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Heroic Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps: Collected last
letters of youth that
would not return
(1983)

 
Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Takumi Matsuo to His Family

At 1500 on April 7, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Takumi Matsuo took off from Miyazaki Air Base as radio operator/gunner in a Ginga bomber (Allied code name of Frances) loaded with an 800-kg bomb. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 3rd Mitate Squadron from the 706th Naval Air Group. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 19. He was from Nagasaki Prefecture and was a member of the 17th Otsu Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).

He wrote the following final letter to his family:

To everyone in the family,

I trust that my parents are in good health as usual. I also, in very high spirits, am working diligently at my military tasks. I apologize for not writing until now. Today I was designated again as a member of a special attack unit in its formation, and I will make a sortie. With some free time just before the sortie, I was able to write a short letter.

I am thankful for the more than ten years since I received life in this world. I am determined to repay the Emperor's kindness by making a splendid taiatari (body-crashing) attack into an enemy aircraft carrier at Okinawa. Can there be anything else that surpasses this as the long-cherished desire of young man? I will die honorably in battle as a flower to defend the country. I at twenty years of age [1] offer myself to the Emperor.

Father, Mother, do not cry. Surely do not cry. Please praise me.

Everyone in the family, please live happily forever and ever. I give you my thanks for what you did for me during my life.

Since my package has little, I asked someone else to send it to you. Please make it be of some help.

Give my regards to the neighbors, relatives, and elementary school teachers. Also, to my older sisters I request your support. Well then, I am going to Yasukuni [2].

Written at 11 a.m. on April 6


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
April 2018

The letter comes from Kitagawa (1983, 116-7). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kitagawa (1983, 116) and Osuo (2005, 228).

Notes

1. The traditional Japanese method of counting age, as in much of East Asia, regards a child as age one at birth and adds an additional year on each New Year's day thereafter. This explains why the letter indicates his age as 20 whereas Kitagawa (1983, 116) indicates his age was 19 at the time of his death.

2. Yasukuni Shrine in Tōkyō is the place of enshrinement for spirits of Japan's war dead.

Sources Cited

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.