Last Letters of Second Lieutenant Kaname Ōtsuka to His Mother
On May 25, 1945, Second Lieutenant Kaname Ōtsuka
took off from Bansei Air Base and died in a special (suicide) attack
west of Okinawa at the age of 23. He was a member of the 433rd Shinbu Special Attack Squadron. He piloted a
Type 2 Advanced Trainer in his special attack mission. After his death in a special
attack, he received a special two-rank promotion to Captain.
He was from Ibaraki
Prefecture and was a student in the Law Department at Chūō University in Tōkyō
Prefecture. In December 1943 as part of the student mobilization, he entered the
Army's 128th Butai (Unit), an aviation communications training unit. In February
1944, he joined the 2nd Class of the Army's Special Cadet Pilots (Tokubetsu Sōjū
Minarai Shikan or shortened to Tokusō) at Kumagaya Army Flying School Sagami
Kyōikutai (Flying Training Wing). In July 1944, he transferred to Butai 16615 at Hakujōshi Airfield in Manchuria. In December 1944, he transferred to Butai 15354
of the 4th Rensei Hikōtai in Manchuria. In February 1945, he was appointed as
He wrote the following letter four letters to his mother in a diary:
Today on May 20, I again returned to the Japanese homeland as a member of
the Special Attack Corps. This is my long-cherished desire from when I
dreamed of being a pilot.
Here near Kikuchi Airfield in Kyūshū, I am being cared for by the Ogata
family. It is just like a country house; the homeland has not changed. I
feel like I returned to the countryside in Ibaraki since the house is
constructed in a similar manner.
I cannot imagine that I am the same person from long ago who took off
from Daegu in Korea at 3 p.m. today.
Writing such a diary again gives me joy. I think that I will write until
the day that I go. As an ordinary person, I cannot say anything important.
Just as it is. Mother, I am writing to you.
Mother, I have said it many times. Simply live strongly. At a time when
there is neither front line nor home front, today is when each person is
unchanging as a soldier. Please pursue the path of your convictions.
Today also due to the rain it seems that I will pass a day of my
fortunate life in Kumamoto.
Tomorrow the weather will be good. I will be moving forward.
I truly apologize that I am going before you, but it is loyalty and
filial piety combined. When it is loyalty to the Emperor, it becomes filial
piety to a parent. It is different than the distant past of Taira no
I am going before you, but surely do not think that this is a lack of
filial piety to you. Please be glad when I fortunately attain the objective.
Today I moved to another base, and I came to a base here in Kagoshima
where the southern winds blow and it is warm. It is a Kagoshima town that I
heard of before, and there is somewhat of a feeling here of a southern land.
The moon also shines beautifully, and the evening now is splendid.
The scheduled sortie for tomorrow has been delayed, and it is scheduled
for the day after tomorrow. For me I wonder about such a thing. Dying
somehow still does not come across clearly.
I understand at once about sinking a ship instantly. There is nothing
whatever like feeling or interest. Simply accomplishing the mission, in what
Today it seems I am already a little sleepy. 2300 hours.
Tomorrow finally I will make a sortie. I will simply do it. I am
determined to do it splendidly as a shining example of a man. I have caused
worries for you for a long time.
I certainly will do it. The time has come for a Japanese man to break as
a jewel. You will be distressed just after I go, but I request that you
handle things afterward.
In Japan there is no dissent to heavenly orders from the Emperor. I
believe in victory in battle for Japan, which is as eternal as heaven and
earth. Long live the Emperor. Long live the Empire of Japan.
Tomorrow I have the duty of contact by wireless radio for our squadron.
The last message will be, "We are diving." I certainly will do it.
Letters translated by Bill Gordon
The letters come from Naemura (1993, 166-8). The biographical information in
the first paragraph comes from Chiran Tokkō
Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 162), Naemura (1993, 166), and Osuo (2005, 207).
1. Taira no Shigemori lived from 1138 to 1179.
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.
Naemura, Hichirō. 1993. Rikugun saigo no tokkō kichi: Bansei tokkōtaiin no isho to isatsu (Army's last special attack base: Last
letters and photographs of Bansei special attack corps members). Ōsaka: Tōhō
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (rikugun hen)
(Record of special attack corps (Army)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.