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Last Letters of Sergeant Takashige Seya

On May 26, 1945, Army Sergeant Takashige Seya took off from Bansei Air Base as a member of the 432nd Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in battle at the age of 19. After his death in a special (suicide) attack, he received a special promotion of three ranks to Second Lieutenant. He was from Gunma Prefecture and was a member of the 14th Class of the Inba Pilot Training School. In August 1944, he was assigned to the 24th Kyōiku Hikōtai (Flight Training Unit) in Ping'an, Manchuria. In January 1945, he was promoted to Army Sergeant. On April 12, 1945, he left from Harbin in Manchuria.

Seya wrote the following two last letters to his parents. The first letter has a death poem at the end.

Dear Parents,

I know that you must be doing well and busy in increasing food production. As I am feeling better and better, finally it is scheduled for me to make a sortie the day after tomorrow. Here our final base is Chiran [1] in Kawanabe District, Kyūshū. The mountains, rivers, rice paddies, and fields of this inland area all bring back memories of home.

As I look at these mountains and rivers, like a revolving lantern I am reminded in one way or another of when I left home. If I focus once on the war situation, it is the time that we must go no matter what.

Being given life in the Empire, I feel happy like a young cherry blossom that will fall honorably in defense of the Empire. There is no long-cherished desire of a young Japanese man that surpasses this thrilling deed. Dear Parents, please be glad.

When I think back, I am extremely regretful that I showed no devotion to you in my long twenty years.

However, somehow or other I will be able to fall in the garden of battle as one soldier. When you hear that I have broken as a gem [2] in the Okinawan seas, please praise me with the words "Takashige, you did well." I surely, surely will carry out our true desire of "Born seven times, I will kill the dreadful enemy." Finally, I want to apologize to you again and again for not being able to show my devotion to you.

Dear Parents, forever and forever please be well and fight bravely for the Empire. I will go looking forward to the day when we will meet at Yasukuni [3].

Falling as a shield for the Emperor
A corpse drenched with water without regrets
A life offered for the Emperor's sake now
Striking a dreaded ship, I will break like a gem

May 18, 1945

Dear Father and Mother,

Finally tomorrow I will die honorably in an attack on an enemy ship. I must fly OO [4] kilometers to Okinawa carrying a drop tank and a OOO kilogram bomb. I am trembling with excitement as I wait to fly on my plane from this green airfield. Will the enemy I meet tomorrow be a warship? An aircraft carrier? Or a cruiser? Certainly I will demonstrate my skill by one plane hitting one ship.

Tomorrow I will be able to go to Yasukuni Shrine where my comrades are waiting. Being born as Japanese man, there is no long-cherished ambition that exceeds this.

Father, Mother, I am truly happy. Let's meet again at Yasukuni. I will be waiting for you.

Finally, I am earnestly praying for your health and happiness.

May 17, 1945

Letters translated by Bill Gordon
February 2018

The letters and biographical information on this page come from Naemura (1993, 159-60).


1. During the evening of May 18, Seya moved from Chiran to Bansei. He made a sortie from Bansei on May 26.

2. To break like a gem means to fight to the death with no surrender.

3.  Yasukuni Shrine in Tōkyō is the place of enshrinement for spirits of Japan's war dead.

4. During the war due to counterintelligence, information such as a place name or number was written with OO in civilian letters and communication.

Source Cited

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.