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Last Letters of Ensign Haruhiko Kawa

On June 22, 1945, Ensign Haruhiko Kawa took off from Kanoya Air Base as pilot in a Zero fighter carrying a 500-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa. He was a member of the Jinrai Butai (Thunder Gods Corps) 1st Bakusen (Bomber Fighter) Squadron. After his death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Lieutenant. He was from Fukui Prefecture, attended Hokkaidō Imperial University to study entomology in the Agriculture Department, and was a member of the 14th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).

He wrote the following last letter

The cherry blossoms that were in full bloom already have fallen. Lamenting that cherry blossoms could not be late in falling, while waiting intently for the day of my sortie to come, in the end heaven has not forsaken me. This evening orders were received for all Tsukuba Squadrons from the 8th to the 13th to go into action.

There is nothing that gives me more joy. Now I will go. Now I have nothing to say. There are no last words. I have no anxieties. I was blessed with a good family. I was able to have good friends. Now I commence a glorious mission. My happiness is for the sole purpose of this.

Now with calmness I go smiling.

April 25, evening before sortie

He wrote the following last letter the day before his sortie to Okinawa:

Dear Mother,

Finally tomorrow I will make the long-awaited sortie.

I will participate in the general attack against warships at Okinawa.

This probably will be the final letter. Now there is nothing more that I want to say. My feelings are in accordance with what you know from before.

The spacious sky
Spans serene and clear
So blue above,
Oh, that our soul could grow
And become so open!

My current feelings are like those expressed in the above poem by the Emperor [1].

With a refreshed feeling, flying my plane I will rush in and attack.

I truly thank you for what you did for me for a long time.

I earnestly pray that you please take good care of yourself.


June 21, Haruhiko

Letters translated by Bill Gordon
June 2018

The letters come from Katabami (2014, 104-6). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Katabami (2014, 104) and Osuo (2005, 197).


1. The translation of this poem in tanka form (31-syllable poem with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7) composed by Emperor Meiji comes from the following web page: <http://www.meijijingu.or.jp/english/about/8.html> (May 21, 2018).

Sources Cited

Katabami, Masaaki. 2014. Mō hitotsu no "Eien no Zero": Tsukuba Kaigun Kōkūtai (Another "Eternal Zero": Tsukuba Naval Air Group). Tōkyō: Village Books.

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