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Last Letters of Navy
Special Attack Corps
(1971)

 
Last Letter of Ensign Tadahiro Kubo to His Older Brother

Sometime between 1304 and 1328 on April 12, 1945, Ensign Tadahiro Kubo took off from Kanoya Air Base as pilot in a Zero fighter carrying a 250-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack east of Yoronjima at the age of 21. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 2nd Shichisei Squadron from Genzan Naval Air Group in Korea. He was from Kagawa Prefecture, attended Kyōto Imperial University, and was a member of the 14th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).

He wrote the following final letter to his older brother with two death poems at the beginning and one in the middle in tanka form (31-syllable poem with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7):

Bravely
In southern seas
I meet my end
Like cherry blossom
When it falls

April 7, 1945, day of sortie

Always only that fleeting life
Certainly I a soldier for Emperor

Older Brother, how have you been?

At last the time has come to write my last letter. When I think about it, you truly have cared for me for a really long time. I who was self-centered, quick-tempered, and insolent did not think of you as an older brother. However, I dearly appreciate that until the end you truly loved me like you do now. Each time when I think back, I deeply feel that I was blessed by fortune in many ways that I did not deserve.

Now I am filled with a feeling of appreciation for everything. Not being able to repay in any way the kindness that you and Older Sister showed to me is inexcusable and causes me concern. Toward Father and Mother who passed away, when I realized that I must show filial piety a little bit, it was what is called "regretting one's unkindness to one's deceased parents when they were alive." Now that Father and Mother have passed away, when I think that I must render some service to you and Older Sister, it can be said that I am sorry that I cannot realize even that because of the country. However, since for the country I offer myself for the country's protection at the time of the truly greatest crisis for the country since Japan began, I have determined that it can be said with a different meaning that this is repayment to our parents, you, and Older Sister for your kindness given to me. When you are able to hear afterward about my circumstances, please be glad without mourning. Also, please bring up Hiromasa and Hideo properly with great care and love as sprouts of the Kubo Family. My greatest hope is hanging on the two of them. Since Masahisa's being such was thwarted, I secretly was determined to succeed him and to make a name for the family, but at least publicly in the end I did not follow through.

For me Hiromasa and Hideo are my top desire and request. Please raise them well.

(omitted - individual notes written to each family member)

My heart is calm if things are calm, and not calm if they are not
When I calm myself, clear moon also stays

Older Brother Masataka, now even the common greetings have ended. I appreciate all of these persons. Also, I have fond memories of even all the plants and roadside stones without life. My inner feelings are extremely refreshed. I am waiting for tomorrow's sortie holding on tightly only to a fierce determination to make a hisshi hissatsu (sure-death, sure-kill) attack.

As for the sortie, I surely will not bring shame to the Kubo Family name. Since I definitely will do it, please rest assured. Also, when you hear that I did excellently, please report this to our ancestors.

As for my grave, it is fine if you make it extremely simple next to Father and Mother. I will be happy above all else to sleep at the foot of that peaceful mountain. Finally it is my departure. Please read this letter to all of my older brothers and sisters.


Letter and poems translated by Bill Gordon
August 2018

The letter and poems come from Matsugi (1971, 164-7). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Matsugi (1971, 164) and Osuo (2005, 200).

Sources Cited

Matsugi, Fujio, ed. 1971. Kaigun tokubetsu kōgekitai no isho (Last letters of Navy Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: KK Bestsellers.

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