Heroic Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps: Collected last
letters of youth that
would not return (1983)
Last Letter of Lieutenant Junior Grade Masaaki Kijima to His Younger Brother
At 1330 on April 6, 1945, Lieutenant Junior Grade Masaaki Kijima took off
from Kushira Air Base as pilot 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 Hachiman Gokō  Squadron from
Usa Air Group. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of
24. He was from Tōkyō Prefecture, attended Keiō Gijuku University in Tōkyō, and
was a member of the 13th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi
He wrote the following final letter to his younger brother:
As the long-cherished desire of a young man, nothing surpasses the sortie
finally set for tomorrow at noon. The base here in southern Kyūshū is in Satsuma
Kagoshima Prefecture, which is the homeland of the Kijima Family. Looking up
at Mount Kirishima and passing over Mount Sakurajima, I will strike the
enemy in the southern seas. Please be glad.
Toshikazu, I earnestly request something of you. As the core of the
family and third in the Kijima Family, please act steadfastly in place of
me. My final request is only that everyone in the family get along well
together and you have no unpleasant thoughts. And as for you, please relieve
everyone's anxiety by taking a wife soon. It is still early with your being
21 years old, but when you become about 24 you can find one.
The impending battle at Okinawa is truly a battle that will decide the
fate of Japan. We will go and certainly vanquish them. Afterward, please
study hard and, as part of the technical unit of the Special Attack Corps,
construct an amazing aircraft that will not lose against America. In any
case it will be a good aircraft. I request a new weapon. Our request is only
for Japan's technical group.
P.S. On the night before the sortie, I asked Technical Lieutenant
Kuwayama to send to you a lock of hair as a memento. He will be your
superior on the path as you advance.
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter comes from Kitagawa
(1983, 118-9). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
(1983, 118) and Osuo (2005, 214).
1. Hachiman is the Japanese god of military power.
Usa City in Ōita Prefecture has the first Hachiman Shrine, which was established
in the early 8th century. Gokō means "protecting the Emperor" in Japanese.
Kitagawa, Mamoru, ed. 1983. Sōretsu kamikaze tokkōtai: Kaerazaru seishun no isho
shū (Heroic 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.