On April 16, 1945, Sergeant Major Shinpei Satō took off from Chiran Army
Air Base as a member of the 79th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in a
special attack west of Okinawa at the age of 23. He piloted an Army Type 98
Direct Cooperation Reconnaissance Plane (Allied code name of Ida). After his
death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Second
Lieutenant. He was from Iwate Prefecture and was a member of the 7th Class
of the Sendai Pilot Training School.
He wrote the following final diary entries after his assignment to the
Special Attack Corps. He gave his diary the title of Ryūkonroku (Record of Everlasting Spirit),
which is the same
name as the diary of Yoshida Shōin (1830-1859), who strongly advocated the
Emperor's restoration to power, which challenged the ruling shogunate at the
end of the Edo Period. Satō's diary entries include separate final letters to his father and mother, with the letter to his
mother in two parts on different dates. He also wrote four death poems in
tanka form (31-syllable poem with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7) and a
haiku (17-syllable poem with lines of 5-7-5 syllables) to his deceased older
brother. He also wrote another final letter to his parents inside a trunk sent
to his family.
The long-awaited day finally has come. I live for an eternal cause as a
member of the Special Attack Corps. As a young Japanese man and as an aerial
warrior, there is no joy that surpasses this.
I was born into a kind world and was brought up with a great deal of
kindness. I just will repay this with a hisshi hitchū (certain-death,
When I reflect, it has been a quick six years since I aspired to the
skies and started a life with wings. I had requested this for a while, and
since last year I expressed three times my fervent desire for the Special
Attack Corps. I have not abandoned my soul.
Six years passed as I trained and drilled to be more than self-confident
in my skills.
Except I did not take sufficient care of my health, and I have not worked
hard at practicing instant sinking.
Father and Mother also will be glad.
My self-discipline as a military man allows me to obtain a splendid place
to die. Gripping the control stick until the end, I can obtain a welcome
place to be able to die full of a feeling of happiness.
My deceased older brother surely would be glad. I will continue my diary
from now until the day of the instant sinking. I will not write separately a
Fate of life and death not worth arguing
Young man calmly falls in
In the morning, I received a new flight suit.
In the afternoon, I went to Kumagaya with the squadron commander to
receive a plane. We reported the current matter to Captain Misono and
expressed our thanks.
Finally from tomorrow it is planned that there will be training on
There was a message from Sergeant Toyosaki: "At last with the departures
there are expected to be military results in the Battle of Okinawa." I pray
only for a hit on a target.
In the morning, Squadron Commander Second Lieutenant Yamada gave the
following briefing: "We who have been selected to the Special Attack Corps,
which is the highest honor for an aerial warrior, will have our actions
measured on the basis of our great self-confidence and pride. I want it to
be said that those usual actions produced great battle results."
Accomplishment of the mission is essential with only hisshi (certain death).
Death is easy, and duty is heavy. With a tokkō (special attack) spirit
through my normal training, for the first time I can die in a way so that I
can be useful. I will lengthen what is left in my life until August. It is a
short time until that moment when I accomplish my mission, but it seems like
I can do many useful things. I will strive for improvement in my spiritual
In the afternoon we executed ways to handle equipment and materials for
my plane. Even though it is a plane type that I trained on only once, it is
absolutely the only weapon to accomplish the mission. If I live with the
plane in life or death until the day I hit the target, then there is much
room for research.
At about 1600, by chance Sergeant Watanuki, who was my classmate from the
time when I was at Sendai Pilot Training School, came by plane from
Tachikawa . For more than an hour we had a lively conversation about
things during training school, news about 3rd Class trainees, and fond
memories. He told me that they also would soon depart for the front line,
and I wished them success.
I heard that one classmate had died in battle at Ōita. I will make
efforts so at the gathering of classmates at Yasukuni Shrine  I can
relate an account of a heroic exploit and bring a present.
Fine weather continues every day in this place.
At 8 a.m., we went to Haiyama  to receive out planes. I barely missed
Takeshi Nakamoto and was not able to see him.
We drilled on take-offs and landings. Since it was said that the planned sortie was soon, there were drills in the morning and afternoon.
Since on the trail also duty is duty, it was very lively.
At 1630 we went to Kawagoe City  for a meal together. The twelve men
under the squadron commander opened up to each other in a friendly way, and
we passed a pleasant evening.
At last we started training on attacking ships.
At about noon, our former unit commander Captain Misono came. He told us
that within a few days we would depart for an advance base.
I was given a hachimaki (headband) from the Army Minister.
I was thinking that I would visit my Older Brother's grave once more
before the sortie, but there is not time.
