"I Was A Human Bomb"
by Hasaru Koseburi
Real Men, September 1956, pp. 40-1, 60, 62, 64, 66
Although published in the men's adventure magazine
entitled Real Men, this far-fetched story supposedly written by an ohka
pilot in the Japanese Navy's Kamikaze Special Attack Corps has little
relationship to historical reality. An ohka, called baka (meaning "stupid") by the
Allies, was a piloted rocket-powered glider bomb released from a Betty bomber.
They were used in combat from March 21 to June 22, 1945, with most of them
either being shot down prior to release or missing their target. A few achieved
success such as the ohka that sank the destroyer Mannert L. Abele on
April 12, 1945.
The story's byline claims that Hasaru Koseburi was a
Flight Lieutenant in the Imperial Japanese Air Force, but there is no evidence
that he ever existed. Moreover, Koseburi is not even a Japanese family name. The
article contains many fanciful rumors about kamikaze pilots, such as sex rites
ordered by the Emperor, but these rumors have no basis in reality. The author of
this fictional story even seems to have thought incorrectly that the ohka glider
was like a conventional aircraft that takes off and lands on a runway. This
story portrays kamikaze pilots from an American perspective, which considers
that they were brainwashed with propaganda to carry out a suicide mission and
that if given the opportunity they would want to escape from their assignment to crash into an enemy ship.
This article cleverly displays three historical
photographs with captions related to the story. The first one shows an ohka with
the marking "I-18" on front. This ohka actually was captured by US forces during
the invasion of Okinawa, but the caption indicates that is was the author's
suicide plane. The second photo shows about 20 soldiers jogging along a Tokyo
street, but the caption claims these men were Kamikaze Corps members. The last
photo in the article supposedly shows the author after he had landed his ohka
glider bomb on an American airfield on Okinawa. He had been stripped by American
soldiers who were afraid of a concealed booby trap, and they made him disarm the
explosives in his ohka parked on the runway.
Notes have been added to the story in order to provide
comments on a few of the inaccuracies. Click on the note number to go to the
note at the bottom of the web page, and then click on the note number to return
to the same place in the story.
A suicide pilot tells of Japan's last-ditch efforts to win the war and the
weird sex-religious-patriotic rites of the Kamikaze Corps.
It was the Emperor's orders that each of us was to sire twelve babies the day
after we completed our training .
Since we were soon to die by crashing our planes into American warships, the
Emperor wanted our Seishin (offensive spirit) to be transferred to as many
men-children as possible.
So the Imperial physicians brought women—young and firm of
breast and hips—to us in Tokyo's temple of Masiu, the Goddess of Fertility
where we awaited them unclad and eager to serve the Emperor.
Amid laughter and jesting, and a certain amount of
rivalry, we carried out the Emperor's orders—the most virile of us going to the
aid of our less able comrades until the last woman had been honored. Girls were
thrilled to be loved by men of the Kamikaze.
The Emperor's reasons for that pleasant finale to our
training were both practical and spiritual. The war had decimated the ranks of
Japan's adult males so that our glorious nation was afflicted with hordes of
manless women. What better way was there to use many of those females than to
provide sons for the Empire? And what better sires for their babies than us, the
brave and spiritually-cleansed pilots of the Kamikaze, who were soon to die for
Hirohito, Light of Heaven and Earth? For our sons would be born with Seishin and
would grow to be faithful and fearless Samurai (warriors).
But siring sons for the Empire was but a small portion of
the curious duties of men of the Kamikaze. Every day brought forth new wonders.
It was unlike military service in any other Army of the world.
For me it all began on an evening early in the summer of
1944. On that memorable day nervous nasty-tempered little Colonel Nokamura
 entered the flight officers barracks at the Kobe base
Nokamura, instead of screaming and cursing as usual,
smiled happily as he told us that the Imperial General Staff in Tokyo had, at
last, come up with a way to defeat the Americans.
We listened intently. For it was about time that someone
came up with something. The Americans were storming through our outer-island
defense so fast that the disrespectful were saying the breeze from their
advances gave goose pimples to the Emperor himself.
The General Staff's plan, Nokamura explained, was to form
a Kamikaze (suicide plane) division of the Special Attack Corps, heretofore a
land and sea outfit. Great honor would attend each man who volunteered for the
Kamikaze because by exploding his plane—and himself—to sink the barbarian
Americans' warships he would exemplify to the highest degree the spirit of
Shintoism and prove to his ancestors that he was willing to die for Tenno, the
Heavenly King, otherwise known as Hirohito , Emperor of the Invincible Japanese
"To have Tenno rule over the whole world is the will of
Heaven," Nokamura concluded piously.
