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Heroic Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps
(1983 cover)
(originally published as
Ah, Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps
in 1970)

Last Letter of Ensign Shinji Furuya to His Parents

At 0605 on May 11, 1945, Ensign Shinji Furuya took off from Kanoya Air Base as main pilot in a Navy Type 1 Attack Bomber (Allied code name of Betty) carrying an ōka rocket-powered glider bomb. He was a member in the Jinrai Butai (Thunder Gods Corps) 8th Ōka Squadron. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 22. He was from Tōkyō Prefecture, attended Keiō Gijuku University in Tōkyō, and was a member of the 13th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).

He wrote the following last letter to his parents:

With more than twenty years since coming into this world as a man in the Empire, being able to go in high spirits to a divine war that involves the whole country is a man's long-cherished desire that certainly nothing else exceeds. After I became aware of things around me, if I do say so myself I felt for a long time that I had literary talent. When I saw the figure of Yazaki, a friend from my youth, as a brave military man, even though I had been thinking that in the end I would not become a military man, after growing older now I will carry out a military mission that is very light on me. I will go in high spirits and must be strong.

Your kindness, when I was cared for openly and secretly for more than twenty years, was very deep. Considering my shallow learning and limited ability, I cannot find even words of thanks. I deeply, deeply, warmly, warmly express my thanks for those tremendous actions.

It is natural as the feeling between parents and a child that from the beginning you would pray morning and evening to the gods and Buddha that I would return home safely with honor by doing great deeds with bravery and without any injuries to my body.

Although I even had the desire that I wanted to show filial piety to you after I happily returned home by being calm and paying attention to my health, the situation surely has become critical to the point that it transcends everything. The current state is that I cannot permit a desire to allow my life to be in vain.

I have dedicated myself to the Emperor. I am determined that my attaining the reality of loyalty certainly will be my filial piety. I have forgotten about all of my personal affairs. Without feelings of regret, I am ready to focus on fighting.

Fortunately I have many younger brothers and sisters. Even though I regret that I did not carry out my duties as an older brother, I want earnestly to request my younger brothers and sisters to show filial piety to you.

Even though I do not think that dying is necessarily loyalty, I will go and sacrifice my life. Certainly I will go prepared to die.

Letter translated by Bill Gordon
May 2018

The letter on this page comes from Kitagawa (1970, 192-4). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes Bungeishunjū (2005, 569), Kitagawa (1970, 192-3), and Osuo (2005, 192).

Sources Cited

Bungeishunjū, ed. 2005. Ningen bakudan to yobarete: Shōgen - ōka tokkō (They were called human bombs: Testimony - ōka special attacks). Tōkyō: Bungeishunjū.

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.