Last Letters from Second Lieutenant Takashi Komecha to His Parents
On April 6, 1945, Second Lieutenant Takashi Komecha took off from Bansei Army
Air Base as a member of the 62nd Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in
battle at the age of 22. On the same day he received a special two rank
promotion to Army Captain, and he was granted medals for the Order of the Golden
Kite 3rd Class and the Order of the Rising Sun 5th Class. He was born on March
7, 1923, and grew up in Amagasaki City in Hyōgo Prefecture. In September
1943, he graduated from Ōsaka College of Foreign Languages. During his time there
he had aircraft pilot training at Kansai Flight Training Center. Upon
graduation, he started at the company of Mitsui Bussan, and the next month he
entered Mito (Sendai) Army Flight School as a trainee in the 1st Class of the
Special Cadet Pilot (Tokubetsu Sōjū Minarai Shikan) Program. In March 1944, he
joined the Philippines 3rd Flight Training Unit in Lipa. In June 1944, he was
appointed Second Lieutenant, and in August of the same year he was assigned to
work at the Shimoshizu Flight School Chōshi Branch Unit. In March 1945, he
became a member of the 62nd Shinbu Squadron when formed at Shimoshizu. His
squadron proceeded to Ozuki in Yamaguchi Prefecture before flying to Bansei.
On April 3, 1945, First Lieutenant Kazuhiko Ishikawa, 62nd Shinbu Squadron
Commander, and Second Lieutenant Shigetoshi Sugita died in a transfer from Ozuki
Airfield to Tachiarai Airfield in Fukuoka Prefecture due to bad weather after
takeoff . Komecha refers to them in the following
undated letter that was written some time after they departed Bansei:
To my parents,
Even though in the mountains the plum, peach, and cherry blossoms are
blooming, I want to tell you that I am bearing great sorrow. We lost due to
a move to another base our squadron commander, who we relied on as both a
staff and a pillar, and Second Lieutenant Sugita. My writing this is the
best that I can do.
Nevertheless, I am not the same Takashi who has been up to now. Even
though the squadron commander loses all of his squadron members, I
will not flinch. Being here for twenty days, accepting bravely all
adversities, I have come to fight. Even whatever hardship there has been, I
have been glad. This is a life that has a purpose. I will make a crash attack holding the remains of my squadron commander.
While for a long time I have depended on your great kindness deeper than
the sea and higher than the mountains, I cannot do even one act of filial
piety. My dying is unfortunate, but somehow please forgive me. Thank you for
what you have done for me for so long.
I will rent a room in heaven a short distance from you and will be
waiting for you. Please excuse this hastily written letter.
Komecha's last letter shown above was displayed at Yasukuni Shrine on New
Year's in 1982, and many visitors were greatly moved by its words. The letter is
also famous for being displayed at the War Exhibition sponsored by the Yomiuri
Newspaper Company. Now it is displayed on the second floor of the
Bansei Tokkō Peace Museum.
The following letter from Takashi Komecha most likely was written at Ozuki
Airfield in Yamaguchi Prefecture based on the mention in the first sentence to
his being "at a certain base at the southern tip of Honshū":
It is as pleasant as can be here at a certain base at the southern tip of
Honshū, where the cherry trees are blossoming and there is a trace of
coolness in the spring breeze that caresses the sea's surface. At the time
when all life in the whole creation sprouts forth, I am filled with
enjoyment of everyday life. We are beginning our final rigorous drills.
While we weep for the people's compassion toward us, from the bottom of our
hearts we must achieve a great battle success.
I am glad that at Kakogawa I was able to see everyone just when I thought
that I might not be able to meet them. While I was thinking that during that
time I would like to talk with them about various things and also give my
thanks, it is regrettable that when I met them I could not express one word.
The newspapers and other media are here, and it seems that the situation
has become more and more serious, but we surely want to fight free and easy
with calmness. You probably are counting the days to my battle success.
Please wait free of cares.
We at the base here lost Second Lieutenant Suzuki's plane, and we lost an
air transport plane that came here. Suzuki faced the fate that afflicted him
with the reality of unconsciousness. For me I will remain calm no matter
what adversity comes against me. The destruction of aircraft and the death
of comrades are usual for aerial work. Victory or defeat is the custom for
soldiers, and they have the spirit that they can overcome whatever comes
During the takeoff at Kakogawa, it was my heart's desire that you could
see my waving of the plane wings to you. I ask whether my letter arrived. I
will be praying for everyone's health.
Takashi Komecha also wrote the following farewell tanka poem
(31-syllable poem with lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables):
Emperor said, in the world
Only let there be peace
With all our might
Now let us strike
We will do battle
His thinking seems to be that peace will be achieved by winning the war
against the enemy attacking Japan.
Letters and poem translated by Bill Gordon
The two letters, poem, and other information on this page come from Naemura
Axell and Kase (2002, 137-8) include a translation of Komecha's first letter
above. Their translation is less literal than the one on this page, but they
capture the same basic spirit and meaning. They explain that Komecha was part of
more than 500 Special Attack flyers who received posthumous decorations from the
Japanese government in 1966. He received the Order of the Golden Kite (called
"Golden Eagle" by Axell and Kase), an award for bravery in battle.
1. Osuo 2005, 56.
Axell, Albert, and Hideaki Kase. 2002. Kamikaze: Japan's
Suicide Gods. London: Pearson Education.
Naemura, Hichirō. 1993. Rikugun saigo no tokkō kichi: Bansei tokkōtaiin no isho to isatsu (Army's last special attack base: Last
letters and photographs of Bansei special attack corps members). Ōsaka: Tōhō
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (rikugun hen)
(Record of special attack corps (Army)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.