Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Kiyoshi Yashiro to His Parents
On April 5, 1945 , Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Kiyoshi Yashiro died at the age of
19 when submarine I-56, which was carrying six kaiten manned torpedoes, was sunk in an
enemy engagement west of Kumejima, an island about 100 kilometers west of Naha,
Okinawa. On March 31, 1945, submarine I-56 made a sortie from Ōtsushima Kaiten Base in Yamaguchi
Prefecture with 116 crewmen and six kaiten pilots who were members of the Kaiten
Special Attack Corps Tatara Unit. All men on board died when the submarine
was attacked. Yashiro was from Tōkyō 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, which was recognized by the Navy as part of
a special (suicide) attack.
Yutaka Yokota (1962, 154), a fellow kaiten pilot at Ōtsushima Kaiten Base,
wrote the following description of Kiyoshi Yashiro:
Yashima had been very popular at Otsujima while I was there. He was a
natural mimic. He made everyone laugh uproariously with his comical
imitations of famous persons during the amateur shows we used to put on for
our own amusement. I was most grieved to learn of his fate. The ever-laughing
Yashiro never got into battle. I-56 was not heard from after leaving port.
He wrote the following final letter:
Dear Father and Mother,
I trust that you are doing well.
The whole life of each military man has mental training for death, and I
do not have words in particular to leave.
Now I have been selected from Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training
Program) trainees from all over the country, and I have obtained a splendid
opportunity. Having the opportunity to display my tokkō (special
attack) spirit in destroying the enemy by an attack is a young man's
long-cherished desire that nothing else can surpass.
As for having obtained this honor today, I deeply thank you for your
assistance until now and for the influence from my Yashiro Family ancestors.
You always said to obtain a place to die, and this meets your expectations.
It certainly is the place where I can accomplish my long-cherished desire.
What I regret most is that I could not show any filial piety at all, but
I believe that doing my duty of loyalty to the Emperor is as filial piety to
my parents. As a member of the Special Attack Corps, I believe in Japan's
indestructibility, and I will live for an eternal cause.
Please take care of your health and live for many years.
I will meet your expectations and make a taiatari (body-crashing)
attack into a giant enemy ship. Thank you for many things over a long time.
Please tell Older Brother, Older Sister, Hisako, Sumiko, Yukio, Hideko,
and Masami that I fell splendidly.
Please forgive me for my lack of filial piety up to now. Well then, I
will go in high spirits.
Expecting certain victory with blast.
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter comes from Mediasion
(2006, 95). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
Konada and Kataoka (2006, 201-5, 376), Mediasion (2006, 54, 83, 95), and
Ōtsushima Kaiten Monument.
1. The sinking date is not certain since there was
no communication with submarine I-56 after leaving Ōtsushima. This date of April
5, 1945, comes from Konada and Kataoka (2006, 204-5, 376), who explains the
reasoning for such a date. Mediasion (2006, 54) gives the sinking date as April
17, 1945, and Yokota (1962, 154) indicates a date of April 18, 1945.
Konada, Toshiharu, and Noriaki Kataoka. 2006. Tokkō
kaiten sen: Kaiten tokkōtai taichō no kaisō (Special attack kaiten
battles: Kaiten special attack corps leader's reminiscences). Tōkyō:
The Mediasion Co. 2006. Ningen gyorai kaiten (Kaiten
human torpedo). Hiroshima: The Mediasion Co.
Yokota, Yutaka, with Joseph D. Harrington. 1962. Kaiten
Weapon. New York: Ballantine Books.