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Sekiguchi Tokko Brothers Monument
Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture

Mamonzan is the Navy cemetery in Yokosuka, where the Japanese Navy had a huge base until the end of World War II. This cemetery, located on a wooded hill near Kita Kurihama Station, has several levels with the top plateau serving as the location for several larger monuments, including the Sekiguchi Tokko (Special Attack) Brothers Monument.

Tatsuji Sekiguchi erected the Sekiguchi Tokko Brothers Monument in 1957 in memory of his two sons, Tetsuo and Tsuyoshi Sekiguchi, who both died in battle in 1945. The history inscribed on the back of the monument indicates that both sons died in special (suicide) attacks as members of the Shinpu (Kamikaze) Special Attack Corps. However, Tetsuo actually did not die in the two special attacks in which he was involved but rather at a later date in an air battle in the Philippines.

The large characters engraved on the front of the monument state "Sekiguchi Tokko Brothers Monument." The smaller characters to the left give the name of Former 3rd Air Fleet Commander-in-Chief Kimpei Teraoka, who wrote the following history on the back of the monument:

During the last stage of the Greater East Asia War when the counteroffensive against enemy American forces became fierce, both sons strongly attacked and dived into the enemy fleet. The second son, Navy Lieutenant Commander Tetsuo Sekiguchi, carried out his attack east of Taiwan on January 21, 1945, as Commander of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Niitaka Unit. The third son, Navy Ensign [1] Tsuyoshi Sekiguchi, carried out his attack near Okinawa on May 7 [2] of the same year as a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Suishin Squadron. Tetsuo was 24 years old and Tsuyoshi was 19 years old when they performed their great deeds by dying heroically in battle for an eternal cause. These brothers together sacrificed themselves during our national crisis as members of the Special Attack Corps. Therefore, this monument has been erected to these tokko brothers.

Following the above history is a tanka poem also written by Teraoka.

The back of the monument base has the following inscription about the family of the two Sekiguchi brothers:

May 1957
Yokosuka City, Higashi Hemi-cho, Erected by Tatsuji Sekiguchi
Father - Navy Lieutenant Tatsuji Sekiguchi
Mother - Mume Sekiguchi
Eldest son - Army Major Yuji Sekiguchi
Eldest daughter - Tomoko Sekiguchi
Second daughter - Akiko Sekiguchi
Fourth son - Yoshinobu Sekiguchi

On January 15, 1945, Tetsuo Sekiguchi made his first sortie as commander of a kamikaze special attack squadron. Eight Zeros carrying bombs, one piloted by Tetsuo, and Zero fighter escorts took off at 1600 from Taichu Air Base in Formosa. However, without finding the enemy fleet, they met ten Grumman F6F Hellcats, engaged in an air battle, and returned to base at 1830 after losing two Zeros [3].

The Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Niitaka Unit led by Tetsuo Sekiguchi was formed at Tainan Air Base on January 18, 1945, with a combination of Zero fighters and Suisei carrier dive bombers (Judys). Vice Admiral Takijiro Ohnishi delivered a speech to the newly-formed unit at a christening ceremony. On January 21, 1945, the Niitaka Unit made its sortie with the first section in which Tetsuo piloted a Zero escort taking off at 1105. However, Tetsuo's aircraft developed engine problems, so he had to make a forced landing at Taito Air Base at 1155. Soon after, two kamikaze aircraft from the Niitaka Unit hit the aircraft carrier Ticonderoga (CV-14). The attacks resulted in 143 men killed and 202 men wounded.

No record exists that Tetsuo died in battle as part of a special attack. Tetsuo was promoted one rank to Lieutenant Commander, not the usual two ranks for men who died in special attacks. His family received two separate official notifications of his death during the war, one in March 1946 and another in July 1946. The March notification indicated that Tetsuo died in battle on January 21, 1945, but this could not be correct since he sent a letter to his family after his sortie on January 21. The July 1946 notification has recorded that he died in an air battle in the Philippines on January 31, 1945. This date of January 31 was confirmed in correspondence after the war with Commander Tadashi Nakajima of the 201st Air Group who was involved with the formation of the Niitaka Unit and its sortie on January 21, 1945 [4].

The obvious question is why Tatsuji Sekiguchi would erect the Sekiguchi Tokko Brothers Monument for his two sons if Tetsuo did not actually die in a tokko (special attack) sortie. There is no clear answer, but it may be that he believed at the time that there was enough evidence (or at least lack of evidence to the contrary) that he died in a special attack. Commander Tadashi Nakajima wrote a draft of the history to be included on the monument, but this was not used in preference for the history later written by Vice Admiral Kimpei Teraoka. Nakajima's proposed wording for the monument did not explicitly acknowledge that Tetsuo died in a special attack, so this may be the reason why Tatsuji did not use his wording for the monument.


Source

The source for most historical information on this web page is a booklet written by 19 students of the Kanagawa Sohgoh High School Showa History Research Club and published in 2009 by Kanagawa Sohgoh High School. The booklet is based on copies of original documents provided to the students by the Sekiguchi Family.

Acknowledgment

Kan Sugahara kindly reviewed this web page's contents, made valuable suggestions for changes, and provided a copy of the article written by Kanagawa Sohgoh High School Showa History Research Club students.

Notes

1. Tsuyoshi Sekiguchi's rank before his death was Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class. The Navy awarded him a special promotion of four ranks to Ensign due to his death by tokko (special attack). Kachi (2005, 69) explains that the typical promotion for death in battle by a special attack was two ranks for higher ranking officers. For Petty Officers regardless of rank killed in a special attack, the usual promotion was to Ensign. Non-officers regardless of rank who died in a special attack typically were promoted to Warrant Officer.

2. Tsuyoshi Sekiguchi's attack actually took place on May 4, 1945, when he piloted a Type 94 Reconnaissance Seaplane (Allied code name of Alf) from Ibusuki Air Base in a special attack.

3. Inoguchi (1958, 231) indicates that one kamikaze aircraft and one escort were lost.

4. Commander Nakajima wrote Chapter 13 of The Divine Wind (1958). This chapter (pp. 121-8) describes the formation and sortie of the Niitaka Unit.

Sources Cited

Inoguchi, Rikihei, and Tadashi Nakajima, with Roger Pineau. 1958. The Divine Wind: Japan's Kamikaze Force in World War II. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.

Kachi, Akira. 2005. Senkan mizuuri ni totsunyuu shita reisen (Zero fighter that crashed into battleship Missouri). Tokyo: Kojinsha.



Sekiguchi Tokko Brothers Monument between
two taller Navy monuments at Mamonzan Cemetery

The tall monument to the left of the Sekiguchi Tokko Brothers Monument remembers those who died from the China Incident on July 7, 1937, to the end of the Greater East Asia War on August 15, 1945. The monument to the right remembers those who died during the Shanghai Incident from January 28 to March 3, 1932.