Published in the Japanese language by the Kaiten Kensho-kai organization
(The translation of Kaiten into the Japanese language was due to the efforts of translator Tomoko Nishisaki and Masami Ono. I began working with Tomoko in late 1997. Her interest in the secret weapon named “Kaiten” came after meeting an American businessman whose father died aboard the destroyer escort USS Underhill in July 1945. The book Kaiten would not have been written without Tomoko’s tireless efforts to connect me to the members of Kaiten-Kai. Masami Ono is the nephew of Jun Katsuyama who died when his Kaiten was rammed by the Underhill in Leyte Gulf. Masami Ono, like Tomoko, worked with me for years and was instrumental in connecting me with the Kaiten Memorial Museum in Shunan City. Sadly, Masami died in early 2017 from cancer. Tomoko and Masami urged Mr. Harada, President of the memorial group Kaiten Kensho-kai, to publish the book Kaiten in Japanese. Mr. Harada, age 79, had a personal connection to the Kikusui mission to Ulithi that sank the USS Mississinewa. His father-in-law was Captain Kamimoto, commanding officer of I-37 that was sunk near Kossol Passage (near Palau) on November 19, 1944. I-37’s mission was to launch four Kaiten attacking American ships as a diversion to draw attention away from the primary target of Adm. Halsey’s Third Fleet at Ulithi Atoll. I-37 was sunk by the destroyer escort USS Conklin one day before the attack at Ulithi. Retired members of the Japanese Naval Defense Force who are members of the group, Suiko-kai, translated Kaiten into simple Japanese so the story could be read by school-age children. Mr. Harada was impressed that the English publication of Kaiten was a fair and balanced story truthfully told from both sides. This fact helped inspire him to organize the translation and printing of the Japanese version. Mr. Harada gave copies of the new book to nearly 100 bereaved families who attended the annual memorial service at the Kaiten Memorial Museum on November 12, 2017. Copies are available at various locations in Japan. – Mike Mair)
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Kaiten: Japan’s Secret Manned Suicide Submarine And the First American Ship It Sank in WWII
by authors Michael Mair and Joy Waldron
In November 1944, the U.S. Navy fleet lay at anchor in Ulithi Harbor, deep in the Pacific Ocean, when the oiler USS Mississinewa erupted in a ball of flames. Japan’s secret weapon, the Kaiten—a manned suicide submarine—had succeeded in its first mission.
The Kaiten was so secret that even Japanese naval commanders didn’t know of its existence. And the Americans kept it secret as well. Embarrassed by the shocking surprise attack, the U.S. Navy refused to salvage or inspect the sunken Mighty Miss. Only decades later would the survivors understand what really happened at Ulithi, when a diving team located the wreck in 2001.
In Kaiten, Michael Mair and Joy Waldron tell the full story from both sides, from the strategic importance of the USS Mississinewa to newly revealed secrets of the Kaiten development and training schools. U.S. Navy survivors recount their gripping experiences in the wake of the attack, as well as the harrowing recovery efforts that came later. Japanese pilots reveal their terrifying experiences training to die for their country and Emperor, never knowing when their moment of doom would come.
- “A powerful tale about how an intersection of youth, patriotism and sacrifice ended in a fiery, suicidal assault on an American warship. More than recounting a battle, this is a very human story that relives one of the most painful episodes of World War II.”—James P. Delgado, Author of Silent Killers: Submarines and Underwater Warfare and Khublai Khan’s Lost Fleet: In Search of a Legendary Armada
- “Mair and Waldron masterfully interweave World War II documents, interviews, and oral histories of two opposing nations in mortal conflict to create a rare and intimate view of the Pacific War that provokes the reader to rethink the boundaries of individual courage and national patriotism.”—Larry E. Murphy, Chief (Ret.), Submerged Resources Center, National Park Service
- “A crisp, persuasive narrative about a little-known, but startling World War II attack…Mair and Waldron portray the story from both perspectives, constantly building to a dramatic, fiery crescendo. Their profiles of American and Japanese sailors add poignancy to a compelling story of battle disaster, death and survival.”—David Sears, Author of Pacific Air and At War with the Wind
- “This doomed mission almost became lost in history after the atomic explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But the authors of Kaiten have pulled together the story, and populated it with flesh-and-blood warriors on both sides of the conflict…This book can take its place alongside Shadow Divers and Unbroken as a graphic, living story from the worst war the world has ever known.”—Richard McCord, Journalist, Editor and Publisher of the Santa Fe Reporter and Author of The Chain Gang: One Newspaper versus the Gannett Empire
- “If you like reading history with the details to bring it to back to life, you’ll enjoy Kaiten.”—Ralph Wilbanks, underwater archaeologist and NUMA expedition leader