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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:

On August 8 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.

On 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

The diary entries come from Matsugi (1971, 91-2). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Konada and Kataoka (2006, 279-84, 373-4), Matsugi (1971, 90), and Mediasion (2006, 68, 87).

Notes

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.

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.