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

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





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 mission.

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 flower.

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 line.

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 announced.[5]

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 sympathy."[15]

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 Seki.[19]

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 morning."[21]

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 Yamazakura.[24]

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 Candidate.[28]

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 Japan.[32]

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 Emperor.[39]

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 attacks).[43]

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 weakest.[64]

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 himself.

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 decision.


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 mission.

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 Tokko.

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 Cadets

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 Tokko.

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:

Title Name Age at Departure


First Lieutenant Mutsuo Sato 24

Sergeant Nobuyoshi Nishikawa

Sergeant Kazuo Arai 21

Corporal Yukio Araki 17

Corporal Tsutomu Hayakawa 19

Corporal Kairyu Kanamoto

Corporal Atsunobu Sasaki

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 weather.

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 topic.

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 order)

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