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Last Letter from Corporal Toshio Chizaki to His Mother

On May 27, 1945, Army Corporal Toshio Chizaki took off from Bansei Air Base as a member of the 72nd Shinbu Special Attack Squadron. He piloted a Type 99 Assault Plane (Allied code name of Sonia). After his death in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 19, he received a four-rank promotion to Second Lieutenant.

He was from Aichi Prefecture. In October 1942, he joined the 10th Class of the Tōkyō Army Aviation School Ōtsu Branch in Shiga Prefecture. In April 1943, he entered the 15th Class of the Army's Youth Pilot (Shōhi) Program.

He 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 end:

Dear Mother,

It has become the season of abundant green.

Mother, have you been doing well? Having received an important responsibility to protect the Empire, I will go to the battle front smiling.

You cared for me during the long period of 20 years. I truly have no excuse for not showing filial piety to you as your child.

I will demonstrate filial piety to you by this departure for the front. The Empire now faces a critical situation, and its destiny depends on this battle at Okinawa.

Obtaining a place to die when I go to this decisive battle for the Empire, I think of a warrior's true honor. There is nothing that surpasses this and compares to this as the long-cherished desire of a man.

I deeply apologize that I often caused trouble for you by my unruliness when I was young.

Father was lost to us from an early time. You strongly and properly raised five sons and daughters as the foundation of the family. Older Sister has got married, and here I now will go to the place of the decisive battle as a foundation stone for the Empire.

It is fine that Shin'ichi changes the family register to Chita-gun [1]. Wherever is best. It depends on the relationship with Sekita.

As the new house is flourishing, the main house is declining. In contrast to this, as a rule the new house is constructed on the rubble of the main house. Therefore, upon deliberation with the relatives, if the inheritance does not include the main home, it is acceptable for Shin'ichi to inherit it.

Akiko, I ask that you take good care of Mother. This is the filial piety that I properly should have shown. At this decisive battle I will do my utmost to demonstrate filial piety, that is loyalty, for the country. Akiko, Mother, I ask that you understand. Also, you must have good attendance at the town hall.

Shuichi perhaps will be the family heir, and that will depend on Shin'ichi.

Because of this, please raise Shuichi firmly and properly as the one boy in the family. I ask Akiko to do this.

Shuichi, please grow big quickly, become a fine person, and show filial piety to your mother. Also, please follow your teachers' instructions and become a fine person.

Please make friends with the people in Nagoya. Do not be on bad terms with the relatives. As for the wall map and the kimono decorated with the family crest, absolutely do not bargain them to Nagoya.

What will there be if the country perishes? I desire only to push forward bravely to the decisive battle.

Give my regards also to your uncle and aunt. Finally, I pray for everyone's health.

For His Majesty, not thinking about either family or parents
For my country this body will no longer be

Now I will go riding above smoke of guns and rain of bullets
Aimed at a large enemy aircraft carrier

Waiting for decisive battle at Okinawa where I will go
This body with my plane will break into pieces

May 21, 1945


Chizaki sent a postcard addressed to Yoshi Fukuyama in Kanzaki Town in Saga Prefecture. Kanzaki is near Metabaru Air Base, where members of the 72nd Shinbu Special Attack Squadron arrived on May 17, 1945, to await further orders (Mōri 2004, 149). On May 25, the 72nd Shinbu Squadron flew from Metabaru to Bansei Air Base in Kagoshima Prefecture (Mōri 2004, 165). While at Metabaru, Fukuyama appears to have provided meals and lodging for some 72nd Shinbu Squadron members including Chizaki. The original postcard is on display at the Bansei Tokkō Peace Museum, and a copy is at the Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots. The postcard's words are translated below:

You took care of us for a long time. I arrived today at 9 o'clock. Please be at ease.

With the sortie at 5 o'clock tomorrow, I think that it will be about 8 o'clock [2].

A lifetime 50, a military man half that, a pilot 20 years. Passing time pleasantly at Metabaru will be a story in the other world. Please remember the monkey.

The reference to "the monkey" seems to be explained by Chizaki's enjoyment in making everyone laugh by imitating a monkey.

Letter translated by Bill Gordon
May 2018

The letter and other information on this page come from Naemura (1993, 150-1, 474).


1. Chita-gun is a district in Chizaki's home prefecture of Aichi.

2. This is a reference to the expected time of his death, since the flight to Okinawa from Bansei Air Base took about three hours.

Sources Cited

Mōri, Tsuneyuki. 2004. Yuki wa jūnanasai tokkō de shinda: Koinu yo saraba, itoshiki inochi (Yuki died at 17 in a kamikaze attack: Goodbye puppy, dear life). Tōkyō: Popurasha.

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 Shuppan.