Father, Mother, I have no regrets at all. I just am full of joy to be
able to die splendidly for the country.
My only worry is for you Father and Mother, who will have lost two
children in half a year.
The words that Older Brother always was saying were, "I only caused
worries for Father and Mother, but in the future I will show filial piety
with all my might."
In truth, even now when I returned home not long ago, I had worked out
the current situation for the most part, but in the end I did not say
anything to you.
However, Father and Mother, when I die my spirit will live forever
and ever. Older Brother's spirit and my spirit will always be watching over you.
Even though you lost two children, do not be disappointed. Even Older
Brother could work to increase production greatly. Since even I trained
considerably up to now to be an aerial warrior, I now will live for an
eternal cause as a member of the Special Attack Corps, the highest honor for
a military man.
There is nothing that brings such joy. When there is news that I hit an
American or British ship, Father, please drink sake with your dining
companions because of me.
Also, please gladly give my remaining years to Fumio and Yōji. As for
Yōji, his name also has a deep connection with mine.
Training has reached the serious stage.
Hisshi (certain death). Hitchū (sure hit). It seems simple when you say
the words, but it is an extremely difficult mission.
Just one aircraft carrier has 100,000 rounds of shells and bullets that
can be shot in a minute.
Even though hisshi (certain death) is simple, hitchū (sure hit) certainly
is difficult. Nevertheless, I have a spirit that is tenaciously strong.
Although I am only thinking, it is thrilling to thrust at a huge warship
as it thrusts at me. According to the place that reports the news, there are
still 300 ships near Okinawa.
Truly a divine opportunity has come.
With today's order we also at last on the 4th will leave for an advance
There are several days in this world. It seems somehow a lie. As for the
matter of death, I do not at all catch on quickly.
Is it because of the importance of my mission? Or perhaps I have a
well-cultivated mind without knowing it.
In the afternoon I went to the Air Academy to receive my plane.
I by chance met Second Lieutenant Nakano and the shakuhachi flute teacher
Second Lieutenant Yanagihara from my days at Tatebayashi . They asked
where I had been and expressed their congratulations. They were extremely
envious of me.
Finally all of the planes have assembled.
Training also generally has ended.
Next there is only daring to make a hissatsu (certain-death) hit on a
ship by strong unity with the squadron leader at the core.
When I think about it, I caused you only a lot of troubles when I was
young. I was naughty, and also I only was complaining.
When I close my eyes, the things of my childhood spring vividly to my
mind to a marvelous degree.
I was made to apologize to the gods when I did something bad. When I was
young, you were a mother who every day strictly was telling me to respect
the gods with sayings like "Please make it a good day today" and "Thank you
for the good day today."
Today your teachings from that time truly are for me. I caused you
concern when I was sick, and I also caused you many worries when I worked my
way through school.
As for working my way through school, when I was in Tōkyō it was
imprinted on my mind that your tears were flowing in the kitchen when I left
home. I did not know how much I wanted to return home during that time.
I understood your true virtue when I left for Tōkyō. From that time I was
rarely at home, and it is regrettable that there was not an opportunity when
I could show my filial piety to you with no hurry.
After entering the Army, I saw you only three times. One time was the
break last year. The second time was near the end of last year when you came
to Tatebayashi. That time I could not contain myself for joy and more joy.
When I saw you after you had taken the trouble to make a long trip with a
rucksack on your back to see me, I said something, and tears were about to
flow. There was no excuse when finally I told you that it would have been
best if you had not taken so much trouble to come, and I concluded by saying
some contrary things.
Even after I go to Paradise, the memory of that time when I walked with
you through Tōkyō will be a pleasant and fond memory.
Soon I will be presented to Yasukuni Shrine where there is a huge torii
gate. We went there holding hands. The next time when I returned home for a
break, you flew out of the house to greet me.
It was the same also last year.
In the afternoon I went to Tachikawa for nighttime outfitting of the
We received a send-off from many people, and we went to Mibu Airfield 
and landed there.
I met Second Lieutenants Muramatsu and Ōzawa from my days at Tatebayashi.
I also met about 20 others, and there were fond memories. Also, I met Sergeant
Major Taniguchi who I truly had not seen for more than three years after
Everywhere there were many people to see us off, and I was overwhelmed
with emotion. From 1600 I was permitted to spend the night off base for one
day. Without returning home, I went to Tatebayashi.
I drank sake with Mr. Ietomi, and it was 11 o'clock. In the end I stayed
at his house.
I visited the Tatebayashi Training Unit that I had not seen in five
All of the student factory workers were there as in the old days.
