Last Letters of Second Lieutenant Yasurō Ezoe to His Parents and
On June 22, 1945, Second Lieutenant Yasurō Ezoe took
off from Miyakonojō East Airfield as 179th Shinbu Special Attack
Squadron Leader and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 21. He piloted an Army Hayate Type 4 Fighter (Allied code name of Frank). After
his death in a special attack, he received a two-rank promotion to Captain. He
was from Kumamoto Prefecture, attended Kōa Technical School in Tōkyō, and was a
member of the 1st Class of the Army Special Cadet Officer Pilot Training
(Tokubetsu Sōjū Minarai Shikan) Program.
He wrote the following final letter:
Dear Father and Mother,
Some time has passed with only silence from me.
I at last have come to Miyakonojō, the final place. I have been spending
the days busily with preparations. The weather has been unsettled, and I am
truly sorry that I have spent more than a week in near idleness.
When I think about it, it is regrettable that in my 22 years 
I have not been able to repay you in any way and that you have been really
lonely as I constantly caused only worries for you.
However, at the final moment I would like you to please be assured that I
splendidly will carry out my mission and will not be defeated by any means.
I will not allow to happen the country's forecasted future of increasingly more
troubles. Please pay attention to your health and be in high spirits until
the end. I believe in final victory.
I went also to Noda. Everyone is in high spirits. I went to give my
farewell to Grandmother, who is feeling well. I pray that all of my younger
brothers and sisters become fine citizens of the Empire.
I would like everyone to advance without Father's having to change course
much. I feel a tightness in my chest as I see that you, Father and Mother,
have aged noticeably in the two or three years since I joined the military.
However, when I think of the great undertaking for the country, since all of
Japan's young people must sacrifice themselves for the country, there is
truly nothing greater than my action that will give the enemy its utmost threat.
I pray for everyone's health and fighting spirit.
Father, Mother, farewell.
June 16, 1945
He also wrote the following last letter to his parents with separate notes within
the letter to some of his siblings:
Having received an Imperial command, I will depart in high spirits. I
only bow my head to the beautiful divine spirit of military airmen.
Holding dear what takes time
Breaking ocean waves, I'll protect country
Squadron Commander Second Lieutenant Yasurō Ezoe
— If my state of mind regarding human death can be
grasped, there is no fear at all.
— Generally, if a person must direct others, this person must know well the
individual personalities of subordinates and give them assignments that take
advantage of strong points of their individual personalities.
— All persons, however foolish they may be, have strong points. If a
person has talent, then there is clearly an obligation to provide training
— It is necessary to understand human feelings where there is a spirit of
sure reward or punishment.
The one who will go is not just me but rather all who can stand in the
battlefield until we are victorious will go to sacrifice themselves for the
country. I believe that I, who will have no remains, certainly will advance
steadily for hissatsu (certain-death) to the enemy, and I earnestly
will accomplish my mission. The saying of "seven lives to serve the country"
, as the ancients said, describes perfectly
the feeling that I have now in my heart. Please believe that even though my
body perishes, my spirit certainly will not depart, and I forever will be by
I look forward to become a child and to be able to depend completely on
I live for an eternal cause. I was a son who lacked filial piety without
being able to do anything for you Father and Mother, but please be glad when
you receive news that Second Lieutenant Ezoe carried out an instant sinking
since I offer this to you as my final and only act of filial piety.
Shizu, Tai, and Yuki,
Shizuko and Taiko, I only have appreciation that until now you served your rude
Older Brother and did not fight against me. When we were children we cried
and laughed a lot. I really remember fondly when we played together.
I pray that you may become splendid women of the Empire.
I, who rely on your physical strength and intellect, will go. You can
proceed in whatever direction, but decide your future course by giving
priority to Father's guidance until the end. The fervor of youth must not be
impatient. I expect that you splendidly will raise up the Ezoe Family as my
successor. Take good care of our younger brothers and sisters. Even though
you have older sisters, be sufficiently aware that the younger brothers and
sisters should depend only on you.
I am your older brother who does selfish things and says selfish things,
but I would like you to listen to my last words. Finally, follow carefully
what Father and Mother say. This is filial piety.
Breaking as ocean waves, now going forward
Following after great deeds of divine eagles
Setsu composed the following poem:
Ocean rolls in with breaking waves, cherry blossom
Goes without stopping to destroy aircraft carrier
Ocean rolls in with breaking waves, cherry blossom
Protects country as breaks apart as flower
Before my return having nothing after death
A single deed in death that cannot be surpassed
Go forward in the direction as Father says, and decide quickly the
long-range plan for your life. For the course that you should take, enjoy
yourself sufficiently. Also, build up your physical strength. For you whose
body seems strong but is weak, study can be secondary.
From my viewpoint, Yasujirō and you have no shortcomings. Develop
successfully and honestly the individual interests that you have now. You
two, provide good assistance to your older sisters and their families when
they have need. Akiyoshi, Yoshiyuki, and Tatsurō will grow up depending on
you. You will grow up as their older brothers.
When you grow up and reach about my age, I think that you will understand
well what type of person I was now and what type of feelings I had when I
went to sacrifice myself for the country.
When a human dies, what happens? Now I am thinking of such things. After
death, are we reborn somewhere, or do we turn into the earth like the trees
wither? However, I think that the soul, the spirit in a human, must be
My mission is first over everything. I am concentrating on how to
accomplish the mission rather than death, .
I told Shizuko and everyone absolutely to not come to send me off on the
day of my final departure, but Setsuko alone saw me off when I took off.
Please tell everyone that I went truly happily wearing a hachimaki
(headband) marked in blood. As a man I now feel ashamed about such an
unmanly thing and that I could not go while being silent until the end. I
wanted to try to go to visit the family in Usui one time but I was not able to
do so. Please let both the family in Usui and Kumamoto rest.
I was not able to meet His Excellency Suzuki .
It is really regrettable.
After notes above to his siblings, Ezoe's letter continues below the letter to his
Finally it is the end. I intended to write a lot in this note, and it
seems that I cannot finish it.
Anyway, I am in high spirits. With death imminent, I do not feel in the
least bit lonely or displeased. It seems that I could not hold back happy
things that are close at hand. I feel just like when I was in elementary
school and there was an athletic meet or excursion the next day. My required
flight suit and flight cap are stacked by my bed, which seems like my
backpack and clothes in the past.
That is not limited to only death, and I feel like I can meet and talk
with people who have died and gone away by now while laughing loudly about
He wrote another last letter below to his parents:
Dear Father and Mother,
Today I met a person from Kumamoto. This person named Eda knew Ishihara
and me well.
We talked about many things regarding our hometown that brought back fond
memories. I think that it was some type of fate to be able to meet at the
end a person from Kumamoto and to talk about various matters concerning our
Everyone, farewell forever.
Enclosed is the scarf that I received from Setsu. The white one is from
Shizuko. I am returning them together. Please receive them as keepsakes. I will
go together with the hachimaki (headband) and doll.
Letters translated by Bill Gordon
The letters come from Terai (1977, 109-14). The biographical information in
the first paragraph comes from Chiran Tokkō
Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 213), Osuo (2005, 206), and Terai (1977, 109).
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 22 whereas Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 213) gives
his age as 21.
2. According to legend, "seven lives to serve the
country" were the last words of 14th-century samurai Kusunoki Masashige.
3. Kantarō Suzuki served as Japan's Prime Minister
from April 7 to August 17, 1945, which includes the time when this letter was
written. Earlier in his career he had been an Admiral in the Imperial Japanese
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.