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Heroic Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps: Collected last
letters of youth that
would not return
(1983)

 
Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Kazuhide Araki to His Mother

At 0627 on May 14, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Kazuhide Araki took off from Kanoya Air Base as pilot in a Zero fighter carrying a 500-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack east of Tanegashima at the age of 19. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 8th Shichisei [1] Squadron from Genzan Naval Air Group in Korea. He was from Niigata Prefecture and was a member of the 3rd Toku Otsu Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).

He wrote the following final letter with a poem in the middle:

Dear Mother,

Thank you for what you have done for a long time. I have no regrets. There are only the words of "thank you."

Takashige Itō, be strong forever.

If I go away to sea I will be a corpse coloring the clouds
I will go forth as the Emperor's humble shield

I am determined that my way of dying will not dishonor our family's name.

Aunt, I thank you for your great kindness for a long time. Finally it is the final time, and I remember fondly the past, the heads of Uncle and you when we strolled along the country path when I was young. I will go smiling until the end.


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
April 2018

The letter comes from Kitagawa (1983, 210). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kitagawa (1983, 210) and Osuo (2005, 201).

Yasukuni Jinja (2000, 37-8) also has Araki's letter with the following significant differences:

  • Yasukuni Jinja's letter is to both his father and mother, not just the mother as shown above in Kitagawa's letter.
  • "Aunt" in Kitagawa's letter is shown as "Uncle and Aunt" in Yasukuni Jinja's letter.
  • Yasukuni Jinja's letter does not contain the poem in the middle and the sentence that begins with "Takashige Itō."

The reasons for the differences between the two versions of the letter could not be determined.

Note

1. Shichisei means "seven lives."

Sources Cited

Kitagawa, Mamoru, ed. 1983. Sōretsu kamikaze tokkōtai: Kaerazaru seishun no isho shū (Heroic Kamikaze Special Attack Corps: Collected last letters of youth that would not return). Tōkyō: Nihon Bungeisha.

Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.

Yasukuni Jinja, ed. 2000. Eirei no koto no ha (6) (Words of the spirits of war heroes, Volume 6). Tōkyō: Yasukuni Jinja Shamusho.