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Last letters, poems, and
writings of Navy Preparatory
Flight Trainees (1)

Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Hiroshi Yabuta to His Parents

At 1420 on April 29, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Hiroshi Yabuta took off from Kanoya Air Base as pilot in a Zero Fighter Trainer carrying a 250-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 19. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 5th Shōwa Squadron from Yatabe Naval Air Group in Ibaraki Prefecture. He was from Ōsaka Prefecture and was a member of the 18th Otsu Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).

He wrote the following final letter to his parents with a death poem at the end:

It has become the season when cherry blossoms blooming in profusion are falling. Finally I will make a sortie tomorrow as a member of the Special Attack Corps. From the beginning when I entered the Navy, I believed that there was nothing else but to offer my life for the Emperor and country. Now I must have no regrets.

At the time of crisis for our country with its history from 3,000 years ago, with my life I will make a taiatari (body-crashing) attack into an enemy ship. This is a young man's long-cherished desire to repay the great debt to the Emperor and country.

If I calmly look back, I humbly desire that you forgive me for not being able to repay anything at all to you first, all of my relatives, and everyone who until today raised me up to stand on my own.

As an older brother I really regret not being able to show care for my younger brothers. However, if giving up my one life for the Empire is loyalty to the Emperor when I certainly will make a taiatari (body-crashing) attack into an enemy aircraft carrier, then I know this will be filial piety to my parents. My close friend Yokoyama went before me and fell as a flower. You can guess my state of mind when this comrade whose birthday was the same year, month, and date as mine went ahead of me. Now if I go away to the sea, I shall be a corpse washed up. If I go away to the skies, I will make a sortie, carry out a splendid taiatari attack, and become a corpse in the clouds. When you hear of the success, please be glad.

Even though there are a number of things that I want to write to you about, I cannot write on and on as I desire now. Finally, praying for everyone's health, I stop writing.

Against many enemies coming to Japan
Thrilled to make taiatari (body-crashing) attack with plane

Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
September 2018

The letter and poem come from Kojima (2004, 11). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kojima (2004, 11) and Osuo (2005, 204).

Sources Cited

Kojima, Keizō, ed. 2004. Kaigun hikō yoka renshūsei isho • iei • ikōshū (1) (Last letters, poems, and writings of Navy Preparatory Flight Trainees (1)). Tōkyō: Unabarakai.

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