Last Letter of Sergeant Kazuo Arai to His Parents
On May 27, 1945, Sergeant Kazuo Arai took off from Bansei Air
Base as a member of the 72nd Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in a
special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 20. He piloted an Army
Type 99 Assault Plane (Allied nickname of Sonia). After his death in a special attack, he received a three-rank promotion to
Second Lieutenant. He was from Tōkyō Prefecture. In December 1941, he
joined the 10th Class of the
Inba Pilot Training School in Chiba Prefecture.
He wrote the following final letter to his parents with a death poem in
tanka form (31-syllable poem with lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables):
Please forgive my lack of filial piety for 20 years.
Today I already am prepared and have been since I started flying. Now I
have no complaint to tell you even though it is a final letter.
I deeply appreciate that I was born in a generation that happens once in
a thousand years and that I have the opportunity to offer myself for the
Emperor as an air warrior.
Until today I have lived a long life. I am deeply and humbly grateful for
both the gifts of divine protection from my ancestors and teaching from you
and everyone. Even though from the beginning I lacked filial piety, I as an
Imperial subject surely am about to show in a single act both loyalty to the
Emperor and filial piety to you.
I will try to crush the American and British enemies. There is nothing
that surpasses this as the long-cherished desire of a young man.
Faraway, I will not stop praying for the country's prosperity and your
For the Emperor
I to fall as flower
In my heart
I will go
Arai also wrote the following poem to his parents:
Dear Father and Mother,
Deep appreciation of your kindness of many years
Will be repaid now with a great battle
A jewel borne on waves to a foreign sea
Will shatter and there will be happiness for me
72nd Shinbu Squadron
Letter and poems translated by Bill Gordon
The letter and poems come from Naemura (1993,
144-5). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Naemura
(1993, 144) and Osuo (2005, 201).
Naemura, Hichirō. 1993. Rikugun saigo no tokkō kichi: Bansei tokkōtaiin no isho to isatsu (Army's last special attack base: Last
letters and photographs of Bansei special attack corps members). Ōsaka: Tōhō
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (rikugun hen)
(Record of special attack corps (Army)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.