Deep Blue: From Chiran
Special Attack Air Base (1996)
Last Writings of Second Lieutenant Keiichi Motoshima
On April 16, 1945, Second Lieutenant Keiichi Motoshima took
off from Chiran Air Base and died in a special (suicide) attack west of
Okinawa at the age of 22. He was a member of the 69th Shinbu Special Attack
Squadron and piloted an Army Type 97 Fighter (Allied nickname of Nate). After his death in a special attack, he received a
two-rank promotion to
Captain. He was from Nagano Prefecture, attended Toshima Teachers College in Tōkyō, and was a member of the 1st
Class of the Army Special Cadet Officer Pilot Training (Tokubetsu Sōjū Minarai
Motoshima wrote the following final letters and other writings. An asterisk
(*) is used below to indicate separate writings. In some instances, there is no
addressee indicated, but these writings most likely were sent to his parents.
final writing on this page probably was for students at Chiran Girls High School.
I will depart at 6 a.m. on April 16, 1945. I have received an order to
depart from the base at Chiran (in Kagoshima Prefecture in Kyūshū) to attack
the enemy task force.
69th Shinbu Squadron Ikeda Unit
Second Lieutenant Keiichi Motoshima
I warmly thank you for the many ways that you cared for me for a long
time. This is no excuse for not having shown any filial piety.
I will show both loyalty and filial piety as one. I will push forward
with these several duties for His Majesty. There is nothing to say about my
state of mind. Also, I have no words for a last will. It is said that life
is 50 years. With this half a life, I was a fortunate person to go and die
happily for His Majesty.
I have been able to receive the present order for the first time since
being born a man. Now there is nothing that makes me happier than making a
sortie from base.
Now I am waiting for the order that I will be sent out. In high spirits I am
dedicated to the mission.
Parents, I sincerely pray that you take care of yourselves.
I can see a bright future for the Empire of Japan. I will go to Okinawa
I have a request. Since I have not been in contact for a long time with
the persons listed below [geographical location indicated in parentheses],
please send them regards from the family
Iyo (Ōshima), Nakatsubo (Akaho), Misawa (Agemizo), Yuzawa (Zakōji),
Miyashita (Jōgan), Hashizume (Chōsen [Korea]), Satō (Yokkaichi), Kitahara (Takinogawa-ku
in Tōkyō), Miyajima (Yosohata), Takigawa (Kawano), Isshiki (Kanae Village),
Fukushima and Sakai (Shimoichida), Older Brother Fumio, everyone in neighborhood association,
Yamabuki (Shimohira), Older Brother Yoshisuke, Shimoina Agricultural School,
Toshima Teachers College, Terasawa and Fukuzawa (Kanae Village), Kaneda and
Dear Older Brothers and Sisters ,
I wanted to see you one time. I really regret not being able to do this.
Today I have lived for 23 years . I received a mission for a man's man. I
will go gladly.
I will carry out a taiatari (body-crashing) attack against an
enemy ship with my plane that carryies a 250-kg bomb.
There is nothing that gives me more joy than this. It will be all joy
when I can see before my eyes the Americans.
We have taken over Okinawa Island with our hands. Please be assured.
Rū also seems to have died. Look for summer.
The sun has begun to shine anew on the divine country of Japan. Please
fight bravely together in every workplace, take sufficient care of
yourselves, and live long.
I will go in high spirits.
I who have lived 23 years now will become a shield for His Majesty.
Brief Personal Record
- October 1, 1943 - Joined Tachiarai Army Flight School Daegu 
Training Unit for six months.
- March 1944 - Graduated from flight school. Joined 16th Training
Flight Unit (Taigen [Taiyuan] in north China) for four months.
- August 1, 1944 - Assigned to Akeno  Flight Unit.
- August 11 to October 28, 1944 - At Mie Prefecture Tsu Army Hospital
and Wakayama Prefecture Ōsaka Army Hospital Shirahama Branch Hospital
due to inflammation of hilum of right lung.
