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Listen to the voices of the
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of Japanese students who
died in war
(1995 edition)

Last Diary Entries of Ensign Cadet Akio Ōtsuka

At 1523 on April 28, 1945, Ensign Cadet Akio Ōtsuka took off from Kokubu No. 2 Air Base as gunner/radio operator in a Type 99 Carrier Dive Bomber (Allied code name of Val) carrying a 250-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 23. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 3rd Kusanagi Squadron from Nagoya Naval Air Group. He was from Tōkyō Prefecture, attended Chūō University in Tōkyō, and was a member of the 1st Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Seito).

He wrote the following three last diary entries in April 1945. The entry dated April 21 is addressed to his three sisters.

April 21

Speaking clearly, I do not enjoy dying. I will not die without any matters remaining in my heart. I cannot help but be concerned about the country's future. Even more so, I am concerned about the future of Father, Mother, and you. The anxiety about it is unbearable. When everyone finds out about my death, if you are sad with an unsettled heart and go to follow a foolish path, just what will become of me?

If you all guess what is in my heart and live together with cheerfulness and friendliness like you have done until now, I will be so happy.

You three are women. In the future you will go through all sorts of hardships. However, you who are intelligent certainly will walk along your own proper paths.

I will be living in your hearts. When you want to meet me, call out my name.

April 25

This morning I got up unusually early in the morning at 5:30, and I did exercises with a naked upper body. It truly felt good. They say that now there in nothing but a single sheet of paper in a white wooden box [1], but I wonder if it is true. I thought that I would give you a lock of hair or a fingernail, but unfortunately yesterday I went to the barber shop and also clipped my fingernails. I thought "oops," but it is too late, since those things do not grow in a day.

I am telling you in advance that I do not need anything like a grave. If I am put inside such a painful place, being cramped up will be unbearable. A vagabond like me does not need a grave. Please tell that to Father and Mother.

One way that a human's happiness can be attained is through that person's thinking. Even if I vanish, there is no reason to feel sad. If I were still living, even though someone in the family should die, all the more I would endeavor to be devoted for the family.

April 28

Today I got up 6 a.m. and inhaled the refreshing mountaintop air. It is the last time to breathe in morning air.

Everything that I do today is for the last time. The crewmen line-up is at 2 p.m., and departure is a little after 3 p.m.

It is strange that it seems like there are and are not things that I want to write.

I really do not feel like I will die. I have a light heart like I am going on a short trip. When I look in the mirror, the shadow of death does not appear anywhere.

Father, please take good care of yourself since you will be fine if you do not worry about your nerve pain and if you take it easy. I wanted to drink together with you, but it cannot be helped. Let's do it face to face at the Buddhist household altar.

Mother, you at 13 kan and 8 hyaku (about 52 kg) weigh less than me, but it is a big deal. It would be unthinkable for you to lose weight because of my matters. Your good health has been the source of my confidence for a long time since I joined the Navy. I think that the family's health is based on your being healthy.

Mother, since you cry easily, I am a little worried, but please do not cry. I will die smiling.

Father often used to say, "if a person smiles, you also will smile." Since I am smiling, please smile also Mother.

Older Sister, Atsuko, and Tomoko, I am very concerned about your health. Pay close attention to it. When you are sad in your hearts, there will be illness with a bad condition, so all the more pay attention to avoid it.

In Tōkyō the cherry blossoms probably are about ready to start falling. When I fall, it would be regrettable that the cherry blossoms have not fallen.

Fall, fall, cherry blossoms. When I fall, why are you blooming?

1 a.m.

Now I will eat lunch and go to the airfield.

There is no more time to write since there are preparations at the airfield.

With this I say farewell.

I beg your pardon for my poor handwriting as always.

Everyone, I will do it in high spirits.

Believing in certain victory in the Greater East Asia War, praying for your great happiness, and apologizing for my lack of filial piety up to now, smiling I will make a sortie.

This evening there is a full moon. While viewing the moon from the sea off Okinawa's main island, I will search for the enemy and suddenly will make a crash attack. I will die bravely and wisely.


Diary entries translated by Bill Gordon
August 2019

The diary entries come from Nihon Senbotsu Gakusei Shuki Henshū Iinkai (1949, 239-42). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Nihon Senbotsu Gakusei Kinenkai (1995, 362), Osuo (2005, 226), and Tokkōtai Senbotsusha (1990, 192).


1. A white wooden box was how the Japanese military usually delivered the remains of war dead to their families. In the case of kamikaze pilots, the remains such as fingernails or hairs from the head would often be prepared in advance. There are also cases where the white box would arrive at the family's home with no remains.

Sources Cited

Nihon Senbotsu Gakusei Kinenkai (Japan Memorial Society for the Students Killed in the War), comp. 1995. Shinpan kike wadatsumi no koe: Nihon senbotsu gakusei no shuki (Listen to the voices of the sea new edition: Writings of Japanese students who died in war). Originally published in 1949. Tōkyō: Iwanami Shoten.

Nihon Senbotsu Gakusei Shuki Henshū Iinkai. 1949. Kike wadatsumi no koe: Nihon senbotsu gakusei no shuki (Listen to the voices of the sea: Writings of Japanese students who died in war).  Tōkyō: Tōdai Kyōdō Kumiai Shuppanbu.

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

Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai (Tokkōtai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association). 1990. Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai.