Life and Death
Commanding Officer of Kaiten Mission at Hachijo-jima
Island Base (The war ended while the group was waiting for their
Lieutenant Toshiharu Konada (Chairperson of Kaiten Society)
In front of "Yushukan" at
(Chairperson Konada was explaining about Kaiten to the prince and
A Brief Summary of his career: Born in Hiroshima and a graduate of
the 72nd Naval Academy. After the war, he graduated from Kyoto
University, Dept. of Fishery, then joined a fishery company and was
engaged in whaling in the South Seas while he made a great effort to
create the "Kaiten Kensho-kai" and "Kaiten-kai (Kaiten
Launch test at Kaiten Base (at
Life and Death
Among the instincts that living
things have, the strongest is the one to preserve individual
Whether one is conscious about it or
not, life is the most precious thing to everyone. Each of us have
only one life. It is quite easy to think about death vaguely.
However, only those who face death know the horror of death. They
themselves selected the way to death, trained to die and died without
sharing any doubts only because they had the clear motivation beyond
Sub-lieutenant Konada was offered Sake
Kaiten did not have any escape
system, nor communication system. Once it starts, one could not stop
and restart it. Once launched from its mother sub, there was no
chance to return alive regardless of the results.
The 72nd Naval Academy graduates
were on the whole, good-natured people of few words except wild
Ishikawa who had his own way. Even if we all lived in the same room,
I had no memory to talk about "Life and Death" with them. They
remained calm when departing to their death place and they looked
just the same even when they came back due to the disorder of Kaiten
just before its launch. Fallen cherry blossoms... Even those remained
would be sure to fall. Without saying anything, we all understood
each other well.
Although I am not sure whether the
others felt the same way, I would recall my days and would like to
explain my mental process in order.
Afte arriving at Otsushima Island, I
was told that all of us here would smash into the enemy fleet one
month later from now. I stood in silent awe and felt both my body
& soul as it grew tense. I was determined to exchange my life
with the biggest enemy ship. In order to achieve that, the first
thing I had to do was to realize how to make full use of the
performance of Kaiten and to master it.
For Hachijo-jima Island
(From the left) Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Sakurai, Sato and
Suzuki, Sub-lieutenant Konada, Sub-lieutenant Takahashi, Flight Petty
Officer 1st Class Saito, Yamada and Nagata
When I recovered my composure, all
kinds of memories were brought back in rapid succession. I tried very
hard to make sure of and to systematize the meaning of my
...Stood on the hill in Otsushima
Island and looked at the distant haze-covered mountains on Honshu,
the main island of Japan. I realized, "I can give up my life in order
to protect the beautiful mountains, rivers and the people living
there. I could die without regret by changing myself into a bullet if
my life could help to prevent the enemy's advance." I really felt
like that. Since then, I had never worried about my own death.
At Sokodo, Hachijo-jima
(From the left) Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Suzuki, Sakurai,
Sub-lietenant Konada and Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Sato
I appreciated and enjoyed every
meal. I was surprised to find myself feeling how tasty each dish
Many soldiers died for the sake of
the Emperor. However, didn't they have any doubt before their death
only with this belief? I understand they could do that for the
limitless love to their fellow countrymen, fathers, mothers, brothers
and sisters through the Emperor. From the beginning, I admired the
Emperor. Even now, the Emperor is one of the people I respect the
most. However, I think something that abstract does not have enough
power to make us convinced at the very critical moment.
Sokodo Base: Beside the Kaiten
Kaiten pilots from Youth Flying
Corps were all young and pure-hearted. Because of this, "life and
death" did not seem to matter to them at all. However, I heard, when
they had some doubt at the sortie, they told themselves, "we could
lay our lives in order to protect Japanese chaste maidens"....
...Before the war, the Japanese were
really beautiful people. Japan was a wonderful country so we all
thought we had to protect Japan by sacrificing our own lives. If we
thought Japan was worthless, nobody would have tried to protect it by
giving up their precious lives.
I would not like to see the day that
Japan would face the situation which needs Special Attack Forces.
However, I sincerely hope that we can create a great country where
everyone can feel that "when the country faces danger, we would do
anything to protect it."
Wagakurasu (Kaiten and my
class) (Naval Academy 72nd graduate "Naniwa" Society)
Charge and Special Attack Forces) (Shinjinbutsuorai-sha)