Реферат: Who became kamikaze pilots, and how did they feel towards their suicide mission?
WHO BECAME KAMIKAZE PILOTS,
AND HOW DID THEY FEEL TOWARDS THEIR
This extended essay is about theKamikaze pilots who made suicide attacks from the
air during the Pacific War. This paperaims 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, andthat the pilots probably felt scared, yet took the
responsibility to carry out theirmission.
Most of the investigations were madethrough primary sources. Since the Kamikaze
attacks were made from bases inKyushu, there are several museums there where
information may be found. There, theactual letters and diaries that the pilots had left
behind are displayed. Also, fifteeninterviews with survivors of the attacks, relatives and
other people related to the attackswere made. Since the Kamikaze attacks were made
only fifty years ago, a great quantityof documents was available.
The time period in concern is fromearly 1944 to 1945, and the topic being the
Kamikaze pilots, and the region ofresearch was within Japan, mainly Kyushu.
The conclusion of this extended essaywas that the pilots were ordinary, average young
men of the time who volunteered, andthat most felt that their dying in such a mission
would improve the war situation forthe Japanese. However, exactly how the pilots felt
could not be fully understood by astudent researching the topic fifty years after the
In blossom today, then scattered:
Life is so like a delicateflower.
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 theAllied forces. These were the pilots known as the
Kamikaze pilots. This essay focuses onhow they felt about their suicide mission.
Because right-wing organizations haveused the Kamikaze pilots as a symbol of a
militaristic and extremelynationalistic Japan, the current Japanese respond to the issue
with ignorance and false stereotypesand with generally negative and unsympathetic
remarks. The aim of this essay is toreveal the often unknown truth concerning the
pilots, and above all to give aclearer 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 suicidemission?» is that any pilot devoted to the country, who
volunteered and was chosen feltscared, yet took the responsibility to carry out his
The death of Emperor Taisho may be thepoint when Japan had started to become the
fascist state that it was during thePacific 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-JapaneseWar (1904-1905), it became extremely active
when Crown Prince Hirohito becameEmperor Showa. Coup d'etats became frequent,
and several political figures wereassassinated. By Emperor Showa's reign, the military
had the real authority.
According to those who have livedthrough the early Showa period (1926-1945), the
presence of Emperor Showa was likethat of a god and he was more of a religious
figure than a political one. Inmany of the haiku that the Kamikaze pilots wrote, the
Emperor is mentioned in the firstline.
Systematic and organized educationmade such efficient «brainwashing» possible. In
public schools, students were taughtto die for the emperor. By late 1944, a slogan of
Jusshi Reisho meaning «Sacrificelife,» was taught.
Most of the pilots who volunteered forthe 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 thebrainwashing education, and were products of
the militaristic Japan.
Censorship brought restrictions on theJapanese people. The letters, diaries, and
photographs of individual soldierswere all censored. Nothing revealing where they
were, or what they were doingconcerning the military, could be communicated.
Major restrictions were placed on thepress, radio and other media. The public was not
to be informed of defeats or damage onthe Japanese side. Only victories and damage
imposed on the Allies were to beannounced.
Another factor that created theextreme atmosphere in Japan were the «Kenpeitai,» a
part of the Imperial Army whichchecked on the civilians to see if they were saying or
doing anything against the Emperor orthe military.
Since the time of feudalism,especially during the Tokugawa period, a warrior must
follow the Bushido. This Code, and aculture which viewed suicide and the death of
young people as beautiful were factorscontributing to the mass suicides.
Although it was only from 1944 thatthe General Staff had considered mounting
organized suicide attacks,«suicide attacks» had been made since the Japanese
attack on Pearl Harbor. Two typesof suicide attacks had been made. The first was
an organized attack which would, in90% of the cases, result in the death of the
soldiers. However, if the plan hadworked on the battlefield as it did in theory, there
was some possibility that the soldierswould survive. The other type of suicide
attack that had been made wascompletely voluntary, and the result of a sudden
decision. This was usually done byaircraft. The pilots, finding no efficient way to fight
the American aircraft, deliberatelycrashed into them, and caused an explosion,
destroying the American aircraft aswell as killing themselves.
