Heroic Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps: Collected last
letters of youth that
would not return (1983)
Last Letter of Ensign Shinji Furuya to His Parents
At 0605 on May 11, 1945, Ensign Shinji Furuya took off
from Kanoya Air Base as main pilot in a Navy Type 1 Attack Bomber (Allied code
name of Betty) carrying an ōka rocket-powered glider bomb. He was a
member in the Jinrai Butai (Thunder Gods Corps) 8th Ōka Squadron. He died in a special (suicide) attack
off Okinawa at the
age of 22. He was from Tōkyō
Prefecture, attended Keiō Gijuku University in Tōkyō, and was a member of
the 13th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).
He wrote the following last letter to his parents:
With more than twenty years since coming into this world as a man in
the Empire, being able to go in high spirits to a divine war that involves
the whole country is a man's long-cherished desire that certainly nothing
else exceeds. After I became aware of things around me, if I do say so
myself I felt for a long time that I had literary talent. When I saw the
figure of Yazaki, a friend from my youth, as a brave military man, even
though I had been thinking that in the end I would not become a military
man, after growing older now I will carry out a military mission that is
very light on me. I will go in high spirits and must be strong.
Your kindness, when I was cared for openly and secretly for more than
twenty years, was very deep. Considering my shallow learning and limited ability, I cannot find
even words of thanks. I deeply, deeply, warmly, warmly express my thanks for
those tremendous actions.
It is natural as the feeling between parents and a child that from the
beginning you would pray morning and evening to the gods and Buddha that I
would return home safely with honor by doing great deeds with bravery and
without any injuries to my body.
Although I even had the desire that I wanted to show filial piety to you
after I happily returned home by being calm and paying attention to my
health, the situation surely has become critical to the point that it
transcends everything. The current state is that I cannot permit a desire to
allow my life to be in vain.
I have dedicated myself to the Emperor. I am determined that my attaining
the reality of loyalty certainly will be my filial piety. I have forgotten
about all of my personal affairs. Without feelings of regret, I am ready to
focus on fighting.
Fortunately I have many younger brothers and sisters. Even though I
regret that I did not carry out my duties as an older brother, I want
earnestly to request my younger brothers and sisters to show filial piety to
Even though I do not think that dying is necessarily loyalty, I will go
and sacrifice my life. Certainly I will go prepared to die.
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter on this page comes from Kitagawa
(1983, 192-4). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes Bungei Shunjū
(2005, 569), Kitagawa
(1983, 192-3), and Osuo (2005, 192).
Kitagawa, Mamoru, ed. 1983. Sōretsu kamikaze tokkōtai: Kaerazaru seishun no isho
shū (Heroic Kamikaze Special Attack Corps:
Collected last letters of youth that would not return). Tōkyō: Nihon Bungeisha.
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun
hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.