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Tomisaku Katsumata (left foreground)
and Takehiko Katsumata (far right)

 
Katsumata Statues
Susono City, Shizuoka Prefecture

The grounds of Tomioka Seirei Jinja, a shinto shrine in Susono City, have two statues of Kamikaze Special Attack Corps members who died in suicide attacks during WWII. The torii gate entrance to this small shrine is next to a Circle K convenience store, and the shrine grounds are on top of a small hill behind the convenience store.

The two Kamikaze Corps member statues present contrasting images (see large photos at bottom of page). At left, Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Tomisaku Katsumata is portrayed as a fierce warrior as he holds a sword in his left hand. At right, Ensign Takehiko Katsumata strikes a contemplative pose with a warm facial expression. Although the two men have the same family name, the plaques on the statue bases do not indicate whether or how they are related.

Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Tomisaku Katsumata was a member of the Yamato Squadron as part of the first unit of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps. On October 26, 1944, he took off from Cebu Air Base in a Zero fighter that carried a 250-kg bomb and did not return. He was 20 years old when he died. After his death he received a promotion of two ranks to Ensign. For his sacrifice as a special attack pilot he posthumously was granted medals for Order of the Golden Kite 4th Class, Order of the Rising Sun 6th Class, and Senior 8th Rank. Tomisaku Katsumata was a member of the 10th Ko Class of the Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program). Sanehisa Uemura flew together from Cebu Air Base in the same squadron as Tomisaku Katsumata. Uemura's letter to his young daughter Motoko is one of the most famous last letters written by kamikaze pilots.

Ensign Takehiko Katsumata was a member of the 7th Squadron of the Jinrai Butai (Divine Thunder Unit) of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps. His squadron of seven Navy Type 1 Attack Bombers (Allied code name of Betty), each carrying an ohka (manned rocket-powered glider), took off from Kanoya Air Base on May 4, 1945. Katsumata served as the navigator on one of Betty bombers [1]. Five Betty bombers, including Katsumata's, did not return [2]. He was 20 years old when he died. After his death he received a promotion of two ranks to Lieutenant. For his sacrifice as a Special Attack Corps member he posthumously was granted medals for Order of the Golden Kite 4th Class, Order of the Rising Sun 6th Class, and Senior 6th Rank. Takehiko Katsumata was a member of the 13th Class of Yobi Gakusei (Reserve Students), and he was a student at Shizuoka Second Teachers School when he entered the Navy.

A plaque describes the purpose and history of Tomioka Seirei Jinja.  In September 1950, the shrine was constructed based on contributions from 877 households of the former Tomioka Village, which became part of Susono in 1957. It was built to honor 181 men who had died in WWII for their country. The shrine holds an annual festival in September. Beside the two statues of Kamikaze Corps members, Tomioka Seirei Jinja has three other monuments. Although not specifically stated, it appears that Tomisaku Katsumata and Takehiko Katsumata were from Tomioka Village. Takehiko Katsumata's statue was erected in September 1977, but there is no indication as to when Tomisaku Katsumata's statue was erected.

Notes

1. Bungei Shunju 2005, 575.

2. Kimata 2001, 215.

Sources Cited

Bungei Shunju, ed. 2005. Ningen bakudan to yobarete: Shougen - ouka tokkou (They were called human bombs: Testimony - ohka special attacks). Tokyo: Bungei Shunju.

Kimata, Jiro. 2001. Ohka tokkoutai: Shirarezaru ningen bakudan no higeki (Ohka Special Attack Corps: Unknown tragedy of human bombs). Expanded and revised edition. Originally published in 1970 by Keizai Ouraisha. Tokyo: Kojinsha.

 

Tomisaku Katsumata

 

Takehiko Katsumata