Only search Kamikaze Images
One More Life We Uphold
by Ayumi Tominaga, 9th Grade
Chosa Junior High School, Kagoshima Prefecture
Messages of Peace from Chiran
13th Annual Speech Contest, 2002
Honorable Mention, Junior High School Division

I went to the Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots last summer and to Kanoya Air Base Museum this May during the long holiday break. They display there photographs of kamikaze pilots who went to battle and died for Japan and various items such as clothing, hats, and shoes owned by the pilots. These displays of things as they were then show us scenes from those days. Besides these, at the Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots there is a Zero plane actually flown and used by kamikaze pilots, and at the Kanoya Air Base Museum an unused torpedo from the war is displayed.

However, the thing I was most interested in was something else. It was the numerous letters and diaries that record the thoughts of the kamikaze pilots.

In the letters there are many things written to family and girlfriends. There were only ones that expressed the pilots' enthusiasm to go to war and that communicated their feelings in such a way that the recipients of the letters would not worry. Next to these letters there was a handmade mascot doll, which the girls who remained in Japan made to give to the pilots. Countless letters and gifts such as these are displayed, but I think the people in those days had thoughts that cannot be communicated with only these. In contrast with these items, there are just a few letters displayed that were written to the kamikaze pilots by families and girlfriends. Rather than not being displayed, they do not remain. Without thinking deeply, in the beginning I had the question, "Why are there so few letters to the kamikaze pilots?" I came up with my own answer. The pilots must have always carried around the letters, which cheered them up and encouraged them. When they encountered sadness and difficulty and their courage seemed gone, I think they cheered themselves up by reading those letters again and again. Therefore, many of those letters became part of the brave pilots, and the letters perished together with them.

This answer may not be correct since it is my own personal conclusion, not something I asked someone about or something published in a book.

However, I believe that in whatever era the idea of everyone wanting to have their own important things does not change.

In the diaries are written plainly the anxieties and sentiments inside themselves that they could not say to people. Now these diaries are impressively displayed and read by everyone, but I think there were diaries that perhaps the young men who wrote them would not want anyone to see. This is because it is embarrassing for anyone to have other people see a diary, where one has written about the weaknesses inside one's heart that one bears without telling anyone.

At first I also was surprised when I read these diaries. Honestly, I thought only sentences full of enthusiasm would have been written. This does not necessarily mean that I misjudged the kamikaze pilots. Rather, there was something that inspired me because I realized their feelings. That is the bravery of the kamikaze. There were many pilots still in their late teens and twenties. I believe they wanted to realize their own dreams and have their own families. Also, some already had their own families. All of them probably wanted to live much, much longer. And each one surely wanted to live his only life fully. But in the end they called upon their own courage for the sake of the country. I do not think that the young people of today, including myself, could ever imitate them. However, there are things we also can do. We can preserve the peace built by the brave kamikaze pilots. Since we today live upholding the lives of the kamikaze pilots, we can live our own lives to the fullest, along with treasuring our own and others' lives.

Translated by Bill Gordon
June 2004