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Last letters, poems, and
writings of Navy Preparatory
Flight Trainees (2)

Last Letter of Flight Leading Seaman Shōzō Taniguchi to His Parents

At 1500 on April 7, 1945, Flight Leading Seaman Shōzō Taniguchi took off from Miyazaki Air Base as pilot of a three-man Ginga bomber (Allied code name of Frances) carrying a 800-kg bomb. He died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 20. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 3rd Mitate Squadron from the 405th Attack Hikōtai of the 706th Naval Air Group. He was from Kōchi Prefecture and was a member of the 2nd Toku Otsu Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).

He wrote the following final letter to his parents with a death poem in tanka form (31-syllable poem with lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables) at the end:

Nothing surpasses this as the long-cherished desire of a military man.

When I complete my flight to the skies, I am resolved to make my fate together with a dear torpedo.

Parents, please take care of yourselves and live in high spirits.

I am going to the place of the decisive battle in the skies in order to destroy completely the Americans and British.

For Emperor
Not sparing anything
Young cherry blossom
When I fall
Worthwhile life

Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
November 2018

The letter and poem come from Unabarakai Henshū Iinkai (2006, 28). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Osuo (2005, 228) and Unabarakai Henshū Iinkai (2006, 28).

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.