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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 was from Ishikawa Prefecture, attended Meiji University in Tōkyō, and become a member of the 1st Class of the Army Special Cadet Officer 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 [1]. 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
I 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 forget.

From Mother

Letter translated by Bill Gordon
March 2018

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.

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.