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Final Diary Entries of Lieutenant Junior Grade Takamitsu Nishida

At 0655 on May 11, 1945, Lieutenant Junior Grade Takamitsu Nishida took off from Kanoya Air Base as pilot in a Zero fighter carrying a 500-kg bomb and died at the age of 23 in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa. He was a member of the 5th Tsukuba Squadron. He was from Ōita Prefecture, attended Ōita Teachers College, and was a member of the 13th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).

He wrote the following last diary entries:

April 25

Finally, in two or three days there will be a sortie. From tomorrow will be the 4th Kikusui Operation. From the 1st to the 3rd Operation, there have been considerable battle results together with many comrades who died in battle.

When I look back one year, dead friends
Are difficult to count

When the 4th Operation ends, it will finally be the turn of my chūtai (squadron) to make a crash-dive attack. Until the end I will be prudent. At Okinawa I certainly will not yield to the enemy. Not needing life, not needing honor nor position, I only will make a hitchū (sure-hit) attack. Like cherry blossoms at Fukayama, I will fall bravely when I must blossom and fall without others knowing. I will banish any idle thoughts.

At 10 in the evening, we received an order to advance.

April 26

At 0500, I woke up and completed preparations to advance.

From 0800, the commanding officers, flight officers, and senior officers gave us a farewell ceremony.

At about 1100, I departed toward Kyūshū in a Douglas transport plane. I checked the map, and from the air I gave farewell to my homeland, as I flew away from it. I have fond memories of my homeland's islands that I will not see again. When I passed by beautiful Cape Sada, I saw the chimneys of Saganoseki [1]. It is part of my old home. Arriving in the area of Tomitaka [2], which is linked to my home, I think of my parents, siblings, teachers, students, and friends at home, and I again fondly remember them even more. With the connection of seeing Kyūshū from where I will go on a final ambitious undertaking, memories of the mountains and rivers of my home and the days of my youth come to mind one after another.

Mother at the end of this land's surface
I pray to complete tomorrow's heroic undertaking

In the dark air-raid shelter, I heard the sound of explosions. I certainly will hit the target. With all the effort of my life, now I will show proof of the 23 years that I have lived. I am glad that I am in very good health.

To Younger Brother

Hisamitsu, take care in the future. I am fortunate to have many younger brothers. I will do it smiling with determination. Take care of Yoshikatsu and Sanetatsu, and go forward together as fine Japanese persons.

Hisamitsu, I scolded you a lot. As an older brother who did not do anything like an older brother, my heart is pained. I wanted to at least once have some drinks and talk together. You are a good person. I scolded and teased you a lot, but I think that it was for you. There is canned pineapple at my bedside. I want to give it to you.

Be a manly man. I ask that you show filial piety for my part.

Take care.

Your health absolutely is necessary in order to live and in order to be able to die.

May 1

From the morning there was rain like that in the rainy season. In the evening I bought ten bottles of beer. When I drank a huge amount and sang, the sky cleared and the stars came out. Tomorrow will be the sortie.

Today I will live also, and I am committed to tomorrow's hitchū (sure-hit) attack.

Farewell Poem

Unspeakable Sovereign
Parting, ways of world, and also living and dying
At faraway end of sea
Many ardently dedicated persons agree eagerly
Get drunk a while and break the full moon with drinking glass
Skies of Okinawa to where we go
Sovereign also continues to there
This night our leaving and deaths are distant
Someday again will appear cherry trees with many branches
Unspeakable Sovereign
Parting, ways of world, and also living and dying
Where water meets sky
Clouds go high above us
Clouds can go

May 3

Being overcast, at last it is the final decisive battle of Okinawa. That is to say, tomorrow will begin the 5th Kikusui Operation. In the evening, additional special attack squadrons came, and at 8 o'clock there was an attack by Consolidated (B-24 Liberator) bombers. Several planes went up in flames, and there were several casualties. This evening the decisive battle at last has started. Throughout the night there were explosions, and special attack planes headed to Okinawa one after another.

May 4

The first day of the 5th Kikusui Operation began at about 0200. At dawn several dozen special attack planes made sorties. Bomb-carrying fighter squadrons, ōka squadrons, Suisei carrier dive bomber squadrons, and other squadrons took off one after another. The Army also made sorties in the same way. The huge special attack unit made crash-dive attacks on ships off Okinawa.

We did not receive an order to attack since the enemy task force, which is our objective, was near Ishigakijima and Miyakojima to the south. As I lost this friend and that friend, with indignation I survived today also.

May 5

Poems for Boy's Day

Arrow wheel [3] also
Points to south
As it is spinning

You carp streamers also
Toward the south
Are you also facing?

Although the ground around the airfield is scorched, May's sky is clear, and the early summer wind is fragrant. Barley in the fields is growing, and the paddy fields are filled with water. Our carp did not have time to climb the great waterfall [4] to heaven with sacrifice and loyalty. At 1100, a radio message was received from our Saiun reconnaissance aircraft searching for the enemy. It said that there was the enemy task force including aircraft carriers. Even though we were waiting for an order to make a sortie very soon since we were on standby for two hours, in the end it did not come. Today also I again was able to live. Regarding living normally just before a sortie order is expected to be issued, even though today also was precious, it was a day that could not be spent peacefully.

May 6

We were on standby for three hours from 1100. Although Saiun reconnaissance aircraft searched for the enemy task force with full-scale efforts, they could not yet get confirmation. As a result, In the afternoon we utilized a moment's leisure from the decisive battle. All of the crewmen under the commanding officer, communications chief, and operation head held an athletic meet.

At 1900, the standby was cancelled. I think that I am a person who has lived a very long time. We hastened to this base, and the next day we were to carry out a hitchū (sure-hit) attack. Information was delayed, and next there was rainy weather. Following that, eventually the task force ran away. Today seems like the tenth day here. During that time, other special attack squadrons carried out missions a number of times, and already in just ten short days the number of friends who did not return has become difficult to count. As for our enemy, since the task force moves and turns, it is the most difficult attack. Even until now, I have not seen success, and the number of men who have not returned has not been small. We were selected for this attack, and each cutting-edge Model 52 carrier fighter will be equipped with a 500-kg bomb and rocket. That responsibility is very important. If I die in vain, the planes following me also will not be given that place to die. This is inexcusable when being the squadron commander. All of our lives are only the sure-hit attack. In the evening all eight squadron members drank sake while eating chicken sukiyaki. It was a pleasant time.

May 7

Today will be cloudy with light rain later.

Since Saiun reconnaissance aircraft today will go out on flights to search for the enemy, there will not be a standby today. Until tomorrow morning my life is not in danger, and I decided to restore my energy by taking it easy.

We today do not know how long we will live
Though the days to stop are fading, we again are happy

I fished in the afternoon, and the battle results for one hour were three aburame (fat greenling) fish. I could not fish like in the Nikoge River.

I drank beer in the evening and restored my energy for tomorrow. It was a pleasant day.

Even though Saiun aircraft were going throughout the day, in the end they still had not discovered the enemy task force that perhaps was not yet in the north.

May 8

I found out that there was an attack of a low-pressure system with cirrus clouds. We were on standby for three hours from 0800. When there is a two-hour standby or three-hour standby, it means that there is a time of two or three hours from receiving the attack order until takeoff. However, even though the enemy's location is known and there are two or three hours of time, there are tasks such as aircraft preparation, navigation planning, looking after other aircraft, code signals, and research of atmospheric condition and ground condition. Although it is called hitchū (sure hit), it is very difficult to do. A crewman has no way of knowing how busy and difficult it is to carry out a great death. The only way to be able to do that well is through clear thinking with cleverness, bold initiative, systematic thinking, and ability to command and by only normal hard work and research.

While waiting from 0800 to get the order for the time of the sortie for a hitchū (sure hit) attack, they really are sincerely cheerful and pleasant as usual and are focused on the hitchū (sure hit) attack. They are making these efforts, and if there is free time, there is baseball, dominoes, shōgi (Japanese chess), singing, eating, or sleeping. It truly does not seem they are persons who are waiting just before an order for a hisshi hitchū (certain-death, sure-hit) attack. Also, there is not such a thought at all. Only when the Imperial command is handed down, they will do it, and only that will happen. Therefore, like they have joy in living a simple life, they are doing things simply with all of their desires and regrets already in the other world. Also during each day, as expected they recall people or their parents about once a day.

With our Jinrai Squadron there is an 11-year-old boy named Akio Setoguchi who is a foster child without parents. He lodges with the squadron, and he enters the underground air-raid shelter together with us if the enemy comes. Although he is not good at mathematics, he is very talented at drawing. He often talks with us and has no belongings. He goes into the public bath with the squadron. He is a popular person who seems nice. He goes by the name of Jinrai Monkey.

May 9

The weather is fine. We were on standby for two hours.

In the afternoon Ōsaki Town gave our special attack squadrons about 85 chickens and 3,000 eggs together with letters of comfort. I was extremely grateful. I really regret the slight decline of human feelings in the city. In full view was how the farming villages in remote areas can preserve the pure Imperial Way. We talked together filled with awareness of the decisive battle that we will join. With cheerful bravery, we were filled more and more with a spirit of hitchū (sure hit).

May 10

At 1600, there was a line-up of the Special Attack Corps members.

I am looking forward to tomorrow in the early morning. My squadron has been given the long-awaited attack order. It has been more than ten days since we came to the front-line Kanoya Base, and I feel like there are lice while wearing the uniform when I arrived. In the end the task force is not near Kerama, and there is not an opportunity to attack. Even if it does not come, we will go.

