Last Letter of Second Lieutenant Masao Kaneko to His Parents
On April 28, 1945, Second Lieutenant Masao Kaneko took off from Chiran Air Base as 67th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron
Commander and died in a special
(suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 22. He piloted an Army Type 97
Fighter (Allied nickname of Nate). After his death in a special attack,
he received a promotion to Captain. He was from Yamagata Prefecture and
graduated from the Imperial Japanese Army Air Academy in the 57th Class.
He wrote the following final letter, which includes two tanka poems
(31-syllable poems with lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables):
On April 28, finally the long-awaited time has come. I will carry out a
certain-death, certain-kill taiatari (body-crashing) attack.
Now I have no view at all of death and life. Not having life and not
having death in my heart, there is only a taiatari attack on an enemy
ship. This will become my true view of death and life. Nothing surpasses
this as the long-cherished desire of a military man.
My body in farthest
Even though in end will fall
My spirit eternally
Will protect the Empire
Please forgive me for not showing you any filial piety in my 23 years .
Although I die once, since I certainly will be born anew and live, please
do not cry. I live for an eternal cause.
I ask that you give my regards to all of the relatives. Shō also, do
Many countries in danger
Bravely rising up
I will go
To southwest skies
Just before sortie at OO 
Since I am sending the money that I do not need, please give the money to
Letter and poems translated by Bill Gordon
The letter, poems, and other information on this page come from Chiran Tokkō (2005, 118,
159) and Osuo (2005, 200).
1. 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 most likely explains why
the letter indicates his age as 23 whereas Chiran Tokkō (2005, 118) indicates
that his age was 22 at time of death.
2. This place name (Chiran) was either censored or not
included by Kaneko in the letter due to military restrictions on providing details such
Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (Chiran Special Attack
Memorial Society), ed. 2005. Konpaku no kiroku: Kyū rikugun tokubetsu
kōgekitai chiran kichi (Record of departed spirits: Former Army Special
Attack Corps Chiran Base). Revised edition, originally published in 2004. Chiran Town, Kagoshima
Prefecture: Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai.
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (rikugun hen)
(Record of special attack corps (Army)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.