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Heroic Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps
(1983 cover)
(originally published as
Ah, Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps
in 1970)

Last Letter of Ensign Cadet Shigeo Fukuda to His Parents

At 1152 on April 12, 1945, Ensign Cadet Shigeo Fukuda took off from Kushira Air Base as pilot in a Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber (Allied code name of Kate) carrying an 800-kg bomb. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 2nd Goō Hakuro [1] Squadron from Himeji Naval Air Group. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 24. He was from Okayama Prefecture, attended Nagasaki College of Commerce, and was a member of the 1st Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Seito).

He wrote the following final letter:

Dear Parents, Brothers and Sisters [2],

Not doing anything for the long period of 24 years, I only caused you worries with my mischief. Please forgive me for my great lack of filial piety. I truly thank you for the care that you provided to me for a long time.

As for me, finally as a young Japanese man, it has come about I will bear a great responsibility to defend the country at this critical time for the Empire as an officer crewman for the glorious Imperial Navy. Being able to sink one ship instantly with one plane is what only we crewmen will be able to accomplish.

As members of the same 1st Class of Reserve Students, please be glad with my honor of being selected at the beginning from my classmates who will go forward to protect the skies. I certainly will do my very best for the honor of our family. My greatest long-cherished desire is to go and fall at the same time as cherry blossoms on many branches. Believing in the Empire's prosperity for a thousand, nay, eight thousand generations, I will go smiling.

Finally, I will not stop praying for everyone's health and happiness forever.

Brothers and Sisters, I ask that you please take care of our parents.


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
April 2018

The letter comes from Kitagawa (1970, 133-4). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kitagawa (1970, 133) and Osuo (2005, 221).


1. The word Goō means "protecting the Emperor." Hakuro (白鷺), also pronounced as shirasagi, means white egret. Himeji Castle, which dates back to the 14th century, has the name of Shirasagi Castle or Hakuro Castle. The squadron's pronunciation of Hakuro comes from several Japanese sources including the following article from Sankei News dated May 23, 2017: "Hakuro-tai no tokkō ni shiryō de semaru: Himeji-shi heiwa shiryōkan de ihin nado 200-ten tenji" (Approaching the special attacks of Hakuro Squadrons through source material: 200 objects displayed at Himeji City Peace Museum) <https://www.sankei.com/region/news/170523/rgn1705230024-n1.html> (January 13, 2020).

2. The Japanese word can mean that he had one or more brothers and one or more sisters.

Sources Cited

Kitagawa, Mamoru, ed. 1970. Ā kamikaze tokkōtai: Kaerazaru seishun no isho shū (Ah, Kamikaze Special Attack Corps: Collected last letters of youth that would not return). Tōkyō: Nihon Bungeisha.

Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.