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Last Letter of Lieutenant Junior Grade Seizō Ishikawa

On January 12, 1945, Lieutenant Junior Grade Seizō Ishikawa died in a special (suicide) attack at the age of 21 when submarine I-58 launched his kaiten manned torpedo at Guam Island's Apra Harbor. On December 30, 1944, submarine I-58 made a sortie from Ōtsushima Kaiten Base in Yamaguchi Prefecture with four kaiten pilots who were members of the Kaiten Special Attack Corps Kongō Unit. Ishikawa was from Ibaraki Prefecture and graduated in the 72nd Class of the Naval Academy at Etajima. He received a promotion to Lieutenant Commander after his death by special attack.

He wrote the following last latter with a death poem at the end:

The date for decisive action has come. We four crewmen are in high spirits. We will terrify Apra Harbor. The form of Guam Island, with the pale moon and scattered starlight in early January, floats like it is sleeping. Who knows the mayhem in a few hours?

For the Emperor, with our lives as they are, we have come to the place where we had to come.

My life of 22 years is just like a dream. Today will show life's meaning. As the peak in the decisive battle between Japan and America, we will stop our declining fortunes in one stroke and defend forever the Empire's glorious 3,000-history. Japan is a divine country. Shinshū [1] is indestructible. After us there will be very many stalwart youths. We offer our lives to defend the Empire.

Now we go to the world of eternal splendid righteousness where we will get away from the realm of human existence.

Prosperity for descendants from gods shining in heavens
I pray for, a flower going to fall in Pacific Ocean


Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
August 2018

The letter and poem come from Matsugi (1971, 72-3). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Matsugi (1971, 72) and Mediasion (2006, 46, 48, 80).

Note

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

Sources Cited

Matsugi, Fujio, ed. 1971. Kaigun tokubetsu kōgekitai no isho (Last letters of Navy Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: KK Bestsellers.

The Mediasion Co. 2006. Ningen gyorai kaiten (Kaiten human torpedo). Hiroshima: The Mediasion Co.