Last Letters of Navy
Special Attack Corps (1971)
Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Haruo Arai to His Parents
At 0806 on April 16, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Haruo Arai took off
from Kanoya Air Base in a Zero fighter carrying a 500-kg bomb and died in a
special (suicide) attack southeast of Kikaijima at the age of 19. He was a
member of the Jinrai Butai (Thunder Gods Corps) 7th Kenmu Squadron. He was from
Nagano Prefecture and was a member of the 1st Toku Otsu Class of the Navy's
Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program). Later he became a
member of the 721st Naval Air Group.
He wrote the following final letter to his parents:
Until now I have repeated many times my training in the clear skies, and
today finally the day of my long-awaited sortie has come.
Father, Mother, please be glad. I truly am sorry that I was not able to
show any filial piety in my 20 years  since I
was born into this world. When I swoop down on an enemy ship with my new and
powerful plane, I absolutely am determined to die in such a way to not bring
shame to anyone.
Today with continuing decisive battles in our territory, it goes without
saying that our sortie is a natural thing.
As an aircraft crewmember in the honored Imperial Navy, there is no
greater honor than to fall, a corpse that colors the clouds in the sky.
There is nothing that surpasses this long-cherished desire of a young man.
After I depart to the place of decisive battle, I will not think at all
about such things as living and again walking on the ground of my country.
The day that I meet everyone next time certainly will be under the blooming
cherry blossoms at Kudan .
Please give my regards to the neighbors. I hope that as
soon as possible my younger brothers also will become excellent persons who
are useful for the country. Junji has started school in the higher grades, and I hope that he
receives admission to the Navy Academy or the Army Academy.
My recent lodging was small, but they truly took care of me like I was
their own child. I also really felt like I had returned to my own home. The
father of the house could not get used to my dying, but I felt that his wife
was like my true mother. After I have died, please send my best regards to
Praying for the health of everyone, I will make these my last words to
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter comes from Matsugi
(1971, 193-4). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
(1971, 193) and Osuo (2005, 196).
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 most likely explains why
the letter indicates his age as 20 whereas the modern way of counting age based
on his birth date (Matsugi 1971, 194) indicates his age was 19 at the time of
2. Kudan Hill is the location in Tōkyō of Yasukuni
Jinja, Japan's national shrine to honor spirits of soldiers killed in battle.
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.