Kosaburo Eto

Last updated

Kosaburo Eto(江藤 小三郎,Etō Kosaburō, 20 April 1946 – 11 February 1969) was a Japanese nationalist, thinker, social activist, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force official, and member of a leading Japanese political family. He is best known for committing suicide through self-immolation as a nationalist protest in front of the Japanese Houses of Parliament.

Japanese nationalism political ideology

Japanese nationalism is the nationalism that asserts that the Japanese are a monolithic nation with a single immutable culture, and promotes the cultural unity of the Japanese. It encompasses a broad range of ideas and sentiments harbored by the Japanese people over the last two centuries regarding their native country, its cultural nature, political form and historical destiny. It is useful to distinguish Japanese cultural nationalism from political or state-directed nationalism, since many forms of cultural nationalism, such as those associated with folkloric studies, have been hostile to state-fostered nationalism.

Japan Ground Self-Defense Force army branch of the Japanese armed forces

The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, JGSDF, also referred to as the Japanese Army, is the land-warfare branch of the Japan Self-Defense Forces and the de facto army of Japan. Created on July 1, 1954, it is the largest of the three services branches.

Self-immolation is an act of killing oneself as a sacrifice. While usage since the 1960s has typically referred only to setting oneself on fire, the term historically refers to a much wider range of suicidal options, such as leaping off a cliff, starvation, or seppuku. Self-immolation is often used as a form of protest or for the purposes of martyrdom. It has centuries-long traditions in some cultures, while in modern times it has become a type of radical political protest. The British sociologist Michael Biggs compiled a list of 533 "self-immolations" reported by Western media from the 1950s to 2002, using the general definition, and including any intentional suicide "on behalf of a collective cause".


Early life

Kosaburo Eto was born in Saga prefecture on 20 April 1946, the great-grandson of Eto Shinpei, a statesman during the Meiji restoration, the grandson of Eto Shinsaku, a member of the House of Representatives of Japan and close adviser of Inukai Tsuyoshi and the third son of Eto Natsuo, a member of the House of Representatives of Japan. [1] He left Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Cadet School in Yokosuka without a diploma. [2]

Inukai Tsuyoshi Japanese politician and Prime Minister of Japan (1855–1932)

Inukai Tsuyoshi was a Japanese politician, cabinet minister, and Prime Minister of Japan from 13 December 1931 to his assassination on 15 May 1932.

Yokosuka Core city in Kantō, Japan

Yokosuka is a city in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.

Ritual suicide and an impact on Yukio Mishima

On 11 February 1969 (the National Foundation Day of Japan) aged 23, he committed suicide through self-immolation next to the Memorial Hall of Constitutional Politics, located in front of the Houses of Parliament. [2] He left a kakuseisho (覚醒書) (suicide letter) expressing alarm over the state of the Nation. In 1969 the leading Japanese literary figure and nationalist Yukio Mishima noted in his Wakaki Samurai no tameno Seishin kohwa (『若きサムラヒのための精神講話』,Spiritual lectures for the young Samurai) as I am one of the readers who read the most intense criticism against the politics as a dream or art for seriousness of Young Kosaburo Eto, who set himself on fire. [3]

National Foundation Day is a national holiday in Japan celebrated annually on February 11, celebrating the mythological foundation of Japan and the accession of its first emperor, Emperor Jimmu at Kashihara gū on 11 February 660 BC.

Suicide intentional act of causing ones own death

Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Mental disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, and substance abuse—including alcoholism and the use of benzodiazepines—are risk factors. Some suicides are impulsive acts due to stress, such as from financial difficulties, troubles with relationships, or bullying. Those who have previously attempted suicide are at a higher risk for future attempts. Effective suicide prevention efforts include limiting access to methods of suicide—such as firearms, drugs, and poisons; treating mental disorders and substance misuse; proper media reporting of suicide; and improving economic conditions. Even though crisis hotlines are common, there is little evidence for their effectiveness.

A suicide note or death note is a message left behind when a person commits suicide, or intends to commit suicide.


On 11 February 1975, a memorial ceremony in honour of the life of Kosaburo Eto took place at Nogi Shrine, in Akasaka, Tokyo.

Nogi Shrine (Tokyo) Shinto shrine in Tokyo, Japan

Nogi Shrine was established on November 1, 1923 and dedicated to General Nogi Maresuke (63) and his wife Nogi Shizuko (53) after their death on September 13, 1912. The Tokyo Mayor, Baron Yoshio Sakatani, took the initiative to organise the Chūō Nogi Kai to build a shrine to the couple within their residence. It is located in Tokyo, Japan.

Akasaka, Tokyo District in Tokyo, Japan

Akasaka (赤坂) is a residential and commercial district of Minato, Tokyo, Japan, located west of the government center in Nagatachō and north of the Roppongi nightlife district.

Jisei no Uta (death poem)

Eto's kakuseisho ended with the following jisei or death poem, a common element in Japanese ritual suicide.:

Death poem

The death poem is a genre of poetry that developed in the literary traditions of East Asian cultures—most prominently in Japan as well as certain periods of Chinese history and Joseon Korea. They tend to offer a reflection on death—both in general and concerning the imminent death of the author—that is often coupled with a meaningful observation on life. The practice of writing a death poem has its origins in Zen Buddhism. It is a concept or worldview derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence, specifically that the material world is transient and impermanent, that attachment to it causes suffering, and ultimately all reality is an emptiness or absence of self-nature. These poems became associated with the literate, spiritual, and ruling segments of society, as they were customarily composed by a poet, warrior, nobleman, or Buddhist monk.

Under the silhouette of the big camphor tree swinging in the stiff wind against the sky, I think - who knows the Mikado's will, perhaps nobody knows it.

Emperor of Japan Monarch in Japan

The Emperor of Japan is the head of the Imperial Family and the head of state of Japan. Under the 1947 constitution, he is defined as "the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people." Historically, he was also the highest authority of the Shinto religion. In Japanese, the Emperor is called Tennō (天皇), literally "heavenly sovereign". In English, the use of the term Mikado for the Emperor was once common, but is now considered obsolete.

I know if I take risks, it makes no difference to me, but I dare to act with a Yamato Spirit. [4]

He wrote three kakuseisho and sent them to Shintaro Ishihara, Yukio Mishima, and Kiyoshi Oka. [1]

See also

Related Research Articles

Yukio Mishima Japanese author

Yukio Mishima is the pen name of Kimitake Hiraoka, a Japanese author, poet, playwright, actor, model, film director, nationalist, and founder of the Tatenokai. Mishima is considered one of the most important Japanese authors of the 20th century. He was considered for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1968, but the award went to his countryman Yasunari Kawabata. His works include the novels Confessions of a Mask and The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, and the autobiographical essay Sun and Steel. Mishima’s work is characterized by its luxurious vocabulary and decadent metaphors, its fusion of traditional Japanese and modern Western literary styles, and its obsessive assertions of the unity of beauty, eroticism and death.

The Tatenokai or Shield Society was a private militia in Japan dedicated to traditional Japanese values and veneration of the Emperor. It was founded and led by the author Yukio Mishima.

Hiroyasu Koga is a former Tatenokai member and kaishakunin responsible for the decapitations of Yukio Mishima and Masakatsu Morita during their seppuku on November 25, 1970. He studied law at Kanagawa University, and intended to become a lawyer.

TBS Radio & Communications, Inc. is the flagship radio station of Japan Radio Network (JRN) in Tokyo, Japan. The company was founded by Tokyo Broadcasting System, Inc. on March 21, 2000. On October 1, 2001, TBS Radio started broadcasting.

The Second Generation of Postwar Writers is a classification in modern Japanese literature used for writers who appeared on the postwar literary scene between 1948 and 1949.

Masakatsu Morita was a Japanese political activist who committed seppuku with Yukio Mishima in Tokyo.

Matsudaira Yorinori was a Japanese samurai of the late Edo period. He was the ninth feudal lord of the Shishido han and the Daimyō of 10,000 koku. His father, Matsudaira Yoritaka, was the eighth feudal lord of the Shishido han.

