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Second Lieutenant
Tetsuo Tanifuji with
his wife Asako

 
Crash Attack With New Wife On Board

On August 19, 1945, the Soviet Army started its occupation and was moving southward. In southern Manchuria, the Army's 1st Kyōiku Unit of the 5th Renshū (Training) Hikōtai, whose commander was First Lieutenant Saburo Minowa, was stationed at Dahushan Airfield. The members primarily had been carrying out training as a tokko (special attack) unit. The Emperor's announcement of the war's end was received. When the Japanese people residing there were proceeding with preparations for repatriation back to Japan and with their final tasks, 11 Type 97 Fighters [1] (Allied code name of Nate) took off from the airfield. The civilian Japanese people probably thought it was an Army transfer for repatriation.

Contrary to expectations, this squadron disappeared toward the north. According to records, Second Lieutenants Tatsuo Imada, Iyoji Baba, Teruo Iwasa, Iwao Ōkura, Tetsuo Tanifuji, Kōji Kitajima, Shinji Miyakawa, Toshikazu Hino, Itsuo Hatano, and Warrant Officer Kiyoshi Ninomiya were young men from 22 to 27 years old. It is thought that they all as training officers, who had trained and sent off many Special Attack Corps members, followed after the Special Attack Corps members who they had sent out on their own from this place.

The target was a group of Soviet tanks that was gathered near Chifeng.

This special attack squadron [2], in which Second Lieutenant Tanifuji's new wife Asako rode in a plane with her husband, launched a special (suicide) attack. In addition, a woman named Sumiko, whose relative owned Iyoya Ryokan (Inn), went in Second Lieutenant Ōkura's plane. In the panic state at war's end, it was an act in which they were compelled by strong feelings of people in this overseas territory. It provides a glimpse of one wartime tragedy.

The people who they had known near the airfield were sent afterward to Siberia and did not return to Japan until the end of 1948.

Now there is a monument erected on the grounds of Setagaya Kannon Temple, which is well-known for two tokkō (special attack) kannon [3]. The monument consoles the spirits of the squadron members who purely chose death.

(based on a conversation with Morimasa Koshitsuka, who was leader of a special attack unit at Kinshū)

Translated by Bill Gordon
March 2012

The source of the story on this web page is pages 280-1 of the following book:

Makino, Kikuo, ed. 1979. Ichioku nin no shōwa shi (Nihon no senshi 4): Tokubetsu kōgekitai (Shōwa history of 100 million people (Japan's war history, Volume 4): Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: Mainichi Shinbunsha.

Notes

1. Osuo (2005, 177) states that the men used Type 2 Advanced Trainers and Type 98 Direct Co-operation Planes to make the attack rather than Type 97 Fighters mentioned in the story. It is not clear why the story mentions 11 planes were used, since in the following paragraph only 10 names are provided of pilots who died in the attack.

2. Its name was the Shinshū Fumetsu Special Attack Squadron. Shinshu Fumetsu means "immortal divine land" and refers to Japan.

3. A Kannon is the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy.

Source Cited

Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (rikugun hen) (Record of special attack corps (Army)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.


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