     himself, his comments should be given
more credibility than the comments made by

     Tadao Morimoto who had been an officer
in the Navy during the war, but was not

     involved with the Kamikaze attacks

     Kiichi Matsuura, the author of the
book Showa wa Toku (Showa Far Away) wrote

     that he recalls the first planned date
of the mission was like every other day, and no

     special conversation took place. When
he found that his aircraft would not function

     properly, he suddenly felt the strong
urge to live. His aircraft not functioning implied that

     he would not die. Realizing that, he
could only think of living. On his second «chance»

     his plane was fine halfway. He was
with two other pilots, and seeing one of them sink

     into the sea, realized a problem in
all their engines. The two returned. He recalls that

     until the moment they decided to
return, he was not at all scared, because they were

     flying toward death. However,
returning was frightening. He had to protect his life from


     Finally, in an interview with a member
of the Self Defense Force, Mr. Matsunaga, a

     word which held the key to a better
understanding was mentioned. The word was

     «decision.» To the question,
«If something happened, would you not be afraid?» he

     answered that it was his decision to
enter such a world, and that he would not escape if

     anything did occur.[76] Similarly,
although it was with far more psychological pressure,

     all the Kamikaze pilots had made the


     The pilots were, as a matter of fact,
not radical nor extremely patriotic, but were the

     average Japanese of the time. It was a
dream for the young boys of late Taisho period

     and early Showa to serve in the
military, especially in the Air Force, as a career. Not all

     pilots who wanted to become Kamikaze
pilots could become one. Although this may

     sound strange, there were so many
volunteers to make the suicidal and fatal attacks,

     that the military, to be fair, had to
let the ones with the better grades go earlier. Because

     of the aura that had covered Japan,
the young pilots of 18 and 19 were eager to go.

     Those of the Special Flight Officer
Probationary Cadets who had their own thoughts

     like Second lieutenants Suzuki,
Uehara, and Anazawa were able to separate their

     personal life from what was required
of them to do for the war. They felt the

     responsibility to go.

     How exactly the pilots felt about the
attacks could not be known but it seems that they

     were, in general, happy that they
could serve the country, but had other thoughts

     towards death. Because the
brainwashing done on the pilots trained in military schools

     was so effective, it changed the
priority of «life, then country,» the other way around.

     Life was made, by the atmosphere and
education of the time, to be not the first priority,

     but something that must be given up
for the first priority, the Emperor and the country.

     If they believed that ever-lasting
happiness would follow their mission, there was

     nothing for them to fear. Those who
were not brainwashed (the college graduates) may

     have felt fear. If they were able to
detach themselves totally from life, they might have

     felt better. Yet is detaching oneself
from life really possible?

     In any case, it seems that they were
all optimistic. They volunteered, believing their

     death might save their family, the
ones they loved, and Japan. However, as a student

     investigating fifty years after the
events, it was not possible for me to understand exactly

     how the pilots had felt towards their

     Appendix One

     The Different Pilots’ Training Schools
in The Imperial Army Where the Kamikaze Pilots

     Were Trained

     The Youth Pilot Training School

          The students who had graduated
from the Youth Pilot Training schools had the

          best flying skills of the
Imperial Army. This schooling system had begun in 1933,

          and lasted until the end of the
Pacific War. The age range that was accepted into

          this school was between 14 and
17. Originally, the time spent in the school was

          three years. One year of general
education in Tokyo and two years of

          specialized education in various
parts of Japan. However, by the end of the war,

          the students of the 15th term
were trained in only a year and 8 months and were

          made into soldiers just in time
for the Okinawa Tokko.

     Candidates for Second Lieutenant

          Non-commissioned officers whose
excellence was recognized were educated in

          the Air Corps Academy. Because of
their experience and career, their skill was

          of a high level.

     Imperial Army Air Corps Academy

          Students who had completed the
four-year course of Middle School or the

          Higher Elementary School took an
examination to enter. They became civil

          servants who had decided to work
in the Army. Graduates of the 56th and 57th

          term were involved in the Okinawa

     Pilot Trainee

          The pilot trainees had to have a
pilot’s license, and had to be an Officer

          Candidate. After one month in a
squadron, they received six months of flight

          training in the Imperial Army Air
Corps Academy of Kumagaya, and after six

          months as probationary Officer,
became Second Lieutenants. Among the

          students of the Ninth term, there
were graduates of the Higher Pilot training


     Flight Officer Candidates

          Officer candidates consisted of
drafted men with at least Middle School

          education. After four months of
preliminary education, a test was taken. If they

          passed the test, they received
the required education for officers, and if found fit

          for the position were ranked as
Higher Officer Candidates. After serving as

          probationary officers, they were
ranked as Second Lieutenants. If they were not

          found fit as an officer, they
became the Lower Officer Candidates and became

          non-commissioned officers. Those
who had the interest in flying received training

          with the Special Flight Officer
Probationary Cadet in the Imperial Air Corps

          Academy. The students of the 7th,
8th, and 9th term were involved in the

          Okinawa Tokko.

