Last Letter of Ensign Shigeo Kaida to His Parents
At 1245 on April 6, 1945, Ensign Shigeo Kaida took off
from Kushira Air Base and died in a special (suicide) attack off
Okinawa at the age of 21. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps
1st Gokō Shirasagi  Squadron from Himeji Air
Group. He piloted a Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber (Allied code name of Kate)
carrying a 800-kg bomb. He was from Ehime Prefecture, attended Ehime Teachers
College, and was a member of the 13th
Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students.
He wrote the following final letter with a death poem in tanka form
(31-syllable poem with structure of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables) at the end:
Dear Father and Mother,
Now it has been decided that I will participate in a sortie as a member
of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Waki Unit Gokō Shirasagi Squadron.
I am deeply satisfied that nothing will surpass this as the long-cherished desire
of a military man to die attacking an enemy ship together with his aircraft.
When I think of my 23 years  of life, I have
not been able to repay anything for your kindness. However, with a smile please forgive
me that from the beginning I offered myself for the country.
The war is plunging into an increasingly critical period, but I believe
in victory for the Empire. I believe others will follow after me. Smiling, I
will make a taiatari (body-crashing) attack against an enemy ship. I
am resolved that I will repay a ten-thousandth of the Emperor's kindness. I
have not been as thankful as today to be born a Japanese person.
I, thy humble subject
Live not in vain, having seen
Both heaven and earth prosper
In this glorious age of thine.
This old poem  is my state of mind.
Please give my regards to my teachers at elementary school, junior high
school, and teachers college; all of the relatives; and the villagers.
Finally, I am praying for the welfare of everyone in the family.
I will fall knowing way of samurai
For the Emperor who gave blessings
Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber carrying bomb drawn by
Kaida during evening before sortie from Kushira Air Base
Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
The letter and poem come from Yasukuni Jinja
(1995, 60-1). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
(1995, 60) and Osuo (2005, 220).
1. The word Gokō means protecting the Empire.
Shirasagi means white egret. Himeji Castle, which dates back to the 14th
century, has the name of Shirasagi Castle.
2. 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 23 whereas the current way of counting age based on his
birth date in Yasukuni Jinja (1995, 60) indicates that his age was 21 at time of
3. The English translation for this poem in the Manyōshū
comes from Nippon Gakujutsu Shinkōkai 2005, 197.
Nippon Gakujutsu Shinkōkai. 2005. 1000 Poems From The
Manyōshū: The Complete Nippon Gakujutsu Shinkōkai Translation. Mineola, NY:
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun
hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.
Yasukuni Jinja, ed. 1995. Sange no kokoro to chinkon no makoto
(Spirits of heroic dead and devotion to repose of souls). Tōkyō: Yasukuni Jinja.