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Last Letters of Second Lieutenant Shigeaki Amano to His Friend

On April 12, 1945, Second Lieutenant Shigeaki Amano took off from Bansei Air Base as 102nd Shinbu Special Attack Squadron Leader and died in a special (suicide) attack at the age of 26. He piloted a Type 99 Assault Plane (Allied code name of Sonia). After his death in a special attack, he received a two-rank promotion to Captain.

He was from Shiga Prefecture and attended the Nagoya Institute of Technology in the Aviation Department from April 1939 to December 1941. While he was a student at the Nagoya Institute of Technology, he received flight training at the Tōkai Branch of the Japan Students Aviation League. In December 1943, he joined the 7th Class of the Army's Officer Cadet (Shikan Kōhosei) training program at Gifu Army Flight School. In February 1944, he was promoted to the rank of Second Lieutenant and transferred to Manchuria.

He wrote the following final letter to his friend Tatsumi Okabe, who was working at Watanabe Aircraft Manufacturing Company in Fukuoka at the time of Amano's sortie from Bansei Air Base. Okabe and Amano became friends at the Tōkai Branch of the Japan Students Aviation League. Okabe survived the war and was still alive in 1993.

Dear Tatsumi Okabe,

I trust that you are doing well as usual. It has been announced that there is a sudden crisis in the war situation with the enemies, the American fiends, at last landing on a corner of Shinshū [1] on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. This condition for our future will not be permitted. Now we must break the deadlock in this war situation. I have been given an important mission to destroy the American fiends, and I will depart for the front as a squadron commander. Although during this year I expected to depart for the front, now not being able to permit the change in the war situation, my departure draws near with only a few days left. Looking back, I truly appreciate your kindness in giving me much encouragement and guidance over several years. I am overcome with deep emotion. I warmly thank you.

Now I remember fondly the cherry blossoms in Tsuruma Park [2], the New Tōkyō beer mugs, fleeing Obatahara, and other things.

Even so, being transformed into a demon to defend our country, I must protect our 3,000-year history. Full of energetic fighting spirit, I am absolutely determined with my more than ten squadron members to take along with us more than ten aircraft carriers and warships.

Not having any spare time, I have not informed even my family. Without even a trace of me, I ask that you treat them kindly as is customary.

If time permitted I wanted to say a final farewell. Also, although I brought along several bottles of alcohol to carry out my old promise, it is regrettable that finally there is no time.

Excuse me that I am substituting my final farewell with a letter. Today on the 7th I visited from the skies, and I was glad to see your energetic figure from afar.

Furthermore, I entrusted a few personal items to my subordinate, Sergeant Yokoyama, who was my dear student, so please accept them. Finally, I pray privately for the prosperity of everyone in your family.

April 7, 1945
1st Gōma [3] Squadron Commander
Shigeaki Amano

Amano wrote the following short letter to Okabe just before his sortie to make a special attack:

Older Brother [4] Okabe,

From this morning it has been a marvelous clear day. Today is April 12, 1945. At last, one hour remains before my scheduled sortie at 1100, and if so then my life will end about 1400. Going through my mind are numerous bygone days that was my short life, a life with many days of memories kept to myself.

I am full of emotion. Farewell, Okabe. Take care of yourself. Until the end an image of you, Older Brother, will be in my head. I absolutely will defend Japan. I rely on my aircraft.

April 12, 1945, at 1000 just before sortie
Shigeaki Amano

Letters translated by Bill Gordon
March 2018

The letters and biographical information on this page come from Naemura (1993, 130-1, 474).


1. Shinshū refers to Japan and literally means "divine land."

2. Tsuruma Park is located in Nagoya City.

3. Gōma means "conquering the devil." The 1st Gōma Squadron also was named the 102nd Shinbu Squadron.

4. In Japanese the names for different family members such as "Older Brother" are used as terms of endearment with friends.

Source Cited

Naemura, Hichirō. 1993. Rikugun saigo no tokkō kichi: Bansei tokkōtaiin no isho to isatsu (Army's last special attack base: Last letters and photographs of Bansei special attack corps members). Ōsaka: Tōhō Shuppan.