The Matsu class were built late in World War II, and they were intended to be more cost-effective in response to the changing character of naval warfare at that time. These ships were lighter and smaller than previous Japanese destroyers, with different armament such as enhanced anti-aircraft guns and anti-submarine weapons, and radar. Since surface warfare was believed to be less likely at this stage of the war, armament such as torpedo tubes that would be useful against surface ships was reduced.
As in other navies during the war, the IJN substantially simplified the design to speed up construction, and used Ōtori class machinery, because high speed was unnecessary for convoy escort operations. However, mass production was not achieved.
The Matsu class design was subsequently further simplified, resulting in theTachibana class destroyer or Modified Type-D Destroyer . The Tachibana class destroyers adopted the first modular design in a Japanese destroyer. Matsu class destroyers whose construction was started late in the programme were completed as Tachibana class.
The IJN converted twelve destroyers to Kaiten mother ships to prepare for the Japanese mainland decisive battle.