Only search Kamikaze Images


Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Minoru Mori to His Older Brother

On January 12, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Minoru Mori died in a special (suicide) attack at the age of 18 when submarine I-58 launched his kaiten manned torpedo at Guam Island's Apra Harbor. On December 30, 1944, submarine I-58 made a sortie from Ōtsushima Kaiten Base in Yamaguchi Prefecture with four kaiten pilots who were members of the Kaiten Special Attack Corps Kongō Unit. Mori was from Hokkaidō Prefecture and was a member of the 13th Kō Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program). He received a promotion to Ensign after his death by special attack.

He wrote the following final letter with a death poem in tanka form (31-syllable poem with lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables) at the end:

Dear Older Brother,

I write a note to leave behind for you.

Receiving life as a young Japanese man, I offer my unimportant life as a shield for the Emperor and country. I absolutely will devote all of my strength and will charge in to complete my mission so that the enemy will not be able to rise again. I believe that I will show Japan's hidden reserve of strength and the spirit of a young man of Shinshū [1].

This one action is not special and new. I will just put into action directly the teachings of each of my parents, teachers, siblings, relatives, seniors, and friends during 19 years [2].

Even though for this ambitious undertaking I now am not leaving behind any new statements at all, I really regret that I was not able to repay you in any way your kindness. If I can repay a ten-thousandth of your kindness though this one action, I will be extremely glad.

Although even a little child can think seriously about sacrificing his life for the Emperor and country as a Japanese person, I do not know other than I will do it somehow.

Also, even though I know sufficiently "living for an eternal cause" based on the words, I do not know the true meaning. Today before the one great heroic undertaking, I understand that one part for the first time. Of course, even though ultimately I should understand all of that, I am not able to do so.

Even until the moment that I create a great column of fire and an explosion, I think that my final wish is that I want to learn for myself the real meaning of taigi (great cause).

When I think back over 19 years, even though I walked on a path that always had several twists and turns and though it was like one dream, now my heart aches. The words of advice from my parents, teachers, older brothers, and older sisters have sunk deeply into my mind. As for memories like this, even though it is difficult to bear thoughts of self-criticism, they are especially fondly remembered. 

I greeted the new year of 1945 en route to my mission. From inside our boat, I looked far off on the ocean at the skies of the homeland ruled over by the Emperor. Saying long live the Emperor, when I pray for certain victory for the Empire of Japan, I am moved to tears at the homeland's mountains and rivers and at persons' faces that appear as vivid memories. The feeling that I must destroy the enemy completely has strengthened even more.

A saying of the ancients is that one values a flower when it falls. Blooming is splendor but not the essence. One knows the true flower when it falls.

Although I may lack courage as I now say falling and blooming, please forgive my dishonor as a young person. While saying that I value honor above life, I know that there is still some way to go before I achieve it. For the Emperor and country, I want to go without concern for even my honor.

The Empire now faces its greatest crisis. The country's citizens equally shout themselves hoarse with one another about the country's crisis, and I believe that they are working with all their strength in their positions. Even though the Empire always has divine aid, however, without effort, without truth, without honesty, and without things that one absolutely must obtain, there will be peril again even though they try to rely in vain on divine aid.

Now doing with resolve from several days before, I will realize without stopping my long-cherished ambition. It will be with just "long live His Majesty the Emperor" and "long live the Empire of Japan." I am confident in certain victory for the Empire of Japan, and I will burst into enemy territory.

The heavenly spirits of the war dead also will watch our show of hard fighting.

For Emperor
As shield
I will go
In my heart
There is gladness

Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
April 2019

The letter and poem come from Orihara (1973, 224-7). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Konada and Kataoka (2006, 125-35, 378), Mediasion (2006, 46, 48, 80), and Orihara (1973, 224).


1. Shinshū refers to Japan and literally means "divine land."

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 19 whereas Mediasion (2006, 80) gives his age as 18.

Sources Cited

Konada, Toshiharu, and Noriaki Kataoka. 2006. Tokkō kaiten sen: Kaiten tokkōtai taichō no kaisō (Special attack kaiten battles: Kaiten special attack corps leader's reminiscences). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.

The Mediasion Co. 2006. Ningen gyorai kaiten (Kaiten human torpedo). Hiroshima: The Mediasion Co.

Orihara, Noboru, comp. 1973. Ware tokkō ni shisu: Yokaren no ikō (I will die in a special attack: Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program) writings). Tōkyō: Keizai Ōraisha.