Because these voluntary suicideattacks 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 waybelow the Americans in the number of aircraft,
battleships, skillful pilots andsoldiers, and in the amount of natural resources (oil, for
example), they were above theAmericans 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 Americanspsychologically, and make them lose their will to
continue the war. The person whosuggested the Kamikaze attack at first is
unknown, but it is often thought to beAdmiral Takijiro Onishi. However, Onishi was in
the position to command the first ShinpuTokubetsu Kogekitai rather than suggest
In October, 1944, the plans for theorganized suicide attacks became reality. Having
received permission from the Ministerof the Navy, Admiral Onishi entered Clark Air
Base prepared to command the firstorganized suicide attacks. Onishi had not
thought the organized suicide attacksto be an efficient tactic, but that they would be a
powerful battle tactic, and hebelieved that it would be the best and most beautiful
place for the pilots to die. Onishionce said, «if they (the young pilots) are on land, they
would be bombed down, and if they arein the air, they would be shot down. That's
sad...Too sad...To let the young mendie beautifully, that's what Tokko is. To give
beautiful death, that's calledsympathy.»
This statement makes sense,considering the relative skills of the pilots of the time. By
1944, air raids were made all overJapan, especially in the cities. Most of the best
pilots of the Navy and the Army hadbeen lost in previous battles. Training time was
greatly reduced to the minimum, oreven less than was necessary in order to train a
pilot. By the time the organizedsuicide attacks had started, the pilots only had the
ability to fly, not to fight. Althoughwhat happens to the pilot himself in doing the suicide
attack is by no means anywhere nearbeauty, to die in such a way, for the Emperor,
and for the country, was (at thetime), honorable.
One thing that was decided upon by theGeneral Staff was that the Kamikaze attacks
were to be made only if it was in thewill of the pilot himself. It was too much of a task
to be «commanded.»
The first organized suicide attack wasmade on October 21, 1944 by a squadron
called the Shinpu TokubetsuKogekitai. Tokubetsu Kogekitai was the name
generally used in the JapaneseImperial 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 betterknown as Kamikaze. The captain of the first
attack was to be Captain YukioSeki.
How was Captain Seki talked into sucha task? According to the subcommander of the
First Air Fleet, Tamai, who broughtthe issue up to Captain Seki, the Captain had in a
short time replied «I understand.Please let me do it.» According to another source,
the reply that Captain Seki gave was,«Please let me think about it one night. I will
accept the offer tomorrowmorning.»
The document which seems to have themost credibility is the book, The Divine Wind
by Captain Rikihei Inoguchi andCommander Tadashi Nakajima. According to this
account a graduate of the NavalAcademy, 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 takeKanno's place Captain Seki was chosen, and was
called to Commander Tamai's room atmidnight. After hearing of the mission, it
appears, Seki remained silent for awhile, then replied, «You must let me do it.»
The reason this is the most credibledocument is because it had been written by
Captain Rikihei Inoguchi, who wasactually there with Tamai and Seki, and named the
first unit, Shinpu. It is doubtfulthat there was a flaw in his memory since the book was
published in 1959, only 14 years afterthe war.
In any case, Captain Seki agreed tolead 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.Twenty-six fighter planes were prepared, of which half
were to escort and the other half tomake the suicide mission. That half was divided
into the Shikishima, Yamato, Asahi andYamazakura.
The youngest of the Kamikaze pilots ofthe Imperial Army was 17 years old, and
the oldest, 35. Most of them werein 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 theequivalent of an elementary school and middle
school combined. Some had been tocollege. There was a tendency for them not to be
first sons. The eldest sons usuallytook over the family business. Most were therefore
the younger sons who did not need toworry about the family business.
Most of those who had come fromcollege came in what is called the Gakuto
Shutsujin. This was when the collegestudents' exemption from being drafted into the
military was lifted, and thegraduation of the seniors was shifted from April 1944 to
Many of these students were fromprestigious colleges such as Tokyo, Kyoto, Keio,
and Waseda Universities. Thesestudents from college tended to have more liberal
ideas, not having been educated inmilitary schools, and also were more aware of the
world outside of Japan.
Where were the pilots trained? All thepilots involved in the «Okinawa Tokko» had
been trained in/as one of thefollowing: The Youth Pilot Training School, Candidates for
Second Lieutenant, The Imperial ArmyAir Corps Academy, Pilot Trainee, Flight
Officer Candidates, Special FlightOfficer Probationary Cadet, Pilot Training Schools,
or Special Flight OfficerCandidate.
