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Last Letter of Lieutenant Junior Grade Yomo Shikata to His Father

At 0400 on May 11, 1945, Lieutenant Junior Grade Yomo Shikata took off from Ibusuki Air Base as pilot of a three-man Type 0 Reconnaissance Seaplane (Allied code name of Jake) carrying a 800-kg bomb. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 2nd Sakigake Squadron from Kashima Naval Air Group in Ibaraki Prefecture. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 23. After his death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Lieutenant Commander. He was from Kyōto Prefecture, attended Kyōto Teachers College, and was a member of the 13th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students.

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

Death poem

Time for flying has come and the great
Island country of Yamato [1] I will protect

The other day it was a joy to see you after a long time. I promised that I would talk with you privately in the evening, but at dusk the sortie order suddenly was issued, and it was regrettable that I did not follow through with my promise. However, it was my supreme pleasure to be able to see you for a short time and talk with you. Now with great joy I am determined to go and fall in the sea at Okinawa as a shield for the country.

In the 22 years after my birth, you brought me up with your hands alone. In one way maybe I cannot escape criticism for not showing filial piety by my leaving without repaying you anything, but I also am a son of Yamato.

Tonight please listen on the radio to the successful battle results of your charming son. Certainly achieving outstanding battle results will at least show my filial piety to you. Please ask the warrant officer who brings this letter about details before my sortie.

Farewell.


Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
August 2018

The letter and poem come from Yasukuni Jinja (2001, 57-8). The biographical information on this page comes from Osuo (2005, 238) and Yasukuni Jinja (2001, 57).

Note

1. Yamato is an ancient name for Japan.

Sources Cited

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

Yasukuni Jinja, ed. 2001. Eirei no koto no ha (7) (Words of the spirits of war heroes, Volume 7). Tōkyō: Yasukuni Jinja Shamusho.