On April 27, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Hideo Abe died in a special
(suicide) attack at the age of 18 when submarine I-36 launched his kaiten manned
torpedo at a group of enemy ships off Okinawa. On April 22, 1945, submarine I-36
made a sortie from Hikari Kaiten Base in Yamaguchi Prefecture with six kaiten
pilots who were members of the Kaiten Special Attack Corps Tenmu Unit. Four of
the six kaiten pilots died when launched on April 27, but the kaiten weapons
of two pilots did not function and were unable to be launched. Submarine I-36
with the two remaining kaiten pilots returned to Hikari on April 30. Abe was from
Otaru City in Hokkaidō Prefecture and was a member of the 13th Kō Class of the Navy's Yokaren
(Preparatory Flight Training Program). He received a promotion to Ensign after his
death by special attack.
I trust that you have been getting along without any changes. I also am
full of high spirits. I trust that Shōzō also is doing things full of high
It is inexcusable that recently I have not written to the family and have
caused you concern. When a letter does not come, please think that I am in
high spirits. Since I seldom have written to relatives and friends like I
have neglected to write to the family, I request that you give them my
regards if you see them.
Now it is ski season in Hokkaidō. I can't contain my desire to ski. It
can't be helped. Even if I do it now, I will not lose to Shōzō though I have
not done it for two years. Now I am doing something that surpasses the
exhilarating feeling when skiing.
I want to show you one time my figure full of high spirits as I work
industriously and play enthusiastically, but I am not able to take photos at
Among the three brothers, it seems that I will go earliest to that place.
Also, perhaps it is not unexpected. I always am in high spirits. There is
not even any worry. I can remember when I departed in September. At that
time I was expecting to go to sea, but now I am in the Special OO .
When I left Suzuki and others from Otaru, I have been alone. However, I get
along well with friends in my unit, and all of us young persons are excited
as we are striving as hard as we can.
The snow must be very deep. In December and January and even now we do
exercises wearing nothing. In winter there are exercises and swimming
wearing nothing. Please imagine the spirited and lively figures of us young
Now I learned to smoke tobacco. Please imagine my figure as I puff on a
cigarette. You probably think that I am reckless, but one time I drank sake
and had a hangover with multiple vision. Please envision and laugh at my
figure as I was in confusion this time.
I would like to have a few drinks together with Father so we can talk a
good deal and have a wild time. In addition, if Older Brother Hiroshi also
were there, there will be no excuse.
Shōzō also probably is just like a grown-up. I remember things. There
have been few high-spirited letters from Shōzō. Sorry that I also am the
I bought a short sword. I am having trouble since the pouch that I put it
into is not just right. I asked for a length of 1 shaku 2 sun
(36.36 cm). A long sword is not necessary.
Stories about Otaru and hometown food are innocent desires of my childish
heart. Don't get me wrong. I would like to eat it. Our life is beyond our
The New Year this year must have been really lonely with only you three,
Father, Mother, and Shōzō. I remember that last year was fun since Older
Brother was there also.
I am dreaming as I wait for the grand day. When I do it, I absolutely
will not be following someone's lead. Since I am your child, please be
Be in good spirits. Farewell.
Since I am concerned about Mother's poor health, surely please send a
photo of her in good health. Also one of Father. I will keep them securely
held to my heart, since I am dreaming of the day when I will do it.
Otaru, my hometown where I was born, farewell now.
I will make a taiatari (body-crashing) attack.
The letter comes from Orihara (1973, 317-9). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
Konada and Kataoka (2006, 221-8, 376), Mediasion (2006,
57, 83), and Orihara (1973, 315).