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Last Letters of Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki to His Family

At 1106 on April 12, 1945, Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki 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 and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 23. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Tokiwa Chūka Squadron from Hyakurihara Naval Air Group. He was from Saitama Prefecture, attended Chūō University in Tōkyō, and was a member of the 14th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).

He wrote the following final letter:

Dear Father and Mother,

I am writing a short letter.

I humbly thank you for your loving upbringing and great kindness for a long time. After leaving your care, I particularly remember the following profound thing that made a deep impression on me:

Born to serve the Emperor
I honor my parents

When I go to offer my body and soul to protect the Empire, I will only have in my mind with battle fortune to reach above an enemy ship and to slaughter an ugly enemy ship with one of the Emperor's planes in a certain hit on the target and an explosion.

On a separate page are written the names of my men who I served together with. I ask that you communicate again and again warm consideration to their bereaved families.

Please give my regards to persons who showed care to me.

I earnestly pray that you will be able to live in good health.


He also wrote the following two tanka death poems:

At first battle and moreover a sortie where I will throw my all into

Even though nearing storm covers sea, for Empire
Young cherry blossoms with pure fragrance

With great revenge for Saipan and Iwo Jima, a ship
I will die as it is cut open narrowly right in two

Sakamaki wrote the following letter to his brothers and sisters:

Dear Older Sister, Takuji, Takuyo, Shōzō, Akiko, and Shirō,

As your younger brother and older brother, I thank you for the kindness that I received.

Hereafter, with one mind serve Father and Mother so you can be useful for the country.

I pray that you will grow up splendidly to be adults.

Please pay attention to your health.


Sakamaki wrote the following note to his family just before his sortie from Kushira Air Base:

At base in southern Kyūshū

It is clear weather as the weather front has cleared away.

Cherry trees, violets, Chinese milk vetch, and rapeseed are blooming.

Now I will go.

I will depart at 11:00 and will attack the enemy at 14:00. I certainly will do it splendidly.

Father, Mother, Grandmother, and Older Sister, thank you.

Takuji, Takuyo, Shōzō, Akiko, and Shirō, everyone please do your best in high spirits and in good health.


April 12, 9:00

Letters and poems translated by Bill Gordon
January 2018

The letters and poems come from Hakuō Izokukai (1995, 171-3). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Hakuō Izokukai (1995, 171) and Osuo (2005, 222).

Sources Cited

Hakuō Izokukai (Hakuō Bereaved Families Association), ed. 1995. Kumo nagaruru hate ni: Senbotsu kaigun hikō yobi gakusei no shuki (To the end of the flowing clouds: Writings of Navy reserve students who died in war). Expanded edition. Tōkyō: Kawade Shinbō Shinsha.

Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.