Eighty-five-year-old Hideo Suzuki is a reluctant survivor. A former tokkotai (Special Forces Unit) member of the Jinrai Butai (Thunder Gods Corps), Suzuki volunteered to be the pilot of an Ohka, a manned rocket-powered aircraft, during World War II. For sailors on U.S. warships in the Pacific, the Ohka was the most feared suicide bomber. Suzuki became an Ohka pilot because he was convinced that the only way to quickly end the war (called the Pacific War in Japan) was to cause massive damage to U.S. military targets. His hope was that news of such attacks would enrage the American public, triggering antiwar demonstrations in the United States that would lead to the end of the war and save the lives of Japanese citizens as well as U.S. militarymen. Before Suzuki could fly on a mission, though, the war ended. Feeling great shame for having survived, he decided to honor his comrades by living long and dedicating himself to rebuilding Japan. Still passionate in his opinion about the war and its results, he keeps his fellow soldiers' memory alive, often visiting Yasukuni Shrine.

In war, attacks on civilians are unforgivable. War should be fought only among soldiers. I get angry when I hear Japanese bombers mentioned together with terrorists who attack civilians. We Japanese tokkotai only aimed at military targets. That is the complete opposite of terrorists.

Sitting down today will make it harder to stand up tomorrow. I try not to take it easy in my daily life. For example, I don't sit down on the subway, because resting weakens the muscles, which would ultimately cause me to get older faster. I stand straight to stay strong.