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4th May 1945

The Times today publishes in translation the letter of a Japanese mother, written to a lieutenant in the Shimbu unit of the special attack corps who had sent her a photograph of her son, a corporal in the same unit. “The letter,” notes the Times, “was written on a piece of rolled paper. The calligraphy was pleasing to the eye. The Letter itself, a revealing struggle between the conventions of patriotism and an elemental anguish, follows:

“It is spring and I am full of a profound sense of gratitude to you. I am the mother of X, whose photograph you were so kind as to send me some time ago. I am in tears under the influence of the strong emotions that come upon me at the thought that you were good enough to send me the last photograph of my son, after you had done so much kindness to him. I know from the newspapers and the radiobroadcasts that were young men are ending their lives gloriously by ramming enemy vessels. It pains my heart to think that our country Japan is facing such a severe trial. I was anxiously hoping for the speedy arrival of the day when my son, a man utterly inexperienced in military service, would go into action without doing anything that might expose him to the charge of delaying in the demonstration of his loyalty to the national cause. Then I was informed of his selection for your (special attack) unit. There could be no greater joy for me, as a mother in a military country, a mother of Japan fighting the decisive battle. All I have to do now is to pray that he performed a great deed for our land Japan. After I received the photograph I stared at it for a long time. I tool it out of its envelope many times, with the thought that my son wished to speak to me. But I looked at my son in the photograph not as my son but as a soldier of the empire. Still I find it difficult to think that my son is no more. Whenever l hear the roar of a training plane it is with difficulty that I keep myself from running out; I think then that it is my son who has come to say goodbye after all. Please do not laugh at this, considering it the fancy of a foolish woman. My only wish, I assure you, is for the day of victory.”