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

Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Yoshizō Watanabe to His Parents

At 1245 on April 6, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Yoshizō Watanabe took off from Kushira Air Base as radio operator/gunner in a Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber (Allied code name of Kate) carrying an 800-kg bomb. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 1st Goō Hakuro [1] Squadron from Himeji Naval Air Group. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 20. He was from Hokkaidō Prefecture and was a member of the 12th Kō Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).

He wrote the following final letter:

Dear Parents,

Hope you are feeling better and better. The war situation is as you see in the newspapers. There are also few remaining students from my same class in the good old days. The longed-for opportunity has arrived. After enjoying a year and a half biding my time, I will only display my skills.

Now I will make a sortie. I have not one regret. Life and death for someone like me are not worthy to be a problem. My long-cherished desire is to be able to carry out only my mission. Shinshū [2] is absolutely indestructible.

Give my regards to everyone. I will go together with Yoshirō's spirit.


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
April 2018

The letter comes from Kitagawa (1970, 112-3). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kitagawa (1970, 112) and Osuo (2005, 220).


1. The word Goō means "protecting the Emperor." Hakuro (白鷺), also pronounced as shirasagi, means white egret. Himeji Castle, which dates back to the 14th century, has the name of Shirasagi Castle or Hakuro Castle. The squadron's pronunciation of Hakuro comes from several Japanese sources including the following article from Sankei News dated May 23, 2017: "Hakuro-tai no tokkō ni shiryō de semaru: Himeji-shi heiwa shiryōkan de ihin nado 200-ten tenji" (Approaching the special attacks of Hakuro Squadrons through source material: 200 objects displayed at Himeji City Peace Museum) <https://www.sankei.com/region/news/170523/rgn1705230024-n1.html> (January 13, 2020).

2. Shinshū refers to Japan and literally means "divine land."

Sources Cited

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.