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Last Letters of Corporal Fujio Okiyama to His Parents

On May 11, 1945, Corporal Fujio Okiyama took off from Miyakonojō East Airfield as a member of the 61st Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 18. He piloted an Army Hayate Type 4 Fighter (Allied code name of Frank). After his death in a special attack, he received a four-rank promotion to Second Lieutenant. He was from Miyake Island, which is part of the Izu Islands in Tōkyō Prefecture, and was a member of the 15th Class of the Army Youth Pilot (Rikugun Shōhi) training program.

He wrote the following four final letters to his parents. The third letter was written on April 12, 1945.

How have you been lately? Everyone must be doing well. Since I also am in high spirits, please rest assured. Finally it is the end in this world. Thank you for many things during twenty years [1]. There is no excuse for my not being able to do anything for you as your child. This is my only regret. However, I know that this mission certainly will one part of filial piety to my parents. Please by no means be surprised. The honor truly will be great to depart as a Special Attack Corps member. As a Japanese citizen, the twenty years truly have been worthwhile. Even though there are no remains with a taiatari (body-crashing) attack, since there is a lock of hair that remains from Hitachi [2], a man in my unit will forward it to you. As for what I am sending now, can I call them articles to leave behind since they are only things that I do not need? Please receive them. When I make my final departure, I will forward to you final items. Please forgive me for going before you and my siblings.

I sincerely count on you for family matters. I calmly will make a taiatari attack. It is regrettable that I was not able to see Grandmother.

Finally, I sincerely rely on everyone in the village. Please make my grave with everyone in the family. I pray for your good health and doing all you can. When this letter arrives, please consider that I will no longer be in the world.


Dear Father and Mother,

I trust that recently you have been doing well as usual. Since I also am in high spirits, please rest assured. I am determined to go smiling. When you find out, please receive the news gladly. Since I wrote you a letter a few days ago, I do not have anything to write. For ten days I was here and there, and today I came to this place.

Well, I will be in touch later. Please communicate my warmest regards to everyone.

Fujio


Please pardon me for skipping preliminaries.

I submit myself gladly to a mission under an Imperial command, and I will fall as a flower. I will do it for a great cause with my young body. There is no greater honor than this.

Since I asked a person at the ryokan (inn) to send a photo to you, please look at my cheerful figure and praise me by saying that he did well.

I earnestly pray for your health.

Farewell.


Dear Father,

Recently you must be doing well as usual. I have been only neglectful in writing, but since I am doing well, please rest assured.

I have received an Imperial command and will depart tomorrow as a Special Attack Corps member. I will go smiling in high spirits. Please imagine my figure as I was sent off by many people and as I made a splendid taiatari (body-crashing) attack into an aircraft carrier. I am glad with this highest honor as a military man in the Empire. I will receive a plane when I go tomorrow. I am completely happy to have received life as a Japanese man. I am absolutely determined to share my fate with the plane that I receive. When you find out through the newspaper or official telegram, please be glad.

My greatest regret is that in the twenty years since I was born I was not able to do anything in response to the kindness shown by my parents and siblings. It was truly a worry to me. However, I am determined to repay this kindness through the honor of the Special Attack Corps. I believe that this will be a ten-thousandth of that great kindness. Even when you hear the news, definitely please do not show any tears. Please tell everyone that our son splendidly made a taiatari attack with a smiling face. I want to send something to my old school, but I cannot since tomorrow is the departure. I request you to send something. They took a photo of our unit. I think that they will send it. Nobody knows except God whether the visit the other day will be the last. I do not have anything for a formal final letter. There is nothing more to write other than I will go smiling as your child and as a Special Attack Corps member of the Japanese Empire. Without being able to relax due to preparations and other matters, my writing has been here and there. Please give my regards to the village mayor, Ōnishi, and Hiraishi-sensei first and to Uncle Kurao and all of the villagers.

I think that this is the end. Please take care of your health and work hard. I will go in high spirits.

A young cherry blossom knowing it will fall heads out to fall
To protect the country I will be broken

A fifth final letter was written to his father on a postcard dated April 27, 1945:

At last it is today.

Thank you for many things. Please receive two packages of remaining articles that I am sending by registered mail. I will die smiling. Regards to everyone.

The 61st Shinbu Squadron Leader, Second Lieutenant Isamu Okamoto, wrote the following letter addressed to everyone in the family of Tsuruo Okiyama, who was the father of Fujio Okayama.

In this time of spring warmth, the decisive battle situation is becoming more and more intense.

Recently your son Fujio rallied around me at his own accord to exchange his life for the country's crisis. Now the decisive battle is drawing near the mainland. As many more experienced men have shown, we have begun with all planes for special attacks and should be able to rescue the Empire from this emergency. I keenly feel that our squadron's mission is extremely important. If I understand your state of mind, you are overcome with mixed emotions, but please understand your son's mental attitude to live for an eternal cause.

Parents' heart surpasses children's heart for parents
How will they hear the news of today?

A young cherry blossom reborn seven times
Even though comes to end by falling in south

Hoping that you have a long life, I ask that you forgive my rudeness with messy writing.

Evening of April 4
Squadron Commander Second Lieutenant Isamu Okamoto

The 61st Shinbu Squadron had been formed on March 29, 1945, six days before Okamoto's letter to Okiyama's family.


Letters translated by Bill Gordon
October 2018

The letters come from Terai (1977, 32-6). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 172), Osuo (2005, 200), and Terai (1977, 32).

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 indicates that his age was 18 at time of death (Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai 2005, 172).

2. Hitachi was the name of the Training Air Division at Mito Airfield in Ibaraki Prefecture.

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.

Terai, Shunichi, ed. 1977. Kōkū Kichi Miyakonojō Hayate Tokkō Shinbutai (Miyakonojō Air Base Hayate Special Attack Shinbu Unit). Tōkyō: Genshobō.