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Last letters, poems, and
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Flight Trainees (2)

Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Yasuyoshi Ōtani to His Parents

At 0600 on April 16, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Yasuyoshi Ōtani took off from Kushira Air Base as radio operator/gunner in a Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber (Allied code name of Kate) carrying a 800-kg bomb. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 3rd Goō Hakuro [1] Squadron from Himeji Naval Air Group. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Kadena on the west coast of Okinawa at the age of 19. He was from Kagawa Prefecture and was a member of the 18th Otsu Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).

He wrote the following final letter:

To Father and Mother as well as my siblings,

I appreciate the kindness of many teachers.

I go to die without showing any filial piety at all to you Father and Mother.

I am determined to make a taiatari (body-crashing) attack on an enemy aircraft carrier.

I will protect Shinshū [2] always.

Now I have wrapped tightly around my stomach the senninbari (thousand-stitch belt worn for good luck) that was sent to me by Keiko.

Moreover, I will make a taiatari attack on an enemy aircraft carrier with Keiko's handmade French doll also riding in my plane.

The other day I passed through the skies above Ichinomiya.

While praying for everyone's good health, I came to this place.

Now I have no regrets.

When I die, please forgive my lack of filial piety until now.

Give my regards to Grandfather and Grandmother, Father and Mother, Older Sister, and Younger Sister.

There is a person named Kurinaga from Ikenishi in my division. I was able to ask this person many things.

April 5, 1945
Himeji Air Group Shirasagi Unit

Letter translated by Bill Gordon
November 2018

The letter comes from Unabarakai Henshū Iinkai (2006, 35). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Osuo (2005, 221) and Unabarakai Henshū Iinkai (2006, 35).


1. The word Goō means "protecting the Emperor." Hakuro (白鷺), also pronounced as shirasagi, means white egret. Himeji Castle, which dates back to the 14th century, has the name of Shirasagi Castle or Hakuro Castle. The squadron's pronunciation of Hakuro comes from several Japanese sources including the following article from Sankei News dated May 23, 2017: "Hakuro-tai no tokkō ni shiryō de semaru: Himeji-shi heiwa shiryōkan de ihin nado 200-ten tenji" (Approaching the special attacks of Hakuro Squadrons through source material: 200 objects displayed at Himeji City Peace Museum) <https://www.sankei.com/region/news/170523/rgn1705230024-n1.html> (January 13, 2020).

2. Shinshū refers to Japan and literally means "divine land."

Sources Cited

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

Unabarakai Henshū Iinkai (Unabarakai Editing Committee). 2006. Kaigun hikō yoka renshūsei isho • iei • ikōshū (2) (Last letters, poems, and writings of Navy Preparatory Flight Trainees (2)). Tōkyō: Unabarakai.