The Last Letters Of Kamikaze Pilots

July 24, 2019 | No Comments » | Topics: History

Kamikaze translates as “divine wind” and was the Japanese practice during World War II of sending young men in planes loaded with explosives on suicide missions. The vast majority of kamikaze pilots were under the age of 25, conscripted into the army sometimes against their will. The letters, poems, and diary entries of kamikaze pilots and other special attack force members constitute an important primary source of the feelings and opinions of these men prior to their suicide attacks. Here is a collection of letters from kamikaze pilots written just before they flew their final missions.

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 suicide attack killed 36 men and wounded 56 others.

Tadasu Fukino wrote the following last letter to his mother after he had arrived in the Philippines and before his final mission:

December 31, 1944


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 undutifulness.

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 glorious 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.

Well, so long.




Ensign Kiyoshi Ogawa died at 22 years of age in a kamikaze attack against the aircraft carrier Bunker Hill (CV-17) on May 11, 1945. The following is an English translation of his last letter:

Father and Mother,

It has been decided that I also will make a sortie as a proud Special Attack Corps member. Looking back, when I think of your raising me in your arms for more than twenty years, I am filled with a sense of gratitude. I truly believe that no one else has lived a happier life than me, and I am resolved to repay the Emperor and my father for your kindness.

Beyond those boundless white clouds, I will make my attack with a calm feeling. Not even thoughts of life and death will come to mind. A person dies once. It will be an honorable day to live for the eternal cause.

Father and Mother, please be glad for me.

Above all, Mother, please take care of your health, and I wish for everyone’s prosperity. As I will be at Yasukuni Shrine, Father and Mother, I always and forever will be living near you and will be praying for your happiness.

I will go smiling, both on the day of my sortie and forever.



On March 23, 1945, Kenji Tomisaw become a member of the 62nd Shinbu Special Attack Squadron when it was formed at Shimoshizu Airfield. On April 6, 1945, he died in a suicide attack when his squadron’s Type 99 Assault Planes (Allied nickname of Sonia) took off from Bansei Air Base in Kagoshima Prefecture. He was 23 years of age at the time of his death.

Tomisawa wrote the following last letter to his family:

I trust that everyone has been doing well recently.

I am dearly grateful that you went to all the trouble to come visit me the other day in such a busy time.

Since my injury is already healed, do not worry.

At last for me also the time of final service has arrived. I very deeply appreciate my special upbringing until now. I am one who lacked courage, but please do speak well of me.

In order to destroy our enemy, I will summon courage with all my might and will go to strike. We are the ones to deliver the country from the current crisis. Taking pride in this, I will surely do it. My comrades have already done it. Even right now my comrades, believing in those who will follow after them, are striking the enemy.

Shall I keep silent? Shall I try to be quiet about this?

Father, Mother, please do congratulate me.

Brother, sister, please take care of Father and Mother.

I surely will be protecting everybody from the immortal faraway skies in Nansei Shoto (Okinawa and other islands in archipelago that stretch south of Kyushu and toward Taiwan). Even though my body dies, I will certainly defend you.

Please give my kindest regards to the neighbors. I hope you will always keep in contact with Mr. Ebihara of Honjo. Since I have been busy, I have not been able to write a letter to him for a long time. Please give my greetings to Mr. Nishigaya also.

With this I give you my final farewell. Thank you for everything. Goodbye, goodbye.

Second Lieutenant Tomisawa



Lieutenant Sanehisa Uemura died in battle in the Philippine Sea area on October 26, 1944

Uemura wrote the following letter to his young daughter:


You often looked and smiled at my face. You also slept in my arms, and we took baths together. When you grow up and want to know about me, ask your mother and Aunt Kayo.

My photo album has been left for you at home. I gave you the name Motoko, hoping you would be a gentle, tender-hearted, and caring person.

I want to make sure you are happy when you grow up and become a splendid bride, and even though I die without you knowing me, you must never feel sad.

When you grow up and want to meet me, please come to Kudan. And if you pray deeply, surely your father’s face will show itself within your heart. I believe you are happy. Since your birth you started to show a close resemblance to me, and other people would often say that when they saw little Motoko they felt like they were meeting me. Your uncle and aunt will take good care of you with you being their only hope, and your mother will only survive by keeping in mind your happiness throughout your entire lifetime. Even though something happens to me, you must certainly not think of yourself as a child without a father. I am always protecting you. Please be a person who takes loving care of others.

When you grow up and begin to think about me, please read this letter.


P.S. In my airplane, I keep as a charm a doll you had as a toy when you were born. So it means Motoko was together with Father. I tell you this because my being here without your knowing makes my heart ache.



Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Nobutaka Inoue from Osaka died at the age of 18 in a special (suicide) attack near Okinawa. On April 28, 1945, he took off from Kokubu No. 2 Air Base as navigator in a two-man Type 99 Carrier Dive Bomber (Allied code name of Val) as a member of the Navy’s Kamikaze Special Attack Corps.

He wrote the following last letter to his parents on the day before his final mission:

Father and Mother,

Please excuse this hastily written letter. I sincerely thank you for taking care of me until this, my 18th, year.

I also at last have joined the Special Attack Corps, an airman’s highest honor, and it has been decided that I will make a sortie. I am sorry that recently I have not been able to send you news, but this also is unavoidable for military reasons. However, I have not regretted this. My heart is full of gratitude not only to you who have taken care of me until now but also to the senior officers and my friends from whom I as a single person have received so much.

Please enjoy good health until the day when in the end the Greater East Asia War is won. Even though my body disappears, my spirit only will remain. Please let me have the honor of seeing your cheerful faces from the skies of Yasukuni. The end is near. I want to write various things, but I do not know which ones are best to write.

Tomorrow at last I will fly to Okinawa and carry out a taiatari (literally “body crashing”) attack. I will die for an eternal cause believing I follow after my younger brothers and convinced of certain victory. If a white wooden box arrives, please praise me without crying. I earnestly request this of you.

I could not do any acts of filial piety for you, but I ask my older brother to do this. The enclosed photograph was taken just before my takeoff. I am in high spirits. Please rest assured. They are dirty nail clippings, but I enclose them with this letter.

I hope you live long and take good care of yourselves.

Please say hello from me to our neighbors and relatives.

April 27, 1945

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