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Last Diary Entries of Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Hajime Sano

On August 11, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Hajime Sano died in a special (suicide) attack at the age of 18 when submarine I-366, which was carrying five kaiten manned torpedoes, launched his kaiten at an enemy convoy about 500 nautical miles north of the Palau Islands. The convoy was about ten kilometers away from the submarine, and only three of the five kaiten weapons launched successfully. Submarine crewmen heard three explosions, which the captain concluded were from hits on enemy ships, but American records do not indicate any hits. On August 1, 1945, submarine I-366 had made a sortie from Hikari Kaiten Base in Yamaguchi Prefecture with five kaiten pilots who were members of the Kaiten Special Attack Corps Tamon Unit. Sano was from Kyōto Prefecture and was a member of the 13th Kō Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program). He received a promotion to Ensign after his death by special attack.

He wrote the following final diary entries:

August 1

Pleasures arrive as if from nowhere, and they go away to nowhere. They arise after overcoming hardships. It is foolish to seek pleasures without having hardships. If I for an instant even desire to seek pleasure, my hardship is knowing the country's current condition. It is great that I work diligently while being aware of what I must do. I should know well that all things will come. People also are such. Experienced persons are honored and awe-inspiring. Experiencing all types of ordeals is like the blue of skies and seas. One must look. One must know.

Until now I should have become a splendid sea eagle. Completely devoted, I pushed forward with training activities. From the season of intense cold in December of last year, I have defeated all hardships. I finished my graduation test, and I have done my best consistently. Recently I was at a base as a man assigned to a new weapon. I did not know when and what type of conditions for my life there would be. Of course when I looked at aircraft, regrets remained. However, now such things are useless. Our duty is to be men who ride kaiten weapons. Reversing the current situation is our responsibility and obligation. That is difficult and hard to carry out. We need to put our lives on the line. We are not afraid.

I must not feel sad about current circumstances. Even more than that, I must carry out completely the duty that I have now. Whether death or life, in the emptiness we must have confidence, forgetting love, sadness, and joy.

August 5

After breakfast, I went up to the bridge. The sky to the east was bright, and the sun just then had come up. It felt like dawn for Shinshū [1]. Gazing there at the distant horizon, I prayed that tomorrow we will find the enemy. The North Star is shining at a height 24 degrees above the horizon. At last we have come to 24 degrees north latitude. We are about 300 nautical miles east of Okinawa. At 2245 there was a telegraph that there were enemy surface ships at 134 degrees 20 minutes east and 22 degrees north proceeding in a direction of 10 degrees. Finally we have reached the area where the enemy can be found. The likelihood of encountering the enemy tomorrow is high.

From when I was young, I gazed at the North Star. Together with the seven stars of the Big Dipper, for me it feels like they are guardians of the heavens. For me, with the gods of heaven and earth and with my parents and siblings, there is only decisive action. Since I entered the Yokaren, as I gazed often at the North Star and the seven stars of the Big Dipper, I remembered my hometown, and to my deceased Grandfather and to my Father and Mother, I promised to fight. Recently I saw the Southern Cross. After I die, I will become a star shining above the Pacific Ocean.

August 10

After completion of kaiten launch training, I spent almost the entire day sleeping. I feel like I do not know at all when it is day or night.

Today also we did not encounter the enemy. At dusk I went up to the bridge. The ocean had not changed and was quiet. The submarine floated on the surface, and maintenance was carried out topside. Each kaiten was in very good condition. At 17 degrees north latitude, there remained some time before reaching the deployment point.

I still have not seen the Southern Cross. The sky is decorated abundantly with stars.

August 11

At 1730, the enemy was discovered. It is a transport convoy. I calmly will carry out a taiatari (body-crashing) attack.

I only will make an attack shouting banzai (long life) for His Majesty the Emperor. Farewell. Come, beautiful dawn for Shinshū.

Wearing a hachimaki (headband) with the saying of "seven lives to serve the country" [2], my prayer is for an instant sinking.

To Father, Mother, and Grandmother, how unfortunate that during my leave I told you nothing of the truth and was able to tell you only lies. However, there was no way to do so since it is a military secret. There was nothing else to do other than a farewell without saying anything. You soon will know. I sincerely apologize for my self-centeredness during my lifetime.

As the oldest son, there is no excuse for my going before Father. However, if this is for the Emperor, what of my parents and siblings? I picture in my mind the dawn for Shinshū and in high spirits will try to make an attack with Yamato [3] spirit on an enemy ship. It truly will be exhilarating.

Diary entries translated by Bill Gordon
December 2018 and August 2019

The diary entries dated August 1 and 10 come from Mainichi Shinbunsha (1968, 216-7), and the diary entries dated August 5 and 11 come from Matsugi (1971, 86-7). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Konada and Kataoka (2006, 279-84, 373-4), Matsugi (1971, 85), and Mediasion (2006, 68, 87).


1. Shinshū refers to Japan and literally means "divine land."

2. According to legend, "seven lives to serve the country" were the last words of 14th-century samurai Kusunoki Masashige.

3. Yamato is a poetic name for Japan.

Sources Cited

Konada, Toshiharu, and Noriaki Kataoka. 2006. Tokkō kaiten sen: Kaiten tokkōtai taichō no kaisō (Special attack kaiten battles: Kaiten special attack corps leader's reminiscences). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.

Mainichi Shinbunsha, ed. 1968. Seishun no isho: "Yokaren" senbotsusha no shuki (Last letters of youth: Writings of "Yokaren" war dead). Tōkyō: Mainichi Shinbunsha.

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

The Mediasion Co. 2006. Ningen gyorai kaiten (Kaiten human torpedo). Hiroshima: The Mediasion Co.