     Special Flight Officer Probationary

          This was for the college students
drafted into the war by the Gakuto Shutsujin

          who were interested in the Air
Corps. The 1st term entered in October 1943,

          the 2nd in December 1943, and the
3rd in June 1944. They were made into

          Second Lieutenants in one year,
half a year earlier than planned. One sixth of the

          entire Okinawa Tokko of the Army
was made up of these 312 cadets.

     Pilot Training Schools

          This was not an institution
belonging to the Army, but belonged to the Ministry of

          Communications. However, the
content was almost the same. There were

          twelve of these schools and the
students were separated into the regular course

          and flight training course.
Students of fourteen to fifteen years old entered the

          regular course. After three years
of regular education, the students received one

          year of flight training which the
students of the flight training course had

          completed. To enter the flight
training school from the beginning, an educational

          background of more than Middle
School graduation was required. 108 of the

          graduates died in the Okinawa

     Appendix Two

     The 72nd Shinbu Squadron

     Many of the Kamikaze pilots mentioned
in the Essay were pilots of the 72nd Shinbu-tai

     of the Imperial Army. The following
are pilots of the squadron:

Name                    Age at Departure


          First Lieutenant  Mutsuo
Sato             24

          Sergeant          Nobuyoshi

          Sergeant          Kazuo
Arai              21

          Corporal          Yukio
Araki             17

          Corporal          Tsutomu
Hayakawa        19

          Corporal          Kairyu

          Corporal          Atsunobu

          Corporal          Kaname
Takahashi        18

          Corporal          Mineyoshi
Takahashi     17

          Corporal          Masato
Hisanaga         20

          Corporal          Toshio
Chizaki          19

          Corporal          Takamasa
Senda          19

     This squadron was formed on January
30, 1945 as the 113 Educational Flight Corps,

     then was transformed to the 23rd
Rensei Flight Corps. On March 30, 1945, the same

     unit was renamed the 72nd Shinbu Squadron.
(Shinbu refers to the squadrons of the

     Imperial Army which made the suicide
attacks by aircraft.) They were stationed in

     Heijo, what is now P’yongyan of North
Korea. From March 25, 1944, they were in

     Kagamihara, Gifu prefecture for about
one month. Before the mission in May, the unit

     returned to Kyushu, and stayed in
Metabaru, for a few days, and flew over to Bansei

     Air Base. Their attack was first
planned to be made on May 20, 1945, however it was

     postponed to May 27, 1945 due to rainy

     Of the twelve pilots, three did not
depart for the suicide attack. Corporal Atsunobu

     Sasaki was killed by an American P — 51
on May 2, 1945 in China. On the same day,

     Sergeant Nobuyoshi Nishikawa was
injured, and could not take part in the mission.

     The aircraft of Kairyu Kanamoto
malfunctioned on the day of their mission, and could

     not take off. The remaining nine made
their mission from Bansei Air Base at 6:00 a.m.,

     May 27, 1945.

     Appendix Three

     The Research Method

     The first time I learned of this topic
was in August, 1992.  It was the time when I went

     with my parents to Japan and visited
manmuseums and talked to many people whose

     age varied from12 to 60 and they have
told me many stories about war.

     There, a great number of primary
sources and photographs were displayed, which

     made me even more interested in the

     Since the summer of 1992, the
collection of information started, with no academic

     purpose. In 1993, the book Rikugun
Saigo no Tokko Kichi by Shichiro Naemura

     was published. This book was about the
Kamikaze pilots who departed from Bansei

     Air Base.

     That summer of 1993 was crucial to my
interest in the Kamikaze pilots. First, I visited

     Chiran Tokko Heiwa Kaikan again on
August 21, and looked in more detail at the

     letters, diaries and photographs of
the pilots. The photographs were extremely inspiring

     in a sense, since in none of them were
the pilots showing an expression of fatigue, or

     regret. Most of them were smiling.

     On the same night, I decided to spend
the evening at «Tomiya Ryokan» which is what

     used to be the small restaurant Ms.
Tome Torihama ran during the war, and which the

     Kamikaze pilots used frequently. There
were several photographs of the Kamikaze

     pilots remaining there. Mr. Yoshikiyo
Torihama, the grandson of Ms. Tome Torihama,

     talked to me about many episodes
concerning the last evening the pilots visited the


     Since May 1993 I thought it would be a
wonderful opportunity to organize my thoughts

     and information on this topic.

    This essay was extremely interesting
and, above all, meaningful for me. The

     members of the older generation who I
interviewed encouraged and supported me


     Appendix Four

     The following are those who have
supported and encouraged my research for the

     Extended Essay: (in alphabetical

          Mr. Seiichi Araki

          Mr. Tadamasa Itatsu

          Ms. Itsuko Kai

          Mrs. Masako Kai

          Mr. Kyoichi Kamei

          Mrs. Fusako Manabe

          Mr. Ryo Matsunaga

          Mr. Shiniro Nagao

          Mr. Tadashi Nakajima

          Mr. Glenn Scoggins

          Mr. Tohshio Senda

          Mr. Yasuo Takahashi

          Mr. Yoshikiyo Torihama

          Mr. Akira Yamami


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