- Last day of October 1944 - Assigned to Akeno Flight Unit
Akeno Flight Unit).
- March 29, 1945 - Received order for special attack unit.
- March 30, 1945 - Naming ceremony of 69th Flight Squadron Ikeda Unit
(12 men under Squadron Leader Ikeda).
- Same date - Second Lieutenant Nakayama and I departed by land transport to
Takamatsu Airfield in Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku in order to receive
aircraft. Arrived at Takamatsu Airfield on April 1.
- April 5, 1945 - Took off from Takamatsu Airfield. Letter sent home
was the last one.
- April 5, 1945 - Made two-and-a-half-hour air trip and arrived at
Kikuchi Airfield in Kumamoto Prefecture in Kyūshū.
- April 6, 1945 - Took off from Kikuchi and landed at our base in
- April 12, 1945 - Received order for 2nd General Attack. While
taxiing on ground, not able to take off since bomb dropped. Truly
regretted that I was not able to depart with Squadron Leader.
My heart that swore, with same heart
Has become sad with delay
- April 14, 1945 - Donated 200 yen of money to Chiran Girls School.
Principal was deeply moved and said was means to build a Tokkō (Special
Attack) Shrine. We also were deeply moved.
- April 16, 1945 - Departure in good weather. It is planned that I
will make a sortie from Chiran Airfield at 6 a.m. and will arrive at
Okinawa and sight enemy ships at about 9 o'clock.
Long live the Empire of Japan.
I will go in high spirits and will make a taiatari (body-crashing)
attack on an enemy ship at Okinawa Island.
We will meet when I bloom as a flower on the tip of a branch at Yasukuni
Shrine in the capital.
With devotion, Motoshima
The final line of the above writing was written in blood. Yoshiko Iwawaki, a
teacher who was leading the students from Chiran Girls High School, wrote the
following words after those written above by Motoshima. She starts with two
poems in tanka form (31-syllable poem with a syllable pattern of
You will go to fall for country as flower in southern seas
We also will follow sons of Yamato 
Spirit hidden in cherry blossom at Toyotama Shrine 
Will cause sinking of hideous Americans and British
We will do our best until the end as you have taught us. Until we win in
the end, we will press forward with our duties even though we fall. We believe
that the deity Toyotama, the protecting spirit of this southern base of
Chiran, also will witness everyone's instant sinking of a ship.
At 1530, we will look at the faraway southern seas and pray for your
Chiran Girls High School
Since the above writing is undated and indicates an arrival time at Okinawa
of 1530, it must have been written prior to Motoshima's planned sortie on April
12, 1945, since his final sortie on April 16, 1945, had an estimated arrival time at
Okinawa of 0900.
Writings translated by Bill Gordon
The letter and biographical information come from Chiran Kōjo Nadeshiko Kai (1996,
92-7). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
Chiran Kōjo Nadeshiko Kai (1996, 92), Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005,
181), and Osuo (2005, 201).
The following last letters and other writings were written by 69th Shinbu
Special Attack Squadron Leader Second Lieutenant Tōru Ikeda and other squadron
1. The number of older brothers and sisters is
not specified in the letter. He may have had one or more older brothers and
one or more older sisters.
2. 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 23 whereas Chiran Kōjo Nadeshiko Kai (1996, 92) gives his
age at death as 22.
3. Daegu is a city in South Korea.
4. Akeno is located in Mie Prefecture.
5. Kawasakimura is the village in Mie Prefecture
where Kita Ise Army Airfield was located.
6. Yamato is a poetic name for Japan.
7. Toyotama Shrine is located in Chiran Town.
Chiran Kōjo Nadeshiko Kai (Chiran Girls High School Nadeshiko
Association), ed. 1996. Gunjō: Chiran tokkō kichi yori
(Deep blue: From Chiran special attack air base). Originally
published in 1979. Kagoshima City: Takishobō.
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.