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Heroic Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps: Collected last
letters of youth that
would not return
(1983)

 
Last Letter of Ensign Tokuya Tsuda to His Mother

Sometime between 1410 and 1438 on April 14, 1945, Ensign Tokuya Tsuda took off from Kanoya Air Base as pilot in a Zero fighter carrying a 250-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack off Kerama Rettō at the age of 23. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 2nd Shinken Squadron from Ōmura Naval Air Group in Nagasaki Prefecture. He was from Kagoshima Prefecture, attended Kagoshima Teachers College, and was a member of the 13th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).

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

Dear Mother,

Please be glad. Finally the long-awaited day has come. Recently the enemy's ferocity has reached a peak, and I am deeply moved by the intolerable acts where the enemy is making progress in day and night destruction. Here finally my present desire has been fulfilled, and I have received an appointment to an honored hisshi hitchū (certain-death, sure-hit) attack unit. There is nothing that surpasses this as a man's long-cherished desire.

Even though now the enemy is taking advantage of the circumstances and has approached with the aim of invading the mainland, the Great Japanese Empire is absolutely invincible, and the divine oracle is clear and bright regarding the Empire's indestructibility. It is apparent that we look with anxiety at the near future when they start the battle again like those prior days. At Yasukuni Shrine, my departed older brother Yasushi surely will show a smile of satisfaction to me, who can participate in an honored attack unit.

On this occasion when I go, along with gratefully appreciating the Emperor's favor for more than twenty years, I thank you for your striving to raise me until now. I am ashamed that I could not do simply my desirable loyalty and filial piety. In place of my lack of loyalty, there still is Older Brother, who from you has been thoroughly encouraged. Also, please give my best regards to everyone at the elementary school, the relatives, and everyone at the regular assembly. Then I ask that you please send letters of comfort to the bereaved families of my men Cadet Takahashi, Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Ōta, and Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Nakamura.

Also, while at Ōmura in the air group, Ensign Kubota, a senior from my hometown, cared for me in many ways. Now on the occasion when I again will go, he kindly assumed responsibility for all of my luggage and other things. There is nothing other than only appreciation. Mother, I ask that you please give him thanks.

Finally, I pray for your health and happiness.

Well then, I go.

Empire's
Eternal prosperity
I am praying for
My body will fall as jewel
Shattering American fiends

April 11, 1945
Tokuya


Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
May 2018

The letter and poem come from Kitagawa (1983, 166-7). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kitagawa (1983, 166) and Osuo (2005, 202).

Sources Cited

Kitagawa, Mamoru, ed. 1983. Sōretsu kamikaze tokkōtai: Kaerazaru seishun no isho shū (Heroic Kamikaze Special Attack Corps: Collected last letters of youth that would not return). Tōkyō: Nihon Bungeisha.

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