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Manoa 13.1 (2001) 120-123



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Last Letters

Kamikaze Pilots


LIEUTENANT YONETSU YOSHITARO TO HIS BROTHER AND STEPMOTHER

Kamikaze Special Attack Group Fugoku
Killed near Luzon Island on 13 November 1944
Native of Shizuoka Prefecture

Honorable Older Brother,

Once again, orders have come down for the attack from which we will never return. I feel not the slightest regret. Already I have grown intimate with death, the ultimate character-building passage that we human beings have to face. All that is left is to carry out the duties for which I've been trained and to fulfill the Imperial mandate. I am deeply ashamed that in the twenty-seven years of my life I have been such an unworthy son and younger brother.

I will have to leave everything up to you. It is with an untroubled heart that I fulfill the obligations for which I was born. I am merely carrying out my duties as a man.

The made-in-Manila bar of toilet soap you'll find in my things was given to me by the chief of staff. Please take good care of Mother, and take care of yourself in the coming winter.

Yoshitaro



Honorable Mother,

Please forgive the impiety of my premature departure. However, I am certain that both you and my departed mother will be happy that in serving the Emperor your Yoshitaro is becoming one of the guardian spirits of Yasukuni Shrine. Nevertheless, it pains me deeply that I am causing you sorrow in your twilight years. Please forgive me.

Yoshitaro [End Page 120]



LIEUTENANT UEMURA MASAHISA TO HIS CHILD

Kamikaze Special Attack Group Yamato
Died 26 October 1944 in the Philippines at age 25
Graduate of Rikkyo University, Tokyo

Motoko,

You often laughed when you looked at my face. You slept in my arms, and we bathed together. Motoko, when you grow up and want to know about me, ask your mother and Aunt Kayo. I also left my photo album at home for you. It was I who named you Motoko. I thought of you as becoming a gentle, kind, and sensitive person.

I want to see you grow up to be a splendid bride, but even if I die without your knowing me, you must not grieve. When you get older and want to see me, come to Kudan and pray with all your heart, and my face will appear before you. I think you are a happy person. You resemble me very much. When people see you, they often say how much you look like me.

Your aunt and uncle treat you so well for you are their only hope. And your mother, your happiness is her whole life. Whatever becomes of me, never think of yourself as a child without parents. I too will always be watching over you. Be good, and be the kind of person others will like.

When you get older and begin to think of me, please ask someone to read this to you.

Dad

P.S. The toy doll you had as a child I took with me in my airplane as a good-luck charm--this way you are always with me. I tell you this because I think it would be wrong for you not to know.



CAPTAIN FURUKAWA TAKAO TO HIS WIFE

Killed in the sea off Kagoshima on 21 April 1945 at age 25
Native of Saga Prefecture

Recently, in calmer moments, I find my thoughts returning continually to you and our soon-to-be-born child. Please take good care of your health. When we first arrived at our base in Kyushu, there was a sudden change in plans, and we were all ordered into special attack units. I expected to depart at any moment. Every day, as I waited for my first, and last, attack, I reread the letter you wrote the day you made the jelly and gazed at the photos of you and Sister Etchan.

Surprisingly, my heart was perfectly at peace--as though another me were gazing upon the me that was so calm. [End Page 121]

But orders, for better or...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-943x
Print ISSN
1045-7909
Pages
pp. 120-123
Launched on MUSE
2001-04-01
Open Access
No
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