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Last Letter from Lieutenant Junior Grade Seiji Kōno to His Parents

At 0625 on March 21, 1945, Lieutenant Junior Grade Seiji Kōno took off from Izumi Air Base as a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Kikusui Unit Ginga Squadron from the 406th Attack Hikōtai. He died in a special (suicide) attack to the southeast of Kyūshū at the age of 22. He was from Ishikawa Prefecture, attended Kanazawa Higher Technical School, and was a member of the 13th Class of Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei). He was pilot in a Ginga bomber (Allied code name of Frances) with a crew of three.

Kōno wrote the following last letter to his parents:

Finally I received the order for a sortie. Father, I go happily. There is no greater desire than this for a man. When I remember the time when I was working and was weak, I never dreamed of having this honor of receiving such an important mission.

Father and Mother, I warmly thank you for caring for me and for raising me here for the long period of 22 years.

After me you have my older brother, Ryōzō, Shirō, and Shōgo, so I think that there will be no worries. Moreover, please give my regards also to my older sister, Tomi [1], and other persons. (Please tell nobody about my sortie.)

In my hikōtai (flying unit) there are two friends who graduated from the same high school in Kanazawa, so it would be good to contact their families.

Yosoji Yamamura, Ensign Yamamura
7-20 Zaimoku-chō, Kanazawa City

Kōjirō Takagi, Ensign Takagi
81 Takaoka-chō, Kanazawa City

It is inexcusable that I have not written in such a long time.

I moved from Toyohashi [2] to Izumi in Kagoshima and there engaged in rigorous training each day. Now finally the time has come to make a sortie to Clark [3] in the Philippines in the south. Waiting before the sortie, now I have no complaint.

I will put forth every effort to fight the enemy and will do my best until the end.

Now finally the special winter of the north country is coming, so take care of yourselves. I am going to a warm southern country.

Father, receiving only kindness from you for a long time, please forgive me for not being able to show filial piety to you.

I will work bravely for the country.

Please give my regards also to my older sister, Kimi, Ryōzō, Shirō, Shōgo, and Wajirō.

November 16, 1944


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
March 2018

The letter on this page comes from Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai (2003, 29). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai (2003, 29) and Osuo (2005, 208).

It is not mentioned what happened to Seiji Kōno between the date of his letter (November 16, 1944) and the date of his final sortie (March 21, 1945).

Notes

1. The kanji character that has been translated as Tomi has other readings that may be the correct name.

2. The Japanese Navy had an air base in Toyohashi in Aichi Prefecture.

3. According to an exhibit at Kanoya Naval Air Base Museum, there were 29 men who died in special attacks after they took off from Clark Air Base in the Philippines.

Sources Cited

Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai (Kanoya Naval Air Base Museum Coordinating Committee). 2003. Kokoro no sakebi (Cries of the heart). Kanoya, Kagoshima Prefecture: Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai.

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