Last Letter of Second Lieutenant Takashi Asao to His Mother
On June 11, 1945, Second Lieutenant Takashi  Asao took off from Chiran Army
Air Base as a member of the 215th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in a special
(suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 22. He piloted an Army Type 97
Fighter (Allied code name of Nate). After his death in a special attack, he
received a two-rank promotion to Captain. He was from Kanagawa
Prefecture, attended Kyōto Imperial University, and become a member of the 2nd
Class of the Army Special Cadet Officer Pilot Training Program.
He wrote the following final letter:
It has come about that I also have received an imperial command for a
special attack and will make a sortie to Okinawa. In my letters up to now I
know that mostly there were things that were encouraging, but I am a Special
Attack Corps member who from the beginning cannot expect to return alive.
This is the reason why now this letter is my last writing.
When I think about it, probably you are overcome with anxiety about my
reaching the end of the line and you are sad that I will go and fall
honorably at the young age of 23 years . When
I think quietly that thanks to Father, you, and everyone I could progress in
my academic studies up to Kyōto Imperial University, my feeling of regret reaches
a peak. My lack of filial piety until today presses me hard.
From the time when in Shimonoseki  we were
still very young and were nothing but a burden to you up to the time when I
graduated from junior high school in Ōsaka and then said my farewell to go
far away to high school during a period when there were various concerns
such as Father's hospitalization, various sad and happy
things in my heart as a child come to mind one after another. Finally the
image in my mind is transformed into
the smiling face of cute Sachiko.
When I left Ōsaka Station, Sachiko seemed lonely. Probably she thinks it
is strange that I have different clothes every time we meet.
Now I am waiting at OO  Base for the day of
the sortie. When I think of the time last summer when I crossed over to
Taiwan, everything has changed. We have fashioned a way of living with
stress of being on the front line.
Second Lieutenant Setsurō Yoshida , my
comrade and senior, already has made an attack. When he came to me with his
last letter, he told me certainly to send it to its destination and to
communicate his battle results. Considering his skills, please be comforted
that he went forward full of self-confidence. The address of Second
Lieutenant Yoshida is Yamada Village in Ōsaka Prefecture (care of
Takuichi Ōmura), so could you sometime please send a letter of thanks to his
Finally with lingering regrets I do not want to write more. Only
please pray for my success.
It is regrettable that I could not meet with Shigeru when I went to
Tōkyō. From you please communicate my regards to him.
I pray for health and happiness for you, Miyoko, Haruko, Setsuko,
Sachiko, and everyone.
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter and biographical information on this page come from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō
Kai (2005, 148, 177) and Osuo (2005, 206).
1. The kanji for his given name (隆) has other
possible pronunciations besides Takashi. Since the pronunciation of his given
name could not be confirmed, Takashi was used since it is the most popular.
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 most likely explains why
the letter indicates his age as 23 whereas the background information in Chiran
Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 148) indicates his age was 22 at the time of his
3. Shimonoseki is a city in Yamaguchi Prefecture
at the west end of Japan's main island of Honshū.
4. OO indicates information that was a military
secret and could not be included in the letter.
5. Second Lieutenant Setsurō Yoshida made a sortie
from Chiran Air Base as a member of the 78th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron on
May 4, 1945 (Osuo 2005, 202).
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.