I will die in a special attack:
Yokaren writings (1973)
Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Rikiya Yamada to His Parents
At 1219 on April 12, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Rikiya Yamada took
off from Kanoya Air Base in a Navy Type 1 Attack Bomber (Allied code name of
Betty) carrying underneath an ōka rocket-powered glider bomb that he would pilot
after being dropped from the bomber. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 19.
He was a member of the Jinrai Butai (Thunder Gods Corps) 3rd Ōka Squadron
of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps. He was from Kagawa
Prefecture and was a member of the 15th Class of Navy Reserve Trainees (Yobi
Renshūsei)  at Ehime Pilot Training School.
He wrote the following final letter:
Have you been doing well? I am full of high spirits.
At this time I joined the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps. Praying for
certain victory in my life of twenty years , I
will die for an eternal cause.
Take care of yourselves.
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter comes from Orihara
(1973, 307). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
Bungei Shunjū (2005, 571), Orihara (1973, 307), and Osuo (2005, 186).
1. Orihara (1973, 307) indicates that Yamada was a
member of the 11th Kō Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training
Program), but Osuo (2005, 186) and Tokkōtai Senbotsusha (1990, 176) indicate
that he was a member of the 15th Class of Navy Reserve Trainees.
2. 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 explains why the letter
indicates his age as 20 whereas Orihara (1973, 307) gives his age at death as 19.
Bungei Shunjū, ed. 2005. Ningen bakudan to yobarete: Shōgen
- ōka tokkō (They were called human bombs: Testimony - ōka special attacks). Tōkyō: Bungei Shunjū.
Orihara, Noboru, comp. 1973. Ware tokkō ni shisu: Yokaren no
ikō (I will die in a special attack: Yokaren (Preparatory Flight
Training Program) writings). Tōkyō: Keizai Ōraisha.
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun
hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.
Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei
Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai (Tokkōtai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association). 1990.
Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: Tokkōtai Senbotsusha
Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai.