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Heroic Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps
(1983 cover)
(originally published as
Ah, Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps
in 1970)

Last Letter of Ensign Kōzō Tanaka to His Parents

Sometime between 1304 and 1328 on April 12, 1945, Ensign Kōzō Tanaka took off from Kanoya Air Base as pilot in a Zero fighter carrying a 250-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack east of Yoronjima at the age of 22 [1]. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 2nd Shichishō Squadron from Genzan Naval Air Group in Korea. He was from Yamaguchi Prefecture, attended Nihon University [2] in Tōkyō to study law, and was a member of the 14th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).

He wrote the following final letter:

Dear Parents,

Please forgive my lack of filial piety by entering the mountain path to death before you.

By my death for the country, I believe that you certainly will forgive my lack of filial piety.

Please be glad that I did not idle my life away.

Mother, please do not mourn my death. Please say, "You died well." These are the words that I hope for more than anything.

Please take good care of yourselves and live long. Mother, please look after my younger brothers and sisters.

Letter translated by Bill Gordon
April 2018

The letter comes from Kitagawa (1970, 139). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kitagawa (1970, 139) and Osuo (2005, 200).


1. Tokkōtai Senbotsusha (1990, 181) gives his year of birth as 1922, so Yoshida could have been 22 or 23 years of age at death. Other sources do not specify a birth date or provide his age at death. By using a mid-year birth date of July 1, his age at death is assumed to be 22.

2. Doi (2004, 441) and Osuo (2005, 200) indicate that Tanaka attended Nihon University in Tōkyō, but Kitagawa (1970, 139) states that he attended Waseda University in Tōkyō.

Sources Cited

Doi, Ryōzō. 2004. Gakuto tokkō: Sono sei to shi - Kaigun dai 14 ki hikō yobi gakusei no teki (Student special attacks: Life and death - Notes of Navy 14th class of flight reserve students). Tōkyō: Kokusho Hankōkai.

Kitagawa, Mamoru, ed. 1970. Ā kamikaze tokkōtai: Kaerazaru seishun no isho shū (Ah, Kamikaze Special Attack Corps: Collected last letters of youth that would not return). Tōkyō: Nihon Bungeisha.

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

Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai (Tokkōtai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association). 1990. Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai.