Heroic Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps (1983 cover)
(originally published as
Ah, Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps in 1970)
Last Letter of Ensign Tokuya Tsuda to His Mother
Sometime between 1410 and 1438 on April 14, 1945, Ensign Tokuya Tsuda took off
from Kanoya Air Base as pilot in a Zero fighter carrying a 250-kg bomb
and died in a special (suicide) attack off Kerama Rettō at the age of 23. He was a member
of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 2nd Shinken Squadron from Ōmura Naval Air
Group in Nagasaki Prefecture. He was from Kagoshima Prefecture, attended Kagoshima Teachers College,
and was a member of the 13th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō
He wrote the following final letter with a death poem in tanka form
(31-syllable poem with lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables) at the end:
Please be glad. Finally the long-awaited day has come. Recently the
enemy's ferocity has reached a peak, and I am deeply moved by the
intolerable acts where the enemy is making progress in day and night
destruction. Here finally my present desire has been fulfilled, and I have
received an appointment to an honored hisshi hitchū (certain-death,
sure-hit) attack unit. There is nothing that surpasses this as a man's
Even though now the enemy is taking advantage of the circumstances and
has approached with the aim of invading the mainland, the Great Japanese
Empire is absolutely invincible, and the divine oracle is clear and bright
regarding the Empire's indestructibility. It is apparent that we look with
anxiety at the near future when they start the battle again like those prior
days. At Yasukuni Shrine, my departed older brother Yasushi surely will show
a smile of satisfaction to me, who can participate in an honored attack
On this occasion when I go, along with gratefully appreciating the
Emperor's favor for more than twenty years, I thank you for your striving
to raise me until now. I am ashamed that I could not do simply my desirable
loyalty and filial piety. In place of my lack of loyalty, there still is
Older Brother, who from you has been thoroughly encouraged. Also, please give my best regards to everyone at the elementary school,
the relatives, and everyone at the regular assembly. Then I ask that you
please send letters of comfort to the bereaved families of my men Cadet
Takahashi, Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Ōta, and Flight Petty Officer 2nd
Also, while at Ōmura in the air group, Ensign Kubota, a senior from my
hometown, cared for me in many ways. Now on the occasion when I again will
go, he kindly assumed responsibility for all of my luggage and other things.
There is nothing other than only appreciation. Mother, I ask that you please
give him thanks.
Finally, I pray for your health and happiness.
Well then, I go.
I am praying for
My body will fall as jewel
Shattering American fiends
April 11, 1945
Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
The letter and poem come from Kitagawa
(1970, 166-7). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
(1970, 166) and Osuo (2005, 202).
Kitagawa, Mamoru, ed. 1970. Ā kamikaze tokkōtai: Kaerazaru seishun no isho
shū (Ah, Kamikaze Special Attack Corps:
Collected last letters of youth that would not return). Tōkyō: Nihon Bungeisha.
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun
hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.