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Last Diary Entries of Ensign Mitsuo Satō

At 1220 on April 16, 1945, Ensign Mitsuo Satō took off from Kanoya Air Base as pilot in a Zero fighter carrying a 250-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack southeast of Kikaijima at the age of 23. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 4th Shōwa Squadron from Yatabe Naval Air Group. He was from Kanagawa Prefecture, attended Senshū University in Tōkyō to study economics, 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 while at Yatabe Air Base and Kanoya Air Base:

April 11

Today we received an order to stand by.

I prepared my baggage, had my hair cut, and took a lock of hair for a memento. I took a bath and when I was preparing sake to drink, an order came for the men who were to advance to assemble, and we gathered together. There were instructions regarding tomorrow's advance. Leave from base was granted, and I left for Tsuchiura.

April 12

I woke up about 3 in the morning and returned to base. I prepared everything and lined up at 8:30. I took off after 9:30. To those who were waving their caps to send us off, I nodded in return as I took off. Visibility was bad. From Funabashi I crossed Tōkyō Bay and entered Kanagawa Prefecture. It was not noticed that the 2nd Shōtai (Section) was not following behind us. Our number 2 plane returned to the airfield just after taking off. Together with the lead plane were the four planes of the shōtai.

Suddenly when I looked below, it was the Sagami River. When I looked back, my squadron could be seen a little behind. From the skies I gave them a long farewell.

I set about toward Hakone. The air currents were bad. From time to time I entered a small air pocket. I could clearly see Ashinoko Lake. When I was going over the mountains of Chūbu Region, the air currents were getting worse and worse. I arrived safely at Suzuka. I filled up with fuel.

Before Shikoku my engine condition was bad. My acceleration was not working. I was flying with a low pitch. I arrived at Tokushima and had the spark plugs changed. Since there was not time, Lieutenant Junior Grade Marushige and Yashima went ahead. Ensign Kimura and I remained. We planned to spend the night, but the engine was fixed, an operational check was run, and we departed.

I went up the Yoshino River. I flew a direct course from Cape Ashizuri in Kōchi to Kanoya. As usual the acceleration was bad. I flew at 1,500 revolutions and was concerned about the fuel gauge. At sea level it indicated close to zero. I was uneasy. I entered Kyūshū and was relieved when I saw Miyakonojō. When landing at Kanoya, the landing area was not separated off, so I retried and landed on the second try. While I was moving on the ground, my fuel gave out, and my engine stopped. Even though I waited for maintenance workers, they did not come. Leaving the plane just as it was, I walked to the place that I understood to be the command office. I did not know that there were many command offices for separate units. While inquiring, I soon found it. I lodged in an elementary school. It was like Ryōzanpaku [1]. Although it was rough and inconvenient, I was again happy. I ate and had a sound sleep. There was liquor, but I did not feel like drinking. The men of the first squadron to depart were all there. I slept together with Nakamura and Shinozaki in the same room like we did long ago.

April 13

I woke up at 6:30. We spent the day on stand-by. When I continue to be slovenly for a few days, it seems that my physical condition will go. I do not have any attachment to life. I am not thinking even that today or tomorrow I will die. It is calm with a gentle spring wind. We are hopeful. I went to take a bath at a private house. My heart is good. An extra fuel tank was loaded on the rear seat. The 2nd Shōtai and Ensign Kitahara have not yet arrived. I am concerned.

April 14

It is good weather. I washed my face in a stream in front. I looked dashing. While on stand-by, the 2nd Shōtai and Ensign Kitahara arrived in time to receive the sortie order. There were 12 planes. I remain without having fortune in battle.

We were waiting for radio messages from the planes that made sorties. There was news about crash dives into aircraft carriers. It seems that most of the planes were Zero fighters. We who remain must wait until tomorrow for our turn. I hope that tomorrow there will be nothing written in this diary.

April 15

In the morning there seemed to be a task force 130 miles to the southeast. It was expected that all planes would make sorties, but this was misinformation. There are indications that today also we will while the time away. I am disappointed.

In the afternoon at 1400 they held a sports meet. We did slow bicycle race, fire setter, bottle fishing, instant sinking (gōchin), and others. Nakamura took two bottles of beer as prizes in bottle fishing. Our team in instant sinking won two bottles of beer in the same way.

The sports meet ended, and there was an order for everyone to take cover. A swarm of Grumman fighters came in. I felt the fear of machine-gun strafing. I stuck close to the ground in a ditch in the countryside, and I waited for the sound to grow faint. When I raised my head, the next plane again started to strafe. I was irritated. I could not bear it. It was a surprise attack. We would also attack aircraft carriers today or tomorrow. The 1st Kutai (tactical group of four planes) was made up principally of fighter trainers, and tomorrow in the early morning they would go to attack the anchorage at Okinawa. Our shōtai would attack the task force. The day and time were not clear, but I think that we will do it tomorrow.

April 16

In the morning I woke up. It was cold. It came about that the squadron made up principally of Zero fighter trainers led by Ensign Kusamura went to attack the anchorage and four planes led by Ensign Nishimura went to attack the task force. There were a total of eight men who remained in the shōtai led by Lieutenant Junior Grade Marushige and the shōtai led by Ensign Sadakata. I think that they will not make it to tonight. I am the only person who remains from the 3rd three-man unit of the Shōwa Squadrons.

Diary entries translated by Bill Gordon
October 2018

The diary entries come from Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei (1966, 137-40). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei (1966, 137) and Osuo (2005, 203).


1. Ryōzanpaku refers to camp headquarters at the foot of Mount Liang (Ryōzan in Japanese) in China for bold and ambitious outlaws who were rebels against a corrupt regime in 13th century China.

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.

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