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Last Letters of Lieutenant Junior Grade Minoru Sueyoshi to His Parents

At 1610 on April 6, 1945, Lieutenant Junior Grade Minoru Sueyoshi took off from Kanoya Air Base as pilot in a Zero fighter carrying a 250-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 25. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 1st Tsukuba Squadron. After his death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Lieutenant Commander. He was from Fukushima Prefecture, attended Hamamatsu Higher Technical School (now Shizuoka University), and was a member of the 13th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).

He wrote the following last letter. It appears to be to his parents based on its contents.

I think that this sudden notice is indeed surprising, but the time has come for me also to face the national crisis with my own action. Now from my squadron's location I see dear Nagoya to the right, and I have arrived at Suzuka Air Base [1]. I am writing this from inside my plane (that is, my coffin).

When I think back, I did not repay you in any way for your love and worries beyond description for 25 years, and I showed a lack of filial piety in many ways. I truly apologize to you, and alone tears are welling up.

Thanks to you, I was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade ahead of the others. Now as the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 2nd Tsukuba Squadron Leader [2] I have obtained the opportunity to lead cherry blossoms in the same class and make a taiatari (body-crashing) attack against an enemy aircraft carrier. There is nothing that surpasses this as the long-cherished desire of a young man. I certainly have entered an undertaking for Older Brother's revenge. Please wait for tomorrow's battle results.

A few days before my sortie, I found out about destruction of our house by fire. I know that it is indeed discouraging with continuing air strikes, but I ask that you please do not be discouraged and that you strive at reconstruction with cooperation of the neighbors.

Since I seem to have all types of feelings, until the end I am praying that you live long with steadfast feelings. Since steadily changing times have come, with this I leave.

April 5, 2 p.m.

He also wrote the following final letter:

Dear Parents,

Now I will go on a hisshi hissatsu (certain-death, sure-kill) attack. I have calmness of mind.

Like today's skies, a white-wooden box [3] will be prepared.

Now I go to the southern skies.

My planned attack time is 1700 on April 6, 1945.

Die nobly, young cherry blossoms of Tsukuba.

Letters translated by Bill Gordon
June and November 2018

The letters come from Yasukuni Jinja (2004, 7-8). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Katabami (2014, 76), Osuo (2005, 197-8), and Yasukuni Jinja (2004, 7).


1. Suzuka was a Navy air base in Mie Prefecture near Nagoya City.

2. Sueyoshi apparently got switched from the 2nd to the 1st Tsukuba Squadron or the 2nd Tsukuba Squadron got combined with the 1st Tsukuba Squadron. The 2nd Tsukuba Squadron made a sortie from Kanoya Air Base on April 14, 1945, whereas the 1st Tsukuba Squadron made its sortie on April 6, 1945.

3. A white wooden box was how the Japanese military usually delivered the remains of war dead to their families. In the case of kamikaze pilots, the remains such as fingernails or hairs from the head would often be prepared in advance. There are also cases where the white box would arrive at the family's home with no remains.

Sources Cited

Katabami, Masaaki. 2014. Mō hitotsu no "Eien no Zero": Tsukuba Kaigun Kōkūtai (Another "Eternal Zero": Tsukuba Naval Air Group). Tōkyō: Village Books.

Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.

Yasukuni Jinja, ed. 2004. Eirei no koto no ha (8) (Words of the spirits of war heroes, Volume 8). Tōkyō: Yasukuni Jinja Shamusho.