Minoru's father, Masuo Yasui, however, intended to settle in America. His parents encouraged their children to become Americanized and expected them to succeed in church and school.
As the oldest son, Kay held considerable power and authority within the family. His parents, however, expected Kay not only to be a role model for the younger children but also to represent the family within the community. Despite Kay's excellence in school and status as a budding poet, Masuo, a very strict father, disciplined Kay more harshly than the other children. On February 27, 1931, Shidzuyo told Kay to wake Minoru. Instead, Kay played a joke on Minoru by painting his face black. When Minoru awoke, both Minoru and his father yelled at Kay, shaming him tremendously. When a person is shamed in Japanese culture, they bring shame not only upon themselves but upon the entire family. Perhaps the combination of shame and pressure from his school and family grew too much for Kay to endure. Nobody knows exactly why, but Kay poisoned himself that evening, drinking water mixed with strychnine, a rat poison. He died that night.
Stricken with grief by the suicide, the family spoke little about the circumstances, simply informing the community that Kay died. Few people, including Minoru's younger bothers and sisters, knew that Kay had killed himself. The loss affected both Minoru and his father immensely, and Masuo blamed them both. He wrote Minoru: "Yourself and father are directly responsible for the loss of our dearest one. Your feeling and thought of the 27 of February meet exactly mine. You will surely feel very keenly toward your responsibility… . There lies our common sorrow and great point which we must suffer for the rest of our lives. "