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  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
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.
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'
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
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.
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.
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.
It rained. There was nothing that I did all day. Only eating and
B-29s attacked. Bombs did not fall on this airfield. Smoke was rising in
A large formation of B-29s attacked. We stayed in tunnels. They made
holes in the airfield.
B-29s attacked and made holes in the runway. It was regrettable that they
did it in such a leisurely way.
With beautiful skies, it has reached early summer season. The smell
of spring leaves makes me feel good.
It was slightly cloudy. There was dust at the airfield. It was boring. I
thought of 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.
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).