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Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Tatsuzō Arisue to His Parents

At 1120 on March 21, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Tatsuzō Arisue took off from Kanoya Air Base as radio telegraph operator in a Navy Type 1 Attack Bomber (Allied code name of Betty) carrying an ōka rocket-powered glider bomb. He was a member in the Jinrai Butai (Thunder Gods Corps) 1st Ōka Squadron. He died in a special (suicide) attack southeast of Kyūshū at the age of 18. From 1420 to 1445, a group of about 50 American Grumman fighters intercepted the 18 Betty bombers that had taken off from Kanoya and shot all of them down before any ōka glider bomb could be released. He was from Hyōgo Prefecture and was a member of the 18th Otsu Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).

He wrote the following last letter with a death poem at the end:

Dear Father and Mother,

Please excuse me for the sloppy writing. It has been decided that shortly I will depart for the battle front for a fortunate attack. Even though my time was a short 18 years, like regular persons there were both various hardships and happy things.

I caused many worries for you, and the day for me to fall honorably has come. Petty Officer Koike of Onogawa (Harukiya) also went and fell. I also will follow after him and intend to attack the enemy position. I was together with him until Toyohashi [1]. Einosuke of Uenoyama also fell.

Since I cannot write at length, this will be it. Farewell. Be strong.

I believe that the Empire surely will prosper forever.

Divine thunder [2]
Cherry blossoms are falling
Remaining blossoms also will fall

From Tatsuzō


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
April 2018

The letter on this page comes from Kitagawa (1983, 79-80). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes Bungei Shunjū (2005, 568-9), Kitagawa (1983, 79-80), and Osuo (2005, 184).

Notes

1. Toyohashi in Aichi Prefecture was the location of a Japanese naval air base.

2. The Japanese word for "divine thunder" is jinrai, which refers to Arisue's unit, Jinrai Butai (Thunder Gods Corps).

Sources Cited

Bungei Shunjū, ed. 2005. Ningen bakudan to yobarete: Shōgen - ōka tokkō (They were called human bombs: Testimony - ōka special attacks). Tōkyō: Bungei Shunjū.

Kitagawa, Mamoru, ed. 1983. Sōretsu kamikaze tokkōtai: Kaerazaru seishun no isho shū (Heroic Kamikaze Special Attack Corps: Collected last letters of lost youth). Tōkyō: Nihon Bungeisha.

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