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Last Letter of Ensign Masaaki Tokitō to His Parents

At 1300 on April 6, 1945, Ensign Masaaki Tokitō took off from Kokubu No. 2 Air Base as radioman/gunner in a Type 99 Carrier Bomber (Allied code name of Val) carrying a 250-kg bomb. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 1st Kusanagi Squadron. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 24. He was from Kagoshima Prefecture and was a student at Chūō University in Tōkyō. He was a member of the 13th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students, and after training he became a member of the Nagoya Naval Air Group.

He wrote the following final letter to his parents during the evening of April 5, 1945:

Suddenly today we moved to Kokubu, and it is expected that tomorrow we will make a sortie from here. On the way when we were transferring from Nagoya Air Group, I passed above Honjō at a height of 2,000 meters.

I am filled with emotion. With increasing enemy air attacks, I will fight honorably as a child of a samurai warrior and bet my life of 25 years [1] for defense of the Empire. Now I have no regrets. I am really disappointed that until today I could not repay the kindness that my deeply loving parents showed to me. I have had no inconvenience up to today when I am 25 years old. Now the opportunity has been given to me to participate as a mid-level officer in the honored Special Attack Corps.

Of course I cannot expect to return alive from tomorrow's sortie. However, I truly feel calmness in my heart. Satisfied with the reason of defending the Empire, I will go smiling and fall.

Even though I am writing this letter in the duty room of the Kokubu Agricultural School, I have a feeling like I have returned to home in Honjō. Tonight's stars are especially beautiful, and your images appear before me.

I will be taking off to the skies of the southern country where the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. I am happy more than anything else to be in the lead aircraft [2] to make a sortie from my native place of Kagoshima.

I will go forward a short distance to Yasukuni Shrine [3], the home of my older brother Chisato and the place where my good friend Mineichi Matsumoto is at.

Father and Mother, although I die, please do not feel down, and be in good spirits [4]. Your sadness is what is most difficult for me. I feel satisfied.

I arrived today at about 1 o'clock, but I was very busy with tasks, so finally there was no free time to contact you. Please forgive me.

Father and Mother, I think that you are prepared already for Japan's current circumstances. Japan is the Empire. The Empire absolutely is indestructible.

We have come to live under this conviction. I think that exemplifying the way of human righteousness is the Empire's way.

With courage and calmness, tomorrow I will fall in the southern sea. Father and Mother, please take care of yourselves for many years.

The person who will fall with me is Lieutenant Junior Grade Takahashi from the Naval Academy. Since there is a connection, please remember him.

As for my remaining belongings, I asked Navy Ensign Kennosuke Atsuji and Ensign Ryōsuke Kawano at the Nagoya Air Group 1st Gun Room to keep them. Please try to contact them.

I am not leaving behind anything like a lock of hair. Please remember me with my hat and short sword.

Unit name: Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Kusanagi Unit
Navy Ensign Masaaki Tokitō


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
March 2018

The letter comes from Iwamoto and Mukaida (1992, 42-4). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Iwamoto and Mukaida (1992, 42), Matsugi (1971, 182), and Osuo (2005, 225).

Notes

1. The traditional Japanese method of counting age, as in much of East Asia, regards a child as age one at birth and adds an additional year on each New Year's day thereafter. This most likely explains why the letter indicates his age as 25 whereas the current way of counting age based on his birth date in Matsugi (1971, 182) indicates that his age was 24 at time of death.

2. The pilot in Tokitō's lead aircraft was Yoshirō Takahashi, a graduate in the 72nd Class from Etajima Naval Academy and the Squadron Leader of the 1st Kusanagi Squadron's 12 Type 99 Carrier Bombers that took off from Kokubu No. 2 Air Base.

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

4. Matsugi (1971, 182-3) also has Tokitō's letter but only about the first half of the one in Iwamoto and Mukaida (1992, 44-6). However, this sentence is included in the Matsugi version but not the Iwamoto and Mukaida version, so it has been included in this English translation.

Sources Cited

Iwamoto, Kiyoshi, and Tsutomu Mukaida, eds. 1992. Chinkon -- shirakumo ni norete kimi kaerimase: Tokkō kichi daini kokubu no ki (Repose of souls -- riding on the white clouds, come back to us: Record of Special Attack Corps Kokubu No. 2 Air Base). Mizobe Town, Kagoshima Prefecture: Jūsanzukabaru tokkōhi hozon iinkai (Committee to Preserve the Jūsanzukabaru Special Attack Corps Monument).

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.