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Last Letter of Sergeant Shigenori Yoshihara to His Younger Brother

On April 7, 1945, Army Sergeant Shigenori Yoshihara took off from Kanoya Air Base [1] and died in a special (suicide) attack off Kadena on the west coast of Okinawa at the age of 22. He was a member of the Shitei (Command Reconnaissance) Shinbu Special Attack Squadron. He piloted an Army Type 100 Command Reconnaissance Aircraft, also known as Mitsubishi Ki-46 (Allied code name of Dinah). After his death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Second Lieutenant. He was from Hokkaidō Prefecture [2] and was a member of the 9th Class of the Army Youth Pilot (Rikugun Shōhi) training program.

He wrote the following final letter to his younger brother:


I will die in the way of a warrior for the cause of the Empire's eternal history. I am satisfied to accomplish my long-cherished desire of dying in the skies. I apologize that your older brother will no longer be alive, but I will watch over your future from the skies.

Regarding things to be done while a person lives, be honest and conscientious and be a good person of use to others, and finally take the best care of your health. Mitsuharu, you must keep from losing your talkativeness and courtesy.

Furthermore, I ask that you take care of Mother and show devotion to her for my portion, and likewise for the Yoshihara Family. However, when there is time, you must follow after me.

Please give my regards to persons and friends who cared for me during my life. Of course in the future when Mother and you receive kindnesses from the neighbors, continue to be friendly to them and do not let there be a gap between you and them.

If they are friendly, treat them as an ally, and if they oppose you, they will become enemies.

I pray that you will be well.

Your older brother Shigenori

Shigenori Yoshihara also wrote the following farewell tanka poem (31-syllable poem with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7):

My father's
This worthy service
Closing my eyes
We talk together

Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
February 2018

The letter, poem, and biographical information on this page come from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 104, 153) and Osuo (2005, 207).


1. Although Kanoya was a Navy air base, some Army special attack aircraft took off from there during the Battle of Okinawa.

2. Page 153 of Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005) and Tokkōtai Senbotsusha (1990, 284) indicate Yoshihara was from Hokkaidō Prefecture, but page 104 of Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005) states he was from Tokushima Prefecture. It is not certain which one is correct, or it is possible that he moved from one to the other while he was growing up.

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.

Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai (Tokkōtai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association). 1990. Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai.