On July 25, 1945, Ensign Minoru Wada died in a training accident at Hikari
Kaiten Base at the age of 23. He received the same recognition as having died in a special (suicide) attack.
In September 1945, he was found dead when his kaiten drifted ashore in Shiraida
District of Kaminoseki Town after a typhoon. He was from Shizuoka Prefecture, attended Tōkyō Imperial University, and was a member of the
of the Navy Branch Reserve Students (Heika Yobi Gakusei).
On May 28, 1945, submarine I-363 made a sortie from Hikari Kaiten Base in
Yamaguchi Prefecture with five kaiten pilots who were members of the Kaiten
Special Attack Corps Todoroki Unit. There was no opportunity to have Wada's kaiten
launched, and he returned to base on June 28, 1945.
I rode in a kaiten for the first time. Kaiten No. 7 did not start at
first because the rear starting value was not open.
I stopped trying to start it when I saw the S flag of the following boat.
Then the valve was opened, and I fired it up again. This time it was fine.
If the kaiten can run like it was moving here, I think that afterward there
will be nothing much to worry about if it is sufficient just to observe its
behavior. There was an evening study session.
How often I have been sleeping lately. I slept all afternoon. The evening
also turned into an atmosphere like a high school dormitory, and the rooms
also were in such disorder. These days late-night snacks appeared every
I read Sōseki's Kokoro (Heart), and I read Shirō
Ozaki's Jinsei Gekijō
(Life Theater). I had scanned them both before, but for me whose life has
become full of peril, they are works that are especially touching and deeply
Literature and poetry, not as individual works but rather literature and
poetry in general, have come to appeal to me.
Of course it is more than reasonable that this is preposterous and
unreliable. However even so, why does it move me in this manner?
I no longer need anything. As for consolation and encouragement, if they
are presented in a glib militaristic atmosphere or mainly for show, to me
they become nothing more than something to get angry about. What a worthless
and effeminate group it is.
What I want now are the same tears that I cried in peacetime.
Hasn't my heart that I had before when I looked at myself without any
eyeglasses been lost at one time or other?
It is almost certain that during this spring I will offer my life for my
country. However, such a thing is not something I already knew.
Now for the first time I have a leisurely life, and I am doing my best to
pursue truly the path to live in this situation.
I heard that both Captain Hara and Commander Ishii from Kawatana 
died in battle. Kutai (Section) Leaders Igarashi and Kawaguchi from Tateyama
 are no longer alive.
Dear Father and Mother, your son, Minoru, is now in a place like this.
Do you remember the red velvet dress that Wakana wore, all dressed up for
a concert long ago?
Well, I remember how that dress was shining in the light, and the ocean
is now shining glossily in the sunlight in just the same way.
It is a sleepy afternoon.
And I am in command of a 400-ton steel tugboat. I wear a pair of
binoculars around my neck, and sport the green kikusui (floating
chrysanthemum) patch of our Special Attack Unit on my left arm.
Our course is S 56 degrees W; left 4 points, Mizunoko Island; at right 3
points, Oki-muku Island, and Hoto Island.
We shall be arriving at Saiki in an hour or so.
The elderly captain of the boat began to doze off.
Dear Father, a sub-lieutenant named Miyoshi has died. He failed to clear
the bottom of a ship, and crashed. Water came in from the hatch above, and
when he was dragged out after some two hours, he was dead—his body limp and
his face all bloody. When we turned the Kaiten boat upside down, and drained
the water from it, I first thought that the sea-water was a strange, rusty
shade, but I suppose it must have been a mixture of seawater and Miyoshi's
blood.—All of this went on in the rain.
On the following day, we had a ceremony of bidding farewell to him.
That evening, the commander and everyone below were drinking. Then a
storm suddenly turned up and, around eleven o'clock, two torpedo boats ended
up washed ashore.
That sobered up everybody and we dashed over there, but it was too late.
One more month left. I feel as though I were facing a semester's final
exam. My only thoughts are how, in a month's time, I will be appearing
before an enemy, and attack the enemy, not at all of my dying. We are
fortunate in that we are under no necessity to make a big thing over
discussing such matters as one's views on life and death. Or perhaps it is
just possible that this itself is the best view of life and death.
I do not think that I would ever be able to spit words out with anything
approaching Sub-lieutenant N's bombastic style. All his words and phrases
are burning with a supreme patriotism. But my cold and dignified heart is
prepared to submerge even that to the depth of my innermost feelings. This
sort of reserve is of course certainly insignificant at this point in time,
and perhaps should be considered unnecessary. For us, however, who at least
once upon a time have learned how to think, I feel that all of this is an
unavoidable and a heavy burden to carry but, at least in my case, it is only
by carrying that burden upon our shoulders that we can close the book on my
"Cold is the people's heart; Okutsuki [a shintō graveyard] is my
home"—Tatsuzō Ishikawa has a certain female
protagonist write these words in Tenraku no Shishū (Collection of
Poems of Falling).
Now, at this point in my life, I reflected seriously on my own coldness
of heart, and I deeply felt a penetrating sense of loneliness around it. Is
it some cowardice on my part which brings on this sort of emotion after I
have roused myself with what I thought was courageous excitement?