Since the Kamikaze attacks were to bemade 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 wasfor the Special Flight Officer Probationary Cadet
(College graduates) only. The formerwas an application form, and the latter was a
survey. The survey asked: «Do youdesire earnestly/wish/do not wish/to be involved in
the Kamikaze attacks?» They hadto circle one of the three choices, or leave the paper
blank. The important fact is that thepilots were required to sign their names. When
the military had the absolute power,and the whole atmosphere of Japan expected men
to die for the country, there was greatpsychological pressure to circle «earnestly
desire» or «wish.» TheArmy selected those who had circled «earnestly desire.» The
reason that the Special Flight OfficerProbationary Cadet had to answer such a survey
rather than send the applications attheir own will was probably because the military
had known that the students who hadcome 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 pilotswho would apply. They were correct. Every
student of the 15th term of the YouthPilot Training School had applied. Because there
were so many volunteers, the militaryhad decided to let the ones with better grades go
There are several factors which madeso many young pilots volunteer for such a
mission. Extreme patriotism must havebeen one factor for sure. Added to that, there
was the reverence for the Emperor, agod. Some say that it was generally believed that
if one died for the emperor, and waspraised in Yasukuni Shrine, they would become
The effect of the brainwashing thatthe 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 thatthey were happy, and proud of being given such an
honorable mission. It is true alsothat they believed that if they took part in the mission,
it might improve the war situation forJapan.
What the military education was likewas described in a diary kept by Corporal Yukio
Araki, from the time he had enteredthe Youth Pilot Training School, until the night
before his original date of departurefor Okinawa.
Since anything written was checked byone of the military staff, nothing that would
upset the military or contradict theideas of the Japanese government could be written.
However, more importantly, because ofthe lack of privacy, personal emotions could
not be written. Therefore, in CorporalAraki's diary, very rarely can anything «personal»
be found. The first several days inthe Training school, he simply lists the subjects that
were studied that day, and what wasdone for physical training. Later on he mentions
what was done for training, the eventsthat took place, and other things he had done.
However, most of what he wrote wasabout the «warning» he received. The
following are some of the«warnings» he had received:
There is an attitude problem whenlistening to the officers.
Some students seem to smile orlaugh during training, and others are being
lazy...In general there seems tobe a lack of spirit.
Straighten yourself. It revealsyour spirit.
The education emphasized the mind,spirit and attitude. Neatness and cleanliness were
also frequently mentioned. Usually, ahard slap in the face accompanied these warnings.
The way the 15-year- old boy respondedto the warning was: «I must try harder.»
One of the listed subjects in thediary was a course called «Spiritual Moral Lecture,»
nearly every other day. What exactlywas taught in the course is not mentioned.
However it seemed that in some ofthese courses, great military figures who died for
Japan were mentioned. It is acertainty that this course was one factor in making
the pilots feel «happy andproud» to be involved in the Kamikaze attacks.
The military education was quicklyabsorbed by these young pilots-to-be. It was in
October 1943 that the young boy hadentered the Training School. By the next
February, he had written a short poemsaying that a Japanese man should be praised
when he dies as he should for theEmperor.
The amount of time students spent inthe Youth Pilot Training School was reduced from
three years to less than two years forthe 15th term students. Therefore, the schedule
was tight and tough. There wasalmost no holiday at all, and many of the planned
holidays were canceled. WhatCorporal Araki called a «holiday» was very much
different from what is normallyconsidered a holiday. An example of his holiday started
with some sort of ceremony, followedby listening and learning new songs (probably of
war), and watching a movie. Somethingrelated to the military was taught even on days
called «holidays.»Therefore, they were given no time to «think.» There was
something to do almost every minutethat they were awake, and they were taught what
the right spirit was. By not givingthem time to think, they had no time to evaluate what
they were being taught. They justabsorbed it, and as a result, by the time they
graduated, they were brainwashed.
Corporal Araki had an older brotherand three younger brothers. In his will to his
parents, he mentioned that he wishedtwo of his younger brothers to also enter the
military; one should enter the Navyand become an officer, the other to enter the Army
and also become an officer. He alsomentions that he wishes that his brothers follow his
path (and be involved in the Kamikazeattacks).
