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

Last Writings of Ensign Takeshi Iinuma

At 0400 on May 11, 1945, Ensign Takeshi [1] Iinuma took off from Ibusuki Air Base in a Type 0 Reconnaissance Seaplane (Allied code name of Jake) carrying an 800-kg bomb. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 2nd Sakigake Squadron [2] from Kashima Naval Air Group in Ibaraki Prefecture. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 23. He was from Kanagawa Prefecture, attended Yokohama College of Commerce, and was a member of the 13th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students.

Iinuma wrote down his thoughts on April 12, 1945, when he was assigned to the Special Attack Corps:

This morning there was announced a special attack unit of Lieutenant Sawa and OOO [3] other persons. I also was included as a member of that unit. Finally I formally became a Special Attack Corps member. There already is nothing. I am not thinking of anything. Pure of heart, I will make a crash dive. Even now as they are doing this at Okinawa, several lives are meeting the same fates as enemy aircraft carriers.

The Special Attack Corps, which does not exist anywhere except only in Japan, now desires calm for Japan. Japan, which has been fighting to the death at Leyte in the Philippines, Iōtō (Iwo Jima), and the Nansei Islands [4], now is exhausted. In order to recover from this exhaustion, we will annihilate enemy ships near the Nansei Islands.

In the afternoon several groups of planes advanced toward OO Base. Ensign Takagi and Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Isao Watanabe, who I was together with at Tateyama, also left. We also probably will leave shortly. A human life is 50 years. When I think about it, living safely to half of that, 25 years, is a marvelous amount. I am thinking about my childhood. I met Miura on March 17, and this probably was the last time. Miura also probably will go shortly.

What will it be like when I make a crash dive? I think that it is a completely unspeakable feeling, but I am somewhat concerned.

My return to Yokosuka on April 7 perhaps was the final visit. But even so, I want to see my parents, brothers, and sisters once more. I was disappointed because the other day Mother was not there. It seems that Shigeo is the one who is suffering most. He is too meek. When I try to think about it, perhaps I surely had the same feature. After I joined the military, it seems that I became quite different.

Shigeo, become stronger and stronger. Also, become a fine person.

When you reach about my age, I want to see what type of person you have become. You may be living in a quiet way in the same manner as I. Live doing what you like. However, have ambitions. It is fine if you do not accomplish them. You will set one goal and strive directly toward it. I enjoyed idealism. Even though I did not attain it, it was good if I got even one step closer. Next, create standards to judge. Read books for that. This is very convenient. When something happens, try to apply the standards. You will be able to determine right away what is good and what is bad. When I did not have standards, I kept falling down, and in the end I could not get what I wanted. Get something unshakable. For you now this request may be a little unreasonable, but after you become an adult, when you read this I think there are parts that you will really appreciate.

As for the other persons, I think that they will live adequately by themselves. Of course they each have their individual personalities, but it seems that they have many strong points.

The time that I enjoyed most when I was at home was after dinner when the family gathered together to have lively conversations about the day's events and tell old stories.

When I was a child, I often said selfish things and caused troubles for Mother and Older Sister. It was not just two or three times that I made Older Sister cry.

I was a very bad child at home. After I joined the Navy, I developed a feeling that I would do any kind of thing if it was for the family. There was a certain time for that reason that it was thought by my comrades to be individualism.  Shortly before I joined the Navy, when I think about it now, it was when I lacked the most materially. It was a time when I was struggling every day to buy food. Even I as a man was shamefully going in and out of the food store. In those days I was not eating white rice, which now I cannot envision. I did not imagine that my environment would change so much in a year or two.

I acknowledged the superiority of Father. There always was for some reason or other a feeling of awe toward Father. If I were to express in writing, my true feeling toward Father is that I wanted to get near to him but it was difficult to do so. Since Father also was in the Navy, after I joined the Navy, there were many points to consult. Having interest in the Navy's organization, I did research about it. Naturally I, who was not used to being an officer, today am satisfied only with having received the rank of Ensign.

The thing that is most surprising and scandalous when I joined the Navy is the clear discrimination between Academy graduates, special duty officers, and reserve officers. The ones who make all the errors are us reserve officers. A more experienced officer from a certain air group said that this was created by the American military, and that seems reasonable. This point causes many hindrances for the Navy's development. It needs to be improved quickly.

He wrote the following final letter:

Dear Parents,

The season of new green leaves has arrived. I trust that you are in good health.

At last I also have received an order. Today it has been decided that I will go to make an attack.

I thankfully appreciate that owing only to you I was able to live peacefully without one inconvenience for a long time.

Now I have no regrets.

From faraway Okinawan skies, I am praying that you will live in good health for many years.

April 29, 1945

Writings translated by Bill Gordon
April 2018 and September 2019

The first writing comes from Hakuō Izokukai (1952, 245-9), and the letter comes from Kitagawa (1970, 194-5). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Hakuō Izokukai (1952, 245), Kitagawa (1970, 194), and Osuo (2005, 238).


1. Takeshi and Hajime are both common pronunciations of the Japanese male name of 孟. Takeshi has been used for this web page, but it could not be confirmed what is the correct pronunciation.

2. Kitagawa (1970, 194) indicates that Iinuma was a member of the 1st Sakigake Squadron, but Hakuō Izokukai (1952, 245), Osuo (2005, 238), and Tokkōtai Senbotsusha (1990, 203) state that he was a member of the 2nd Sakigake Squadron.

3. OOO indicates information that was a military secret and could not be included in the writing.

4. The Nansei Islands are a chain of islands, including Okinawa, that stretch southwest from Kyūshū to Taiwan.

Sources Cited

Hakuō Izokukai (Hakuō Bereaved Families Association), ed. 1952. Kumo nagaruru hate ni: Senbotsu kaigun hikō yobi gakusei no shuki (To the end of the flowing clouds: Writings of Navy reserve students who died in war). Tōkyō: Nihon Shuppan Kyōdō.

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.

Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai (Tokkōtai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association). 1990. Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai.