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Last letters of youth: Writings
of "Yokaren" war dead
(1968)

 
Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Kiichi Hasegawa to His Parents

Sometime between 1300 and 1345 on April 6, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Kiichi Hasegawa took off from Kokubu No. 2 Air Base as gunner/radio operator in a two-man Type 99 Carrier Dive Bomber (Allied code name of Val) carrying a 250-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 19. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 1st Kusanagi Squadron from Nagoya Naval Air Group. He was from Gunma Prefecture and was a member of the 18th Otsu Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).

He wrote the following final letter:

Dear Father and Mother,

I have a question as to whether you in good health. I am getting along fine as usual.

Father, Mother, please be glad. The time that must come is here for me.

I will not express to you again my going, but this person of 20 years [1] has not shown filial piety that can be called filial piety. Please forgive me.


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
May 2018

The letter comes from Mainichi Shinbunsha (1968, 123). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Mainichi Shinbunsha (1968, 123) and Osuo (2005, 225).

Note

1. 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 20 whereas Mainichi Shinbunsha (1968, 121) gives his age as 19.

Sources Cited

Mainichi Shinbunsha, ed. 1968. Seishun on isho: "Yokaren" senbotsusha no shuki (Last letters of youth: Writings of "Yokaren" war dead). Tōkyō: Mainichi Shinbunsha.

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