Whereupon there was a tremendous clamor among the men in
our barracks for the honor of being tapped for membership in the Kamikaze corps.
Everyone wanted to be a hero in the outfit that would change the course of the
war and drive the Americans, if any survived, back to San Francisco in panic and
But unfortunately only four men in our wing would be
allowed to serve, Nokamura said sadly. The others would be required, in the
interests of the war effort, to continue their regular duties as pilots of our
Domaki bombers .
The Colonel solved the selection of the four men easily
and with great diplomacy. He put a hand into the pocket of his jacket and drew
forth a pair of dice. He would roll them once for each man, he said, and the
first four men who called their numbers correctly would be given the honor of
joining the Kamikaze corps.
We watched breathlessly as he summoned the first man, then
another and another, rolling the dice for each.
It was the will of Tenno that I was one of the four men to
be chosen. In behalf of the Emperor, Colonel Nokamura bowed before each of us
and left the barracks.
We fortunate ones were too excited to sleep that night
even if our envious comrades had let us. So we spent the night in revelry and
laughter of joy at the thoughts of Japan's impending victory and America's
But because the barbarians were already hammering at our
bases in the Marianas we were made to leave the next morning for Tokyo to begin
Upon our arrival there we were paraded through the streets
with 200 other future Kamikaze pilots . The populace, which lined the streets in
vast hordes, screamed and shouted and prostrated themselves at our feet so that
many times we had to break formation to avoid stepping on them. Everyone treated
us with the greatest reverence for we were the stalwarts in soul and fortitude
who were soon to die for our homeland.
After the parade we were escorted by the Emperor's own
guard to the Kesoya air base  on Tokyo's outskirts upon which had been erected a
huge shrine. There a Black Dragon , one of the Emperor's advisors, told us the
importance of cleansing our souls of sin and defilement by purifying ourselves
before the Emperor's all-seeing eyes. Whereupon we chanted a solemn pledge that
we were willing and anxious to die for Tenno and the Invincible Empire.
Our instructions in Kamikaze warfare in subsequent days
was more spiritual than tactical because we were already pilots . So its stress
was on our forthcoming service to Tenno and the honor we would soon be paying to
our departed ancestors.
We were taught a song which we sang before each meal and
upon arising in the morning and before retiring at night:
If cherry blossoms were but men,
Then the loving butterflies are their wives.
Bloom, cherry blossoms, spiritedly
In eight petals or in singles.
With the dawn you'll be gone
Tomorrow another blossom shall fall.
Bloom, cherry blossoms, spiritedly
For I'll be following you.
Those words were of great comfort to us and they gave us
courage. For while the thought of serving our country was one of joy, the
anticipation of a flaming death on an enemy ship was most unpleasant. We needed
the spiritual strength the song gave us.
Our instructors informed us of the origin of Kamikaze
which, in English, means the Divine Wind. We learned that the name was derived
from an incident occurring in 1281 when the Mongols attacked Japan from the sea.
At the most crucial moment, when it seemed as though nothing could stop the
barbarian enemy, a great wind arose and wrecked the invasion fleet. The gods
provided that wind as they were providing the means to halt the modern
barbarians, the Americans, who, like the Mongols, would invade our homeland and
burn our homes and defile our women with children of unclean blood.
On the last day of our training our souls were removed
from our bodies and enshrined in little white boxes  which were taken to the
Yasukuni shrine. There our forthcoming sacrifices were honored by the Emperor
himself, for the Yasukuni shrine was Tenno's own place of worship. Then the
boxes were prepared to be sent to our parents to be worshipped on our family's
The next day we sired sons for the Emperor in the ceremony
in the Temple of Fertility which I have already described.
On the following day—which was July 9, 1944—a ghastly
disaster occurred. The Americans defeated the last of our brave defenders in the
Marianas and our huge Army and Air bases on Saipan, Guam, and Tinian were lost,
as well as our fleet anchorage at Guam. It was a disaster of the utmost
magnitude for it put the cursed Americans in control of islands that were within
bombing distance of the cities of our homeland.
