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Last letters, poems, and
writings of Navy Preparatory
Flight Trainees (1)
(2004)

 
Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Takeshi Iwashita to His Parents

At 1945 on June 25, 1945 [1], Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Takeshi Iwashita took off from Kanoya Air Base as observer (included roles of navigator and bombardier) in a two-man Shiragiku trainer carrying two 250-kg bombs. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Kikusui Unit 3rd Shiragiku Squadron from Kōchi Naval Air Group. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 18 [2]. He was from Kanagawa Prefecture and was a member of the 13th Kō Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).

He wrote the following final letter to his parents with two death poems at the end:

I look forward to this morning when I will make a sortie as a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Kikusui Unit. As for this, I know that everyone in the family will be pleased with this honor for the family. I have nothing but only appreciation for my 20 years of education since I was born into this world [3]. Moreover, I will make a taiatari (body-crashing) attack against an enemy ship by sacrificing myself for the country. I do this with the sincerity of my loyalty to meet everyone's expectations. I earnestly request that you please forgive my fault of lack of filial piety in my previous life.

It is splendid that Older Brother also has worked diligently at his military duties. I go shortly before everyone, but please say "well done" without grieving at all. At this time even the quarrels with my brothers and sisters [4] are fondly remembered. I pray to the gods that Grandmother, as she is getting old, take care of herself and be able to live a long life of even one more year.

Please tell the Sugimoto Family that I made a taiatari attack in high spirits. Whether the enemy wins or whether I win, I will fight until the end. Now there is a place of the decisive battle that is the country's Sekigahara [5]. There is only the country.

Finally,

Young eagle flies to skies of decisive battle
Thoughts of faraway hometown's mountains and rivers

Even though I come to end at Okinawa with kamikaze
Citizens of Empire will follow after me

Please take good care of yourselves. I pray for happiness of everyone in the family.


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
September 2018

The letter comes from Kojima (2004, 23). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kojima (2004, 23) and Osuo (2005, 243).

Notes

1. June 25, 1945, at 1945 is the sortie date and time indicated by Mikuni (2001, 242). Tokkōtai Senbotsusha (1990, 210) indicates the same sortie date. However, Kojima (2004, 23) gives the sortie time and date as 2000 on June 26, 1945, and Osuo (2005, 243) indicates it as 2000 on May 26, 1945. June 25 appears to be correct based on other Kamikaze Corps aircraft that made sorties on the same date from Kanoya Air Base, whereas none departed on June 26. The May date in Osuo must be a typographical error.

2. Mikuni (2001, 209) indicates that Iwashita's birth date was in September 1926, so he would have been 18 years old at death. The age at death of 19 given by Kojima (2004, 23) appears to be incorrect.

3. 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 explains why the letter indicates his age as 20 whereas Mikuni (2001, 209) gives his age as 18.

4. The letter does not specify the number of brothers and sisters.

5. Sekigahara was a decisive battle that took place in Japan in 1600. The victory by an alliance headed by Tokugawa Ieyasu led to the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate that lasted until 1868.

Sources Cited

Kojima, Keizō, ed. 2004. Kaigun hikō yoka renshūsei isho • iei • ikōshū (1) (Last letters, poems, and writings of Navy Preparatory Flight Trainees (1)). Tōkyō: Unabarakai.

Mikuni, Yūdai. 2001. Kōchi kaigun kōkūtai: Shiragiku tokubetsu kōgekitai (Kōchi Naval Air Group: Shiragiku special attack unit). Tōkyō: Seiunsha.

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

Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai (Tokkōtai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association). 1990. Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai.