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Last Letters of Navy
Special Attack Corps
(1971)

 
Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Hatsuji Tagami

Sometime between 1015 and 1130 on August 15, 1945, the same day that the Japanese Emperor announced the country's surrender at noon, Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Hatsuji Tagami took off from Hyakurihara Air Base as pilot in a Suisei dive bomber (Allied code name of Judy) carrying a 500-kg bomb. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 4th Mitate Squadron. He died in a special (suicide) attack east of Cape Inubō in Chiba Prefecture at the age of 22. He was from Hyōgo Prefecture and became a member of the Navy's Hikō Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program) 11th Toku Hei Class.

He wrote the following final letter with a tanka poem (31-syllable poem with lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables) at the beginning:

Today
Waiting with honed
Skills
I go to fall
For Emperor

Cherry blossoms now are just about to begin to bloom [1]. Together with these cherry trees, I also will bloom. Moreover, when the time comes that the cherry blossoms will fall, I also will go and fall as a flower in Okinawa.

Mother and everyone, thank you for the many things that you gave me over 20 plus years since I was born.

I surely will carry out an action that cannot be laughed at by anyone. Please wait looking forward to my achievement.

Everyone, farewell.


Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
March 2018

The letter and poem come from Matsugi (1971, 217). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Matsugi (1971, 217) and Osuo (2005, 232).

Note

1. Tagami's final letter must have been written several months prior to his actual sortie when he died in a special attack.  Cherry blossoms bloom in most of Japan in March or April, but his sortie from Hyakurihara Air Base did not occur until the middle of August.

Sources Cited

Matsugi, Fujio, ed. 1971. Kaigun tokubetsu kōgekitai no isho (Last letters of Navy Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: KK Bestsellers.

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