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Last Letter of Second Lieutenant Zenji Yokoyama to His Parents

On August 13, 1945, Second Lieutenant Zenji Yokoyama took off from Kuroiso Airfield in Tochigi Prefecture as pilot of a Ki-45 Army Type 2 Toryū Fighter (Allied nickname of Nick) and died in a special (suicide) attack east of Cape Inubō in Chiba Prefecture at the age of 22. He was a member of the Special Attack Corps 201st Kamiwashi Squadron. He was from Ibaraki Prefecture, attended Meiji University in Tōkyō [1], and was a member of the 2nd Class of the Army Special Cadet Officer Pilot Training Program. After his death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Captain.

He wrote the following final letter to his parents:

Suddenly it has come about that I will go and attack. I have nothing to say to leave behind. Just please work hard until the war is over. Take sufficient care of your health.

Surely I splendidly will attain the objective. Up to now I truly have been taken care of by you. Please forgive me for the many troubles that I caused you. Until now I have wanted to let you somehow have a peaceful life. I was not able to do even that. It was a fool's fantasy.

It is just a little, but the articles put into this trunk are ones that I saved as much as I could. I saved items that I wanted to eat but without eating them.

The sake and other items in the large box were ones received only by men who will make a sortie. They were given at the same time as the order to prepare for a sortie. I wanted to eat the food with everyone, but I could not do even that. These truly are only trifling things, but they are items from the bottom of my heart at the first and last. Alongside my photograph, please eat the items inside the box. (portion omitted)

Everyone, please take sufficient care of your health and do your best until the end. I will do it splendidly.


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
November 2018

The letter comes from Yasukuni Jinja (2009, 15-6). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Osuo (2005, 216) and Yasukuni Jinja (2009, 15).

Related Web Page

1. From inscription on monument in honor of Zenji Yokoyama at Kezōin Temple in Hitachinaka City <http://burari2161.fc2web.com/rikugunkoukuutoxtukoutai.htm> (November 6, 2018).

Sources Cited

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

Yasukuni Jinja, ed. 2009. Eirei no koto no ha (9) (Words of the spirits of war heroes, Volume 9. Tōkyō: Yasukuni Jinja Shamusho.