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Last Letter from Corporal Masato Hisanaga to His Parents

On May 27, 1945, Army Corporal Masato Hisanaga took off from Bansei Air Base as a member of the 72nd Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in battle at the age of 20. After his death in a special (suicide) attack, he received a promotion to Second Lieutenant. He was born in 1925 and grew up in Ōsumi Town (merged with two other towns to form Soo City in 2005) in Kagoshima Prefecture. He joined the 15th Kō Class of the Army's Youth Pilot (Shōhi) Program and received training at Ōtsu, Utsunomiya, 13th Kyōiku Hikōtai (Flight Training Unit) 101st Butai in Pyongyang (Korea), and 23rd Rensei Hikōtai (Chū 527th Butai) Attack Unit. On March 28, 1945, he was assigned officially as a member of the Special Attack Corps and became a member of the 72rd Shinbu Squadron when it was formed on March 31, 1945.

Hisanaga wrote the following last letter to his parents:

Dear Parents,

Thank you for the many things that you have done for me for a long time.

I have received the imperial command of the Special Attack Corps (tokkōtai), the greatest honor of a soldier, and I will depart in high spirits.

Looking at the land of my home that I fondly remember [1], I feel that I want to return to the home at Saiōji in Saga Prefecture where the mother and others in the home took care of me in various ways [2]. Also, the local residents gave me items of comfort every day, and it was the same as if I had seen you.

Please say hello from me to everyone in the neighborhood. Also, please tell my younger brothers and sisters [3] to study hard. Finally, I send my kindest regards to my older sister and hope that she takes good care of herself. I will avenge my older brother Yoshinori by killing several thousand American troops along with sinking an enemy aircraft carrier. I gladly will go to Yasukuni [4].

Everyone, certainly please gain victory until the end of this war. My younger brothers who remain behind, surely please follow after your older brother. All of the country's people are Special Attack Corps (tokkōtai) members.

I have no more regrets.

Now I am enclosing photographs here and sending them to you. Please send one to the home of Jinshirō and one to the National School.

Please take good care of yourselves.

From Masato

Hisanaga also wrote the following farewell poem:

Having ambition for the skies
What to do with waves surging toward Japan
Young cherry blossoms now leave to overcome
Long-awaited departure has arrived
Smiling, young cherry blossoms to fall

Youth Pilot (Shōhi) 15th Class
Masato Hisanaga


Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
December 2017

The letter, poem, and other information on this page come from Naemura (1993, 146).

Notes

1. Based on the opening phrase in this paragraph, it appears that he must have written his last letter at Bansei Air Base in Kagoshima Prefecture, since his home was Ōsumi Town in Kagoshima Prefecture.

2. The members of the 72nd Shinbu Special Attack Squadron arrived at Metabaru Air Base in Saga Prefecture on May 17, 1945, to await further orders (Mori 2004, 149). On May 25, the 72nd Shinbu Squadron flew from Metabaru to Bansei Air Base in Kagoshima Prefecture (Mori 2004, 165). While at Metabaru, Hisanaga appears to have lodged with a local family based on the comments in his letter.

3. The word in Japanese (teimai) means that he had at least one younger brother and at least one younger sister, but he does not indicate in his letter the number of each.

4. Yasukuni Jinja (Shrine) in Tōkyō is the place of enshrinement for spirits of Japan's war dead.

Sources Cited

Mori, Tsuneyuki. 2004. Yuki wa jūnanasai tokkō de shinda: Koinu yo saraba, itoshiki inochi (Yuki died at 17 in a kamikaze attack: Goodbye puppy, dear life). Tōkyō: Popurasha.

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.