Mr. S. Araki, Corporal Araki's olderbrother, mentioned that his brother had greatly
changed after entering the militaryschool. He remembers that his brother's attitude
towards him was not casual, and it wasnot like he was talking to a brother. He felt that
he had really grown up since he hadseen him last, both physically and
There are three references in whichCorporal Araki's thoughts towards the mission may
be found: his will, last letters, andhis diary. In his will to his parents, and to his brother,
he mentions that he has no nostalgicsentiments. In his will addressed to his brother, he
mentions that he would like him toconsider the mission as piety. In a postcard sent on
the day of his mission, he calls themission, «an honorable mission,» and that he is
looking forward to see them again atYasukuni Shrine. It was in the end of March
1945, that Corporal Araki's unit'smission was ordered to take place. From just
before then, Corporal Araki had notwritten 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. Could that be true?Indeed, his squadron was on a tight schedule for
March. From the 25th, they returnedfrom P'yongyang to Gifu prefecture.
However, Sergeant Kazuo Arai had beenable to keep a diary at the time. It may
be because of strong personal emotionshe just could not keep the diary. Or, it may be
that he could care no longer aboutkeeping a diary. In either case the fact that he had
not written an entry on the day thatthe mission was officially ordered, when he had
written every other special eventdown, reveals that he was no longer in the state of
mind that he had been.
The planned date of the mission of the72nd Shinbu squadron (which was the squadron
to which Corporal Araki belonged) wasinitially, May 21, 1945. However, because of
rainy weather, it was postponed to May27, 1945. In his last diary entry on May 20,
1945, he wrote:
...at ** o'clock I received thethankful command to depart tomorrow. I
am deeply emotional, and justhope to sink one (American battleship).
Already, hundreds of visitors hadvisited us. Cheerfully singing the last
season of farewell.
and is cut off there. His handwritinghowever was very stable, and was not as if he was
losing control. If for some reason hehad to leave the diary for a while, why did he not
go back to it? Was it that he hadbecome extremely emotional that he could no longer
write? In any case, he never returnedto his diary.
In reading the last letters of theKamikaze pilots, there are generally two types. One,
the «Typical» letters andthe other, the «Unique» letters. Most of the typical letters were
written by graduates of militaryschools such as the Youth Pilot Training School. The
«Unique» ones were writtenby the Special Flight Officer Probationary Cadets--the
graduates from college. The first twoof the following five pilots have written a typical
letter, and the other three havewritten unique letters.
Corporal Masato Hisanaga of the 72ndShinbu Squadron was twenty years old. In his
letter, he thanked his parents for theyears that he was alive, and reported to them how
he had been doing, and informed themof 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, asit appears, must have been killed in the war) by
sinking the enemy's battleship andkilling 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.»
Corporal Shinji Ozeki, 19 years oldwrote a will to his mother saying:
As a man I will courageously go.Now, I have no special nostalgic
sentiments. However, I will goregretting that although being born a man, I
have not had filial piety.
To give this young self for theprotection of the imperial nation, I believe is
I hope that you will forgive mysin of being undutiful and that you will live
This is similar to what Corporal Arakiand Hisanaga had mentioned. All reveal their
thoughts towards their parents. Theybelieved 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 feeleasier. Because these are «Typical» letters, many
others had written just as they had.
The unique ones written by the collegegraduates included more personal feelings. For
example, Second Lieutenant ShigeyukiSuzuki wrote:
People say that our feeling is ofresignation, but that does not know at all
how we feel, and think of us as afish about to be cooked.
Young blood does flow in us.
There are persons we love, wethink of, and many unforgettable
memories. However, with those, wecannot win the war.
To let this beautiful Japan keepgrowing, to be released from the wicked
hands of the Americans andBritish, and to build a 'freed Asia' was our
goal from the Gakuto Shutsujinyear before last; yet nothing has changed.
The great day that we candirectly be in contact with the battle is our day
of happiness and at the sametime, the memorial of our death...
