Kamikaze
   Images


Only search Kamikaze Images

 
Ningen gyorai kaiten: Chinkon su tokkou jidai (Kaiten human torpedo: Time of singing requiems for special attacks)
by Yutaka Usami
Zenponsha, 2003, 174 pages

The title suggests an overview of the kaiten human torpedo used in WWII suicide attacks. However, the book includes several other topics such as midget submarines, the Naval Engineering School, and other types of tokko (special attack) weapons used for suicide missions. Yutaka Usami, a graduate of the Naval Academy and the Naval Engineering School, originally compiled this book (called a booklet by the author) for the 2002 annual memorial ceremony at the Nankosha Jinja kaiten monument in Gero City. This monument honors one of the kaiten co-inventors, Hiroshi Kuroki, whose hometown was Gero. Other Japanese books about kaiten give a much better historical overview than this book, but it does have a few sections with information not found in other books such as the monument in Madagascar to honor the four men in two-man midget submarines who died during an attack on Diego Suarez.

The four-page table of contents gives descriptions of this book's numerous small sections and ten appendices, but these do not have any clear organization. More than half of the sections come from other books with details provided about sources. Usami's selections from others' writings reflect his right-wing views toward WWII history such as a section about the benefits of Japan's occupation of China. Some sections have little relationship to the book's title. For example, without any explanation for its inclusion in the book, the last appendix takes up 12 pages to list the names of all non-Japanese individuals and groups by country who visited the inner shrine of Yasukuni Jinja between 1946 and 2003.

About half of this book relates directly to kaiten. Two sections totaling 13 pages cover Hiroshi Kuroki's life, including his idea for the kaiten weapon and his entreaties written in blood to naval authorities to try to gain their acceptance for the kaiten's development. One section includes two final letters and a diary extract of kaiten crewmen who either died in battle or during training. Appendices provide a list of kaiten crewmen who died, a summary table of kaiten missions, operational capabilities of different kaiten models, and information on annual memorial ceremonies including those held at former kaiten bases at Otsushima, Hirao, Hikari, and Oga.

Although not directly related to kaiten, the book has 20 pages about the monument at Diego Suarez (now named Antsiranana) for the four midget submarine crewmen who died there and the 2001 and 2002 activities at Ikeda High School in Tokushima Prefecture to remember one crewman, Katsusuke Iwase, who graduated from the school. The monument at Diego Suarez was unveiled on May 31, 1997, the 55th anniversary of the four men's deaths. Government and military officials of Madagascar and Diego Suarez and representatives from Japan attended the first memorial service for the four men.

Although this book contains some obscure information not found elsewhere, other books on kaiten present a much more organized and comprehensive history.


Memorial ceremony held on May 31, 1997,
at unveiling of monument at Diego Suarez
to honor four men who died there in midget submarine attack