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Last letters of youth: Writings
of "Yokaren" war dead
(1968)

 
Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Seitarō Kashiwamura to His Parents

Sometime between 1300 and 1345 on April 6, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Seitarō Kashiwamura took off from Kokubu No. 2 Air Base as gunner/radio operator in a two-man Type 99 Carrier Dive Bomber (Allied code name of Val) carrying a 250-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 19. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 1st Kusanagi Squadron from Nagoya Naval Air Group. He was from Ibaraki Prefecture and was a member of the 12th Kō Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).

He wrote the following final letter:

Dear Parents,

Finally it is the long-awaited sortie. Thank you for raising me for 20 years [1].

I am truly sorry for not showing any filial piety at all. When I can make a taiatari (body-crashing) attack with my plane against the enemy, I think that it will be the greatest loyalty and the one act of filial piety. I will not perform a great feat, but please praise me.

For the sacred land of Japan, for the Kashiwamura Family, and so as not be ashamed, surely I will go.

Certainly in Japan soon spring will come.

I have no regrets.

You, Younger Brother, and Younger Sister [2], be in good health.

Evening before sortie


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
May 2018

The letter comes from Mainichi Shinbunsha (1968, 121). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Mainichi Shinbunsha (1968, 121) and Osuo (2005, 225).

Notes

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 explains why the letter indicates his age as 20 whereas Mainichi Shinbunsha (1968, 121) gives his age as 19.

2. There could have been more than one younger brother and more than one younger sister. The letter does not specify the numbers.

Sources Cited

Mainichi Shinbunsha, ed. 1968. Seishun on isho: "Yokaren" senbotsusha no shuki (Last letters of youth: Writings of "Yokaren" war dead). Tōkyō: Mainichi Shinbunsha.

Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.