I was congratulated by everyone on my ambitious undertaking.
I ate at the homes of the students Matsuzawa and Satō. I went also to
Hayakawa's home to bid farewell.
I stayed at Tatebayashi for one year and nine months. Since this is the
place where I stayed longest, it also has the greatest number of families
that provided care to me.
I also ate at the place of the woman from Saitō Bookstore. She took the
trouble to go the train station to see me off. Although I was shedding
tears, I did not express to her any words of appreciation.
When I think about it, she was a woman who always showed to me special
For her many kindnesses as she looked after me like my parents, I will
just repay her with a great battle result.
I received undeserved farewell gifts from the student Matsuzawa, the
dentist Saitō, and Ietomi.
At 1500 I departed from Tatebayashi. I went to the place of Uncle Kagaku
from Tōkyō. He had just returned from his hometown.
We had a lively conversation about various things.
We drank until about 9, and I returned.
Father, Mother, good night.
At last tomorrow will be the departure.
Dear Parents, today I will end my diary.
For the great kindness shown to me in various ways, there is no excuse
for my not being able to do enough for you.
Today I took steps to send my baggage.
Since my photos and film were done at Morieda's place, please get
There are various things that I want to write, but since I cannot get
there no matter how much I write, I will stop with this.
I truly thank you for my 25 years.
Please take good care of yourselves so that you can live out your allotted
span of life.
Father, as the son of you who went to the Russo-Japanese War , I have
obtained a place to die that you will not be ashamed of. Please be glad.
It is inexcusable that from my childhood I always caused you troubles.
I was thinking that I would show you filial piety with all my might to
repay your kindness, but please forgive me that finally it ended without my
being able to do anything.
I, who used to sleep with you until I was quite big, when I was young I
was told by Mother, "you are Father's child, and Bungo is my child."
I, who was loved exceptionally with a strict side from my childhood,
truly was happy.
I remember fondly your figure from long ago when you were drunk and did
gidayū (type of reciting used in the puppet theater) and a dance.
Please always enjoy good health and bring up Fumio and Yōji lovingly.
There are several more things that I would like to write, but I will stop
I who had Japan's best mother was always happy.
I cannot stop pleasant memories that come one after another such as when
I visited the grave of the mother of Kako-chan with you while in the evening
it was drizzling, when we walked together through town for the Patriotic
Women's Association, and when I went to tell the gods about my grades.
Mother, perhaps you will regret that you could have sent me a letter and
encouraged me if I had notified you quickly about the Special Attack Corps.
As I understand your feelings to an extreme degree and since I always
appreciate you, please do not worry about needless things. As for me, since
you would find out soon, I did not notify you quickly since this would cause
you worries. So please do not think badly.
Please take sufficient care of your rheumatism and neuralgia. You
absolutely must live just the span of life given to you by heaven.
Please watch over Fumio and Yōji carefully and train them to be splendid
Please by no means be disappointed, and take care so as to not damage
Father acted in a strange way when he fell behind.
Excuse me for going a short time before you.
Tonight there was a farewell party. Since I am a little bit drunk, my
written characters also are messy.
I request that you give my regards to Kawano-sensei and Kobayashi-sensei.
I certainly will show you a great battle result.
Please expect a battle result off Okinawa.
April 5 morning
It is fine weather suitable for going to battle.
Finally at 12:00 today I will depart.
I certainly will carry out an instant sinking.
I pray for your happiness.
Morning of departure for battle
There is a final letter inside the trunk.
Long live His Majesty the Emperor. I have received an Imperial command.
Now I will set off on my way to destroy a ship of the despicable enemy as a
member of the Special Attack Corps. There is nothing that surpasses this as
the long-cherished desire of a young Japanese man. By a hitchū hitchin
(sure-hit, sure-sinking) attack, I will offer repayment for the Emperor's
As for today's honor, I deeply appreciate the gift of your training for
more than twenty years.
Even though my body dies, my spirit always will be at your side. Since
both of you are old, please take good care of yourselves. By no means
I who am Japan's happiest person, always with a smiling face and in high
spirits, will depart for my last act of filial piety for you.
Give my regards to all of the relatives and to the neighbors.
Even though my body shatters with enemy ship
I will live seven times
with a true heart
Making good use of being born into kind world
I will go to battle with
To My Parents
Not repaying kindnesses that surpassed seas and mountains
Full of high
spirits I will go on my way to battle
To my deceased older brother
The diary entries come from Muranaga (1989, 18-30). The biographical information in
the first paragraph comes from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō
Kai (2005, 113, 156), Muranaga (1989, 18), and Osuo (2005, 202).