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Last Letters of Ensign Kinji Suzuki

At 0556 on May 4, 1945, Ensign Kinji Suzuki took off from Kanoya Air Base as pilot in a Zero Fighter Trainer carrying a 250-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 24. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 5th Shinken Squadron from Ōmura Naval Air Group in Nagasaki Prefecture. He was from Saitama Prefecture, graduated from Kiryū Higher Technical School in Gunma Prefecture, and was a member of the 13th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).

The following final letter was written in the evening on May 3, 1945, the day before his sortie:

When the Empire faces its most critical situation in the war, the time has come at last for me also to offer myself. The time has come for me to display the results of my labors for 25 years [1].

Our comrades already have made splendid hits on targets. Several times I received sortie orders and had them called off, but this time I certainly will make a crash dive.

I only pray for the Empire's prosperity and everyone's great happiness.

Thank you for taking care of me for a long time.

The following final letter was written on March 28, 1945, the day that Suzuki was selected to be in the Special Attack Corps:

When the Empire faces its most difficult situation, I have been selected as a member of the Special Attack Corps. There is no greater honor than this.

I would be happy if I could have repaid even somewhat your kindness shown to me during my lifetime. Even though I smash an enemy ship, my spirit will always hope for the Empire's prosperity and will pray for everyone's great happiness.

I write this as I depart for the front with my Zero fighter to wipe out the enemy.

Hopefully I will meet you in the gardens at Yasukuni [2].

Letters translated by Bill Gordon
August 2018

The letters come from Yasukuni Jinja (1998, 33-4). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Osuo (2005, 202) and Yasukuni Jinja (1998, 33).


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 25 whereas the current way of counting age indicates that his age was 24 (Yasukuni Jinja 1998, 33) at time of death.

2. Yasukuni Jinja in Tōkyō is Japan's national shrine to honor spirits of soldiers killed in battle.

Sources Cited

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

Yasukuni Jinja, ed. 1998. Eirei no koto no ha (4) (Words of the spirits of war heroes, Volume 4). Tōkyō: Yasukuni Jinja Shamusho.