On April 28, 1945, Corporal Shunichi Kagawa took
off from Miyakonojō East Airfield as a member of the 61st Shinbu Special Attack
Squadron and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 18. He piloted an Army Hayate Type 4 Fighter (Allied code name of Frank). After
his death in a special attack, he received a four-rank promotion to Second Lieutenant. He
was from Kagawa Prefecture and was a member of the 15th Class of the Army Youth
Pilot (Rikugun Shōhi) training program.
He wrote the following final letters to his parents, two older sisters, one
younger sister, and three younger brothers. The first three letters also contain
a death poem in tanka form (31-syllable poem with a syllable pattern of
Being able today to be an Army Air Special Attack Corps member is
entirely due to your efforts. Regarding how was my lack of filial piety up
to today, I have completely forgotten everything before tomorrow's sortie as I
only hope for an instant sinking. However, deep inside my heart
there are things that I cannot overlook, so I am writing a note to you. With
deep emotions I have thought anything and everything. No, I am not able to
think. Please understand that state of mind.
I am happy, but when I think of you and my brothers and sisters, before I
realize it I find myself becoming teary-eyed. Everyone in the family, please
do not cry and be glad when you hear news that I made a heroic taiatari
(body-crashing) attack and instantly sank an aircraft carrier. I think of
this. Wearing a hachimaki (headband) with a red circle, I quickly jump into
my plane carrying a bomb, and smiling I am able to carry out a taiatari
attack, hitting the target of an enemy aircraft carrier. It is truly
inexcusable that I caused you only troubles. Please forgive me. This is my
Parents' heart surpasses children's heart for parents 
How will they see the cherry blossom that goes to fall?
I thought that I would write individually to each of my relatives, but I
depart for battle tomorrow. Please give them a message of my regards.
Army Special Attack Corps
61st Shinbu Squadron
Army Corporal Shunichi Kagawa
Older Sister Hisako
Older Sister, I am truly sorry for having only bothered you since I was
young. It is truly regrettable that I was not able to provide you any
comfort. However, we are brother and sister. As an Air Special Attack Corps
member, I with pride can sink an aircraft carrier. Until the very end with a
pure heart and a pure body, I will fall splendidly.
The blooming does not surpass that of a mountain cherry blossom in the
mountains, but nothing surpasses falling as a man's long-cherished desire.
Please do not cry. Please be glad.
Recently I went to the comfort association of an elementary school. The
elementary school teachers were persons who were exact copies of you. When I
talked to them about you, I had memories of you. Embarrassingly, I could not
stop my tears as I wept before I realized it.
Tears flow for some reason when thinking of older sister
A mountain cherry blossom blooming the same way
My last words to you are that you please always, always do not forget
Father and Mother and show parental filial piety to them.
I ask that you do my part also. I pray for your health and happiness.
Older Sister Yoshie
Older Sister, I truly thank you for the many ways that you cared for me.
Tomorrow is the sortie. I will carry out a splendid instant sinking so you will
not be ashamed as my older sister.
Even though we had a relationship as brother and sister, I argued with
you and bothered you most. Even now this brings back memories. Even though I
do not say anything at all, you probably can sense what is in my heart.
Please show filial piety to our parents like you have done until now. I ask
that you take on my part also. Please take good care of our younger brothers
There is a branch that does not bloom
There is a branch that blooms and a branch that falls
To Younger Sister Nobuko
Nobuko, I am sorry that I as an older brother did not provide you care
and give you assistance but only caused you worry and trouble.
Please think when I joined the military at the age of 17. I was
determined to be loyal. Please do your best for the filial piety that I
could not show directly.
Keep forever and ever the pure heart and pure body of a young lady. When
you tend to forget our parents and yourself, please remember me so that you
will not bring shame to me.
I will become a spirit to guard over you forever so that you and the
family may be happy.
Masahiro, Teruyoshi, and Takashi,
I regret departing forever without doing anything as an older brother.
However, being eager for the Special Attack Corps, I truly am glad that I
was selected as a member of this. As your older brother, I am determined
that my way of dying will not be shameful.
Masahiro, please do not cause concerns for Father and Mother, and strive as
hard as you can to study and help out. I always will be watching all of your
Teruyoshi, you already have become a 2nd-year student. How are your
studies? Do not dislike them, and strive as hard as you can. Also, you must
not worry Father and Mother. Do not forget your usual help.
Takashi, it is very good that I hear that you always are in high spirits. You
must not be unreasonable with your older brothers and sisters. I will scold
you. When you get big, will you ride in a plane? In any event, follow after
My plane is a Hayate.
Please forgive my sloppy writing when tomorrow is the sortie.
The letters comes from Terai (1977, 37-40). The biographical information in
the first paragraph comes from Chiran Tokkō
Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 205), Osuo (2005, 200), and Terai (1977, 37).