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:
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
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
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).
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.