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Last Letters of Navy
Special Attack Corps

Last Letters of Ensign Kōzō Koizumi to His Parents

At 1423 on April 29, 1945, Ensign Kōzō Koizumi took off from Kanoya Air Base as pilot in a Zero Fighter Trainer carrying a 250-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 22. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 5th Shōwa Squadron from Yatabe Naval Air Group in Ibaraki Prefecture. He was from Kanagawa Prefecture, attended Yokohama College of Commerce, and was a member of the 14th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).

He wrote the following last letter:

Dear Father and Mother,

I think that you were very surprised to find out that I am a member of the Special Attack Corps.

As for my life, I was prepared beforehand to die, but nevertheless when it is certain that I will die in battle, for me feelings like regrets arise again, and I think that I have not really accepted it. I indeed must have been an important person for the Koizumi Family. You had many hopes for me. I know quite well how much you did for me.

However, Father and Mother, now it is truly a time of crisis for Japan. America massed nearly a majority of its troop strength and came to invade Okinawa.

Against this Japan also has devoted its entire troop strength and expects to wipe them out. Moreover, in all points there is no other way than one, by special attacks, to achieve a breakthrough in this war situation under difficult conditions and to turn back the major offensive.

If we can defeat the greater part of the huge enemy task force gathered for the decisive battle at Okinawa, at that time there is no doubt of Japan's victory. The essential point is that this most wonderful opportunity to determine the war's outcome is truly this decisive battle at Okinawa.

At this time, if there is no other way to save Japan except the Special Attack Corps, Father and Mother, what path can I take? I think that you would always say to become a member of the honored Special Attack Corps and to stand up for our country Japan. The path that I have chosen is this.

Some person may think that if he does not do anything there are many crewmen who are Special Attack Corps members. However, I will not permit in my heart the way of thinking that says that. Several tens of thousands of lives have been lost in the execution of this war. Before their spirits at Yasukuni [1], considering also those people who fighting bravely for production as they struggle with many hardships, such personal thinking absolutely is not tolerated.

If I do not do it, who will? If each person is not here due to this feeling, it is definitely no exaggeration to say that Japan absolutely will lose.

And what loyalty will exist with the country defeated? The time when resolve must be carried out of seven lives to serve the country [2] is truly needed now in this period.

Father and Mother, losing me will be sad, but please think well about circumstances such as these.

Also, as for one useful point of this decisive battle, please think of the honor that your own son achieved. Speaking like this is perhaps giving advice that may not be necessary. However, I did not shrink from writing about it since I think that when your son really has died, won't new sorrows occur, and also won't Mother with her weak constitution become ill (of course I do not think such a thing will happen)?

My close friend Serizu unfortunately died during special attack training. However, although one might say that he did not accomplish his objective, he superbly went forward directly on the path of his firm belief. I think that it is good to say that his loyalty was realized splendidly.

Serizu's path is my path. I am determined that I will succeed together for Serizu's part also.

Both Tomita and Nakamura soon will proceed on the same path as ours.

It has become late at night. Here I will stop writing. There are holes in the roof from bombs dropped by enemy B-29 bombers, and a light rain is falling through there.

Koizumi also wrote the following final letter:

Dear Father and Mother,

I think that tomorrow we in the Shōwa Unit also finally will receive an order in the OO [3] No. OO Operation.

As long as the enemy task force does not appear again, we will make sure-hit taiatari (body-crashing) attacks on enemy ships in the anchorage at Nakagusuku Bay or Kadena Bay at the main island of Okinawa, and we will destroy them completely.

Under a dim oil lamp with all of my preparations completely finished, I am writing my final letter with a peaceful feeling.

Please imagine me as Father's son standing calmly and full of self-confidence. It is best that you have no worries at all concerning me and that you be at ease.

Finally, I deeply thank you for your kindness to me. I pray for your health and for great joy for the Koizumi Family.

April 27, 10 p.m.


Letters translated by Bill Gordon
April 2018 and September 2019

The first letter comes from Matsugi (1971, 49-51), and the second letter comes from Kitagawa (1970, 186-7). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kitagawa (1970, 186), Matsugi (1971, 48), and Osuo (2005, 204).


1. Yasukuni Jinja (Shrine) in Tōkyō is the place of enshrinement for spirits of Japan's war dead.

2. According to legend, "seven lives to serve the country" were the last words of 14th-century samurai Kusunoki Masashige.

3. The OO indicates that the information could not be shown in correspondence to civilians, since it was considered a military secret.

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.

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.