Heroic Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps (1983 cover)
(originally published as
Ah, Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps in 1970)
Last Letter of Ensign Shizuo Komuro to His Mother
At 1345 on April 6, 1945, Ensign Shizuo Komuro took off
from Kushira Air Base as navigator/observer 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 Goō Hakuro  Squadron
from Himeji Naval Air Group. He died in
a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 23. He was from Shimane
Prefecture, attended Yokohama Higher Technical School, and was a member of the 13th
Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students.
He wrote the following final letter to his mother with two death poems in
tanka form (31-syllable poem with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7) at the
There is no excuse for not writing to you for such a long time. Please
rest assured since everyday I am serving in high spirits. The war finally
has reached a climax, and the American counteroffensive also has become more
and more intense. I am unable to suppress my joy that the day has come when
I also will obtain honor with my first battle. As a child of His Majesty, I
am happy that the day has come when I will meet an enemy aircraft carrier. I
will become a cornerstone for the country's eternal glory. I will follow
after my senior, Commander Seki , by making a
taiatari (body-crashing) attack. I will live for an eternal cause.
This is the kamikaze spirit.
I absolutely will not forget the kindness shown to me for 25 years 
until now by you, Grandfather, Grandmother, and all of the relatives who raised
me. It is understood what was said by Uncle, "How should a person die?"
Now I have no negative emotions. I think that participating in this war
as a Navy crewman will be an honor for all generations of the family. Death
is natural because I participated in the war. Definitely please do not be
sad. With the destruction of the country, what family will there be? I
entrust everything regarding family matters to everyone. I think that Kiyoko
also can understand well my inner feelings.
I have no last words. Please give my best regards to those people who
have cared for me until now.
I saw Izumo Grand Shrine  from above in my
plane. I also viewed the Oki Islands from the distance. I also saw Matsue
I am praying for your health.
It is my poor work, but I will leave a couple of poems.
As for this favor of being born in a glorious country
I will fall as a cherry blossom and return
For the country to win against a foreign country
I will be a sakimori of the skies
A sakimori was a soldier in Japan during the 7th to 9th century who
protected the western frontier of Japan. Poems written by sakimori
are included in the Manyōshū, the oldest surviving anthology of Japanese
poetry compiled in the last half of the 8th century.
Letter and poems translated by Bill Gordon
The letter and poems come from Kitagawa
(1970, 126-7). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
(1970, 126) and Osuo (2005, 221).
1. The word Goō means "protecting the Emperor."
Hakuro (白鷺), also pronounced as shirasagi, means white egret. Himeji Castle, which dates back to the 14th
century, has the name of Shirasagi Castle or Hakuro Castle. The squadron's
pronunciation of Hakuro comes from several Japanese sources including the
following article from Sankei News dated May 23, 2017: "Hakuro-tai no tokkō
ni shiryō de semaru: Himeji-shi heiwa shiryōkan de ihin nado 200-ten tenji"
(Approaching the special attacks of Hakuro Squadrons through source material:
200 objects displayed at Himeji City Peace Museum) <https://www.sankei.com/region/news/170523/rgn1705230024-n1.html>
(January 13, 2020).
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 explains why the letter
indicates his age as 25 whereas the current way of counting age based on his
birth date indicates that his age was 23 at time of death.
3. Izumo Grand Shrine and the other places
mentioned in this paragraph are in Komuro's home prefecture of Shimane.
4. Lieutenant Yukio Seki made the first recognized
taiatari (body-crashing) attack of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps in
the Philippines on October 25, 1945. He was promoted two ranks to Commander
after his death by special attack.
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.