Last Writing of Ensign Shōzui Yamaoka
On April 16, 1945, Ensign Shōzui Yamaoka 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 21. He was a member of the Kamikaze
Special Attack Corps 4th Shichishō  Squadron
from Genzan  Naval Air Group. He was from Ehime Prefecture,
attended Kōyasan University in Wakayama Prefecture to study philosophy, and was
a member of the 14th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi
He wrote the following dated April 7, 1945, at Genzan Air Base:
In my life of 23 years , I have no regrets
and will see the Empire's prosperity.
At a time like this, I was selected as a member of the Shichishō
Unit. With the fate of the Empire on my shoulders, I will attack and sink a
ship in the southern seas in a taiatari (body-crashing) attack. I
feel that this is a duty of Buddha that was received by me. I will carry
this out and live eternally. I can say that life and death are something like
the clouds and like a mist. Tomorrow morning when I make my sortie, I who
was born in the Empire will depart full of joy with deep appreciation for
the Emperor's great kindness and my parents' kindness. I pray only for the
Empire's peace and the accomplishment of my mission.
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter and biographical information come from Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei
Dai 14 Ki Kai (1995, 119).
1. Shichishō means "seven lives."
2.The Korean pronunciation of Genzan is Wonsan.
It is located on the east coast of North Korea.
3. 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 explains why the letter
indicates his age as 23 whereas Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai (1995,
119) gives a birthdate of September 25, 1923, which indicates his age was 21 at
Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai (Navy Flight
Reserve Students 14th Class Association), ed. 1995. Zoku
• Ā dōki no sakura (Continuation
• Ah, cherry blossoms of same class). Tōkyō: