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Last letters of youth: Writings
of "Yokaren" war dead
(1968)

 
Last Letter of Flight Chief Petty Officer Yasuo Itabashi to His Parents

At 1421 on August 9, 1945, Flight Chief Petty Officer Yasuo Itabashi took off from Hyakurihara Air Base as pilot in a Suisei dive bomber (Allied code name of Judy) carrying a 500-kg bomb. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 4th Mitate Squadron. He died in a special (suicide) attack east of Cape Inubō in Chiba Prefecture at the age of 21. He was from Fukushima Prefecture and was a member of the 8th Kō Class of the Navy's Hikō Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).

Mainichi Shinbunsha (1968, 173-204) includes about thirty pages of his diary from February 18, 1944, to April 8, 1945. Samuel Hideo Yamashita (2005, 51-80) translated Itabashi's diary into English in Chapter 2 in Leaves from an Autumn of Emergencies: Selections from the Wartime Diaries of Ordinary Japanese.

Itabashi wrote the following final letter:

Dear Parents,

Gladly I will go to die while smiling.

Aiming with the best of my ability, I may not be able to smile very much, but at the moment when I crash I expect to be smiling. Well, please imagine this.

I was not able to show you any filial piety, but I finally apologize for this.

Next, with regards to the matter of my money, please contribute all of it as part of the manufacturing cost for one aircraft.

Thank you for many things. When I say this it will surely seem like a complete stranger, but truly with all my heart I appreciate your numerous acts of kindness.

Japan absolutely will win.

As I dream of the victory day, I gladly will go.

Please make strenuous efforts until the day of final victory.

Finally, I pray for your health.

Farewell.


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
December 2018

The letter comes from Mainichi Shinbunsha (1968, 204-5). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Mainichi Shinbunsha (1968, 173) and Osuo (2005, 231).

Sources Cited

Mainichi Shinbunsha, ed. 1968. Seishun on isho: "Yokaren" senbotsusha no shuki (Last letters of youth: Writings of "Yokaren" war dead). Tōkyō: Mainichi Shinbunsha.

Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.

Yamashita, Samuel Hideo. 2005. Leaves from an Autumn of Emergencies: Selections from the Wartime Diaries of Ordinary Japanese. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.