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Last Letters of Corporal Kiyoshi Sakamoto to His Father

On April 6, 1945, Corporal Kiyoshi Sakamoto took off from Bansei Air Base and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 19. He was a member of the 62nd Shinbu Squadron, also known the Shiraume (White Plum Blossom) Squadron. He piloted a Type 99 Assault Plane (Allied code name of Sonia). After his death in a special attack, he received a four-rank promotion to Second Lieutenant. He was from Akita Prefecture and was a member of the 13th Class of the Sendai Pilot Training School.

He wrote the following letter dated March 23, 1945, to his father. This is the same date that the 62nd Shinbu Special Attack Squadron was formed at Shimoshizu Air Base in Chiba Prefecture.

Dear Father,

I trust that you are doing well. I imagine that even though the snow has begun to melt there must still be much remaining snow. I have been well all the time, and this winter I did not catch even one cold.

There is a request. I ask that you please burn all of my personal possessions at home except for albums and other necessary things.

Please take care with the lingering cold and the hard times now.


He wrote the following letter dated March 28, 1945, to his father:

Dear Father,

On the 30th, I will depart from Kurume in Kyūshū. Finally it is the time of hitchū hitchin (sure hit, sure sinking).

Today I signed up for insurance. I am enclosing the receipt. I think that notification from the company will come to you. I sent my savings account passbook inside a package. I give it to Sadako. Rest assured that now I have no debts.


He also wrote the following death poem with a short note at the end:

Shouting three times for prosperity of Emperor
I will make taiatari (body-crashing) attack on a barbarians' ship
Overcoming the snow, enduring the cold, white plum blossom
Now gives off its fragrance as the time has come
To the barbarians who try to assault the Emperor's reign
I will display the spirit of a Yamato [1] man
The joy of a true Yamato man
To break like a jewel inside an enemy ship
Shattering as a jewel for the Emperor
Let the foreigners see this brave spirit

I have received the Imperial command to destroy one ship with one plane. Receiving my life from Japan, I am full of joy and happiness inside my heart with such a high honor.

Letters and poem translated by Bill Gordon
March 2018

The letters and biographical information on this page come from Naemura (1993, 105-6) and Osuo (2005, 54, 56, 200).


1. Yamato is a poetic name for Japan.

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.