Last Letters from Lieutenant Junior Grade Tadasu Fukino to His Mother
On January 6, 1945, Lieutenant Junior Grade Tadasu Fukino piloted a Suisei
dive bomber (Allied code name of Judy) that crashed into the heavy cruiser Louisville
(CA-28) in Lingayen Gulf off the coast of Luzon Island in the Philippines. The
special (suicide) attack killed 36 men  and wounded 56
Tadasu's real mother died soon after his birth in 1919. Then her
younger sister married Tadasu's father and became Tadasu's mother (or
stepmother). His father died of illness in 1931, and after that Tadasu was
raised by his strict grandfather.
Tadasu went to elementary school in Yodoe Town and junior high school in Yonago
City in Tottori Prefecture. He attended 6th High School in
Okayama City. During both junior high and high
school he played on the baseball team. Tadasu studied agricultural economics at Kyōto Imperial University
before he joined the 13th Class of the Navy's Yobi Gakusei (Reserve Student)
program. During his time as a university student he took piloting lessons at Yao
Airfield in Ōsaka, which indicated his strong interest in aviation prior to entering the
In October 1943, his two-month Navy basic training started with over two
thousand Reserve Students at Tsuchiura Air Base in Ibaraki Prefecture. He next
moved a short distance to Kasumigaura Air Base for basic flight training and
graduated in late March 1944. Fukino then went to Hyakurihara Air Base in Ibaraki
Prefecture for training on how to fly carrier-based bombers and dive bombers.
When he finished this training in late August 1944, he remained at Hyakurihara
and joined an operational unit there.
In October 1944, the Navy formed the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps in the
Philippines. On December 20, 1944, Fukino arrived in the Philippines as part of
the Kyokujitsu  Special Attack Squadron that had
been formed to
supplement air power there and make suicide attacks on the American fleet. On January 6, 1945, he and his
gunner/radio operator Ensign
Seisaku Miyake took off from Mabalacat Airfield in their two-man Suisei dive bomber toward
Lingayen Gulf where American ships were bombarding the shore. It is known that
their aircraft hit the heavy cruiser Louisville from a piece of the wing
recovered after the crash. The piece had the Japanese characters of "Suisei" on
it, and the Suisei dive bomber of Fukino and Miyake was the only one in
the area at the time.
Tadasu Fukino wrote the following last letter:
I truly have caused you only trouble for a long time. In addition to being
undutiful to you in various ways, now again I will not even take care of you.
Please forgive my prior lack of filial piety.
Last fall you surely were worried when I chose the Navy Air path. Using
common sense, there were several other paths with little danger. Regarding the
path of service to the country, perhaps those would have been adequate.
However, as for this country of Japan, great numbers of us splendidly have
obtained shining glory only after we have endured endless sorrows and griefs.
Moreover, precisely because of this, hereafter Japan will be a country that
flourishes. I have been able to advance and take this honorable path without any
regrets precisely because I believed you to be a strong mother who has made
this country of Japan prosper splendidly by valiantly enduring these sorrows.
Even though I was able to go forward on the path of a warrior who will repay the
country in some little way, it is primarily because of you, Mother.
You can say with pride that I went to a glorious death in the honorable Navy
Air way and performed some little service.
I will be content with beautiful white clouds in the skies as a grave marker.
Now I go to die for the Emperor and for the mountains and rivers of my beloved
He also wrote a second final letter to his mother:
I caused you worries for a long time. It is inexcusable that I did not repay
the kindness that I received from you up to today and that now I lack
of filial piety and will die before you. However, if this also is a splendid public
service for the Emperor and the country, I think that you will be glad and
With no regrets and with a mental state of boundless satisfaction, please
imagine my figure as I, while smiling, make a taiatari (body-crashing)
attack on an enemy ship.
With my life in a naval air group, I first understood the path of living for
an eternal cause. It has not yet been ten days since I came to the battle
front, but already a considerable number of my comrades and subordinates have
died in battle. When I think of these friends and subordinates, I cannot get
away from the feeling that they are living and again will set foot on their
I certainly intend to fight splendidly and obtain a place to die without
When I think about the Empire's 3,000-year history, there is not a problem
with an unimportant individual or single family. When the glory of Shinshū 
is protected to the end by strength of us young men, I firmly believe that the
magnificence of the Emperor's kindness certainly will not overlook the
well-being of small families.
Of course, I believe that you are not a mother who is looking forward to
blessings of the Emperor's kindness.
I have continued writing to an unhappy matter, but in short you know that I
went and died splendidly with satisfaction in my heart, and it would be good if
you could be glad. Please give my regards to Momoe and my aunt.
Please take good care of yourself so that you may have a long life and see
with your own eyes Japan's prosperity and the appearance of a flourishing world.
December 31, 1944
Fukino also wrote the following death poem two days after the last letter
to his mother:
Of brave warriors
Turn to death
Turn to life again
There is honor
January 2, 1945
Mabalacat Base, Philippines
Shinpū  Special Attack Corps Kyokujitsu Squadron
Lieutenant Junior Grade Tadasu Fukino
Letters and poem translated by Bill Gordon
April 2012 and September 2019
The two letters some from Hakuō Izokukai (1952, 43-6), and the poem
comes from Hino (1997, 147). Hino (1997) is the source of the photograph and information
about Tadasu Fukino's life in the first five paragraphs.
1. This number comes from Rielly (2010, 161, 319).
Hino (1997, 142) states Louisville had 32 dead.
means rising sun.
3. Shinshū refers to Japan and
literally means "divine land."
4. The two Japanese
characters for Shinpū can also be read as Kamikaze, which is the name by which
most people refer to the Japanese Navy's aerial special (suicide) attack corps.
Hakuō Izokukai (Hakuō Bereaved Families Association), ed.
1952. Kumo nagaruru hate ni: Senbotsu kaigun hikō yobi gakusei no shuki
(To the end of the flowing clouds: Writings of Navy reserve students who died
in war). Tōkyō: Nihon Shuppan Kyōdō.
Hino, Takako. 1997.
Tsubasa no kakera: Tokkō ni chitta
kaigun yobi gakusei no seishun (Wing fragment: Youth of Navy reserve
students who died in special attacks). Tōkyō: Kōdansha.
Rielly, Robin L. 2010. Kamikaze Attacks of World War II: A
Complete History of Japanese Suicide Strikes on American Ships, by Aircraft
and Other Means. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company.