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Last Letter of Corporal Minoru Okazawa to His Parents

On June 3, 1945, Corporal Minoru Okazawa took off from Chiran Air Base and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 18. He was a member of the 431st Shinbu Special Attack Squadron. He piloted an Army Type 97 Fighter (Allied code name of Nate). After his death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Second Lieutenant. He was from Kagawa Prefecture and was a member of the 14th Class of the Army Youth Pilots (Rikugun Shōhi) training program.

He wrote the following final letter with a death poem at the end:

Dear Father and Mother,

The long-awaited day has come. Please forgive my lack of filial piety to you for 20 years [1].

You showed care to me for a long time. There is no excuse for my not showing any filial piety at all. Please accept that you have an unfilial son.

Take good care of yourselves. Live in high spirits.

Finally, I pray for your health.

Taiatari (body-crashing) attack of five-foot man. Hitchū hitchin (sure hit, sure sinking).

Higher than the mountains
Deeper than the sea
Kindness of Father and Mother
With seven lives [2]
I will repay them

Evening before sortie, care of Ogata at Kikuchi [3], Kyūshū

I will carry out my mission in high spirits. I promise an instant sinking.

May 31

Minoru


Letter and poems translated by Bill Gordon
July 2018

The letter and poems come from Yasukuni Jinja (2000, 21-2). The biographical information on this page comes from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 205), Osuo (2005, 206), and Yasukuni Jinja (2000, 21).

Notes

1. The traditional Japanese method of counting age, as in much of East Asia, regards a child as age one at birth and adds an additional year on each New Year's day thereafter. This explains why the letter indicates his age as 20 whereas the current way of counting age based on his birth date in Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 205) indicates that his age was 18 at time of death.

2. According to legend, "seven lives to serve the country" were the last words of 14th-century samurai Kusunoki Masashige.

3. Kikuchi was the location of a Japanese Army air base in Kumamoto Prefecture in Kyūshū.

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.

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

Yasukuni Jinja, ed. 2001. Eirei no koto no ha (7) (Words of the spirits of war heroes, Volume 7). Tōkyō: Yasukuni Jinja Shamusho.