At 1610 on April 6, 1945, Ensign Masao Kanai took off from Kanoya Air Base
as pilot in a Zero fighter carrying a 250-kg bomb and died in a special
(suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 23. He was a member of the
Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 1st Tsukuba Squadron. After his death in a special
attack, he received a promotion to Lieutenant. He was from Gunma
Prefecture, attended Sendai Higher Technical School, and was a member of the 13th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve
Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).
Dear Parents, Brothers, and Sisters ,
I do not know what is good for me to write and send to you.
Outside the spring rain continues to fall gently, and a song on the radio
can be heard softly. It is a quiet evening.
Waiting for the weather to improve, I will make a sortie. If this rain
had not fallen, today about now I probably would have fallen already. The
front line is waiting eagerly for us to come. It is a man's last moment. I
will try to work with all my strength.
I am stepping on the same mainland as you, but it is regrettable that I
cannot see you. Instead, I will take off without regrets. The happiness of
my life will be left during the battle results at Okinawa. I absolutely will
not be able to return alive from the attack. I want to die like Kei. Kei's
way of dying had the characteristic of an aircraft observer. I believe that
I also have obtained a good place to die. Please rest assured.
I wanted to send some recent photos, but I could not make this happen since
there has not been an opportunity to take them.
Just now is the time when I started growing a beard. It probably has
grown a centimeter. My head did not lengthen.
Older Brother, I wanted to see Kei's photos, but this did not work out.
However, at the time of my attack I will carry a photo of everyone.
The cherry trees at the inn are already in full bloom. Perhaps the
hometown cherry trees also are in full bloom. Now I fondly remember the time
when they were at the peak. Mount Kōbō and the like are all happy memories.
It seems like the wind has started up a little. Tomorrow probably will be
clear. I will advance to an air base at the southern tip of Kyūshū. As for
Miura-sensei, there is the town of Shibushi.
I truly was thinking of filial piety in the future. You and my brothers
and sisters, everyone please live long.
Writing and writing, what have I written? I do not have a feeling that I
have forgotten to write anything.
Please live long and do not work too hard.
If the country is defeated, what mountains and rivers will there be? I
certainly will achieve success and meet your expectations.
As I gaze out at the drizzle outside the window, I am waiting quietly for
my sortie. Recalling my hometown's mountains and rivers, someone is singing
"Hakutō-zan Bushi" (Tune of Mount Hakutō).
Do not weep. Do not grieve. I certainly will return. I will come in a box
of paulownia wood. Please come to meet me at Kudan Hill .
I am praying that you will fare well.
The letter comes from Katabami
(2014, 78, 80). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
(2014, 78) and Osuo (2005, 197-8).