Last Letters from Second Lieutenant Seizō Tatsumi to His Parents
On June 11, 1945, Second Lieutenant Seizō Tatsumi took off from Bansei Air Base
as a member of the 64th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron (also known as Kokka
Squadron) and died in battle west of Okinawa at the
age of 24. He piloted a Type 99 Assault Plane (Allied code name of Sonia). After his death in a special (suicide) attack, he received a
two-rank promotion to Captain. He was from Ōsaka Prefecture, graduated from
Kansai University in Ōsaka Prefecture, and was a member of the 9th Class of the
Army's Officer Cadet (Kanbu Kōhosei) training program.
Tatsumi wrote the following last letter to his parents:
It has already been ten days since I left everyone. Recalling my faraway
hometown and feeling slightly down after ending a trip that brought back
fond memories, I am striving at training.
The early summer in Kyūshū has considerable heat. I never thought at all
that I truly would be living in such heat. My comrade Inagaki seems very
distressed in his winter clothes.
As usual it is bothersome to be obliged to accept so many comfort
articles. I was not thinking that in Kyūshū I would experience the
difficulties of this world's obligations. Since the squadron commander is a
withdrawn person who personally takes responsibility, even his greetings are
few. Actually seeing before my eyes Kyūshū engaged in battle, I still deeply
felt Ōsaka. It seems that really from long ago I always had such a
condition. But then again, it seems that it can be said that my lifestyle
and existence come from the complexity in a large city.
My items truly are a small amount, but I decided that I will send them
right away. I will go in high spirits, so please be assured. I earnestly
pray for your health.
P.S. Truly I only pray that Michiko may get better even one day earlier
from her illness. Please convey to her my regards.
The 64th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron was formed at Hokota Air Base in
Ibaraki Prefecture on April 1, 1945 (Osuo 2005, 196), so the above last letter
was written more than one month after this.
He also wrote the following final letter with three death poems in
tanka form (31-syllable poem with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7) at the
At last the sortie has been decided. Now I do not have anything to say. I
only will strive with all my might to complete my own mission.
When I think, the last three days in my hometown were for me happier than
anything. What is good to say for your love and everyone's warm heart?
Please forgive me for my lack of filial piety in going before you. With an
important mission to protect until the end where everything is for the
Empire and for His Majesty the Emperor, although my five-foot body is
destroyed in order to protect one hundred million from gyokusai
(honorable death), I have no regrets. Please praise me at successful
completion of the mission. When I have done it splendidly, please praise me.
My life of 25 years truly reached its fullness. Even though now I have
been ordered to die, it is my fate from my previous life. From when I was
born, it must have been the destiny attached to me. If I look from your
viewpoint, please do not somehow think about such a complaint that I otherwise
could have been a transport soldier. When you Mother along with Younger
Sister came to see me at the Armor Maintenance School, your face when we talked
clearly comes floating before me.
Thank you for many things. Even as an assistant in business, I did not do
satisfactorily, and on the least pretext soon could not go on and returned
home. When I went out alone, the hardships of society were too harsh for me
who was young. You were kind and on the other hand strict. Even the things
where I had not succeeded, I had at that time no understanding of anything,
and now I see that you truly were a good Father. I have regrets about why I
did not show you more filial piety, but now it is already too late. I will
go in high spirits. Please take good care of yourself, definitely do not
overwork yourself since your age is considerable, and live a long life.
Kind Mother, at last the final farewell has come. Kind, kind Mother, I
truly thank you for many things. Your face will be drawn on my mind forever
and ever. I go in high spirits. I will go with a photo of my parents held
close to me.
My hometown Ōsaka
It was a short stay but… Father!
And dear persons who I miss
Farewell to my hometown…… Never to return
To fall as shield for Emperor
Worth of young man of Yamato
Taiatari (body-crashing) attack at full speed into carrier
Falling as honored cherry blossom
Child of Emperor quickly is raised
Soon to become person with responsibility for country
Letters and poems translated by Bill Gordon
The letters and poems come from Naemura
(1993, 184-6). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō
Kai (2005, 132, 196), Naemura (1993, 184), and Osuo (2005, 196).
Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (Chiran Special Attack
Memorial Society), ed. 2005. Konpaku no kiroku: Kyū rikugun tokubetsu
kōgekitai chiran kichi (Record of departed spirits: Former Army Special
Attack Corps Chiran Base). Revised edition, originally published in 2004. Chiran Town, Kagoshima
Prefecture: Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai.
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
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (rikugun hen)
(Record of special attack corps (Army)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.