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Last Letters of Corporal Torao Katō to Family

On May 4, 1945, Corporal Torao Katō took off from Chiran Air Base as a member of the 109th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 18. He piloted an Army Type 97 Fighter (Allied code name of Nate). After his death in a special attack, he received a four-rank promotion to Second Lieutenant. He was from Tōkyō Prefecture and was a member of the 14th Class of the Army Youth Pilot (Rikugun Shōhi) training program.

He wrote the following three final letters with a death poem in tanka form (31-syllable poem with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7) at the end:

Dear Mother,

Be in high spirits. I will sink a huge guy.

109th Shinbu Squadron

Dear Grandmother,

Please live in high spirits. I remembered when I was going to elementary school and you cared for me when I fell from the slide. I will work and die splendidly.

To Older Brother Isao and Reiko,

Please live in high spirits. I certainly will hit the target. After I am not here, only you will be able to care for Mother. Reiko, do not cause worries for Mother.

Sparing nothing I will become a shield for the Emperor
Even though my five-foot body is broken into very small pieces

109th Shinbu Squadron
Torao Katō

Letters and poem translated by Bill Gordon
July 2018

The image of the actual letter below to Torao Katō's mother comes from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 124). All of the letters and the poem were displayed at Yasukuni Shrine in April 2016 (see https://movi.co.jp/2016414/ <July 21, 2018>). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 124, 172) and Osuo (2005, 205).

Sources Cited

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.

Kawatoko, Takeshi. 2008. The Mind of the Kamikaze. Minamikyūshū City, Kagoshima Prefecture: The Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots.

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

Corporal Torao Katō's Last Letter to Mother