Appendices - Hirohito's War
E. Typhoons and Divine Winds: Kamikaze
Admiral Ugaki, The Last Kamikaze: In the late evening of 14 August 1945, in the aftermath of the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki but before Emperor Hirohito’s surrender, Admiral Ugaki ordered planes to be prepared for an attack on Okinawa. It was clear that he intended to accompany the attack. Informed of Admiral Ugaki’s intentions, Fifth Air Fleet chief of staff, Captain Takashi Miyazaki tried to dissuade him. A further attempt to convince him not to become a kamikaze was made by Rear-Admiral Toshiyuki Yokoi, Ugaki’s own chief of staff. “Please allow me the right to choose my own death,” Ugaki told them. “This is my chance to die like a warrior.”42
At noon the next day, Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s surrender in a public radio address. Ugaki was undeterred. On the basis that he had been given no formal order to cease fire, Ugaki pressed ahead with his kamikaze mission. While handing over his papers to his staff officers, Ugaki, defiant to the last, made his final address to them, urging that “all the Japanese people will overcome all hardships expected to come in the future, display the traditional spirit of this nation more than ever, do their best to rehabilitate this country, and finally revenge this defeat in the future.”43 Just three kamikaze aircraft were ordered to be prepared by Lieutenant Tatsuo Nakatsuru, but when Ugaki arrived at the airfield he found eleven dive-bombers ready to fly a suicide mission. Nakatsuru, choking with emotion, explained, “Who could stand to see the attack limited to only three planes when our commander himself is going to lead in crash dives against the enemy?”44 Ugaki asked all the twelve pilots and crewmen if they wanted to die with him. They did. Warrant-Officer Akiyoshi Endo, whose place Ugaki had taken, refused to be left behind and squeezed into the cockpit with the Admiral.
Ugaki had a final photograph taken in front of his aircraft. He wore a plain dark green uniform stripped of insignia and carried only a short sword that had been given to him by Admiral Yamamoto. In a last radio message, Ugaki again urged his colleagues to “rebuild a strong armed force, and make our Empire last forever. The Emperor, banzai”.45 Next day the American crew of a landing craft found the remains of a cockpit and three dead crew on the beach of Ishikawajima. Ugaki, minus his right arm, was found in his green uniform with his head crushed; his sword was found nearby. They were buried in the sand.