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Last Letter of Corporal Shigeru Matsudo to His Parents

On April 13, 1945, Corporal Shigeru Matsudo took off from Bansei Air Base as a member of the 104th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 20. He piloted an Army Type 99 Assault Plane (Allied nickname of Sonia). After his death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Second Lieutenant. He was from Yamanashi Prefecture [1] and was a member of the 14th Class of the Koga Pilot Training School in Ibaraki Prefecture.

He wrote the following final letter to his parents:

Dear Father, Mother, and everyone else,

The eternal Empire of 3,000 years has reached a distressing critical time due to the barbarians. The Emperor's elite Army must absolutely destroy them and now is mounting a great operation.

I also will take responsibility in this great national crisis, which must be described as the Mongol invasion of Japan [2] in the Shōwa Era [3], and will participate in an operation where we must fight very bravely as did Michiari Kawano [4].

When I consider, time and time again I think that it is regrettable and inexcusable that I will go and fall without having done anything in response to the blessings of your having raised me well until now and causing me to become a fine person. I left your home at an early age and caused only many troubles for you. Even though I am flung into a foreign sea, I surely will never forget you. Previously you unfortunately lost my older brother due to illness. While your tears of indignation still have not departed, I truly can guess your state of mind when you receive news of my death that will be too much for you.

All is for the Empire's defense. Also, when I reflect, most importantly it is so everyone will be able to live in comfort in the next world. When you get news of my death in battle, it is definitely not like I suffered a defeat. Father, Mother, and Everyone, if together you smile and shout "live long!" (banzai), I will be extremely pleased. In the other world I certainly will be glad.

Now I do not have any complaints. This has been my destiny since the time when I first entered Koga Pilot Training School, where I intended to serve as a civil aviation pilot. However, due to the war situation after this, the time has arrived when totally anything and everything must be offered for the Empire. I believe it being fully aware of these things.

Now when I leave Daegu in Korea, the cherry trees are in full bloom. When these cherry blossoms fall, I together with them will go and fall splendidly. Father, Mother, and Everyone, please dispose of all my things and pay sincere attention to your physical and mental health. I will stop writing as I am praying that you can live comfortably in this world.

April 7, 1945

Letter translated by Bill Gordon
March 2018

The letter and other information on this page come from Chiran (2005, 111, 180), Naemura (1993, 142-3), and Osuo (2005, 203).


1. Naemura (1993, 142) states Shigeru Matsudo came from Yamanashi Prefecture, whereas Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 111) indicates he came from Yokohama City in Kanagawa Prefecture. The explanation for this discrepancy could not be found.

2. The Mongol invasions of Japan occurred in 1274 and 1281.

3. The Shōwa Era was the name for the reign of Emperor Hirohito from 1926 to 1989.

4. Turnball (2010, 63) tells the story of Michiari Kawano, a hero in the battle of Japan against the Mongol invasion in 1281. Kawano boarded a Mongol ship and with his swordplay killed a huge Mongol warrior and captured a high-ranking Mongol general.

Sources Cited

Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (Chiran Special Attack Memorial Society), ed. 2005. Konpaku no kiroku: Kyū rikugun tokubetsu kōgekitai chiran kichi (Record of departed spirits: Former Army Special Attack Corps Chiran Base). Revised edition, originally published in 2004. Chiran Town, Kagoshima Prefecture: Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai.

Naemura, Hichirō. 1993. Rikugun saigo no tokkō kichi: Bansei tokkōtaiin no isho to isatsu (Army's last special attack base: Last letters and photographs of Bansei special attack corps members). Ōsaka: Tōhō Shuppan.

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

Turnbull, Stephen. 2010. The Mongol Invasions of Japan 1274 and 1281. Illustrated by Richard Hook. Oxford: Osprey Publishing.