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Ensign Yūji Naito

Special Attack Corps Waiting Room at Tomitaka Base
by Yūji Naito

Former Navy Ensign Yūji Naito was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Shōwa Unit, which was formed at Yatabe Air Group in Ibaraki Prefecture. Before entering the Navy, he graduated from Tōkyō Imperial University.

After the end of the war, he started work at Eisai, now a large Japanese pharmaceuticals company. He became President of Eisai in 1966 and Chairman in 1988. He passed away in 2005 at the age of 85.

Yūji Naito was instrumental in the transfer of a column from the Yatabe Air Group guard gate in 1979 to Entsuji, a Buddhist temple in Niigata Prefecture. The chief priest at Entsuji was Ken'ichi Watanabe, who also was a Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Shōwa Unit member who survived the war.

Every day bombs rained down even on this hidden base. After flying here to Tomitaka, would there be several days of inactivity? After leaving Nihibari Tsukuba, with a flight of just five hours we arrived at this charming land of Miyazaki. Each day 10 or 20 special attack aircraft took off toward Kanoya, which can be called the frontline base for Okinawa. There was no sentimentality among those who left and those of us who saw them off and would go some time afterward.

How would they be able to reach the skies above ships in the enemy fleet without being shot down by Grumman fighters? Their inner thoughts were only on that. Among this group of persons who all would die, they could not feel the slightest bit of heroism or sentiment. Perhaps it was because in such a place as here that they could be disposed to this. Such matters as death were of little significance here. Salvation and Buddha were useless to us. When I think about it, Yatabe was a paradise.

There were also people who we missed and who we loved. We yearned for both our homes and parents. Until the day before our sortie to here, we wanted to immerse ourselves in their warm affection. The fact is that we did not care for our own life while surrounded by this bond of affection. Now this bond could be clearly severed. We waited impatiently for the day of our final sortie. At Tomitaka Base, which could be described as a Special Attack Corps waiting room, the corps members did not change much, but some persons were changing as time passed. There was no sense of uncertainty that those who meet must part.

In three months I would be 25 years old. Assuming that human life is 50 years, for crewmen half that amount, I have lived a long life. Although I only have a short time remaining in my life, I would like to have days that are busier and more difficult.

Translated by Bill Gordon
December 2011

The source of the story on this web page is page 257 of the following book:

Makino, Kikuo, ed. 1979. Ichioku nin no shōwa shi (Nihon no senshi 4): Tokubetsu kōgekitai (Shōwa history of 100 million people (Japan's war history, Volume 4): Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: Mainichi Shinbunsha.

This story was published originally in Owari naki kaigun (Endless Navy) by Bunkahoso Kaihatsu Center.

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