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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 [1] 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 [2].

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 them.

Praying for the health of everyone, I will make these my last words to you.


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
March 2018

The letter comes from Matsugi (1971, 194-5). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Matsugi (1971, 194) and Osuo (2005, 196).

Notes

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 his death.

2. Kudan Hill is the location in Tōkyō of Yasukuni Jinja, Japan's national shrine to honor spirits of soldiers killed in battle.

Sources Cited

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.