Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Kaneyuki Fukuda to His Mother
At 1514 on April 28, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Kaneyuki  Fukuda
took off from Kokubu No. 2 Air Base and died in a special (suicide) attack near
Okinawa at the age of 18. He was from the Hyakurihara Naval Air Group and was a
member of the 2nd Seitō Special Attack Squadron. He flew a Type 99 Carrier
Bomber (Allied code name of Val). He was born and grew up in Mikuni Village (now
part of Ogōri City) in Fukuoka Prefecture. He was a member of the 12th Kō Class
of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).
He wrote the following final letter to his mother. The end of the letter has
a tanka poem (31-syllable poem with lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables).
Forgive me for not being in touch with you for so long. I hope that
everyone is doing fine. I have joined the longed-for Special Attack Corps
and will be able to fall as a cherry blossom. I will not forget your
kindness up to today even though I die.
My last act of filial piety to you will be to hit the target in an
attack. Surely I will carry out a taiatari (body-crashing) attack against an
Mother, please be well. Please take good care of my younger brothers and
sisters . Please give my thanks also to
everyone in the village.
Well, I apologize for going before you. Let's meet in the gardens at
Young cherry blossoms
Now at peak season
In full bloom
Together go to fall
In Ryūkyū  skies
He also wrote the following poem to the residents of his home village:
To Everyone in Mikuni Village,
Now I take leave of you with emptiness in my heart, looking forward to
meeting together again
I am only waiting to see you in the gardens of Yasukuni, to fall for my
The war situation truly a crisis, autumn of life or death for our
country, corpses staining the clouds
Someone who wants to die in no other place than in the skies
Looking back at our enduring three thousand year history, with duty only
for this great cause
Drifting with the waves I think of my country, needing not dare argue for
With a spirit to find and destroy the enemy, believing no enemy carrier
At the end deeply appreciative of your kindness during my life, wishing
you great happiness
Kaneyuki Fukuda's mother, Teruko, wrote this letter to the mother of Norio
Itō, who also sortied with the Kamikaze Corps 2nd Seitō Squadron.
Dear Tomo Itō,
Every day it has been hot here. Thank you very much for your letters. As
the air raids intensify each day, I imagine that there you must be having a
difficult time. Luckily up to now we here have not had any air raids nor
even the slightest damage.
Even though I received your letter the other day, I have been busy with
one thing and another. I truly apologize for not sending a reply sooner.
Please do not think badly of me.
Thank you very much for today's dear letter. Just like you I have been
anxiously waiting for the coming announcement. Even though I have looked at
the newspapers many times, the children's names have not appeared. In our
home we are already saddened. Actually, when I went to visit Kagoshima I
brought a letter from someone in Kurume. When I went to Kurume to inquire
right after the latest announcement, they were very discouraged even though
there was no announcement about their son. Surely the parents' hearts
thinking about their child remain the same.
On April 24, I managed to arrive at the base in Kagoshima, which was
experiencing heavy air attacks. I visited with my son who I had not seen for
a long time, but at that time I did not see anyone else other than a young
man from Yawata when the two came to a visiting area. I just gave a letter
to pass to your son, and I did not see your son Norio.
The base at Kokubu in Kagoshima Prefecture is on top of a really high
hill. We talked for about two hours, but we soon had to go down the mountain
to catch a train. My son told me that when they were going to leave their
original unit, everyone would treat them specially by adorning them with
However, afterward there was no news, but about the middle of May a
person from Kagoshima told me that he had departed on April 28. After about
20 days passed, I also heard in a letter from the person on the right that a
young man who had departed together with my son developed engine trouble
along the way and had to come back. Those two people clearly told me, "The
deaths of Mr. Fukuda and the others were at 7 p.m. on the 28th." They gave
this news to me.
When my son was still at the base, the person on the right is the one who
went to comfort the Kamikaze pilots on departure. Based on this, my son must
have departed Kagoshima on April 28. Afterwards, I heard that not one plane
returned. Although I have given up hope of him still being alive, my heart
will not be calmed until I see the announcement.
I also was just thinking I would try asking you for news. I really do not
have any idea what happened. I do not even know the names of those of his
unit. Even when I went to visit, it was just a short visit with no detailed
Really I should have sent you a prompt response, but please forgive me.
Please do not think badly of me for not sending anything until now. This is
just a quick response.
Kaneyuki's Mother, Teruko
Letters and poems translated by Bill Gordon
March 2004, January 2018
The letters, poems, and biographical information on this page come from Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai
(2003, 55) and from "Saigo no oya kōkō" (Last act of filial piety) <http://www.warbirds.jp/senri/08tubasa/08fukuda/index.html>
(January 20, 2018).
Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class
1. Despite Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai
(2003, 55) indicating Fukuda's given name as Hiroyuki, Nagasue Senri writes that
Fukuda's mother pronounced his name as Kaneyuki when she attended memorial
(February 5, 2018).
2. The word in Japanese (teimai) means that
he had at least one younger brother and at least one younger sister, but he does
not indicate in his letter the number of each.
3. Yasukuni Shrine in Tōkyō is the place of
enshrinement for spirits of Japan's war dead.
4. The Ryūkyū Islands include Okinawa.
Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai (Kanoya Naval
Air Base Museum Coordinating Committee). 2003. Kokoro no sakebi (Cries
of the heart). Kanoya, Kagoshima Prefecture: Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan