First Lieutenant Hajime Fujii 
Written by Bill Gordon for May 2006 reunion of U.S.S. Drexler Survivors Reunion Association
Japan's Ministry of Home Affairs squashed publication of the
tragic story of First Lieutenant Hajime Fujii, an instructor at Kumagaya
Army Aviation School. In December
1944, Fujii's wife Fukuko committed suicide along with their two children, Kazuko
(age 3) and Chieko (age 1), so that her husband could freely go on a special attack
(suicide) mission. Due to government censorship, the story remained unknown to the Japanese public for
many years after war's end.
This article draws information from several Japanese books to put
together the history of Hajime Fujii and his family . The sources contain some conflicting details, which
are explained in the article's Notes section. The
primary sources are Sange no kokoro to chinkon no makoto (Spirits of
heroic dead and devotion to repose of souls) (1995, 123-5) edited by Yasukuni
Jinja and Tokkou no machi: Chiran (Special attack corps town: Chiran)
(2003, 171-84) by Sanae Sato.
Hajime Fujii, born on August 30, 1915, grew up in Ibaraki
Prefecture as the eldest son of a farming family with seven children . His
parents wanted him to take over the family farm, but he volunteered for the
Army. He joined as an infantryman in a
machine gun squadron and displayed exceptional ability. He was sent to the
front in China, where Japan had been at war since 1931. While in China, a mortar shell wounded
him in the left hand. During his recovery there, he first met Fukuko.
Fukuko grew up in a merchant's family in Takasaki City
in Gunma Prefecture. The family had three girls, and she enjoyed playing the
piano and singing. She was working as a field nurse in China when she met
Fujii, and they soon decided to get married. They had a love marriage rather
than an arranged marriage typical at that time in Japan.
Due to Fujii's exceptional skills, he was selected to enter
the Army Air Corps Academy. Sources do not indicate
his area of specialization, but one source states he did not volunteer as a
pilot since he could not tightly grip a plane's control stick due to the mortar
shell wound to his left hand suffered in China . After graduation in the
spring of 1943, he went to Kumagaya Army Aviation School as a company commander
in charge of students' character building and mental instruction. He told his
students, "If needed, crash your aircraft into an enemy camp or into an enemy
ship." As Fujii explained to his students the concepts of loyalty and
patriotism, he repeatedly said, "I will not let only you die. I as your
company commander also will surely go."
Fukuko with oldest
daughter Kazuko 
Fujii, with a motto that "words and deeds should be
consistent," was strict with himself and volunteered for the special
attack force (tokkotai in Japanese). Perhaps as an educator he had a guilty conscience since he had
his students go on kamikaze attacks but he stayed safely behind. He
volunteered even though it was not expected for someone in his position to be
selected for the special attack force since he had a wife and two young
children. Army leaders rejected Fujii's two written petitions 
join the special attack force, probably because he held an important post as
commander at Kumagaya Aviation School and he had a family.
Fukuko initially opposed her husband's joining the special
attack force, but in time she came to
understand her husband's firm determination to join his students to attack the
enemy. On December 14, 1944, she left the house with her two young daughters,
went to Arakawa River near Kumagaya Aviation School, and
jumped into the frigid water with her daughters.
The next morning on December 15, the three dead bodies were
discovered. The two young girls wore their finest kimonos, with one-year-old
Chieko carried on her 24-year-old mother's back and three-year-old 
hand tied with a rope to her mother's hand.
Fujii was contacted at Kumagaya Aviation School . He hurried
to the spot in a police car with Warrant Officer Shimada, who could find no
words of consolation since the tragedy was so great. Fujii said with a moaning
voice, "Perhaps today I will shed tears. Please forgive me for only today.
Please understand." In order to hide his tears, he crouched down before
the three lifeless bodies and gently brushed sand off their white skin. "I
am always telling my students to commit themselves totally to be ready to die,
but I myself cannot devote myself this far."
Fujii later found Fukuko's final letter , which included
the following words: "Since you probably would be worried about us and not
be able to freely carry out your duties because we are here, we go ahead before
you and will wait for you. Please fight without reserve."
During the evening after the funeral of Fujii's wife and two
daughters, he wrote the following letter to Kazuko, his oldest daughter:
A cold, blustery December day
Your life disappeared as dew on Arakawa River's bank. It is
painfully sad that together with your mother you sacrificed yourself ahead of
your father because of his fervent desire to lay down his life for his
country. However, I hope that you, who as a young girl vanished together with
your mother, will be gladly smiling.
