On April 28, 1945, Corporal Saburō Hasegawa took
off from Miyakonojō East Airfield as a member of the 61st Shinbu Special Attack
Squadron and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of
19. He piloted an Army Hayate Type 4 Fighter (Allied code name of Frank). After
his death in a special attack, he received a four-rank promotion to Second Lieutenant. He
was from Gifu Prefecture, attended Gifu Teachers College, and was a member of the 14th Class of the Army Youth
Pilot (Rikugun Shōhi) training program.
Smiling, now I will depart toward an instant sinking of a ship. I do not
know what is good to say to you for only causing you various worries.
Mother, for me as a single individual, I only shed tears as I recall the
times when I was young. For twenty years  I was not able to give you any
relief. Since I certainly will do my best to be second to none, please
Older Brother and Older Sisters, thank you for various things.
Tetsu, Shinobu, and Hajime, please do your best to work hard. In my
dive I will fall as a cherry blossom in the southern seas together with an
enemy ship that I surely will hit. There is nothing that surpasses this joy
for a young man. Until this time there has been nothing but gifts from various teachers and instructors who raised and taught me. Before my
departure, I warmly thank them.
Mother, please take care of yourself.
Today I received an Imperial command and will depart. I am very glad.
Mother, please forgive me for going before you. Since I am full of high
spirits and will try my best, please rest assured. With my messy writing I
will tell you about my feelings along with sending my photo. Now in this truly
make-or-break, critical situation for the country, I appreciate being in
aviation. I am glad about your gifts to me. From the Akatonbo (Red
Dragonfly) trainer to the Type 97 fighter, next I will ride a cutting-edge
fighter at the Greater East Asia decisive battle. I will make a taiatari
(body-crashing) attack as a Special Attack Corps member. Surely I will
sink a ship instantly. I ask that you give my best regards to the people in
the neighborhood, school teachers, my acquaintances, and Uncle in Gifu.
Falling suddenly with the cherry blossoms that bloom is a young man's
joy. I will go to Yasukuni Shrine  after Japan wins. Until then my
spirit, serving my country with seven lives, certainly will sink American
and British ships in the Pacific Ocean.
Since I surely will be at Yasukuni Shrine, please take care of yourself.
You cared for me in many ways. Not showing you any filial piety, I only
caused you worries. Also, when I think of when I was a first-grade student
and when I was in school, it became boring for me, and I cannot help but
recall that I caused worries for you. Yesterday I came here, and tomorrow I
will go by airplane to Kyūshū. Since I certainly will do it, please be
Falling cherry blossoms
Remaining cherry blossoms too
Falling cherry blossoms
Dear Mother, Older Brother, and both Older Sisters,
Thank you for caring for me in many ways.
Since finally tomorrow will be the sortie, I think that this will be the
last letter from me.
Since Tōkyō Aviation School, I advanced steadily in piloting at Kumagaya,
Kakogawa, and Sagami. I gained skills to take up a cutting-edge Type 4
In the Greater East Asia War, finally the enemy is approaching closer and
closer to our nearby seas. There have been several great sea battles.
However, in the Empire's rise and fall, this decisive battle at Okinawa is
the greatest crisis for the country since the beginning of Shinshū .
Sinking at once an enemy aircraft carrier with my plane at this grand
battleground is a joy surpassed by nothing else for this young man of twenty
years of age. I suppose that everyone will only be glad when this happens.
Filled with fighting spirit, I only will do my best to accomplish the
mission for the Emperor.
On March 26, I graciously received an Imperial command. On March 29, I
arrived by plane in Kumamoto. I worked hard at training. I appreciate the
warm hospitality that we received in many ways from the local people. On
April 12, I went to Miyakonojō. I waited for the first battle, and finally
it has been set for tomorrow.
Mother, please take good care of yourself.
Older Sisters and Older Brother, you have given me only your care in many
ways. Please forgive me for not being able to live up in any way to your
Younger Brothers, please do your best.
Hajime, please study hard. Without being able to do anything like an
older brother, I certainly regret this, but the only thing that remains is
for me to push forward with sincerity on the road of loyalty and filial
Mother, when I recall the time when I was young, even now from time to
see you before my eyes.
I have dressed myself tightly in a flight suit. Tomorrow will be
interesting with the roar and throb of planes one after another to the place
of the decisive battle in the skies. When Boeing bombers calmly invade the
skies of Shinshū acting as if they owned the place, even though I quietly
bear this with unstoppable tears, it is all because of tomorrow.
Certainly I will go smiling to make a hitchū hitchin (sure-hit,
sure-sinking) attack. I ask you to give my regards to all of the neighbors
and my teachers. I tell you this on the day before shown below.
Night before April 28
The letters and poems come from Terai (1977, 27-30). The biographical information in
the first paragraph comes from Chiran Tokkō
Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 184), Osuo (2005, 200), and Terai (1977, 27).