Tokkou senshi no ishi ni furete (Experiencing the last wishes of the
special attack warriors)
by Reiko Gotoh
Tokyo Tosho Shuppan, 2005, 129 pages
While reading through a book about the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps, the
author Reiko Gotoh became interested in the last writings of the young men who
carried out suicide attacks to defend Japan near the end of WWII. In this book,
her first attempt as an author, she tries to combine her life's story with the
history and writings of the young men in Japan's tokkotai (special attack
forces). However, she never successfully connects her experiences in the home
and workforce to the kamikaze pilots.
Each of the five chapters begins with a short section about her life and then
continues with a much longer section about some aspect of the Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps. She relates a few personal experiences such as raising two sons,
moving frequently from place to place due to her husband's job, and teaching
children a variety of subjects including English at her home. She describes her
experiences in general terms with no dialogue, so a reader ends up getting
little understanding of her motivations and her relations with her husband and
The first two chapters introduce last writings of members from the 10th Ko
Class of the Yokaren (Naval Preparatory Flight Training Program) and the 14th Class of Naval
Flight Reserve Students from which many kamikaze pilots died. The third chapter
tells the stories of Rear Admiral Masafumi Arima, who carried out a suicide attack
in the middle of October 1944 on an American carrier just prior to the formation of the first
official kamikaze unit, and Goro Nonaka, the unconventional leader of the Betty
bomber squadron that carried the first ohka rocket-powered glider bombs into
battle on March 21, 1945, but got completely destroyed by American fighters. The
fourth chapter, the book's most interesting one, tells about the mothers of the
Shikishima Squadron, one of the four squadrons in the first official kamikaze unit, which
attacked American ships in the Philippines on October 25, 1944. The last
chapter describes the author's visits to three sites related to the Special
Attack Corps: grave of Lieutenant Katshuhisa Ban, who died in a midget submarine
attack in Sydney Harbor on May 31, 1942; Kaiten Memorial Museum on Otsushima
Island in Yamaguchi Prefecture; and the Nagoya Kamikaze Special Attack Corps
Kusanagi Unit Monument in Toyota City in Aichi Prefecture.
Although the author accurately and objectively tells the Kamikaze Corps'
story and presents several moving last letters written by kamikaze pilots, the
history and writings come directly from other sources with many long quotations.
There is minimal commentary from the author, so the original sources listed in
the bibliography will make much better reading.