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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 [1] Squadron from Genzan [2] 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 Gakusei).

He wrote the following dated April 7, 1945, at Genzan Air Base:

In my life of 23 years [3], 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
January 2020

The letter and biographical information come from Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai (1995, 119).

Note

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 death.

Source Cited

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: Kōjinsha.