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Last Letter of Lieutenant Junior Grade Katsutomo Murakami to His Family

On November 19, 1944, Lieutenant Junior Grade Katsutomo Murakami died at the age of 20 when submarine I-37 was sunk by depth charges dropped from two American destroyers at Kossol Passage in the Palau Islands. On November 8, 1944, submarine I-37 made a sortie from Ōtsushima Kaiten Base in Yamaguchi Prefecture with 112 crewmen and four kaiten pilots, including Murakami, who were members of the Kaiten Special Attack Corps Kikusui Unit. All men on board died when the submarine was attacked. Murakami was from Yamaguchi Prefecture and graduated in the 53rd Class of the Naval Engineering College. He received a promotion of two ranks to Lieutenant Commander after his death, which was recognized as being in a special (suicide) attack.

He wrote the following final letter to his family:

I live for a great cause to protect Shinshū [1].

There is nothing at all to say.

I deeply appreciate the gift of guidance from my teachers, seniors, and comrades.

I pray for the health of my Parents, Grandmother, and younger brothers and sisters.

Letter translated by Bill Gordon
December 2018

The letter comes from Yasukuni Jinja (2004, 21-2). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Konada and Kataoka (2006, 74-6, 96-9, 379), Mediasion (2006, 44, 78), Ōtsushima Kaiten Monument, and Yasukuni Jinja (2004, 21).


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

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.

Yasukuni Jinja, ed. 2004. Eirei no koto no ha (8) (Words of the spirits of war heroes, Volume 8). Tōkyō: Yasukuni Jinja Shamusho.