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Last Letters of Navy
Special Attack Corps

Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Fumio Minagawa to His Mother

At 1330 on April 6, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Fumio Minagawa took off from Kushira Air Base as radio operator/gunner in a Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber (Allied code name of Kate). He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 1st Hachiman Gokō [1] Squadron from Usa Air Group. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 18. He grew up in Fukushima Prefecture and was a member of the 11th Kō Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).

He wrote the following final letter:

Dear Mother,

I will write a few words just before the special attack. Being able to be born as a man, it is my heart's desire.

There truly is no excuse for my not being able to do even one act of filial piety in response to your 20 years [2] of raising me.

However, expecting that today only a few hours are left, I will carry out a taiatari (body-crashing) attack against a large aircraft carrier of the enemy, and you will hear pleasant news. This is my only filial piety.

Departure is soon, and I will say my farewell now.

Please give my regards to my older brother, my older sister, and everyone. Please live in good health.


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
March 2018

The letter comes from Matsugi (1971, 153). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Matsugi (1971, 153) 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.

2. 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 most likely explains why the letter indicates his age as 20 whereas the modern way of counting age based on his birth date (Matsugi 1971, 153) indicates his age was 18 at the time of his death.

Sources Cited

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

Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.