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Wakamonotachi wa naze tokkō o eranda no ka: Nihonjin ga shiranai tokkō no shinjutsu (Why young people chose special attacks: Truth about special attacks not known by Japanese)
by Sadaaki Yoshimoto
Heart Shuppan, 2015, 158 pages

Japanese junior and senior high school students are the intended audience of this book on the history of the Special Attack Corps that carried out suicide attacks near the end of the Pacific War. Sadaaki Yoshimoto, a high school teacher of world history and author of several other books for teenagers about modern Japanese history with a focus on World War II, concentrates his efforts in this book on reasons why youths volunteered for and supported special (suicide) attacks and does not focus on battle results, details, and numbers. The book provides pronunciations for Chinese characters (kanji) and provides definitions for words that may be unfamiliar to young readers.

Yoshimoto plays up the positives of the motivations of the tokkō (special attack) pilots and does not mention any real negatives such as pressure from officers and peers and the government's controls to ensure support for the war, which gives the impression that he is trying to promote his political agenda by writing such a book. The author focuses on battle results achieved by the Special Attack Corps and downplays their failures such as not reaching their targets when shot down. The reader gets the idea that they had more success than they actually did. The book creates the impression that everyone volunteered freely for their missions of death, but it is not certain that this is the case. Yoshimoto claims that Special Attack Corps youths had no fear of death and made attacks that would result in certain death for their country and beloved families. Negative attitudes toward the Special Attack Corps are blamed on the Allied Occupation for seven years after the war's end when Americans controlled the type of education received by Japanese young people.

The book's four main sections address the creation and battle history of the Special Attack Corps, why young men chose to carry out special attacks, how kamikaze pilots are seen by non-Japanese people, and the postwar period for former Special Attack Corps members, others related to special attack operations, and bereaved families. The first section also gives a basic history of the Pacific War from its beginning at Pearl Harbor. The second section presents examples of several individuals who show their commitment such as First Lieutenant Hajime Fujii whose wife committed suicide with their two daughters so that he could go freely on a special attack mission, Ensign Masahisa Uemura who volunteered for a special attack unit even though he had a wife and infant daughter, and Vice Admiral Matome Ugaki who led the last special attack squadron after the Emperor's announcement of surrender. The third section includes opinions of several non-Japanese authors to provide support for the argument that Special Attack Corps members should be respected for their patriotism and bravery. The last section highlights the postwar stories of Tome Torihama, who befriended many Army pilots at her restaurant near Chiran Air Base, and Sakae Seki, mother of Lieutenant Yukio Seki, leader of the first Kamikaze Special Attack Corps unit.

The book presents last letters or excerpts written by the following Special Attack Corps members just before their deaths: Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Masaru Miyazaki to his younger sisters Fumiko and Yasuko, Ensign Masahisa Uemura to his baby daughter Motoko, and Second Lieutenant Toshio Anazawa to his fiancée Chieko. The majority of final letters of Special Attack Corps members, almost all who were unmarried, were addressed to their parents, so the types of addressees (i.e., younger sisters, daughter, and fiancée) for the letters of the three pilots featured in the book are rather uncommon among last writings of Special Attack Corps members.

The author concludes with a plea for Japan's young people, who have completely lost a sense of patriotism due to postwar peace education, to visit memorial museums for the Special Attack Corps throughout the country and read books about the Special Attack Corps so that may learn about the sacrificial spirit of youths who offered their lives at the time of the country's crisis.

Moment when special (suicide) attack plane
hits battleship New Mexico (p. 55)