Sensōron (On War) has three chapters that cover
tokkōtai, Chapters 3 - Tokkou seishin (Special Attack Corps spirit), 17
- Kuni o mamoru tame no monogatari (Story about protecting the country),
and 21 - Ko o koeru yūki to hokori (Courage and pride that surpass
individuals). Kobayashi explains that the six thousand tokkōtai members who
died included not only kamikaze pilots but also men who died in attacks using
other types of weapons such as ohka (piloted rocket-powered gliders), kaiten
(manned torpedoes), and explosive motorboats.
Sendoff to kamikaze pilots (p. 83)
Chapter 7 gives the most information about the history of
Japan's tokkōtai (special attack corps) and opinions about their suicide
attacks. During the war, Americans had several misconceptions about the
motivation of kamikaze pilots (p. 80). Some thought pilots had been chained to
their seats, and others believed they drank and injected themselves with drugs
before their suicide missions in order to have their senses numbed prior to
departure. Many Americans during the war believed the pilots were fanatical
nationalists. Kobayashi says that the leftists incorrectly portray that tokkōtai members
were victims who died in vain. To counter the leftist view, he quotes three writings
of kamikaze pilots published by the Yasukuni Jinja (1995, 1-2, 5-6; 1997, 77-78) in order to show
that they died voluntarily for their country, homeland, families, and emperor.
He includes the touching letter written by
Masahisa Uemura to his young
Chapter 17 starts with a visit by the main character to the
Etajima Museum of Naval History, where he views photos and last letters of
kamikaze pilots. He thinks back to the war when Japanese people honored these
young men as heroes who fought on behalf of their country. Many Japanese today
want to live long lives for themselves, but few have the spirit of kamikaze
pilots who become heroes during the war by protecting Japan with their
Chapter 21 condemns the individualism rampant in modern
Japanese society, which causes many societal problems such as domestic violence
and excessive greed. In contrast, the kamikaze pilots and other tokkōtai
members willingly gave their lives in defense of their country. Kobayashi
quotes on page 352 a diary excerpt from Lieutenant Junior Grade Toshimasa
Hayashi, a member of the kamikaze special attack corps who died at
sea east of Honshū on August 9, 1945 (Kōsaka 2001, 146):
I can die to protect my homeland. For me my homeland is the
land and people I love. Leaving behind my homeland, now I will be able to look
down at my homeland from afar. In the near future I will gaze at Japan with a
broad view. Since I will leave Japan, at that time I will recognize Japan as my
country and my homeland in the true sense. I can die to protect that purity,
dignity, preciousness, and beauty.
Kobayashi laments that modern Japanese no longer have
Hayashi's kind of commitment. In Chapter 21, Kobayashi also contrasts Japan's
tokkōtai with Islamic radical fundamentalists who commit terrorist acts against
civilians (p. 356). He concludes that the two are fundamentally different since
a suicide attack by tokkōtai was a battle tactic during a time of war against
enemy warships. The tokkōtai members only made suicide attacks "in order
to protect their country where their loved ones lived."
Although many individual facts and arguments presented
by Kobayashi seem reasonable and well-supported, his ultimate conclusions often
are at odds with historical evidence and general public opinion. He portrays
tokkōtai as heroes ready to give their lives for their homeland and families.
Many young men during the war definitely had such an attitude, but Kobayashi
seems to only present arguments to support his ultranationalist views. He
remains silent on certain subjects, such as government and military coercion
and propaganda, tokkōtai members who wrote against the military, and the
failure of Japanese leaders to surrender even when Japan had no chance to
Kōsaka, Jirō. 2001. Tokkōtaiin no inochi no koe ga kikoeru
(Hearing the voices of lives of special attack corps members).
Originally published in 1995. Tōkyō:
Pons, Philippe. 2001. A cartoonist rewrites Japanese history. Le
Monde diplomatique. October. <http://mondediplo.com/2001/10/09manifesto>
(October 15, 2004).
Yasukuni Jinja, ed. 1995. Eirei
no koto no ha (Words of the spirits of war heroes), Volume 1.
Tokyo: Yasukuni Jinja Shamusho.
Yasukuni Jinja, ed. 1997. Eirei
no koto no ha (Words of the spirits of war heroes), Volume 3.
Tokyo: Yasukuni Jinja Shamusho.