Abruptly we men of the Kamikaze corps were dispersed to
scattered bases to await our first—and last—missions. With 90 others I was sent
to Tokuna Shima  in the Nansei Shoto (Southwestern Islands). Tokuna is the second
island north of Okinawa, which was our communications center for the western
Pacific, and also headquarters of the defense command of the Nansei Shoto.
Furthermore Okinawa was an island upon which the Americans had been giving more
than casual interest, our intelligence informed us. We were determined that it
would never fall to them.
But we had no more than arrived at Tokuno than a problem
of unanticipated gravity arose—there were few planes available to the Kamikaze
corps! The Americans had destroyed 2174  of our aircraft in the Marianas
campaign. And other hundreds in their unceasing raids on Truk, the Philippines,
and Marcus. The planes our Air Force had left at its disposal were horded
frugally for they would be desperately needed, it was feared, for the defense of
But our General Staff solved that problem easily and with
great intelligence. They conceived the idea of cheap little craft which the
Americans were later to name—quite appropriately, Baka (stupid) planes.
Those little craft didn't have to be made with skill nor
with costly materials, since they were destined for brief one-way flights. So
components for hundreds of them were hurriedly turned out in factories all over
the homeland and shipped to our bases for assembly.
But meanwhile the few planes of conventional type that
were available of us—mostly obsolete models or damaged planes—were used upon
American warships with great loss of life to the Americans. Kamikaze was a
In March of 1945—precisely at the time when Baka planes
became available to us in quantities, the Americans attacked Okinawa. They did
it with vast sea and air armadas. And massive land armies.
As history reveals, we let their troops go ashore
virtually unmolested. Then in a coordinated move our armies attacked them in a
great pincers and the planes of the Kamikaze went into action.
It was our plan to destroy much of their Navy, causing the
surviving units to flee so that the Americans would neither be able to reinforce
nor evacuate their Army.
We made the Americans bleed. Casualties in their Army were
ghastly and the men of the Kamikaze sunk 17 of their ships, and crashed and
dived into others, killing and wounding American sailors by the hundreds. (The
U.S. Navy states that 2,714 men were killed and 7,893 injured by Kamikaze
attacks during the Okinawa campaign.)
But instead of withdrawing the remnants of their fleet the
Americans reinforced it and landed more thousands of troops on the shores of
In panic at the Americans' unanticipated resistance, our
General Staff ordered us to increase the tempo of the Kamikaze attacks. But for
every American ship we sank two more came to take its place; there seemed to be
no limit to the size of the American Navy. Of equal disaster, our troops ashore
were unable to execute their pincer movement—the Americans landed airborne
troops which attacked our forces from the rear.
But despite our miserable fortunes, we made the Okinawa
campaign drag on at great cost to the enemy in men and material. (The Okinawa
campaign, originally scheduled for 3 weeks, lasted for 7 weeks .)
Then one morning it was my turn to crash into an American
ship. I left the barracks accompanied by my shouting, prancing comrades, just as
I had shouted and pranced at the departure of other men of the Kamikaze. It was
a glorious moment; I was about to die for the Emperor and for the glory and
honor of my ancestors.
I climbed into my Baka, which had the number "I-18"
painted on its side in huge black letters. I recall wondering, as I entered the
cockpit, why the Bakas were numbered. What difference did it make? They were
planes of no return; identification wasn't important. They had but one flight to
make and one function to perform—to crash into an enemy ship.
Ohka glider captured by American forces during Okinawan invasion
(story's author claims that he landed this ohka on Okinawa)
But, once inside, I closed the transparent plastic hatch.
Our commandant latched and locked it immediately. Then he attached Senjinren
ribbon to the Baka's stubby tail, one of those 20-foot white streamers we trailed
behind our aircraft so frequently. Those ribbons—a source of wonderment to the
Americans—were supposed to ensure success of a mission.
I gunned the engine and waved farewell to my comrades.
Whereupon I taxied across the runaway , ascended into the air and sped in the
direction of Nakagusuku Wan (Buckner Bay) where the enemy's ships lay at anchor
in support of their troops ashore. I had no specific target; any large ship
would do, preferably an aircraft carrier.
In minutes I was over Okinoyerabu , the island between
Tokuna and Okinawa. Then I was over the open sea again, headed for Okinawa and a
glorious death in behalf of Tenno.
This, I reflected happily, was going to be an easy way to
assure myself of glory in heaven and bring, at the same time, great honor to my
family and to our Invincible Empire.
