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Last Letters of Second Lieutenant Masaya Abe

On April 29, 1945, Second Lieutenant Masaya Abe took off from Chiran Air Base as a member of the 24th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and made a forced landing in the sea near the small island of Kuroshima when his Army Type 2 Toryū Fighter (Ki-45, Allied code name of Nick) developed engine problems. On May 1 and 2, he took a small boat with a young Kuroshima islander and rowed back to the mainland. Based on research performed by Takashi Fukushima, author of Abe Masaya shōi: Nido senshi shita tokkōhei (Second Lieutenant Masaya Abe: Special attack soldier who died in battle twice) (2012), Abe took off again from Chiran Air Base during the morning of May 5, dropped burn medicine and other items from his plane at Kuroshima, and then proceeded to Okinawa for a special (suicide) attack. He died in a special attack west of Okinawa at the age of 21. After his death in a special attack, he received a two-rank promotion to Captain. He was from Fukuoka 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 to his father Kentarō who was living in Andong Province in Manchuria:

Finally it is the attack. I certainly will do it.

Hisshi hitchin (certain death, sure sinking). I will live for an eternal cause.

Death leads to life. Death is a joy.

The order has been received. Now when I offer up this body, the Empire will flourish forever.

You have cared for me in many ways. I warmly thank you. I pray that you will fight on.

Nothing surpasses this as the long-cherished desire of a young man.

I am a fortunate person. I believe in certain victory.

Long live the Emperor.

Army Second Lieutenant Masaya Abe
Written before sortie
At Shimonoseki City Shinkō-chō Health Center

When Abe attended Meiji University in Tōkyō, he developed a very close relationship with the Karasawa Family while far away from his home prefecture of Fukuoka. The mother Hisako Karasawa was the younger sister of the wife of the younger brother of Abe's father. He wrote the following last letter to Hisako after the formation of 24th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron on February 9, 1945:

Dear Aunt Hisako,

It has become the season of spring warmth. I trust that  everyone is getting along fine without changes. Please rest assured since I am going forward on my mission in high spirits as usual.

The war situation has become more and more severe and dreadful, and I do not worry at all about our deaths now. It is "inarguability of fate in life and death." Since I volunteered to become an airman, from the beginning I was fully aware of death. However, now because of this noble honorable duty, what a privilege it is to be offer myself. For a man, there is no greater honor. I certainly am determined to meet your expectations.

I copied out the following section from my diary. Please read it.

February 29 - Aunt came for a visit. There was no limit to my happy memories. I overflowed with appreciation at her taking so much trouble to come. She said, "Since you are in the same situation as I am, I understand your feelings." I was happy. I was happy to the point where I wanted to cry.

In my adolescence when I was 17 and 18, I had various troubles and passed several sad and lonely days. Also, there were several nights when my tears flowed while alone in bed. When I remembered Father and remembered Mother, I was distressed with my heart only breaking. However, were there more unfortunate persons than me in the wide world? These persons surely were living strongly and cheerfully. When I thought about this, I became embarrassed. So I pledged to live deliberately as cheerfully as possible.

However, it is still futile. After all, people told me that they could see there was a feeling of loneliness somewhere. Nevertheless, I felt that was fine. To the extent that I am lonely somewhere, there is my advancement and improvement. I strive to get rid of the lonely shadows. There is advancement on points that have not been completed, and there is improvement as I get closer to completion.

The time when we have completed them will become the moment of death. We must improve until right before death. I will exert myself. (portion omitted) [1].

Dear Aunt, please be assured. I am not pessimistic at all. I was not mistaken in the path that I chose. I am glad and have no regrets that I did not make an error in the path that I must tread.

I wrote about not receiving free time from training. Please forgive me. I would appreciate it if you can understand my feelings.

I am glad when I think that Yoshiko graduated from the girls' school.

I was relieved to find out from the sky that your family is safe. Please give my warm regards to Miyoko, Ken, and Uncle.

I have been rude with my messy writing.

Army Second Lieutenant Masaya Abe

Abe wrote the following last letter to Yoshiko Karasawa, who was the 18-year-old daughter of the family that he knew well in Tōkyō from the time when he attended Meiji University:

Dear Yoshiko,

I gladly read your letter. I trust that you certainly are in high spirits with your graduation drawing near. When this letter arrives, it may be when your graduation ceremony has ended. It is regrettable that I was not able to see you when you visited the other day. I think that your evacuation to Gunma is a good thing. I believe that assisting in farming villages is very meaningful. I pray that you take sufficient care of yourself and exhibit the true worth of a Japanese woman.

The glory of victory will shine overhead on those who strive to follow the proper path that I believe in and have chosen. Please look straight ahead to go firmly step by step without losing your way and advance earnestly. Now when the war situation has become severe to the point where it will decide the Empire's fate, there is a path truly to meet the country's needs and to fulfill your duty as a Japanese woman in wartime. I think that flying a plane is not a woman's duty. I believe that there are still many things that are much more important duties than flying a plane. If one calmly thinks about it, there are as many as one likes. Men make taiatari (body-crashing) attacks with planes. Women sacrifice themselves behind the lines. There is no difference between both of these when a person has a determined patriotic purpose and an unfailing devotion to the country. Both are noble. Even though you are a woman, you should not put yourself down. A person who carries out one's given duties by only striving with utmost efforts is truly brave.

I am doing well. Finally, I recently came to the front. I will do it. I certainly will carry out an instant sinking. I as a man and you as a woman will accomplish our duties completely. I am working with utmost effort at special training to prepare for the day that must come. Please pray for my success in battle. It is fine even if you do not pray for a long time.

Please tell Aunt to take good care of her hands. I want to see the photos. Please send them if they will be here in time. Please be careful of the B-29 bombers. Please give my regards to Miyo, Ken, and Aunt. Even though you go to Gunma, please take satisfactory care of yourself.

With messy writing, Masaya


Letters translated by Bill Gordon
April 2020

Abe's letter to his father comes from Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots (2019) and Fukushima (2012, 168-9). The letter to Hisako Karasawa is from Fukushima (2012, 45-7). The letter to Yoshiko Karasawa is from Fukushima (2012, 264-6). The biographical information for Abe come from Fukushima (2012, 4, 20, 74, 76-8, 150-1, 248).

Note

1. One sentence is omitted here since the sentence in Fukushima (2012, 47) contains an five or six characters that were erased by Abe, so the meaning of the sentence could not be determined.

Sources Cited

Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots. 2019. Abe Masaya Taii (Captain Masaya Abe). <http://www.chiran-tokkou.jp/learn/pilots/pilots003/> (February 7, 2019).

Fukushima, Takashi. 2012. Abe Masaya shōi: Nido senshi shita tokkōhei (Second Lieutenant Masaya Abe: Special attack soldier who died in battle twice). Revised edition, originally published in 2011 by Kadogawa Gakugei Shuppan. Tōkyō : Gakugei Miraisha.