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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 Second Lieutenant.

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 Shigemori [1].

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 manner?

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
March 2018

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.

Sources Cited

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 Shuppan.

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