Then, quite suddenly, my eyes opened wide and I mumbled
aloud, "Invincible Empire? No! It's not invincible. The truth is we're getting
the hell beat our of us—we're very close to defeat!"
An overwhelming cascade of thoughts poured through my
mind—thoughts I'd never allowed myself to have. They stunned me with their
magnitude and import so that I stared unseeingly, holding the speeding little
craft's wheel  in a clench as it cruised at the prescribed 500 feet elevation
over the sea.
My lips quivered and tears came to my eyes. For quite
violently I realized that I was not a hero on his way to glory. Instead, I was a
fool on his way to senseless death. I realized further that I was—and had been—a
dupe in the hands of our war lords. We were not invincible. The war was not
holy, or even decent. The Emperor was . . . . just a man and subject to error
just as any man.
I laughed without humor. The weak, effeminate
Americans—that is what our Commanders told us they were—were neither weak nor
effeminate. The truth was they were brave and fearless warriors. And infinitely
better equipped than the men of our Armies.
Other truths raced through my brain and brushed aside the
cobwebs of superstition, deceit and stupidity. I realized that the Divine Wind
which had defeated the Mongols in 1281 was merely a typhoon; the China Sea is
notorious for the frequency and savagery and suddenness of its typhoons. There
was nothing divine about it—it was simply a coincidence that it arose when it
did and destroyed the Mongol fleet. For our nation was then, as now, tottering
at the hands of a superior enemy.
I cursed bitterly at the thought of our nation's
propaganda, for suddenly I knew that it was, and had been all along, little but
exaggerations, half-truths, and downright lies conceived by men cleverly skilled
in mass psychology.
And the Imperial war lords—the Black Dragons who held the
Emperor virtually a prisoner, had neither the intelligence nor the courage
to surrender. They chose, instead, to continue to throw away the lives of men
like me, knowing as they did it that victory was impossible of attainment.
Abruptly I jerked the little Baka's wheel 90 degrees to
the right and guided it inland over Okinawa. I had a plan, suddenly conceived,
but with luck it would meet with success.
Five minutes later I reached an American airfield, coming
in low and swift. Miraculously, I landed or—more realistically—because I
approached that airfield at an altitude of 30 feet, so low that the Americans'
radar didn't detect me and too low for their anti-aircraft weapons to be used. I
slid to a halt before the Americans realized the nature of their unexpected
Then they almost went into panic. Immediately they taxied
their planes away from the Baka. Whereupon they stood at great distances and
stared at it—and me—through field glasses.
It was 8 o'clock in the morning when I landed on that
American airfield. At 11 o'clock I was still there, unable to escape from my
The Americans seemed to be in great confusion. They
thought, quite naturally, that I had landed to explode my Baka on their
airfield. They were reluctant to fire at me for they knew that the Baka's nose
was laden with incendiaries and explosives.
Noon came. I waved and made signals to the Americans for
they watched me unceasingly through their glasses. But none approached me. So
the little Baka remained in its same position throughout the afternoon and
night—and I a prisoner within it. To my discomfort I was almost paralyzed from
the cramped position in which I was forced to remain.
I dozed off during the night and was awakened by the sound
of nearby voices. I opened my eyes. It was daylight. Then I turned my head. Four
American enlisted men were approaching the Baka cautiously and slowly and with
great fear on their faces.
I waved at them and they stopped immediately and stared at
me with uncertainty. Then I pointed to the cockpit's cover and made gestures to
indicate that I was unable to open it. They continued to stare, as if fearing
that I would suddenly explode the Baka and blow them to death.
Then I recalled the V the Americans and English made with
their first two fingers of a hand. So I made the sign of the V, hoping it would
cause the Americans to realize that I was no longer an enemy.
One of the Americans grinned and started toward the Baka.
But another, a Sergeant, seized his shoulder and talked to him roughly. The
Sergeant was fearful of a trick. I understood his skepticism; we had used every
deceit upon the Americans that our devilish Commanders could conceive. So the
Sergeant, rightfully, was suspicious of a trap.
But quite suddenly the Americans, apparently resigning
themselves to whatever might occur, came to the Baka.
One of them swiftly unlocked the cockpit. I lifted its
canopy and arose, preparing to climb to the ground and to safety.
The Americans held their weapons at the ready as I
descended, whereupon they stripped me of my garments, fearful of a booby trap.
Then they escorted me at gunpoint to their Commandant. He summoned an
interpreter and I told him the reason for my defection.