Second Lieutenant Ryoji Uehara, agraduate of Keio University was 22 years old. His
ideas were «radical» for thetime, and if known by the Kenpeitai, he would not have
been left alone. In a note, hewrote to a journalist just before his mission that he
was greatly honored to be chosen as aKamikaze pilot.[58 ]Yet he also wrote, thinking
logically with the skills he hadgained in college. He believed in democracy. He believed
that the victory of democracy wasobvious, and although fascism would make the
country appear to be prosperoustemporarily, only decline would wait for it. He
mentioned the fact that Fascist Italyand Nazi Germany had been defeated, and that the
power of «Freedom» willappear in history. He says that if his ideas were correct, it
would be a tragedy for the nation butthat he would be happy. In the end of the note he
Tomorrow, one believer indemocracy will leave this world. He may look
lonely, but his heart is filledwith satisfaction.
Second Lieutenant Uehara believed thathe would not go to Yasukuni Shrine, but go to
heaven where he would be able to meethis brother and the girl he loved, who died
Second Lieutenant Toshio Anazawa wasengaged. 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 herfamily. He tells her that he does not want her to
reflect on the time they had spenttogether. He wrote:
As an engaged man, as a man togo, 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 notto live in the past.
Have the courage and forget thepast. You are to create a new future.
You are to live from moment tomoment in the reality. Anazawa no longer
exists in the reality.
Unlike the first two letters, whichcontained the words, «I have no nostalgic emotions,»
he wrote: «It's too late now, butI would like to say some of my wishes.»
He then listed the books he wanted toread, what he wanted to see, what he wanted to
listen to, and that he was eager tosee her, and to talk to her.
The last three writings probably spokefor themselves and require no further
explanation. They just made clearerthe different ways of thought the college students
had from the others who attendedmilitary school.
Not only in writing had the thoughtsof the pilots appeared. In actions, and in speeches
too were the emotions visible.Corporal Mineyoshi Takahashi, according to Mr. Yasuo
Takahashi, his older brother, hadchanged since entering military school, and his
attitude in talking with Mr. Takahashiwas not as it used to be. (The way Mr. Y.
Takahashi explained the differencesbefore and after Mineyoshi joined the military was
similar to the way Mr. S. Araki hadexplained Yukio's changes.) He remembers that
the last time they met, he tookCorporal Takahashi into the ship he was working in.
Suddenly, Corporal Takahashi had askedhis brother: «Which part of the ship is the
weakest?» Mr. Takahashi remembersthat he was extremely surprised, but pointed to
the place which he knew was theweakest.
This reveals that Corporal Takahashiwas thinking of his mission rather calmly. He had
asked the question, probably thinkingof which part of the ship he should drive his plane
Corporal Takamasa Senda before hisdeparture had been singing many songs with
children, and at times, sat quietlyalone, burning old letters in an expression of deep
thought. The last night, he looked upat the stars and said, «You are lucky, this will be
the last time I see the stars...Iwonder how my mother is doing....» His singing with
the children was probably to forgetthe coming mission, and his burning the letters was
to forget the past. Saying that hewanted to be able to see the stars again is an
indication that he wanted to live.
Whether patriotism was the answer tothe way they felt can be doubted in the case of
Second Lieutenant Fumihiro Mitsuyama.His real name was Tak Kyong-Hyong.
He was Korean, but like other Japanesemen, he too was sent to war, and was chosen
as a Kamikaze pilot. The last eveningbefore his mission, he went to the cafeteria
appointed by the Army, which was runby a lady, Mrs. Tome Torihama, who was
called «Okasan» (mother) bythe young Kamikaze pilots of Chiran Air Base. He went
up to her and said, «I will singyou a song of my country,» and sang Ariran. By the
second verse he was in tears.Because he was a graduate of college, he had not
volunteered willingly but was probablypressured to circle «desire earnestly» in the
survey, especially being a Korean.
According to survivors, all say thatthey felt quite calm, and normal. They were not
scared of death but were happy thatthe day had finally come. Mr. Itatsu was a
pilot who had departed for the missionbut because his engine had stopped on the way,
his plane fell into the sea, and hesurvived. He says that he remembers being happy
when he was chosen for themission. He said that the young people then who had
gone into military schools did nothave the ability to think logically, and therefore sent
applications without much thought. Healso says that these pilots were really innocent,
and thought purely that they would beable to serve, and protect the country. An
author and a critic, Tadao Morimotosaid in a T.V. program that he believes that it was
not true that they were happy to diefor the country. Mr. Itatsu says that he
disagrees with him because some youngand innocent pilots died believing they could
become happy dying that way. SinceMr. Itatsu was one of the Kamikaze pilots
himself, his comments should be givenmore credibility than the comments made by
Tadao Morimoto who had been an officerin the Navy during the war, but was not
involved with the Kamikaze attackshimself.
