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Last Diary Entries of Ensign Yoshikage Hatabu

Sometime between 1535 and 1605 on April 28, 1945, Ensign Yoshikage Hatabu took off from Kushira Air Base as navigator/observer in a Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber (Allied code name of Kate) carrying an 800-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 22. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Hachiman Jinchū [1] Squadron from Usa Air Group. He was from Fukuoka Prefecture, attended Kyōto Imperial University, and was a member of the 14th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).

He wrote the following final diary entries:

I remember that I did not leave behind even a last letter, and I want to write down my feelings in a diary until the day of my sortie without writing something as formal as a last letter.

April 16

Today also I still am living. Since the other day Father, Mother, Older Brother, and Older Sister saw me off, I could depart with a calm feeling. Today I found out by a letter entrusted to Ensign Kawamura that you have met T-ko [women with name not given that begins with "T" and ends with "ko"]. I do not know what you feel about her, but I love her from my heart. She alone is a sweet woman. She is a pure person. Feeling that she is part of me, please always maintain a friendship with her. Without fail please invite her to my funeral.

The feeling of this place's being a frontline base strikes home. Both yesterday and today Grumman fighters and Sikorsky flying boats attacked with machine guns and bombs. They were full of fighting spirit, and their desire to attack was great. While covered in mud, I am taking care of this precious body that will be exchanged for a huge ship. Yesterday I was in imminent danger. While guiding my plane to a concrete hangar after landing, we suddenly came under enemy attack. Moreover, there was a bad incident where the windshield above my seat would not open. While watching enemy planes take aim and make steep dives overhead, it was tragic that I was not able to get out. I was not successful even though I pounded with my fists to strike and break it. What if I, who must die in the Special Attack Corps, were to die in such a place? I desperately passed through to the narrow space of the rear seat, and finally I was able to break out.

Four or five Grumman fighters flew at full speed right above me. In the instant when I put my face down from shadows of these mountains before my eyes, they raked the ground with machine-gun fire sounding "da, da, da, …" about two or three meters before my eyes. While my body was splattered with mud, I keenly felt that I had come to the battlefield. Unexpectedly I felt that I had been able to come to a final settlement. Afterward when I tried to look, there were two shots in the wings, and the engine had one shot and a large hole. It truly was a dangerous place. Today also we had air attacks two times. However, today I was calm and composed. From hidden in the mountains, Grumman fighters and Sikorsky flying boats that made terrific steep dives let loose a barrage of machine-gun fire. With only satisfaction I watched artillery fire from the ground, an enemy plane's falling in flames, and the figure of a crewman who jumped out and was falling slowly. It was like I was viewing some movie. It was truly a superb movie full of thrills.

This place is at the southern tip of our homeland, and spring has advanced gradually and makes it feel like early summer draws near. It is regrettable that enemy planes violate our homeland where the sunshine is gentle and thick greenery is beautiful, but nothing can be done. I am firmly determined all the more to protect with my death this place of my parents' homeland.

Mother and Father, I truly want to express my grateful thanks for kindly loving me from your hearts. Within this short writing, please understand all of my feelings. Saying these things seems to be formal and gives me a strange feeling. I go to die a short time before you, but I hope that you will please be happy that I was able to go to die for the country. You took care of me for a long time, and I am truly sorry that I did not do anything for you to make you happy. Please consider that my death at least will be repayment for your kindness.

Older Brother, thank you for what you have done for me for a long time. I appreciate that you raised me with kindness and friendliness. Please handle things afterward. My heart is waiting calmly for this favorable opportunity.

Older Brother's Wife, please get along well with Older Brother. Even if he is called up for military service, it will also be somewhat of a hardship, but please make strenuous efforts for the country and for the Hatabu Family.

Yoshikazu, I think of the details that you heard from me, Father, and Mother. First is your body, and next are your studies. Please become a fine Japanese person and follow after me. You are a person who will save the country and a person who in the future will carry Japan on your shoulders. I think that the enemy is coming to the south of Kyūshū, and you have the duty to try as hard as you can each and every day. You are a treasure for Japan. Please do not bring my final words to nothing. You can fight until the last moment. Strive to develop a strong body and spirit. Do not cause too many troubles for Father and Mother.

Kazuko, become an ideal Japanese woman. Be a strong, kind woman. Be a good mother, give birth to a good child, and make the child a treasure for Japan. In place of me, please show filial piety to Father and Mother.

Grandmother, you showed great kindness to me from when I was small. I who was crawling around grew big in this way, and I who was weak became strong in this way. I will go and die for the country. I never imagined that I would die before you. Please have a long life without talking too noisily and by taking it easy. Thank you for many things.

April 17

Today also I am living.

The sunshine is glorious, a breeze is caressing my cheeks, and cicadas are chirping. After all, the skies here at the base are calm. As for this calm, machine-gun strafing can break the dream. On the land where you are and at the southern tip of our homeland, moreover here is the front line. I will give happiness to everyone by protecting to the end my beloved Japan as my body turns to dust. Furthermore, I will rise up as a fighting spirit.

I was relieved to be able to meet everyone. My only regret is T-ko. Please laugh at my weak heart. However, as I face death, I am surprised at the depth of my feeling toward T-ko as if it were something new. Please consider the grandeur of human devotion.

April 18

Today also I am living.

From the morning there was an air attack by B-29s. There was a falling sound like that of a waterfall coming down, and then following that there were terrific explosions. Even crewmen who were brave when on planes were crawling around on the ground. There was black smoke and flames rising up all around. The larks had been singing in the sky, and lotus flowers had been blooming profusely on the ground, but regrettably they were barely able to do it.

April 19

It rained. There was nothing that I did all day. Only eating and sleeping.

April 20

B-29s attacked. Bombs did not fall on this airfield. Smoke was rising in all directions.

April 21

A large formation of B-29s attacked. We stayed in tunnels. They made holes in the airfield.

April 22

B-29s attacked and made holes in the runway. It was regrettable that they did it in such a leisurely way.

April 23

With beautiful skies, it has reached early summer season. The smell of spring leaves makes me feel good.

April 24

It was slightly cloudy. There was dust at the airfield. It was boring. I thought of everyone.

April 28

To Everyone,

Now I depart. I have no regrets.

Father, Mother, Older Brother, and Older Sister, I hope for your happiness.

I will go without my military uniform. Since there is a brand-new one in the wicker suitcase, please take that for the family and send the old one to Toshiko's place. I ask that you certainly do this. When you find out about my death in battle, I think that it is fine if you call the family together one time and pass around my last letter and other things.

Grandmother, Yoshikazu, and Kazuko, everyone please take care.

Japan certainly will win. I am glad that I have obtained a place to die for the country's prosperity.

With a refreshed spirit like the sky, a little while remains for me to feel this way.

Farewell, take care.

Diary entries translated by Bill Gordon
July 2018 and September 2019

The diary entries come from Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai (1966, 166-71). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai (1966, 166), Matsugi (1971, 166), and Osuo (2005, 219).


1. Hachiman is the Japanese god of military power. Usa City in Ōita Prefecture has the first Hachiman Shrine, which was established in the early 8th century. Jinchū literally means "divine loyalty."

Sources Cited

Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai (Navy Flight Reserve Students 14th Class Association), ed. 1966. Ā dōki no sakura: Kaerazaru seishun no shuki (Ah, cherry blossoms of same class: Writings of youth that would not return). Tōkyō: Mainichi Shinbunsha.

Matsugi, Fujio, ed. 1971. Kaigun tokubetsu kōgekitai no isho (Last letters of Navy Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: KK Bestsellers.

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