After a four-hour flight over water, with my eyes open wide in fury I certainly will hit the target. In the afternoon at 6 o'clock I went on a test flight with the aircraft at the airfield. Its condition was good. When it was finished, I passed the border of the dark airfield and returned. Luminous night cirrus clouds are running north to south like fish scales. The wind is blowing from the southwest, and tomorrow will be splendid weather. May 11——I tried to count my years on the dark path. I became 23 years old this year on April 1. From when I breathed, tomorrow I will become 23 years and 42 days old [5]. It seems long, but truly it seems that it was short. Just like a dream I remembered things from the past when I was young. I pictured in my mind the faces for my parents and brothers and faces of all of the people who I knew, and I recalled everyone with only smiling faces. Last night I dreamed that ahead on the path where I was walking there were seven baby snakes. Three of them fled when I approached, but four proceeded at a leisurely pace and did not flee. When I asked certain people, they said that the snake dream is the best. Today I heard about tomorrow, and the dream is not altogether a lie as we received an order to attack the task force that has seven aircraft carriers. Without doubt we certainly will hit the targets.

I have blood of ardent sacrifice and loyalty, a fighting spirit for complete destruction, conviction of hitchū (sure hit), and a strong spirit not less than anyone as a young Japanese man. Nevertheless, there remains as not understood weaknesses as a human, mysteries of life, and mysteries of death. However, that does not mean that there is anything like worries or regrets. Receiving this opportunity as a military man is an unbearable joy. Now I think that it is good that I die. No, even though now I die, it is good. I will create a time to strike that will turn back to the beginning of the war's outbreak. If I do not go now, there will not be an opportunity to go. When I think, it does not seem likely that tomorrow my body will become fragments. However, I am a person who has lived on for some time. Even until today. After being called as a sakimori [6] of the skies until now, I have found a way out of desperate situations, and I have narrowly escaped from death when I faced it several times in rigorous practical training. In my mind there always is the poem, "To the beach a woman diver also wears straw raincoat in drizzling rain." Fortunately, I have been so healthy up to today.

Not being able to obtain an opportunity today, I think of many friends who have died. Now I am filled with happiness to be able to participate in this ambitious undertaking. I surely will show proof that I have lived a life of 23 years, and with all my might I certainly will carry out my final service for the Empire. I am filled with the people's indignation at 200-kg bombs, and with sweat and blood together with my plane I will leave and bury the enemy deep at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

At about 9:30 a.m. on May 11, 1945, I as a subject of the Empire bid farewell with appreciation for everything. I will wake up tomorrow morning at 3:30. Not having any lingering regrets, I will sleep for tomorrow's hitchū (sure-hit) attack. Believing only in certain victory for the Empire, I pray for still more success and happiness for the Empire's subjects.

Father, Mother, brothers, and men who I trained, and other people, farewell.

Jinrai Bomb-Laden Fighter Unit Tsukuba Squadron 1st Section Leader
Lieutenant Junior Grade Nishida

The morning of May 11 has come.

Five hours from now I will make a hitchū (sure-hit) attack.

Everyone, farewell.

Please take care.

Father, Mother, I am going.

Last writing of my life.

The person who saw me off at the end was the writer Sōhachi Yamaoka.

In the skies, clouds are going, clouds are floating,
Stars forever shine
Forever twinkle in sky, in sky

Diary entries translated by Bill Gordon
June 2019

The diary entries come from Hakuō Izokukai (1952, 127-38). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Hakuō Izokukai (1952, 127) and Osuo (2005, 198).


1. Saganoseki was a town located on the eastern coast of Nishida's home prefecture of Ōita. In 2005, Saganoseki became part of an expanded Ōita City. Cape Sada is a narrow peninsula at the west of Ehime Prefecture.

2. Tomitaka Airfield was located in Miyazaki Prefecture, located next to Ōita Prefecture to the south.

3. An arrow wheel is a decorative windmill on a pole where carp streamers are raised on Boy's Day on May 5.

4. Carp streamers are raised on Boy's Day. The carp's climbing a waterfall signifies succeeding energetically in life.

5. It seems that from April 1 to May 11 is 41 days, so it is uncertain why Nishida wrote 42 days.

6. A sakimori was a soldier in Japan during the 7th to 9th century who protected the western frontier of Japan. Poems written by sakimori are included in the Manyōshū, the oldest surviving anthology of Japanese poetry compiled in the last half of the 8th century.

Sources Cited

Hakuō Izokukai (Hakuō Bereaved Families Association), ed. 1952. Kumo nagaruru hate ni: Senbotsu kaigun hikō yobi gakusei no shuki (To the end of the flowing clouds: Writings of Navy reserve students who died in war). Tōkyō: Nihon Shuppan Kyōdō.

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