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Last Letters of Corporal Shinji Koseki to His Mother

On April 6, 1945, Corporal Shinji Koseki [1] took off from Bansei Air Base as a member of the 102nd Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in a special (suicide) attack at the age of 19. He piloted an Army Type 99 Assault Plane (Allied nickname of Sonia). After his death in a special attack, he received a four-rank promotion to Second Lieutenant. He was from Kōriyama City in Fukushima Prefecture and was a member of the 14th Class of the Sendai Pilot Training School [2].

He wrote the following final letter:

Dear Mother,

I will go bravely as a man. Now I have no regrets in particular. However, while being born as a person, I go with deep sorrow that I was not devoted to a path of filial piety.

I think that offering my young self as a flower in defense of the Empire also is a way to show filial piety.

Having been pardoned of my sin of passing my days only with lack of filial piety, I hope that you will be able to spend your days in great happiness.


The following is a postcard addressed to his mother with a postmark of April 12, 1945 [3]. The postcard includes a death poem in tanka form (31-syllable poem with syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7).

I sincerely pray that you pass your days taking care of your health.

My only life I lose for the Emperor
Bravely I go as young cherry blossom

I go in good spirits.

He wrote the following correspondence postmarked April 12, 1945, from Kaseda (town where Bansei Air Base was located):

I am going before. Now I have no complaint.

In the end I only regret that I caused worries for you, Mother.

My comrades also will follow after me. Farewell.

Letter translated by Bill Gordon
March 2018

The letter and biographical information on this page come from Naemura (1993, 133, 474).


1. The two kanji characters of 小関 have been translated as Koseki, but these characters can also be translated as Ozeki. It could not be confirmed what is the correct reading, but Koseki is slightly more common than Ozeki based on a Google search in Japanese, so this is the reason that Koseki is used for this web page.

2. Osuo 2005, 203.

3. Since Koseki departed from Bansei Air Base on April 6, the postmark of April 12 probably means that there was a delay in getting this postcard to the post office.

Sources Cited

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.