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Heroic Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps
(1983 cover)
(originally published as
Ah, Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps
in 1970)

Last Letter of Lieutenant Junior Grade Masaaki Kijima to His Younger Brother

At 1330 on April 6, 1945, Lieutenant Junior Grade Masaaki Kijima took off from Kushira Air Base as pilot in a Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber (Allied code name of Kate) carrying an 800-kg bomb. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 1st Hachiman Goō [1] Squadron from Usa Air Group. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 24. He was from Tōkyō Prefecture, attended Keiō Gijuku University in Tōkyō, and was a member of the 13th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).

He wrote the following final letter to his younger brother:

To Toshikazu

As the long-cherished desire of a young man, nothing surpasses the sortie finally set for tomorrow at noon. The base here in southern Kyūshū is in Satsuma of Kagoshima Prefecture, which is the homeland of the Kijima Family. Looking up at Mount Kirishima and passing over Mount Sakurajima, I will strike the enemy in the southern seas. Please be glad.

Toshikazu, I earnestly request something of you. As the core of the family and third in the Kijima Family, please act steadfastly in place of me. My final request is only that everyone in the family get along well together and you have no unpleasant thoughts. And as for you, please relieve everyone's anxiety by taking a wife soon. It is still early with your being 21 years old, but when you become about 24 you can find one.

The impending battle at Okinawa is truly a battle that will decide the fate of Japan. We will go and certainly vanquish them. Afterward, please study hard and, as part of the technical unit of the Special Attack Corps, construct an amazing aircraft that will not lose against America. In any case it will be a good aircraft. I request a new weapon. Our request is only for Japan's technical group.

P.S. On the night before the sortie, I asked Technical Lieutenant Kuwayama to send to you a lock of hair as a memento. He will be your superior on the path as you advance.

Letter translated by Bill Gordon
April 2018

The letter comes from Kitagawa (1970, 118-9). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kitagawa (1970, 118) 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. Goō means "protecting the Emperor" in Japanese.

Sources Cited

Kitagawa, Mamoru, ed. 1970. Ā kamikaze tokkōtai: Kaerazaru seishun no isho shū (Ah, 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.