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Ensign Minoru Wada
(May 1945 at Hikari Kaiten Base)

Last Diary Entries of Ensign Minoru Wada

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 4th Class 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.

He wrote the following final diary entries in 1945:

February 1

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 evening.

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 emotional.

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 [1] died in battle. Kutai (Section) Leaders Igarashi and Kawaguchi from Tateyama [2] are no longer alive.

March 26

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.

April 18

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 whole life.

"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.

May 6

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 ticking.

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 fears.

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 below.

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 face.

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 myself.

Others may even cry, wondering how I have ever survived this long—that is my life each and every day.

June 12

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)

June 20

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).

Todoroki Unit kaiten pilots on day of sortie (May 28, 1945) from
Hikari Kaiten Base. Ensign Minoru Wada is second from right.


1. Kawatana in Nagasaki Prefecture was the location of a Navy torpedo boat training school.

2. Tateyama in Chiba Prefecture was the location of Navy air base.

Sources Cited

Konada, Toshiharu, and Noriaki Kataoka. 2006. Tokkō kaiten sen: Kaiten tokkōtai taichō no kaisō (Special attack kaiten battles: Kaiten special attack corps leader's reminiscences). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.

The Mediasion Co. 2006. Ningen gyorai kaiten (Kaiten human torpedo). Hiroshima: The Mediasion Co.

Nihon Senbotsu Gakusei Kinen-Kai (Japan Memorial Society for the Students Killed in the War—Wadatsumi Society), comp. 2000. Listen to the Voices from the Sea: Writings of the Fallen Japanese Students (Kike Wadatsumi no Koe). Translated by Midori Yamanouchi and Joseph L. Quinn.  Scranton, PA: University of Scranton Press.

Wada, Minoru. 1967. Wadatsumi no koe kieru koto naku: Kaiten tokkōtaiin no shuki (Voices from the sea have not disappeared: Writings of Kaiten Special Attack Corps member). Tōkyō: Chikuma Shobō.

________. 1995. Wadatsumi no koe kieru koto naku: Kaiten tokkōtaiin no shuki (Voices from the sea have not disappeared: Writings of Kaiten Special Attack Corps member). Revised edition, originally published in 1967 by Chikuma Shobō. Tōkyō: Kadokawa Shoten.