Continuation • Ah, Cherry
Blossoms of Same Class (1995)
Last Letters of Ensign Shunji Shinozaki to His Family
At 1130 on April 14, 1945, Ensign Shunji Shinozaki tried to take off
from Kanoya Air Base as pilot of a Zero fighter carrying a 250-kg bomb. He died
at the age of 23 during takeoff when the bomb dropped from his fighter, and
the explosion also damaged the runway .
Shinozaki was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack
Corps 1st Shōwa Squadron from Yatabe Air Group. On April 14, 1945, ten
other members of the 1st Shōwa Squadron died in special (suicide) attacks
east of Tokunoshima .
He was from Tōkyō Prefecture, attended Keiō Gijuku University in Tōkyō to study
law, and was a member of the 14th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve
Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).
Even though he had been a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps and
died during his takeoff to make a special attack, the Japanese Navy did not recognize Shinozaki's death as one during a special
attack, which entitled a crewman to a posthumous two-rank promotion .
He wrote the following letters to his family from Yatabe Air Base in Ibaraki
Prefecture on April 11, 1945, three days before his death:
I will go wearing the muffler and senninbari (thousand-stitch
belt worn for good luck) that you sent to me.
Now I will make a sortie. Thank you for the care that you gave to me for a
long time. Now I have no complaint. Since I suppose that you understand my
feelings, I will not say anything. Anyhow, there is no time since the order
was received three hours ago. I put a lock of hair as a memento in my trunk.
Please give my best regards to people who showed me kindness during my
Dear Hisako and Michiko,
Please show filial piety to our parents for my share also. Michiko, I am
sorry that I was not able to see you even one time, but please understand
that this is due to the situation.
Dear Older Sisters, Sachiko, Fumiko, Kazuo, and Yoshio,
The other day was the end. Please live in good health. Being busy, there
is nothing to say, but I will fall with your photo and our parents' photo.
Everyone, be strong.
A friend will enclose photos taken before the sortie. I also intend to
send you money.
After Shinozaki arrived at Kanoya Air Base where the 1st Shōwa Squadron was
scheduled to take off toward Okinawa, he wrote the following last letter to his parents just
before his attempted takeoff. He also wrote a death poem.
Dear Father and Mother,
Excuse me for the other day. Since you suspected my situation, it was
difficult emotionally for me also. Yesterday I arrived at Kanoya, and today
I will make a sortie. Thank you for your care for a long time. We absolutely
will defend Shinshū  Japan with our tactics.
On the way to come here, I passed through the skies above Ōsaka and off
the shore of Hanshin. Ōsaka is marvelous. Off the shore of Aoki, with
my plane I saluted our old home with fond memories.
I am worried about Mother, but it is not a worry that she will be a
mother of Japan. I will make a splendid attack on an enemy aircraft carrier.
As kamikaze (divine wind) blew
Sea eagle turns into fireball
I will go
Letters translated by Bill Gordon
The letters and biographical information come from Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei
Dai 14 Ki Kai (1995, 56-8).
1. A Japanese web page on the history of the
Yatabe Naval Air Group provides information on the accident that caused the
death of Shunji Shinozaki when he was taking off at Kanoya Air Base. <http://pico32.web.fc2.com/kaigun/sentoki/yatabe.htm>
(April 2, 2018).
2. Osuo 2005, 203.
3. The name of Shunji Shinozaki does not appear
among the following listings of special attack deaths for the 1st Shōwa
Squadron: Hara 2004, 204; Osuo 2005, 203; Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei
Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai 1990, 184.
4. Shinshū refers to Japan and literally means
Hara, Katsuhiro. 2004. Shinsō kamikaze tokkō: Hisshi
hitchū no 300 nichi (Kamikaze special attack facts: 300 days of certain-death, sure-hit
attacks). Tōkyō: KK Bestsellers.
Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai (Navy Flight
Reserve Students 14th Class Association), ed. 1995. Zoku
• Ā dōki no sakura (Continuation
• Ah, cherry blossoms of same class). Tōkyō:
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.