Matsudaira Yoritaka (Shishido) [松平頼位] daimyo of the late Edo period; 8th and 10th lord of Shishido

Matsudaira Yoritaka was a Japanese daimyō of the late Edo period who served as daimyō of Shishido han. Retiring early, he was succeeded by his son Matsudaira Yorinori, but Yoritaka returned to headship following Yorinori's death in 1864. Though the domain was abolished following its involvement in the chaos of the Tengu-tō (天狗党) "Tengu Party" revolt of 1864, the new Satsuma-Chōshu centered government of the Meiji Emperor forgave Shishido, and allowed Yoritaka to retake his former holdings. Becoming han chiji by Imperial order in 1869, he remained in that position until the abolition of the domains in 1871. After that he became a Shinto priest and was famed as a prolific writer. His son Matsudaira Yoriyasu succeeded him as family head in 1880. Yoritaka's granddaughter Natsu, is famous as the grandmother of Mishima Yukio. Under the new system of nobility, Yoriyasu became a viscount.

Akira Kuroda, born 1977, is a Japanese novelist.

The Mishima Yukio Prize is a Japanese literary award presented annually. It was established in 1988 in memory of author Yukio Mishima. The Mishima Yukio Prize is explicitly intended for work that "breaks new ground for the future of literature," and prize winners tend to be more controversial and experimental than winners of the more traditional Akutagawa Prize. It is awarded in the same annual ceremony as the Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize, which was established by the same sponsor in 1988 to recognize popular writing and genre fiction.

"Patriotism" is a short story by Japanese writer Yukio Mishima. It was written in 1960, first published by Shinchosha on January 30, 1961. It was translated into English in 1966. The character 憂 () actually means "worry" or "concern", and though Yūkoku is translated as "patriotism", the word bears with it a meaning more congruent with "concern for one's country" rather than patriotism directly.

Afraid to Die is a 1960 Japanese yakuza film directed by Yasuzo Masumura and starring Yukio Mishima.

The bibliography of Kimitake Hiraoka, pen name Yukio Mishima, includes novels, novellas, short stories and literary essays, as well as plays that were written not only in a contemporary-style, but also in the style of classical Japanese theatre, particularly in the genres of noh and kabuki. However, although Mishima took themes, titles and characters from the noh canon, he included his own twists and modern settings, such as hospitals and ballrooms, which startled audiences who were accustomed to the long-settled originals.

11:25 The Day He Chose His Own Fate is a 2012 Japanese drama film directed by Kōji Wakamatsu. The film was based on the Mishima Incident, which was a failed coup d'etat attempt led by Yukio Mishima in 1970. The film competed in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.

The Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize (山本周五郎賞) is a Japanese literary award established in 1988 in memory of author Shūgorō Yamamoto. It was created and continues to be sponsored by the Shinchosha Publishing company, which published Yamamoto's Complete Works. The prize is awarded annually to a new work of fiction considered to exemplify the art of storytelling, by a five-person panel consisting of fellow authors. Winners receive ¥1 million.

Sadatarō Hiraoka

Sadatarō Hiraoka was the third Director of Karafuto Prefecture ., also the 17th governor of Fukushima Prefecture (1906–1908). He was from Harima Province, and was a graduate of the University of Tokyo. Yukio Mishima was his grandchild.

Natsuki Koyata is a Japanese writer. She has won the Mishima Yukio Prize, the Japan Fantasy Novel Award, and the Oda Sakunosuke Prize.

Kosaburo, Kōsaburō or Kousaburou is a masculine Japanese given name. Notable people with the name include:


  1. 1 2 Hori, Yukio (2006). Saishin Uyoku Jiten (in Japanese). Kashiwa Shoboh.
  2. 1 2 Hori, Yukio (1991). Uyoku jiten (in Japanese). Sanrei Shobo. ISBN   9784882940173.
  3. 三島由紀夫(Yuki Mishima)2000『決定版 三島由紀夫全集〈35〉』(The authorized edition complete works of Yukio Mishima Vol.35)(新潮社)(written in Japanese)
  4. "Image of Eto's suicide letter (Kakuseisho)" (in Japanese).