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Japan Times 1944: Kamikaze Attack Corps lives up to its name

by Elliott Samuels

Staff Writer

100 YEARS AGO
Saturday, Nov. 1 1919

Bomb explosion at the Foreign Office

THE JAPAN TIMES
THE JAPAN TIMES

At five o’clock yesterday evening, what is thought to be a bomb exploded in a ditch near the Foreign Office.

Shortly before the explosion, a passerby noticed a blue flame in the ditch, near a side gate, and called it to the attention of the policeman in the police box near the Foreign Office.

The policeman and two other men hastened to the spot and were peering into the ditch when the explosion incurred with a loud report.

The men had a narrow escape, as the policeman’s cap was torn to shreds but no one suffered any injury, except being made deaf for the time being.

Some damage was caused in the immediate vicinity of the spot where the explosion took place, and houses in the neighborhood were badly shaken up.


75 YEARS AGO
Friday, June 9, 1944

Kamikaze Attack Corps lives up to name

THE JAPAN TIMES
THE JAPAN TIMES

Determined to follow in the footsteps of the First Special Kamikaze Attack Corps, the men of the Second Special Kamikaze Attack Corps hopped off from their base at 10 a.m. on Oct. 27 and successfully fulfilled their glorious mission of crash-diving on the enemy task force in Leyte Gulf.

Prior to its departure, the Air Corps led by a certain first-lieutenant under Commander K. was named the Second Special Kamikaze Attack Corps. The units attached to the corps were designated the Chuyu (Courage), Giretsu (Gallantry), Junchu (Pure Loyalty), Shisei (Sincerity) and Seichu (Unswerving Loyalty). The first-lieutenant who was to lead the units was 25 years old, while the youngest of the group was not older than 19.

In a farewell message to these members, the commander said:

“No real fighters expect to return safely. Even our enemies fight at the risk of their lives, but such deeds of bravery and patriotism as using their own bodies as bullets are beyond the comprehension of the enemy.

“Such superb spirit and peerless loyalty embedded in the Japanese enable them to fight in a valiant way worthy of the fighting men of the Divine Land. You officers and men are the incarnation of the sublime loyalty worth of “Divine Warriors.”

The corps commander’s final instructions to the men were:

“You are all going to your death. It will be a grave mistake to think that the enemy fighter planes do not matter. Although our covering fighter units will protect you against the enemy fighters until the final plunge is directed against the enemy’s task force, your bodies are of priceless value. It will be a dog’s death if you die before you are directly above the enemy ships. You must be on the lookout for enemy fighters. Keep vigilant watch as you go.”

The men simultaneously nodded their heads. They could not die until their objective was attained. Till then their bodies were precious. The final objective was to self-blast against the enemy ships.

After watching their comrades zooming down with their planes for the final attack, those left behind are as grimly and as resolutely determined that they, too, will wing their way through the skies and strike furiously and unerringly to fulfill their mission of becoming the “divine wind.”


50 YEARS AGO
Sunday, Nov. 9, 1969

Man missing for years found hiding in cave

A 74-year-old man missing from his home in Aomori Prefecture for the past 32 years has been discovered living in a cave outside Nara.

Toyosaburo Sasaki, a former fisherman, however, refuses to leave his second home dug out on the side of a tomb mound in Taima, Kitakatsuragi-gun, in Nara.

He disappeared from his home shortly after he was questioned by police on suspicion of setting fire to a farmhouse in his home village.

The fire destroyed four farmhouses and damaged a fifth.

The Japanese Rip Van Winkle has lived in the cave, about 3 meters tall and 2 meters deep, for the past 10 years.

Villagers of Taima saw him come out from the wooded area almost daily to beg for food, clothing and other alms, but no one knew exactly where he lived.

He was discovered last week in the cave by policemen who were searching the area in connection with the forthcoming visit of Prince Hiro to Nara.

The policeman questioned the man, who is hard of hearing, by jotting down questions on a pad and found that his address was Kushihiki, Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture.

Further inquiry revealed that he left his home in 1937, shortly after police questioned him on suspicion of arson.

His wife, Chiku, 68, and second son, Toyokatsu, 49, a fisherman, still live in Hachinohe.

Toyokatsu, alerted by the police, came to meet his father but he refused to go home, saying, “I am more comfortable this way.”


25 YEARS AGO
Thursday, Nov. 10, 1994

Cat-repelling bottles attract fires instead

THE JAPAN TIMES
THE JAPAN TIMES

A clear plastic bottle filled with water and placed on a wall to repel cats caused a fire in Tokyo, prompting the Fire Defense Agency to issue a warning against placing the bottles near combustible materials.

The blaze in Edogawa Ward began around noon Nov. 1 after the bottle focused sunlight on discarded lumber leaning against the wall about 3 centimeters away, agency officials said. A neighbor extinguished the fire.

The agency confirmed that the bottle was the cause of the fire through an experiment run under similar conditions, the officials said.

The 64-year-old woman who resides at the site said she used the bottle to keep cats away from the area.

Plastic bottles like those used to sell mineral water or soft drinks are refilled with water and placed in front of houses or on fences to repel cats, who are reportedly frightened by the diffused light.

In this feature, we delve into The Japan Times’ 123-year archive to present a selection of stories from the past. The Japan Times’ archive is now available in digital format. For more details, see jtimes.jp/de.

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