Heroic Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps: Collected last
letters of youth that
would not return (1983)
Last Letter of Ensign Masato Yamaguchi to His Mother
Sometime between 1130 and 1150 on April 12, 1945, Ensign Masato Yamaguchi took off
from Kokubu No. 1 Air Base as gunner/radio operator in a Type 99 Carrier Dive
Bomber (Allied code name of Val) carrying a 250-kg bomb and died in a special
(suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 24. He was a member of the Kamikaze
Special Attack Corps 2nd Hachiman Gokō  Squadron
from Usa Air Group. He was from Saga Prefecture, attended Ube Technical College
in Yamaguchi Prefecture,
and was a member of the 13th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō
He wrote the following final letter to his mother:
Please forgive me for omitting preliminary remarks in haste. Finally the
time has arrived when I can repay a ten-thousandth of the Emperor's
boundless kindness. For the Empire with its glorious 3,000-year history, now
a great decisive battle, with the country's destiny at stake, is developing. I
have the privilege of being able to participate in the arena of this great
decisive battle. There is nothing that surpasses this as the long-cherished
desire of a military man.
When I think back, you raised me with affection for 24 years from the
time Father died when I was young. Now the time has come for me to carry out
a daring mission to certainly hit a target. I am absolutely determined to
carry it out splendidly and achieve honor for the Yamaguchi family name. I,
who have not been able to do one act of filial piety, will go believing that this
will be my only act of filial piety.
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter on this page comes from Kitagawa
(1983, 134-5). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes Kitagawa
(1983, 134-5) and Osuo (2005, 217).
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.
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.