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Final Diary Entry of Ensign Sumio Shima

Sometime between 0630 and 0650 on April 16, 1945, Ensign Sumio Shima took off from Kokubu No. 2 Air Base as pilot 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 24. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 3rd Hachiman Goō Squadron [1] from Usa Air Group. He was from Hyōgo Prefecture, attended Keiō Gijuku University in Tōkyō to study economics, and was a member of the 14th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).

Shima wrote the following entry in his diary in April 1945 at Usa Air Base:

A person is born from nothing and returns to nothing.

A person, more than how to live, rather should search how to have a beautiful way of dying.

Isn't a person's happiest way of living life when one dies while beautiful dreams still remain in one's life?

When a person comes to a conviction that one will be able to die comfortably at any time, all the more one always wants to live. Whatever the sadness or difficulty, one comparatively can bear it calmly. Death settles everything. Accordingly, both difficulty and sadness, also loneliness, do not exist. While living, one often suffers and mourns. If one thinks so about death, unceasing courage appears in one's life day by day, and one feels like an extremely bright world has been found. It is a pleasant feeling where it seems that one wants to laugh heartily.

Diary entry translated by Bill Gordon
July 2018

The diary entry comes from Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai (1966, 150). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai (1966, 150) and Osuo (2005, 218).


1. Hachiman is the Japanese god of military power. Usa City in Ōita Prefecture has the first Hachiman Shrine, which was established in the early 8th century. Goō means "protecting the Emperor" in Japanese.

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.