Last Letters of Navy
Special Attack Corps (1971)
Last Letter of Ensign Kinji Yamamoto to His Father
At 0600 on May 4, 1945, Ensign Kinji Yamamoto took off from Ibusuki Air Base
as radioman in a three-man Type 0 Reconnaissance Seaplane (Allied code name of
Jake) carrying an 800-kg bomb. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack
Corps 1st Sakigake Squadron. He died in a special (suicide) attack off
Okinoerabu Island at the age of 23. He was from Hyōgo Prefecture and had been a student at Waseda University in Tōkyō before
entering the Navy. He was a
member of the 14th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students, and after
training he became a member of the Kitaura Air Group in Ibaraki Prefecture.
He wrote the following final letter:
I now have come to Takuma Air Group . This
month on the 12th I came from Kitaura to this place as a member of the
Special Attack Corps, and finally tomorrow (29th) I will make a sortie.
I caused many troubles for 25 years .
Moreover, I have not repaid in any way your kindness to me. All is for an
eternal cause. There is not anything specific to say as a will. Just please
give my warmest regards to Hamamoto. I would like you to do this though I
think you have no relationship to him.
Do not forget that I went to my death smiling on the Emperor's Birthday 
in 1945. I will attack the target of an enemy ship.
It has been a very long time since I have written to you, and from you
please give my best wishes to others. Give my regards to everyone. The last
time to get together was when I met with Mother and Older Brother Kazuichi
last year on October 25.
Take good care of Hikomi and Jūichi. Chieko also, do your very best.
Older Sister Shigeko also, take care. Since it would be endless if I list
names one by one, please handle greetings for me.
Now I will depart.
April 28, 1945
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter comes from Matsugi
(1971, 186-7). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
(1971, 186) and Osuo (2005, 237).
1. Takuma Air Base was located near Tadotsu Town
in Kagawa Prefecture.
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 25 whereas the current way of counting age based
on his birth date in Matsugi (1971, 167) indicates that his age was 23 at time
3. Emperor Hirohito's birthday was on April 29.
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.