My fellow soldiers have been very kindly concerned over me the past few
days, because I look tired. I came to realize that, even if I had to force
myself to do it, I had been trying to make some kind of sense out of my
impending death. I felt some comfort in coming to see that all things of
that sort can be untangled, no matter how complicated they might seem, in
the light of one particular emotion—an emotion which has
truly and uniquely belonged to the Japanese people over the course of the
past three thousand years. And, I have come to feel like gently stroking
that coldness which is stuck in the underside of my heart, something that is
perhaps unique to me.
I feverishly made an opposite angle chart so that I
can successfully aim my body at an enemy target. I am now making
considerably fewer errors in judging an angle of azimuth.
Within this last month of my existence, am I about to come to a
conclusion concerning this confusing life of mine?
The hands of a sand-clock, which is not quite ready to give out, keep on
I know that precise time at which I am due to attack is the point when I
cannot afford to maneuver; even then, though, I sometimes experience private
Up until now, and just because I was so shallow, I managed to maintain a
calm and expressionless front.
And now, for the very first time, I am truly at a loss over how to make
sense of my past.
Impatiently I am struggling to find my true self, that is, without any
pretense in my remaining life of just a month.
It already seems to me that I no longer really exist.
I also rode on a torpedo which, without ever floating up, prowled over
the ocean floor, and rubbed briskly against it some thirty five meters
I operated another torpedo that stuck in the sand of the ocean floor, at
a depth of thirty meters, inclination at 40 degrees, looking under my shoes
at my fellow rider's face.
There was another torpedo—when I opened the hatch a
white smoke suddenly spread over the whole length of the tube because of the
high internal pressure—and I felt as though someone had struck me in the
I have grown into manhood in this squad, and have come
to be known as one of "amazing ability," recognized by others as well as by
Others may even cry, wondering how I have ever
survived this long—that is my life each and every day.
At 11:40 a.m., the order was given: "Kaiten, be on the alert!" It would
seem that the target is an enemy carrier.
People who cannot put any confidence in human nature ought to be pitied.
When we first arrived here on assignment, we spent over a dozen easy days
in total idleness. People might perhaps feel that we showed a lot of poise
and grace in facing up to the death that was so soon to come, but I would
have to say that it was all valueless, for it was just a natural, everyday
habit assumed by people without any particular courage who are being forced
to face death.
Now that I have regained my health, and have kept silence for several
days, I have an onlooker's point of view. And now I can say without any
hesitation that my spirit of true patriotism is unparalleled.
Our education at the First Higher School was so superb that nothing in
the world can be compared to it. I felt such a sense of self-reliance,
independence, and indeed peerlessness that I could stand resolutely, tall
and alone. If I were to say in a single word, the spirit of the place was
"the spirits of shishi" (a man of integrity, courage and loyalty).
The shishi's spirit is an aggressive one, and the atmosphere of those
three years at Kōryō made me—even as small-minded a
person as I was—into a spiritual purist. It also made me able to stand up
often to the more powerful people in this world.
Now that I am waiting for the enemy like this here in
Ulithi, the highway for a supply route to Okinawa, I think of what I learned
from those young and receptive patriots, and of the fighting spirit that was
rooted in the place, and then I get a firm, quiet feeling in the lower
abdomen. Others should not consider me arrogant; it is simply that I am very
happy and content.
At night I walked up to the bridge and, off to my right, I spied the
Great Dipper. The Southern Cross twinkled on the left, Corona was directly
above, and the Milky Way looked like a white cloud.
Ensign Minoru Wada
(May 1945 at Hikari Kaiten Base)
On the evening of the 18th, the order finally came to give up the search
and return to base. Just to make sure, I continued to search for the enemy
yesterday and today, but there was none to be found. It was really
disappointing and I could not help being upset. How could I show up at the
Hikari Base after a failed mission.
Once one has thought through the questions surrounding life and death,
the question themselves disappear. This must be a state of true mental
readiness. To avoid thinking about life and death through the use of one's
abilities to talk convincingly to false phantoms and, similarly, to face up
to false, everyday illusions, might seem like something close to
transcending these matters, but this is absolutely not the case. We can say
that there is a spiritual awakening between life and death only when one is
constant about doing his best at self-discipline.—Once
reached, this accomplishment is not a fleeting thing.
My whole life has been one of vanity, and it has been
also a life of obsequiousness. But for me, as I am, the days of quiet
observation which this month provided me will turn out to be a period that
provided punctuation to my life in every sense of that term. It has not
borne fruit as yet, however. I recall how at one point, after I had read
Shirō Ozaki's Jinsei Gekijō (Life Theater), I suddenly looked
back and realized how full of the "theatrical" my whole life has been.—Even
though current views of mine on life and death that I am so proud of might
only be another side of that same tendency. A renewed and increased effort
in the direction of complete self-examination is in order.
The diary entry from February 1 comes from Wada (1967, 204-6). The translated diary entries
from March 26 to June 20 come from Nihon Senbotsu Gakusei Kinen-Kai (1995,
241-5). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
Konada and Kataoka (2006, 357-8) and Mediasion
(2006, 65, 86). The photo sources are the following:
1 - p. 3 of photos in front of Wada (1967); 2 - p. 2 of photos in front of Wada
(1995); 3 -
p. 5 of photos in front of Wada (1967).