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Continuation • Ah, Cherry
Blossoms of Same Class

Last Writings of Ensign Yūji Toyama

At 1420 on April 29, 1945, Ensign Yūji Toyama took off from Kanoya Air Base as pilot in a Zero fighter carrying a 250-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 22. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 5th Shōwa Squadron from Yatabe Naval Air Group in Ibaraki Prefecture. He was from Hokkaidō Prefecture, attended Meiji University in the Faculty of Law in Tōkyō, and was a member of the 14th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).

He wrote the following final letter to the father of his close friend Ensign Hiroshi Nemoto, who also was in the Shōwa Special Attack Unit at Yatabe Naval Air Group. He wrote the letter thinking that Nemoto had died in battle, but he must of survived his original sortie, since Japanese military records indicate that he died in a special attack on May 11, 1945 [1], which was 23 days after Toyama wrote this letter to Nemoto's father that his son had died. He sent the letter from Yatabe Air Base. Toyama uses the Japanese term of endearment "Older Brother" to refer to his friend Hiroshi Nemoto.

Dear Denshirō Nemoto,

Preliminaries omitted. Because today the last letter of Ensign Nemoto arrived, I am delivering it to you.

Since my time with intermediate trainer aircraft, I had a deep friendship with Ensign Nemoto. Even on the occasion when he received a sortie order, we wept together that we would not be able to go together. I truly feel heartbreaking grief that Older Brother, who was always saying that "even though we were born at different times, the time of our deaths would be together," departed before me.

The presence during the lifetime of Older Brother, who was in our Shōwa Unit, was a model to me as a military man since he coupled together an amicable character with superior skills, and he had a great reputation among both those above and below him. Even though it is regrettable to lose a promising youth like Older Brother, from the beginning it was for the country, and it is an honor to your esteemed family. The deed that he had to carry out will shine in history, and to us who remain it is the target of envy.

We soon will follow after Older Brother and offer our bodies to die in the southern sea. I am determined to carry out surely a hisshi hitchū (certain-death, sure-hit) taiatari (body-crashing) attack to follow Older Brother's wishes.

I finish writing as I pray for the health of everyone in your esteemed family.

Due to my naturally poor handwriting, please understand my feelings in addition to reading the letter.

April 18, 1945

Kamikaze Special Attack Corp Shōwa Unit
Yūji Toyama

Postscript - Today I also received the long-awaited sortie order, and in high spirits I will follow after Ensign Nemoto. So as surely to not fail to meet everyone's expectations, with calmness until the end I will hit an enemy ship.

Hiroshi Nemoto wrote a final letter to his family dated April 13, 1945.

Toyama wrote the following after selection as a Special Attack Corps member. The piece was published in the Taiwan Shinpō newspaper on July 30, 1945:

The long-awaited sortie order was received. Finally I will set off on an ambitious undertaking. My comrades, who I always exchanged words of "we'll be together at the time of death," have made sorties one after another and carried out taiatari (body-crashing) attacks. In the midst of these, I have been passing several days on stand-by, and several times I gnashed my teeth and wept. As for my attitude of saying things like "after you is fine as I can die for the country" and "only dying is different than public service," my obstinacy was not forgiven. I live for the great cause of loyalty by a taiatari (body-crashing) attack. Since the time when I was not in the Navy, I pushed forward on the path that I should advance on with the belief that learning and knowledge were second or third and no match for being filled with a spirit of reverence for the Emperor. Hoping for several days that I would be selected for the Special Attack Corps, I waited for the day of the announcement. Perhaps my intention was known by the Commander and the Squad Leader, and fortunately I was selected as a little Corps member. Ah, what deep emotion, what joy. (portion omitted) As a child who has parents overflowing with love, is there someone other than me?

(remainder omitted)

Writings translated by Bill Gordon
August 2019

The writings come from Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai (1995, 69-71). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai (1995, 69) and Osuo (2005, 204).


1. Osuo 2005, 204.

Sources Cited

Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai (Navy Flight Reserve Students 14th Class Association), ed. 1995. Zoku Ā dōki no sakura (Continuation Ah, cherry blossoms of same class). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.

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