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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 grew up in 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.

Farewell,
Takayoshi

Takayoshi Kai wrote the following two farewell tanka poems. 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 dye the clouds
For the Emperor
To become a shield
Falling and dying

For the Emperor
With an unsightly shield
Taiatari (body-crashing)
Offering my body
I will defend the country

He wrote the following two last letters to his parents:

Dear 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 volunteer service in the workplace. Please live long by taking good care of yourselves.

Takayoshi


Dear Parents,

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 [1].

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 gathered together.

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 [2]. 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 southern seas.

I will not stop praying that you live long by taking good care of yourselves.

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.

Takayoshi


Letters and poems translated by Bill Gordon
January 2018

The letters, poems, and biographical information on this page come from Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai (2003, 41).

Notes

1. The term "Sea Eagles" refers to Japanese Navy aviators.

2. Hyūga is a port city in Miyazaki Prefecture.

Source Cited

Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai (Kanoya Naval Air Base Museum Coordinating Committee). 2003. Kokoro no sakebi (Cries of the heart). Kanoya, Kagoshima Prefecture: Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai.