Last Letter of Sergeant Shigenori Yoshihara to His Younger Brother
On April 7, 1945, Army Sergeant Shigenori Yoshihara took off from Kanoya Air Base
 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
 and was a member of the 9th Class of the Army Youth Pilot (Rikugun Shōhi)
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):
This worthy service
Closing my eyes
We talk together
Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
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.
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.