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Deep Blue: From Chiran
Special Attack Air Base

Last Writings of Second Lieutenant Keiichi Motoshima

On April 16, 1945, Second Lieutenant Keiichi Motoshima took off from Chiran Air Base and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 22. He was a member of the 69th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and piloted an Army Type 97 Fighter (Allied nickname of Nate). After his death in a special attack, he received a two-rank promotion to Captain. He was from Nagano Prefecture, attended Toshima Teachers College in Tōkyō, and was a member of the 1st Class of the Army Special Cadet Officer Pilot Training (Tokubetsu Sōjū Minarai Shikan) Program.

Motoshima wrote the following final letters and other writings. An asterisk (*) is used below to indicate separate writings. In some instances,  there is no addressee indicated, but these writings most likely were sent to his parents. His final writing on this page probably was for students at Chiran Girls High School.

I will depart at 6 a.m. on April 16, 1945. I have received an order to depart from the base at Chiran (in Kagoshima Prefecture in Kyūshū) to attack the enemy task force.

69th Shinbu Squadron Ikeda Unit
Second Lieutenant Keiichi Motoshima


Dear Parents,

I warmly thank you for the many ways that you cared for me for a long time. This is no excuse for not having shown any filial piety.

I will show both loyalty and filial piety as one. I will push forward with these several duties for His Majesty. There is nothing to say about my state of mind. Also, I have no words for a last will. It is said that life is 50 years. With this half a life, I was a fortunate person to go and die happily for His Majesty.


I have been able to receive the present order for the first time since being born a man. Now there is nothing that makes me happier than making a sortie from base.

Now I am waiting for the order that I will be sent out. In high spirits I am dedicated to the mission.

Parents, I sincerely pray that you take care of yourselves.

I can see a bright future for the Empire of Japan. I will go to Okinawa Island.


I have a request. Since I have not been in contact for a long time with the persons listed below [geographical location indicated in parentheses], please send them regards from the family

Iyo (Ōshima), Nakatsubo (Akaho), Misawa (Agemizo), Yuzawa (Zakōji), Miyashita (Jōgan), Hashizume (Chōsen [Korea]), Satō (Yokkaichi), Kitahara (Takinogawa-ku in Tōkyō), Miyajima (Yosohata), Takigawa (Kawano), Isshiki (Kanae Village), Fukushima and Sakai (Shimoichida), Older Brother Fumio, everyone in neighborhood association, Yamabuki (Shimohira), Older Brother Yoshisuke, Shimoina Agricultural School, Toshima Teachers College, Terasawa and Fukuzawa (Kanae Village), Kaneda and Matsushita (Ōshima)


Dear Older Brothers and Sisters [1],

I wanted to see you one time. I really regret not being able to do this.

Today I have lived for 23 years [2]. I received a mission for a man's man. I will go gladly.

I will carry out a taiatari (body-crashing) attack against an enemy ship with my plane that carryies a 250-kg bomb.

There is nothing that gives me more joy than this. It will be all joy when I can see before my eyes the Americans.


We have taken over Okinawa Island with our hands. Please be assured.

Rū also seems to have died. Look for summer.

The sun has begun to shine anew on the divine country of Japan. Please fight bravely together in every workplace, take sufficient care of yourselves, and live long.

I will go in high spirits.


I who have lived 23 years now will become a shield for His Majesty.

Brief Personal Record

  1. October 1, 1943 - Joined Tachiarai Army Flight School Daegu [3] Training Unit for six months.
  2. March 1944 - Graduated from flight school. Joined 16th Training Flight Unit (Taigen [Taiyuan] in north China) for four months.
  3. August 1, 1944 - Assigned to Akeno [4] Flight Unit.
  4. August 11 to October 28, 1944 - At Mie Prefecture Tsu Army Hospital and Wakayama Prefecture Ōsaka Army Hospital Shirahama Branch Hospital due to inflammation of hilum of right lung.
  5. Last day of October 1944 - Assigned to Akeno Flight Unit (Kawasakimura [5] Akeno Flight Unit).
  6. March 29, 1945 - Received order for special attack unit.
  7. March 30, 1945 - Naming ceremony of 69th Flight Squadron Ikeda Unit (12 men under Squadron Leader Ikeda).
  8. Same date - Second Lieutenant Nakayama and I departed by land transport to Takamatsu Airfield in Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku in order to receive aircraft. Arrived at Takamatsu Airfield on April 1.
  9. April 5, 1945 - Took off from Takamatsu Airfield. Letter sent home was the last one.
  10. April 5, 1945 - Made two-and-a-half-hour air trip and arrived at Kikuchi Airfield in Kumamoto Prefecture in Kyūshū.
  11. April 6, 1945 - Took off from Kikuchi and landed at our base in Chiran.
  12. April 12, 1945 - Received order for 2nd General Attack. While taxiing on ground, not able to take off since bomb dropped. Truly regretted that I was not able to depart with Squadron Leader.

         My heart that swore, with same heart
         Has become sad with delay
  13. April 14, 1945 - Donated 200 yen of money to Chiran Girls School. Principal was deeply moved and said was means to build a Tokkō (Special Attack) Shrine. We also were deeply moved.
  14. April 16, 1945 - Departure in good weather. It is planned that I will make a sortie from Chiran Airfield at 6 a.m. and will arrive at Okinawa and sight enemy ships at about 9 o'clock.


Long live the Empire of Japan.

I will go in high spirits and will make a taiatari (body-crashing) attack on an enemy ship at Okinawa Island.

We will meet when I bloom as a flower on the tip of a branch at Yasukuni Shrine in the capital.

With devotion, Motoshima

The final line of the above writing was written in blood. Yoshiko Iwawaki, a teacher who was leading the students from Chiran Girls High School, wrote the following words after those written above by Motoshima. She starts with two poems in tanka form (31-syllable poem with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7).

You will go to fall for country as flower in southern seas
We also will follow sons of Yamato [6]

Spirit hidden in cherry blossom at Toyotama Shrine [7]
Will cause sinking of hideous Americans and British

We will do our best until the end as you have taught us. Until we win in the end, we will press forward with our duties even though we fall. We believe that the deity Toyotama, the protecting spirit of this southern base of Chiran, also will witness everyone's instant sinking of a ship.

At 1530, we will look at the faraway southern seas and pray for your success.

Chiran Girls High School
Yoshiko Iwawaki

Since the above writing is undated and indicates an arrival time at Okinawa of 1530, it must have been written prior to Motoshima's planned sortie on April 12, 1945, since his final sortie on April 16, 1945, had an estimated arrival time at Okinawa of 0900.

Writings translated by Bill Gordon
March 2020

The letter and biographical information come from Chiran Kōjo Nadeshiko Kai (1996, 92-7).  The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Chiran Kōjo Nadeshiko Kai (1996, 92), Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 181), and Osuo (2005, 201).

The following last letters and other writings were written by 69th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron Leader Second Lieutenant Tōru Ikeda and other squadron members:


1. The number of older brothers and sisters is not specified in the letter. He may have had one or more older brothers and one or more older sisters.

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 23 whereas Chiran Kōjo Nadeshiko Kai (1996, 92) gives his age at death as 22.

3. Daegu is a city in South Korea.

4. Akeno is located in Mie Prefecture.

5. Kawasakimura is the village in Mie Prefecture where Kita Ise Army Airfield was located.

6. Yamato is a poetic name for Japan.

7. Toyotama Shrine is located in Chiran Town.

Source Cited

Chiran Kōjo Nadeshiko Kai (Chiran Girls High School Nadeshiko Association), ed. 1996. Gunjō: Chiran tokkō kichi yori (Deep blue: From Chiran special attack air base). Originally published in 1979. Kagoshima City: Takishobō.

Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (Chiran Special Attack Memorial Society), ed. 2005. Konpaku no kiroku: Kyū rikugun tokubetsu kōgekitai chiran kichi (Record of departed spirits: Former Army Special Attack Corps Chiran Base). Revised edition, originally published in 2004. Chiran Town, Kagoshima Prefecture: Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai.

Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (rikugun hen) (Record of special attack corps (Army)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.