Last Letter of Second Lieutenant Saburō Ishikura
On April 16, 1945, Second Lieutenant Saburō Ishikura took off from Chiran Army Air Base as
40th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron Leader and died in a special attack
west of Okinawa at the age of 22. He piloted an Army Type 97 Fighter (Allied
code name of Nate). After his death in a special attack, he received a
promotion to Captain. He grew up in Ishikawa Prefecture, attended Meiji
University in Tōkyō, and become a member of the 1st Class of the Army Special
Cadet Pilot Training Program.
He wrote the following final letter with a poem near the end:
At this time of crisis when the Empire's existence is threatened, I give
my life for the Empire even with my poor ability. It is truly a man's
long-cherished desire to be given the opportunity to repay a ten-thousandth
of the Emperor's favor.
I must carry out a sure-death, sure-hit attack and instantly sink an
enemy ship deep into the sea. I really look forward to serving my country
with seven lives.
Thank you for the warm kindness that you showed me for 24 years . Dear
Parents, I pray that you will have a long life. I will meet you at Yasukuni Shrine.
Since the end of March, when finally I received the sortie order, until
today I have been passing time without anything to do. I will do my best
devoting all my energy to the mission.
Older Brother, Atsunobu, Kazue, and Kikue, I rely on you for our parents.
I will go smiling.
Complete Devotion to Defend Country
The only thing that I am thinking about during sleepless nights is my
mission. Even though I plunge into the sea along the way, I will swim to
attack and carry out my mission.
Up to today I have had nothing to worry about. When you get the
news after my death, please communicate it to my unit in Korea.
Receiving my order for a sortie on the day cherry trees bloomed
also will follow on behalf of the Emperor
Sure death resolved
to be human bullet hitting target
I will go together with my young squadron members.
Thank you for your care.
Ishikura's mother wrote to him the following short letter:
When you go carrying a bomb, certainly do not forget to chant "Namu
Amida Butsu" (Homage to Amida Buddha). This is my request. If you only
do not forget this, I will have no worries in this world. Please do not
forget to chant it. When we see each other next time, it will be a meeting
in the presence of Amida Buddha. This request is my greatest desire. Do not
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter and biographical information on this page come from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō
Kai (2005, 111, 179) and Osuo (2005, 71-2, 196).
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 most likely explains why
the letter indicates his age as 24 whereas the background information in Chiran
Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 111) indicates his age as 22.
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.