On January 12, 1945, Lieutenant Junior Grade Shizuyo Todokoro died in a
special (suicide) attack at the age of 20 when submarine I-36 launched his
kaiten manned torpedo at Ulithi Atoll. On December 30, 1944, submarine I-36 made a sortie from
Ōtsushima Kaiten Base in Yamaguchi
Prefecture with four kaiten pilots who were members of the Kaiten
Special Attack Corps Kongō Unit. All of submarine I-36's four kaiten pilots died when
launched on January 12. Todokoro was from Gunma Prefecture and was a member of the
of the Naval Engineering School. He received a
promotion to Lieutenant Commander after his death by special attack.
Dear Older Sister,
Doing anything in what seems like a steam bath is bothersome, but as I
recall your kind figure I will take up the pen once again in the end. Today
for the fifth day even though it is January each day there has been an
abrupt change to the degree that it is just as if it has gone from the
middle of winter to the middle of summer. Every day I have had the feeling
to peel off my skin. Now it is at the point where even peeling off my skin
still will not be enough. Since for nine months until now I was working on
land, I completely lost the feeling for the sea. For the first few days
after we made our sortie, I was like a half-sick person. However, I am full
of fighting spirit, so please rest assured.
At 1700 on the 30th, we passed through Bungo Strait. When I made my final
farewell to my homeland's mountains with their color fading in the
approaching twilight, I was overcome with emotion. I had never been able to
see the country of Japan as more divine than this.
Your image briefly crossed my mind, and I thought somewhere in my heart
that I wanted to see you one more time. However, I decided for certain to
not think this since it also was my personal feeling and was a small
personal matter when compared to the great cause.
Someone born as a person does not think of his hometown. I am a person
whose personal matters and desires have not been taken away. However, I have
overcome my various worldly desires and passions. I am a person who solemnly
will rise up and express my greatest self by living for an eternal cause.
Forget your family. Forget your parents. Forget your children. I can free
myself from all personal concerns and be a loyal subject. That in the end is
truly thinking of one's parents and children. Such things are being written
in this letter as seen from inside a submarine, but I really know it is so.
For me who does not have even a mother, does not have even a home that I
should return to, and of course does not have children, I am a person who in
the near future can die gladly for the Emperor without having to commit
myself anew. In my short life you have been like a mother and also like a
true older sister, and you have given me great openness and fairness. I, who
always felt hollow somewhere in my heart and who was starved for family
affection, was glad for the times that I knew you were there. Now I tell
this to you clearly.
Older Sister, you cannot imagine what a happy person I was. Perhaps there
is no difference with my younger brother in that he went and died with the
same feeling as mine.
There absolutely is nothing other than a blue bird called happiness. It
was on the branch of the tree at my own house. True happiness does not come
from something else. Now I found that bird that can be seen in my own heart.
On that note, when you have a baby, there is nothing that can be said.
I know that now you understand my feelings when I say such things like a
grandfather would say.
Inside the submarine I have read telegrams about battle operations, and
it seems that the fighting will not yet be easy. If young men do not die one
after another, a successful conclusion probably is faraway.
Even though I stick to that, I must protect innocent children. I always
thought this when I saw Rei-chan and Mii-chan. I must protect such cute
pure-hearted and innocent children from the Western devils. I think that I
will die for these sweet children rather than for the country.
It may seem irreverent, but it is the stage near nothingness. The day
decided for the attack is drawing nearer day by day, but it is not
particularly busy, and the days are normal. Since there is no sunshine,
little by little I am losing my appetite and getting thinner. My skin is
turning white. Every day, in addition to training and maintenance, I play
cards and while away the time with the record player.
Now it is 02:45 on the 6th, but for a rabbit there is no concept of time
as to whether it is 2:45 in the morning or 2:45 in the afternoon.
For you it is already vacation, right? Now there was an order for all
hands to proceed to our stations. So I will say farewell. From in the
southern seas I pray that you are happy forever.
The letter comes from Matsugi (1971, 73-6, 78). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
Konada and Kataoka (2006, 101-8, 378), Matsugi (1971, 73), and Mediasion (2006,