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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 [1] and wounded 56 others.

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 Navy.

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 [2] 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:

Dear Mother,

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 Japan.


He also wrote a second final letter to his mother:

Dear 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 forgive me.

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 homeland's ground.

I certainly intend to fight splendidly and obtain a place to die without regrets.

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 [3] 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:

Emperor's country
Sad lives
Of brave warriors
Pile up

Following duty
Turn to death
Turn to life again
There is honor

January 2, 1945
Mabalacat Base, Philippines
Shinpū [4] 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.

2. Kyokujitsu 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.

Sources Cited

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.