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Heroic Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps: Collected last
letters of youth that
would not return
(1983)

 
Last Letter of Ensign Minoru Kuwano to His Parents

At 0530 on May 14, 1945, Ensign Minoru Kuwano took off from Kanoya Air Base as pilot in a Zero fighter carrying a 500-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack east of Tanegashima at the age of 23. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 6th Tsukuba Squadron. He was from Kyōto Prefecture, attended Keiō Gijuku University in Tōkyō, and was a member of the 14th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).

He wrote the following final letter with a death poem in tanka form (31-syllable poem with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7) at the end:

Dear Father and Mother,

I gratefully thank you for the many things that you did to care for me during my time in this world. Now I will undertake an ambitious mission as a Special Attack Corps member to annihilate the American and British enemies. I look forward to exhibiting Navy spirit vigorously and executing the mission completely.

I who received this Imperial command, a man's long-cherished desire, am deeply inspired and have a feeling of excitement. I certainly will protect the divine land of this Empire.

With regards to the arrangement of my remaining items, I was able to do so through the kindness of my good friends Ensigns Tanigawa, Yamaga, Yoshizawa, Washino, Shimizu, Kuradaira, and Kagawa. Therefore, I request that later on you send letters of thanks to them. As a remembrance, please give my tobacco case to Keiji, my fountain pen to Older Sister, and my Jintan candy mints to Wako. Please handle the other items appropriately. I expect that photos taken at the time of sortie will be sent afterwards by my close friends. I will give you first my cash. Please take it as pocket money. After I am gone, I earnestly desire that my fellow countrymen be taught to be members of the glorious Yamato [1] nation.

Please enjoy good health. Please give my best regards to each relative, all of the townspeople, Yasuda, Saitō, and Ōzaki.

Finally, I am praying for happiness and prosperity for the Kuwano family.

Even though I go to fall in the stormy battlefield
Gladness to live life forever

Long live the Empire of Japan!

Long live the Emperor!


Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
May 2018

The letter and poem on this page come from Kitagawa (1983, 176-8). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes Kitagawa (1983, 176) and Osuo (2005, 199).

Note

1. Yamato is a poetic name for Japan.

Sources Cited

Kitagawa, Mamoru, ed. 1983. Sōretsu kamikaze tokkōtai: Kaerazaru seishun no isho shū (Heroic Kamikaze Special Attack Corps: Collected last letters of youth that would be lost). Tōkyō: Nihon Bungeisha.

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