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Children's book
Ano sensou o tsutaetai
(I want to tell you
about that war)

Japanese Children's Books

This section has detail reviews of six Japanese children's books about kamikaze pilots. Each book gives a very favorable image of kamikaze pilots.

The following children's book deals with the battleship Yamato:

Other Japanese children's books about the Pacific War sometimes mention kamikaze pilots and other special attack force members who made suicide attacks near the end of World War II. For example, the book Ano sensou o tsutaetai (I want to tell you about that war) by Yoko Fukawa gives the author's experiences as a first- to fifth-grade student between 1941 and 1945 in Japan. In one section (pp. 56-7), she relates an instance that happened one morning when her father read in the newspaper about one of his former students who died as a kamikaze pilot. The young girl in the book learned about his father's grief that day, and by his expressions he taught her to place a high value on life. The book also describes food shortages, fire bombings of Japan's large cities, and the militaristic education received by the author during the war.

Although many children's books present kamikaze pilots very positively as brave men who gave their lives for their country, Toshiro Takagi's 200-page history of "Kamikaze tokkoutai no shutsugeki" (Sorties of Kamikaze Special Attack Corps) presents students with several negative aspects of suicide attacks made by kamikaze units. Takagi, who has written well-known histories about Chiran Air Base and the Army's Special Attack Corps, first had this children's history published in 1970. The 20-volume series published by Nihon Tosho Sentaa in 1995 on "War and Peace," which covers a wide variety of topics on the Pacific War, includes Takagi's history in the last half of one of its volumes.

In Takagi's history, the last section entitled "Mistaken War" gives his conclusion regarding kamikaze attacks, "One can say that body-crashing attacks of special attack corps were the worst battle tactic in the irrational Pacific War" (p. 353). Takagi quotes the opinion of Vice Admiral Kusaka, the last Commander in Chief of the Combined Fleet, "No matter how much the suffering, fighting with only special attacks is not the right way to wage war" (p. 353). Although Takagi in general describes objectively the historical facts of the kamikaze corps, he every so often inserts his strong opinions, such as one that special attacks were a truly irrational battle tactic that should not have been carried out and did not give Japan the anticipated strength to allow Japan to win the war (p. 334).

Although few children's books in English cover the topic of kamikaze pilots, Lucent Books' American War Library has an excellent volume on Kamikazes written by Earle Rice Jr. for readers from upper elementary grades to high school.

Sources Cited

Fukawa, Yoko. 2000. Ano sensou o tsutaetai (I want to tell you about that war). Kyoto: Kamogawa Shuppan.

Takagi, Toshiro. 1995. Kamikaze tokkoutai no shutsugeki (Sorties of Kamikaze Special Attack Corps). Originally published in 1970 by Kaiseisha. In "Sensou to heiwa" kodomo bungakukan ("War and peace" children's literature treasury). Tokyo: Nihon Tosho Sentaa.