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Last Letter of Second Lieutenant Junjirō Wakasugi to His Mother

On April 28, 1945, Second Lieutenant Junjirō Wakasugi 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 24. He piloted an Army Hayate Type 4 Fighter (Allied code name of Frank). After his death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Captain. He was from Nagasaki Prefecture, attended Meiji University in Tōkyō, and was a member of the 1st Class of the Army Special Cadet Officer Pilot Training (Tokubetsu Sōjū Minarai Shikan) Program.

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

Dear Mother,

I suppose that the other day was surprising when I suddenly returned. I was thinking that I still could see you. Two days later we came to a place in Kyūshū by flying a short distance.

While thinking that quickly I would send a letter, it came about that there is nothing to write.

I imagine that it is painful for you that I was not able to show any filial piety. From the bottom of my heart, I think that I was happy for 26 years [1]. Thank you. I will go to the place where Father went a short time before and where Sono-chan, who we liked so much, is at.

When I enlisted I offered my life to be given up for the Empire. Finally I fulfilled the desire that I had for several years and have received an Imperial command for a special attack. Happily I will go to die. I believe that you will be glad. After receiving the Imperial command, we have received all sorts of kind gestures when we are doing normal things to the extent it is bothersome to us.

As shōtai [2] leader, I will be guiding three good-looking men who are young warriors of 19 or 20, and we will go together to make an attack. One can say they are flower buds, and they truly are pure persons. They are three corporals named Shinohara, Tanaka, and Yamamoto [3].

When this letter arrives, I will accomplish a splendid battle result. Please pray for these three handsome men rather than me.

While thinking that I should write something, I will not go further in my writing.

I have no money or women relations.

Please use my savings account money for something for my younger sisters. In only about three hours I think that I will be able to meet everyone, and I will introduce myself to Father.

I am praying that you take good care of yourself and that you have a long life.

Please enjoy good health.

Well then, I will go. Since I certainly will do it, do not be worried.

Fall as jewel praying for Empire's prosperity
Happy in my heart

Junjirō


Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
May 2018

The letter and poem come from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 117). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 117, 211) and Osuo (2005, 200).

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 26 whereas the current way of counting age indicates that his age was 24 (Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai 2005, 117) at time of death.

2. A shōtai or "flight" in English is a group of three to six aircraft.

3. According to Osuo (2005, 200), 61st Shinbu Squadron members Hozumi Shinohara and Hideo Tanaka also died in special attacks on April 28, 1945. Takayuki Yamamoto died in a special attack on May 11, 1945.

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.