Heroic Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps (1983 cover)
(originally published as
Ah, Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps in 1970)
Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Zen'ichi Ji'nushi to His
At 1300 on April 6, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Zen'ichi 
Ji'nushi took off from Kushira Air Base as pilot in a Type 97 Carrier Attack
Bomber (Allied code name of Kate) carrying an 800-kg bomb. He was a member of
the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 1st Hachiman Goō  Squadron from
Usa Air Group. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of
18. He was from Mie Prefecture and was a member of the 17th Otsu Class of the
Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).
He wrote the following final letter to his parents:
It has reached the time when cherry blossoms are beginning to bloom. I
have great joy since everyone in the family is doing well. I am in high
spirits as usual as I work hard at my military duties. I think that the
mountains in our hometown must have springtime haze hovering above them and
have especially delightful things to view.
The war situation has become more and more intense. At this critical time
for the country, there is nothing that surpasses the honor of a young man's
long-cherished desire of my falling as a flower. I do not know even the
right words to express my apology for not showing any filial piety to you as
my parents who lovingly raised me for about 20 years from my birth on July
9, 1926, until now. However, when I fall as a cherry blossom in the skies of
the southern seas, I trust that you certainly will be glad. Please smile,
and I earnestly ask you not to shed any tears.
If a flower has bloomed, it is prepared to fall. If I fall along with an
enemy ship, why would there be any regrets? When there is a letter saying
that I have fallen splendidly, please say, "Zen'ichi, attaboy," and
cry out, "long live the Emperor."
After all is said and done, if we have responsibility for the country's
survival, we truly bear on our shoulders the duty to save it from this
danger. When you sent me to the Navy, I know that I have been prepared for
this time. I warmly thank Older Sister also for giving me all sorts of care
and for showing concern for me in many ways even after I entered the Navy.
When we sent off Older Brother to the Army, I on my own realized again and
again that I protected the family and that indeed things were not as usual.
Finally, I will not stop praying for your health and happiness. When this
letter arrives at the house, it probably will be the time when cherry
blossoms will be in full bloom and will be fluttering down. Since at that
time I also will fall magnificently like the cherry blossoms, I ask that the
family be at ease.
Give my regards also to Older Brother. I earnestly am praying for the
happiness of the family. Farewell.
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter comes from Kitagawa
(1970, 114-6). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
(1970, 114) and Osuo (2005, 214).
1. The Japanese given name of 善一 can be pronounced
as either Yoshikazu or Zen'ichi. Since the pronunciation of the name could not be
determined, the more common pronunciation of Zen'ichi has been used for this
translation based on the number of Google hits for "善一" and "ぜんいち" (Zen'ichi) in
comparison to "善一" and "よしかず" (Yoshikazu).
2. Hachiman is the Japanese god of military power.
Usa City in Ōita Prefecture has the first Hachiman Shrine, which was established
in the early 8th century. Goō means "protecting the Emperor" in Japanese.
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.