Kiichi Matsuura, the author of thebook Showa wa Toku (Showa Far Away) wrote
that he recalls the first planned dateof the mission was like every other day, and no
special conversation took place. Whenhe found that his aircraft would not function
properly, he suddenly felt the strongurge to live. His aircraft not functioning implied that
he would not die. Realizing that, hecould only think of living. On his second «chance»
his plane was fine halfway. He waswith two other pilots, and seeing one of them sink
into the sea, realized a problem inall their engines. The two returned. He recalls that
until the moment they decided toreturn, 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 memberof the Self Defense Force, Mr. Matsunaga, a
word which held the key to a betterunderstanding was mentioned. The word was
«decision.» To the question,«If something happened, would you not be afraid?» he
answered that it was his decision toenter such a world, and that he would not escape if
anything did occur. Similarly,although it was with far more psychological pressure,
all the Kamikaze pilots had made thedecision.
The pilots were, as a matter of fact,not radical nor extremely patriotic, but were the
average Japanese of the time. It was adream for the young boys of late Taisho period
and early Showa to serve in themilitary, especially in the Air Force, as a career. Not all
pilots who wanted to become Kamikazepilots could become one. Although this may
sound strange, there were so manyvolunteers to make the suicidal and fatal attacks,
that the military, to be fair, had tolet 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 OfficerProbationary Cadets who had their own thoughts
like Second lieutenants Suzuki,Uehara, and Anazawa were able to separate their
personal life from what was requiredof them to do for the war. They felt the
responsibility to go.
How exactly the pilots felt about theattacks could not be known but it seems that they
were, in general, happy that theycould serve the country, but had other thoughts
towards death. Because thebrainwashing done on the pilots trained in military schools
was so effective, it changed thepriority of 'life, then country,' the other way around.
Life was made, by the atmosphere andeducation of the time, to be not the first priority,
but something that must be given upfor the first priority, the Emperor and the country.
If they believed that ever-lastinghappiness would follow their mission, there was
nothing for them to fear. Those whowere not brainwashed (the college graduates) may
have felt fear. If they were able todetach themselves totally from life, they might have
felt better. Yet is detaching oneselffrom life really possible?
In any case, it seems that they wereall optimistic. They volunteered, believing their
death might save their family, theones they loved, and Japan. However, as a student
investigating fifty years after theevents, it was not possible for me to understand exactly
how the pilots had felt towards theirmission.
The Different Pilots' Training Schoolsin The Imperial Army Where the Kamikaze Pilots
The Youth Pilot Training School
The students who had graduatedfrom the Youth Pilot Training schools had the
best flying skills of theImperial Army. This schooling system had begun in 1933,
and lasted until the end of thePacific War. The age range that was accepted into
this school was between 14 and17. Originally, the time spent in the school was
three years. One year of generaleducation in Tokyo and two years of
specialized education in variousparts of Japan. However, by the end of the war,
the students of the 15th termwere trained in only a year and 8 months and were
made into soldiers just in timefor the Okinawa Tokko.
Candidates for Second Lieutenant
Non-commissioned officers whoseexcellence was recognized were educated in
the Air Corps Academy. Because oftheir experience and career, their skill was
of a high level.
Imperial Army Air Corps Academy
Students who had completed thefour-year course of Middle School or the
Higher Elementary School took anexamination to enter. They became civil
servants who had decided to workin the Army. Graduates of the 56th and 57th
term were involved in the OkinawaTokko.
The pilot trainees had to have apilot's license, and had to be an Officer
Candidate. After one month in asquadron, they received six months of flight
training in the Imperial Army AirCorps Academy of Kumagaya, and after six
months as probationary Officer,became Second Lieutenants. Among the
students of the Ninth term, therewere graduates of the Higher Pilot training
Flight Officer Candidates
Officer candidates consisted ofdrafted men with at least Middle School
education. After four months ofpreliminary education, a test was taken. If they
passed the test, they receivedthe required education for officers, and if found fit
for the position were ranked asHigher Officer Candidates. After serving as
probationary officers, they wereranked as Second Lieutenants. If they were not
found fit as an officer, theybecame the Lower Officer Candidates and became
non-commissioned officers. Thosewho had the interest in flying received training
with the Special Flight OfficerProbationary Cadet in the Imperial Air Corps
Academy. The students of the 7th,8th, and 9th term were involved in the
Special Flight Officer ProbationaryCadets
This was for the college studentsdrafted into the war by the Gakuto Shutsujin
who were interested in the AirCorps. The 1st term entered in October 1943,
the 2nd in December 1943, and the3rd 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 Armywas made up of these 312 cadets.
Pilot Training Schools
This was not an institutionbelonging to the Army, but belonged to the Ministry of
Communications. However, thecontent was almost the same. There were
twelve of these schools and thestudents were separated into the regular course
and flight training course.Students of fourteen to fifteen years old entered the
regular course. After three yearsof regular education, the students received one
year of flight training which thestudents of the flight training course had
completed. To enter the flighttraining school from the beginning, an educational
background of more than MiddleSchool graduation was required. 108 of the
graduates died in the OkinawaTokko.
The 72nd Shinbu Squadron
Many of the Kamikaze pilots mentionedin the Essay were pilots of the 72nd Shinbu-tai
of the Imperial Army. The followingare pilots of the squadron:
Title Name Age at Departure
First Lieutenant MutsuoSato 24
Sergeant KazuoArai 21
Corporal YukioAraki 17
Corporal TsutomuHayakawa 19
Corporal KanameTakahashi 18
Corporal MineyoshiTakahashi 17
Corporal MasatoHisanaga 20
Corporal ToshioChizaki 19
Corporal TakamasaSenda 19
This squadron was formed on January30, 1945 as the 113 Educational Flight Corps,
then was transformed to the 23rdRensei 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 suicideattacks by aircraft.) They were stationed in
Heijo, what is now P'yongyan of NorthKorea. From March 25, 1944, they were in
Kagamihara, Gifu prefecture for aboutone month. Before the mission in May, the unit
returned to Kyushu, and stayed inMetabaru, for a few days, and flew over to Bansei
Air Base. Their attack was firstplanned to be made on May 20, 1945, however it was
postponed to May 27, 1945 due to rainyweather.
Of the twelve pilots, three did notdepart for the suicide attack. Corporal Atsunobu
Sasaki was killed by an American P-51on May 2, 1945 in China. On the same day,
Sergeant Nobuyoshi Nishikawa wasinjured, and could not take part in the mission.
The aircraft of Kairyu Kanamotomalfunctioned on the day of their mission, and could
not take off. The remaining nine madetheir mission from Bansei Air Base at 6:00 a.m.,
May 27, 1945.
The Research Method
The first time I learned of this topicwas in August, 1992. It was the time when I went
with my parents to Japan and visitedmanmuseums and talked to many people whose
age varied from12 to 60 and they havetold me many stories about war.
There, a great number of primarysources and photographs were displayed, which
made me even more interested in thetopic.
Since the summer of 1992, thecollection of information started, with no academic
purpose. In 1993, the book RikugunSaigo no Tokko Kichi by Shichiro Naemura
was published. This book was about theKamikaze pilots who departed from Bansei
That summer of 1993 was crucial to myinterest in the Kamikaze pilots. First, I visited
Chiran Tokko Heiwa Kaikan again onAugust 21, and looked in more detail at the
letters, diaries and photographs ofthe pilots. The photographs were extremely inspiring
in a sense, since in none of them werethe pilots showing an expression of fatigue, or
regret. Most of them were smiling.
On the same night, I decided to spendthe 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. Therewere several photographs of the Kamikaze
pilots remaining there. Mr. YoshikiyoTorihama, the grandson of Ms. Tome Torihama,
talked to me about many episodesconcerning the last evening the pilots visited the
Since May 1993 I thought it would be awonderful opportunity to organize my thoughts
and information on this topic.
This essay was extremely interestingand, above all, meaningful for me. The
members of the older generation who Iinterviewed encouraged and supported me
The following are those who havesupported and encouraged my research for the
Extended Essay: (in alphabeticalorder)
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