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Last Letter from Second Lieutenant Toshitsune Namikawa to His Parents

On May 25, 1945, Second Lieutenant Toshitsune Namikawa took off from Bansei Army Air Base in Kagoshima Prefecture as a member of the 433rd Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in battle at the age of 22. On the same day as his death, he received a special two rank promotion to Army Captain.

Namikawa was born in May 1923 and grew up in Chiba Prefecture. In April 1942, he entered the Commerce Department at Hōsei University in Tōkyō. In December 1943, he joined the East 102nd Butai (Unit) as part of the student mobilization by the government. In February 1944, he entered the Kumagaya Army Flight School as a trainee in the 2nd Class of the Special Cadet Pilot (Tokubetsu Sōjū Minarai Shikan) Program. After he graduated from Kumagaya in August 1944, he was assigned to Butai 15354 at Taonan in Manchuria. In September 1944, he received recognition of graduation from Hōsei University Commerce Department. In February 1945, he was promoted to Army Second Lieutenant. In March 1945, he transferred to Ssupingkai (Siping) Airfield in Manchuria for specialized flight training. In May 1945, he became a member of the 433rd Shinbu Special Attack Squadron. He used a Type 2 Advanced Trainer in his special (suicide) attack mission.

Namikawa wrote the following last letter to his parents:

Dear Father and Mother,

The time has come now for me also to do my duty as a dedicated supporter. It has been more than a year since I devoted myself to flying, and now I am waiting secretly for that day. I believe that both of you will surely be glad and will be seeing me off on my fine departure.

The outcome of the current war will be decided by air battles. As an Imperial air fighter and an Air Force officer in this war, I am glad in my heart of my honor to be able to dive my aircraft into enemy Americans. It is matchless the honor of a young Japanese man with his single aircraft in exchange for several thousand of their lives. Father and Mother, I know that you will be glad if this will happen and will be praying for my success.

You raised me for more than 20 years without my feeling any want. It is my joy to be able to do this act while praying as a Yasukuni [1] spirit for the Empire to flourish. You worked so hard for your children, and even when you become old you still will be praying each day to God for our well-being. Please forgive the misfortune of my going before you. Receiving an education better than normal, it is extremely regrettable to not do one act of filial piety for you. However, as for this filial piety, surely in the other world I will do my duty for you. Please be glad that your own child died honorably. I really desire to be the first among my siblings to go before you, to be able to live until today with the least worries for you, and to die honorably as an Imperial Army officer.

Even though in a dream, please view the place of my death in the Special Attack Corps 3rd Haja [2] Squadron. I go to die in a noble and proper way, and nothing negative at all can be said to the neighbors. There is nothing to write, and the reason is to write only something as I please.

Tell the children not to worry. As I will be departing before you, I am discouraged since I will not be able to meet together with you in the other world. I really hope that you will have long lives, and I would like you to look after the happiness of the children. Finally, dear father and mother, I will be praying for your health from the forest at Yasukuni. Goodbye forever.

Toshitsune

Namikawa also wrote the following farewell poem:

Even if I
In the skies
Fall to the ground
Forever I'll defend the country
With all my heart

Haja Squadron
Second Lieutenant Namikawa


Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
January 2018

The letter, poem, and other information on this page come from Naemura (1993, 168-9).

Notes

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

2. Haja is a Buddhist word that means "crushing evil."

Source Cited

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.