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Last Letter of Second Lieutenant Takashi Asao to His Mother

On June 11, 1945, Second Lieutenant Takashi [1] Asao took off from Chiran Army Air Base as a member of the 215th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 22. He piloted an Army Type 97 Fighter (Allied code name of Nate).  After his death in a special attack, he received a two-rank promotion to Captain. He was from Kanagawa Prefecture, attended Kyōto Imperial University, and become a member of the 2nd Class of the Army Special Cadet Officer Pilot Training Program.

He wrote the following final letter:

Dear Mother, 

It has come about that I also have received an imperial command for a special attack and will make a sortie to Okinawa. In my letters up to now I know that mostly there were things that were encouraging, but I am a Special Attack Corps member who from the beginning cannot expect to return alive. This is the reason why now this letter is my last writing.

When I think about it, probably you are overcome with anxiety about my reaching the end of the line and you are sad that I will go and fall honorably at the young age of 23 years [2]. When I think quietly that thanks to Father, you, and everyone I could progress in my academic studies up to Kyōto Imperial University, my feeling of regret reaches a peak. My lack of filial piety until today presses me hard.

From the time when in Shimonoseki [3] we were still very young and were nothing but a burden to you up to the time when I graduated from junior high school in Ōsaka and then said my farewell to go far away to high school during a period when there were various concerns such as Father's hospitalization, various sad and happy things in my heart as a child come to mind one after another. Finally the image in my mind is transformed into the smiling face of cute Sachiko.

When I left Ōsaka Station, Sachiko seemed lonely. Probably she thinks it is strange that I have different clothes every time we meet.

Now I am waiting at OO [4] Base for the day of the sortie. When I think of the time last summer when I crossed over to Taiwan, everything has changed. We have fashioned a way of living with stress of being on the front line.

Second Lieutenant Setsurō Yoshida [5], my comrade and senior, already has made an attack. When he came to me with his last letter, he told me certainly to send it to its destination and to communicate his battle results. Considering his skills, please be comforted that he went forward full of self-confidence. The address of Second Lieutenant  Yoshida is Yamada Village in Ōsaka Prefecture (care of Takuichi Ōmura), so could you sometime please send a letter of thanks to his mother?

Finally with lingering regrets I do not want to write more. Only please pray for my success.

It is regrettable that I could not meet with Shigeru when I went to Tōkyō. From you please communicate my regards to him.

I pray for health and happiness for you, Miyoko, Haruko, Setsuko, Sachiko, and everyone.

Sincerely yours.


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
March 2018

The letter and biographical information on this page come from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 148, 177) and Osuo (2005, 206).

Notes

1. The kanji for his given name (隆) has other possible pronunciations besides Takashi. Since the pronunciation of his given name could not be confirmed, Takashi was used since it is the most popular.

2. The traditional Japanese method of counting age, as in much of East Asia, regards a child as age one at birth and adds an additional year on each New Year's day thereafter. This most likely explains why the letter indicates his age as 23 whereas the background information in Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 148) indicates his age was 22 at the time of his death.

3. Shimonoseki is a city in Yamaguchi Prefecture at the west end of Japan's main island of Honshū.

4. OO indicates information that was a military secret and could not be included in the letter.

5. Second Lieutenant Setsurō Yoshida made a sortie from Chiran Air Base as a member of the 78th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron on May 4, 1945 (Osuo 2005, 202).

Sources Cited

Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (Chiran Special Attack Memorial Society), ed. 2005. Konpaku no kiroku: Kyū rikugun tokubetsu kōgekitai chiran kichi (Record of departed spirits: Former Army Special Attack Corps Chiran Base). Revised edition, originally published in 2004. Chiran Town, Kagoshima Prefecture: Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai.

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