I also cautioned the Commandant that the plane was laden
with explosives and that extreme caution should be employed in removing them.
But that American Commandant was a resourceful man. And
unwilling to risk the lives of his own men on a possible trick. So he sent me
back to the Baka, alone and unescorted but covered by his marksmen, with orders
to remove its explosives myself and stack them on the ground fifty paces from
This I did. Whereupon I strode back to my captors and
reported the fulfillment of my orders.
The Commandant was greatly pleased, for my Baka was the
first to come into the Americans' possession intact and undamaged. They were
extremely interested in it and they studied it minutely, taking photos and
measuring it and delving into its construction.
Then the Americans put me into an internment camp where I
remained until the end of the war which occurred four months later.
But unfortunately my comrades of Company 27-I, Kamikaze
Division, Special Attack Corps, continued to die as human bombs during those
four months—the last of them blowing himself and his American victims to death
on, ironically, the day that the Emperor publicly admitted that he was not
On that day, August 15, 1945, Hirohito surrendered.
1. The is no evidence that the Japanese Emperor
ever gave orders that kamikaze pilots carry out such preposterous actions as to
father twelve children on the day following completion of their training.
2. Masiu, the Goddess of
Fertility, was not a goddess in Japanese religion.
3. Nokamura is not a Japanese name, but Nakamura
is a common Japanese family name.
4. Kobe Air Base did not exist.
5. The spelling in the original article has been
corrected from Hiroshito to Hirohito.
6. Domaki bombers did not exist.
7. There are no reports of a mass parade of 200
8. Kesoya Air Base did not
9. The Black Dragon Society was a Japanese
ultranationalist right-wing group founded in 1901. The group reached its peak of
political influence in the 1920s and 1930s. Black Dragons did not control the
Emperor as portrayed in this story.
10. Ohka pilots underwent
special training, since the ohka glider was a unique weapon that was not piloted
in the same way as conventional aircraft. Chapter 3 of Naito (1989, 73-93)
describes some of this special testing and training.
11. The Japanese military typically delivered
white wooden boxes with the remains of war dead to the families of those who
died. The kamikaze pilots did not have any practice in which their
souls were removed from their bodies prior to death and
enshrined in little white boxes. In the case of kamikaze pilots, the
remains such as fingernails or hairs from the head would often be prepared in
advance. There are also cases where the white box would arrive at the family's
home with no remains.
12. The correct spelling of Tokuna Shima is
Tokuno Shima. This island did have an Army air base, but the Navy did not have
an air base there. All Mitsubishi Type 1 (Betty) bombers that carried ohka
(called "baka" in this story) gliders into battle made sorties from Kanoya Naval
Air Base in southern Kyushu.
13. The number of 2,174
Japanese aircraft destroyed in the Battle of the Marianas is grossly overstated.
Japan lost a total of about 475 carrier planes and float planes (Toland 1970,
14. The Battle of Okinawa actually lasted for
almost 12 weeks from April 1 to June 22, 1945, not seven weeks as mentioned in
15. Ohka (called "baka" in this story) gliders
did not take off from the ground as described in this story. Instead, in real
history Mitsubishi Type 1 (Betty) bombers carried the ohka glider. It was
launched from a mother plane at an altitude of 20-27,000 feet (O'Neill 1999,
16. The normal spelling in English is
17. The ohka was steered with a control stick
rather than a wheel (Bungeishunjū 2005, 452-3).
18. The ohka did not have any landing gear to
allow for a runway landing, since it was designed as a suicide weapon that would
crash after being released from the mother plane. During testing the ohka was
equipped with sled runners to allow for a landing (Naito 1989, 57, 68), but
these runners were not on the ohka glider bombs when released during battle.
19. The last ohka attacks were carried out on
June 22, 1945 (Naito 1989, 180), although sporadic kamikaze attacks by
conventional aircraft continued through the end of the war.
Bungeishunjū, ed. 2005. Ningen bakudan to yobarete: Shōgen
- ōka tokkō (They were called human bombs: Testimony - ōka special attacks). Tōkyō: Bungeishunjū.
Naito, Hatsuho. 1989. Thunder Gods: The Kamikaze Pilots Tell
Their Stories. Translated by Mayumi Ishikawa. Tokyo: Kodansha
O'Neill, Richard. 1999. Suicide Squads: The Men and Machines of World War II
Special Operations. Originally published in 1981. London: Salamander Books.
Toland, John. 1970. The
Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945. New
York: Random House.