Letter of Ensign Tarō Tsukamoto to His Parents
Ensign Tarō Tsukamoto died at the age of 21 when submarine I-48, which was carrying
four kaiten human torpedoes, was sunk by a US Navy attack near Ulithi Atoll.
Based on U.S. Navy reports as to when a Japanese submarine was sunk, this most
likely occurred on January 23. 1945. No radio contact was made with the
submarine after it left the Japanese mainland, so the Japanese Navy recorded the
sinking as January 21, 1945, based on the scheduled date of the attack on
January 9, 1945, submarine I-48 made a sortie from Ōtsushima Kaiten Base in Yamaguchi
Prefecture with 118 crewmen and four kaiten pilots who were members of the Kaiten
Special Attack Corps Kongō Unit. All men on board died when the submarine
was attacked. Tsukamoto was from Ibaraki Prefecture, attended Keiō University in
Tōkyō, and was a member of the 4th Class of Navy Branch Reserve
Students (Heika Yobi Gakusei). He received a two-rank promotion to Lieutenant after his death, which was recognized by the
Navy as part of a special (suicide) attack.
Tsukamoto wrote the following letter to his parents:
I am sending some items with a friend who is returning home for a visit.
There is nothing for me to say. I just am waiting quietly for the time that
If in Japan I am not buried as a war hero, it will be a war that cannot
I do not have any worries in particular other than repeated air attacks
Please take care of yourselves. I did not write a letter, but do not be
worried. It is not I of old times. Please exclude me quickly from among
conditions for your happiness. If I do not speak and meet with you, it is
expected that it is not a heart that you do not understand. Some day I will
send a final letter that will give you joy.
Honestly, I have fond memories from my youth. Because of you, I was happy
when in the train car on the way home, but it was unpleasant when I heard
Mother's tearful voice. Please be happier and work hard until the day of
Yūsaku, Hideko, and Ioko certainly will become good children who will
show parental filial piety.
Mama and Papa, please believe in what I will do.
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter comes from Mediasion (2006, 92). The biographical and mission
information of submarine I-48 come from Konada and Kataoka (2006, 147-54, 378)
and Mediasion (2006, 49, 81).
Konada, Toshiharu, and Noriaki Kataoka. 2006. Tokkō
kaiten sen: Kaiten tokkōtai taichō no kaisō (Special attack kaiten
battles: Kaiten special attack corps leader's reminiscences). Tōkyō:
The Mediasion Co. 2006. Ningen gyorai kaiten (Kaiten
human torpedo). Hiroshima: The Mediasion Co.