Heroic Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps (1983 cover)
(originally published as
Ah, Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps in 1970)
Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Takumi Matsuo to His Family
At 1500 on April 7, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Takumi Matsuo took off
from Miyazaki Air Base as radio operator/gunner in a Ginga bomber (Allied code
name of Frances) loaded with an 800-kg bomb. He was a member of
the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 3rd Mitate Squadron from the 706th Naval Air
Group. He died in
a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 19. He was from Nagasaki
Prefecture and was a member of the 17th Otsu Class of the Navy's Yokaren
(Preparatory Flight Training Program).
He wrote the following final letter to his family:
To everyone in the family,
I trust that my parents are in good health as usual. I also, in very high
spirits, am working diligently at my military tasks. I apologize for not
writing until now. Today I was designated again as a member of a special
attack unit in its formation, and I will make a sortie. With some free time
just before the sortie, I was able to write a short letter.
I am thankful for the more than ten years since I received life in this
world. I am determined to repay the Emperor's kindness by making a splendid
taiatari (body-crashing) attack into an enemy aircraft carrier at
Okinawa. Can there be anything else that surpasses this as the
long-cherished desire of young man? I will die honorably in battle as a
flower to defend the country. I at twenty years of age 
offer myself to the Emperor.
Father, Mother, do not cry. Surely do not cry. Please praise me.
Everyone in the family, please live happily forever and ever. I give you
my thanks for what you did for me during my life.
Since my package has little, I asked someone else to send it to you.
Please make it be of some help.
Give my regards to the neighbors, relatives, and elementary school
teachers. Also, to my older sisters I request your support. Well then, I am
going to Yasukuni .
Written at 11 a.m. on April 6
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter comes from Kitagawa
(1970, 116-7). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
(1970, 116) and Osuo (2005, 228).
1. 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 20 whereas Kitagawa (1970, 116) indicates his age was
19 at the time of
2. Yasukuni Shrine in Tōkyō is the place of
enshrinement for spirits of Japan's war dead.
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.