Ai shite yamazu (Unending love)
by Satomi Kataoka
Nisshin Houdou, 2001, 147 pages
Satomi Kataoka, who also authored Bushido, koko ni yomigaeri (Rebirth
here of samurai code) in 2001, presents in Ai shite yamazu (Unending
love) her personal experiences and her profound admiration for bushido and the
great men who followed the way of the samurai even to death. Although she
mentions a few historical facts, her intensively subjective approach to the
topic focuses on her emotions and even becomes somewhat mystical at times. The
subtitle of Fantasy Love with Vice Admiral Takijiro Onishi, Father of Special
Attacks, describes the book's primary topic, but she also frequently
mentions details about her life.
Chapter 2, the most autobiographical of the book's three chapters, covers hardships Kataoka had to overcome. Her parents send her to Los Angeles at age 15
with a meager monthly allowance, so in order to survive she makes money at
various jobs such as pool
cleaning, car washing, newspaper delivery, and working at McDonald's (where she
also almost always eats). While in the US she reads Japanese ultranationalist Yukio Mishima's book entitled Yukoku
(Patriotism), which fills her with admiration for bushido's tenets of loyalty
and self-sacrifice. She becomes homesick while reading the book and decides to
return to Japan at age 21. In 1990 at age 25, she becomes President
of Princess Garden Hotel in Tokyo after meeting one of her uncle's business
Alberto Fujimori served as Peru's President from 1990 to 2000, and he stayed
at the Princess Garden Hotel when he returned to Japan after his exile from
Peru. In April 2006, Kataoka married Fujimori, who is about 30 years older.
After a long and controversial trial in which Fujimori was charged in Peru with
human rights violations and corruption, he received in 2009 a 25-year jail sentence.
Kataoka displays in Ai shite yamazu (Unending love) a fascination and
love for powerful older men such as Vice Admiral Onishi, 54 years old at his
death, so her marriage to the much older Fujimori may not have been such a
surprise. As an aside, a small desert town in Peru renamed itself Satomi
Kataoka in honor of the former President's wife.
Chapter 1 describes Kataoka's first visit to Yushukan Museum at Yasukuni
Shrine as a key event that transformed her way of thinking and living. When she
goes to a
special exhibition of last letters written by kamikaze pilots and others who
died during WWII, she is amazed and impressed as she reads them. She bursts out
crying as she considers the beautiful and noble words written by kamikaze
pilots who she considers to have bravely given their lives for their country and families. At Yushukan Museum she also
encounters Admiral Isoroku
Yamamoto, Commander of the Combined Fleet until his death in April 1943, and
Admiral Seiichi Ito, who commanded battleship Yamato on her suicide
mission toward Okinawa on April 7, 1945. At the end of the museum tour, she
becomes enthralled with the exhibit on Takijiro Onishi.
A museum placard gives the story of Vice Admiral Takijiro Onishi that
fascinated Kataoka so much. In October 1944, Vice Admiral Onishi as Commander of
the First Air Fleet had only about 100 aircraft left including 30 fighters when
he arrived at command headquarters in Manila. In this desperate situation,
Onishi believed the only chance of success would be to carry out
taiatari (body-crashing) suicide attacks against enemy ships. Onishi,
appointed Vice Chief of the Naval General Staff late in the war, committed
harakiri or seppuku (ritual suicide by cutting open his belly) on August 16, 1945, the day
after the announcement of the end of the war by the Emperor. He suffered more
than 15 hours before dying, and he refused any medical attention.
Onishi's last letter at Yushukan Museum expresses his appreciation for his
men's skilled fighting, his apologies to their spirits and bereaved families, and
his desire that in peace the Japanese people will keep up the tokko (special
attack) spirit and will do their best for Japan's welfare and for peace among
the world's peoples. Onishi used to tell departing kamikaze pilots, "I too
surely will go after you." In the same way, Kataoka voices her commitment, "Your
Excellency, Mr. Onishi, I also someday will surely go, following your path."
Soon after her first Yushukan Museum visit, as described in the book's
Introduction, Kataoka returns to view the blood-stained sheets, gown, and
uniform from Onishi's suicide, which had been stored in two trunks that had not been
opened for more than 50 years. She takes the blood-stained items with both hands,
rubs them to her cheek, and holds them to her breast.
The supernatural emerges in Chapter 3 when two or three apparitions visit
Kataoka's bedroom in the middle of the night about two months after her first
visit to Yushukan Museum. Two of the spirits are Captain Teruzo Ando and
Asaichi Isobe, who took part in the February 26th Incident, a short-lived
unsuccessful coup d'état in 1936 led by a faction in the Imperial Japanese Army.
They request that Kataoka visit their graves when she goes to Onishi's grave
since they are nearby. Onishi then mysteriously tells her in her bedroom, "Next
to my grave is open." When Kataoka visits Onishi's grave for the first time,
she talks to him as follows (pp. 126-7):
Mr. Onishi, it is Miyako.
On the 53rd day after meeting you for the first time at Yushukan
Museum, I have been able to come like this before your grave.
I had lived in whatever way I wanted according to my youth and
selfishness, but I changed when I came in contact with the supremely
courageous and patriotic deeds of Your Excellency and the Special Attack
If you look, despite all of these noble sacrifices, Japan has lost both its
pride and self-confidence. We are despised by other countries and continue
on the road of ruin for our country. In order to once again make a recovery,
somehow we must learn from your actions in which you all gave your lives,
and we must make a firm decision to continue after you.
The long period of postwar humiliation and debate has ended.
Your Excellency, you said, "the purity of youth will usher in the Divine
If you need new offerings of human lives for the country's defense, I
will go running straight ahead in my youth.
Your Excellency, I will go. Following your path, wherever.
When Kataoka goes to visit Onishi's grave, she discovers that there is open
space to the right side of his grave. She asks the Buddhist priest who
accompanied her, "If I were placed beside the Vice Admiral's grave, do you think his
wife would allow me to be there?" The priest responds, "His wife Yoshie was a very tolerant
person. There is no problem." She leaves thinking, "Please wait for me, Your
Excellency. Someday surely you'll keep with me the vow from the land of the
dead." Kataoka ends this emotional ultranationalistic book by expressing her unending love for
Onishi and her commitment to give her life on behalf of Japan.