Last Letters of Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Takayoshi Kai
At 1102 on April 6, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Takayoshi Kai took
off from Kanoya Air Base in a Zero fighter carrying a bomb and died in a special
(suicide) attack south of Kikaijima at the age of 19. He was a member of the
Jinrai Butai (Thunder Gods Corps) 3rd Kenmu Squadron. He was from Miyazaki
Prefecture and was a member of the 17th Otsu Class of the Navy's Yokaren
(Preparatory Flight Training Program). After completion of training, he became a
member of the 721st Naval Air Group.
He wrote the following final letter to his older sister:
Dear Older Sister,
With my long-awaited order to make a sortie, I will attack with a full
smile on my face. However, most of all I am tense. Since we have been away,
I know that you only have been taking care of our parents without any free
time to rest. Please continue to help me.
For a man who truly has a purpose in life, it was life in the skies. I
who will fall in these skies believe that I am the happiest person. We have
heard the call of the decisive battle for many months and years, but now
truly the great decisive battle has arrived. At this time, I surely will
carry out the order to make a sortie. After my death I ask for your support.
There is not one worry about my personal affairs. Please give my regards
to Sadako Takami and her children and to the people in the village.
Takayoshi Kai wrote the following two death poems in tanka form. A tanka
poem is a 31-syllable poem with lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables.
When I go to the skies
A corpse to color the clouds
For the Emperor
To become a shield
Falling and dying
For the Emperor
With an unsightly shield
Offering my body
I will defend the country
He wrote the following two last letters to his parents:
Today I will make a sortie as a member of the esteemed Special Attack
Corps. Now I have nothing more to do and no regrets. I simply will give my
life in the national crisis while praying for peace in the Empire. I warmly
thank you for your kindnesses for twenty years. Please forgive me now for
your unhappiness that I was not able to show you even one mere form of
filial piety. Now I deeply appreciate the happiness of receiving wings of
the Emperor and my being able to attack as a member of the honored Special
Attack Corps that exists only in the Empire of Japan. Believing in
assistance from the gods, I will attack.
Since I will send you various items that I have used up to now, please
accept them. I should be writing this last letter with sumi (black ink), but
I skipped it. Following my death, please burn it after you read it. Sorry
for my poor handwriting. I burned my savings account passbook and other
things. Instead, I think that it is best to be unburdened.
Now it is literally the decisive battle. Please work hard in your
service in the workplace. Please live long by taking good care of
Thank you for what you have done for a long time.
Realizing my hopes after the Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training
Program), finally today I will make a sortie as a member of the Jinrai
Special Attack Unit. It has been my desire for a long time to live and die
according to the traditions of Sea Eagles .
There is nothing better than being selected to be a part of the Jinrai
Unit. Considering honor, our unit is an excellent unit where patriots are
Up to now I have been practicing hard at making taiatari (body-crashing)
attacks. I have complete self-confidence. Certainly I will fight displaying
the spirit of a stalwart youth from Hyūga .
The sortie that I have eagerly awaited is drawing near. Now I have no
regrets. Hoping for victory by the Empire, I go to fall in the skies of the
I will not stop praying that you live long by taking good care of
Finally I have a small thing to tell you. I had thought that I would take
with me on the taiatari attack the enclosed Japanese flag that I received
from the residents of Tōkyō, but I decided to leave it behind for you. If
you open this before news of my young death in battle, definitely please do
not tell anyone else.
Letters and poems translated by Bill Gordon
The letters, poems, and biographical information on this page come from Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai
1. The term "Sea Eagles" refers to Japanese Navy
2. Hyūga is a port city in Miyazaki Prefecture.
Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai (Kanoya
Air Base Museum Coordinating Committee). 2003. Kokoro no sakebi (Cries
of the heart). Kanoya, Kagoshima Prefecture: Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan