Tomisaku Katsumata (left foreground)
Takehiko Katsumata (far right)
Susono City, Shizuoka Prefecture
The grounds of Tomioka Seirei Jinja, a shintō 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 Kō Class of the Yokaren (Preparatory Flight
Training Program). Masahisa 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 . Five Betty bombers, including Katsumata's, did not return
. 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
1. Bungeishunjū 2005, 575.
2. Kimata 2001, 215.
Bungeishunjū, ed. 2005. Ningen bakudan to yobarete: Shōgen
- ōka tokkō (They were called human bombs: Testimony - ōka special attacks). Tōkyō: Bungeishunjū.
Kimata, Jirō. 2001. Ohka tokkōtai: Shirarezaru ningen
bakudan no higeki (Ohka Special Attack Corps: Unknown tragedy of human
bombs). Expanded and revised edition. Originally published in 1970 by Keizai Ōraisha.