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Last Letter of Corporal Tsugio Watanabe to His Parents

On April 16, 1945, Corporal Tsugio Watanabe took off from Chiran Air Base and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 19. He was a member of the 108th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron. He piloted an Army Type 97 Fighter (Allied code name of Nate). After his death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Second Lieutenant. He was from Hokkaidō Prefecture and was a member of the 14th Class of the Sendai Pilot Training School.

Watanabe wrote the following final letter to his parents. The end of the letter has a tanka poem (31-syllable poem with lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables).

Dear Parents,

Recently I was selected as a member of the honorable Special Attack Corps. Please be glad. I hoped for this for a long time. There is no long-cherished desire of a young man that surpasses this. I bravely will make a sortie with honor for our family.

I truly thank you for taking care of me for the long period of twenty years.

Thanks to you, I also have become a person who can die gladly on behalf of the Emperor.

Older Brother, Yoshiko, and Terumasa, please take care.

Please give my regards to Aunt Rei, our relatives, and all of my cousins. I pray that you will have very long lives.


When going to the skies
A corpse coloring the clouds
Now I
Aimed at enemy ship
Will go forward earnestly


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
February 2018

The letter and biographical information on this page come from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 114, 153) and Osuo (2005, 204).

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.

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