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Last Letter of Corporal Hajime Shimizu to His Parents

On May 25, 1945, Corporal Hajime Shimizu took off from Miyakonojō East Airfield as a member of the 57th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 18. He piloted an Army Hayate Type 4 Fighter (Allied code name of Frank). After his death in a special attack, he received a four-rank promotion to Second Lieutenant. He was from Hyōgo Prefecture and was a member of the 14th Class of the Army Youth Pilot (Rikugun Shōhi) training program.

He wrote the following final letter:

Dear Parents,

Today when the war situation has become increasingly more critical, I trust that there have been no changes and that you are concentrated on increasing production. I am sorry that I caused you only troubles for a long time during my 19 years [1]. The fighting really has become extremely fierce, and for Japan with its imperial Era of 3,000 years, the time has come for the battle at Okinawa. I am happy above anything else to have the honor to be able to serve with my limited ability.

Today the great deed for my life has come. I certainly will do it. Please wait for news of an instant sinking. There remains nothing but to make a taiatari (body-crashing) attack into an enemy aircraft carrier. Thus, enclosed are my personal effects along with a lock of hair and fingernail clippings.

When I think back on my life, I truly was happy. By selfishly living how I wished and doing what I wanted to do, I really caused you grief. Please forgive me for being this way. To make up for this, I surely will go to fall splendidly as a young cherry blossom.

I was born as a Japanese male. It is my primary joy that I can join this battle that will decide the fate of this Empire.

Even though I am just 20 years of age [2] with the rank of Corporal, the longstanding Yamato [3] spirit is overflowing in this small heart.

Dear Parents, thank you. I very warmly thank you. Even though this letter arrives, please praise me without crying at all. I am writing this letter as I imagine this letter arriving and your reading it.

Finally, please handle the following for these persons:
 — relatives and neighbors
 — former teachers, Kumota, Mimura, Izuka, Iwamoto
 — village mayor, Takemura
Please give them my warm regards, say that I bloomed splendidly and went, and tell them that I truly thank them for what they did for me for a long time.

Since I am sending many photos that will arrive next month, please send one each to the persons above.

The battle attack will begin at 4 a.m. tomorrow on the 25th.


Written at 2300 on May 24

Letter translated by Bill Gordon
June 2020

The letter comes from Terai (1977, 70-1). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 195), Osuo (2005, 199), and Terai (1977, 70).


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 19 whereas Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 195) gives his age as 18.

2. It is not known why he gives his age here as 20, whereas earlier in the letter he mentions his age as 19.

3. Yamato is a poetic name for Japan.

Sources Cited

Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (Chiran Special Attack Memorial Society), ed. 2005. Konpaku no kiroku: Kyū rikugun tokubetsu kōgekitai chiran kichi (Record of departed spirits: Former Army Special Attack Corps Chiran Base). Revised edition, originally published in 2004. Chiran Town, Kagoshima Prefecture: Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai.

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

Terai, Shun'ichi, ed. 1977. Kōkū Kichi Miyakonojō Hayate Tokkō Shinbutai (Miyakonojō Air Base Hayate Special Attack Shinbu Unit). Tōkyō: Genshobō.