Father also will soon be able to follow after you. At that
time I'll gladly hold you close to me as you sleep. If Chieko cries, please
take good care of her. Well, goodbye for a short time.
Daddy will perform a great feat on the battlefield and bring
it as a present for you. Both you and Chieko, please wait for me until then.
He wrote on the cover of the letter, "December 15,
1944, 1 a.m., Kazuko Fujii, item left behind." The time of 1 a.m.
apparently refers to the estimated time of her death. Fujii's younger sister
preserved this letter, which is shown below.
Fujii's letter to his daughter Kazuko 
Although the Army and government banned any publication of details concerning the deaths of Fujii's wife and her two children, the
officers and students at Kumagaya Aviation School heard rumors and pieced together much of what had happened. After the death of Fujii's wife and
daughters, he wrote a petition in his own blood asking for the third time to
join the special attack force so that his wife's death would not be useless .
This time the Army leaders considered the unique circumstances and
appointed him as a special attack force member. When he left Kumagaya Aviation
School, the students and staff officers held a farewell party and gave him a sword purchased with money
from their savings. Fujii was very glad. He pulled out the sword and raised it
high over his head shouting, "With this I'll chop those guys down until
not one of them remains!"
Hajime Fujii 
On February 8, 1945, the 45th Shinbu Squadron was formed to
carry out kamikaze attacks, and Fujii was appointed as its commander. The squadron of twelve men included
nine Ki-45 Type 2 Toryu Fighters (Allied code name of "Nicks"), with three
aircraft manned by both a pilot and a radio operator/gunner. The squadron was named Kaishin, which
means "cheerful spirit" in Japanese.
The squadron trained together at several air bases, including
Hokota Air Base in Ibaraki Prefecture and Matsudo Air Base in Chiba Prefecture.
Fujii wrote the following letter to the mother of a family who cared for him
while at Matsudo Air Base :
May 21, 1945
Dear Aiko Hirano,
I want to thank you very much for the delicious meal you
served the other day. Thank you also for the long trip you took to see me off
when I left.
Please say hello to everyone in your family. The flowers
given to me by your daughters now decorate my room in faraway OOO .
Well, I surely will do my duty with all my heart.
On May 27, 1945, the 45th Shinbu Squadron flew to Chiran Air
Base in Kagoshima Prefecture for the scheduled sortie to Okinawa the next
morning. Before his sortie, Fujii wrote to Fukuko's father, "I look
forward to being able to see Fukuko, Kazuko, and Chieko."
The squadron's nine aircraft, commanded by Fujii as the radio
operator/gunner in the lead aircraft, sortied from Chiran at about 5 a.m. on May
28, 1945 . On the
way to Okinawa, one aircraft crashed into the sea, and inhabitants of a small island
rescued the pilot. The squadron's remaining eight aircraft reached Picket Station
15, about 45 miles northwest of Nago Bay on the western side of Okinawa. Two
destroyers, Drexler and Lowry, and American Combat Air Patrol
(CAP) fighters shot down most of the squadron's aircraft. However, two aircraft
crashed into Drexler, causing the destroyer to sink in less than a
minute after the second plane hit. Nearby landing craft support vessels rescued
199 survivors, but 158 of Drexler's officers and crew died in the attack
by Fujii's squadron.
The family grave of Fujii, Fukuko, and their two daughters
stands on top of a small hill in Mitsukaido City, Fujii's hometown in
Ibaraki Prefecture. Each year a group of Fujii's former students at Kumagaya
Aviation School visit the family grave to pay their respects. Fujii was very popular
with the students. His instruction was strict, but since he was kind-hearted,
everyone admired, respected, and trusted him. When former students visit
his grave, each year they sing the song "Showa Momotaro (Peach Boy) ,"
whose lyrics were composed by Fujii in 1944. The first verse goes as follows:
Propeller glittering on his chest
Showa Momotaro taking off to the sky
An eaglet with splendid wings
Doing barrel rolls, reverse turns, loop-the-loops
Showing talents of Japan's young men
We youth pilots
1. Source of photo: Asahi Shimbun Seibu Honsha 1990, 45.
2. Principal sources for this article: Asahi Shimbun Seibu Honsha 1990, 43-5;
Kosaka 2003, 17-25; Osuo 2005, 139-42; Sato 2003, 171-84; Yasukuni Jinja 1995,
3. Asahi Shimbun Seibu Honsha (1990, 44) states that Fujii grew up in a family with
six children. Sato (2003, 171) indicates seven children in his parents' family.
4. Source of photo and
caption: Yasukuni Jinja 1995, 124.
5. Sato 1997, 171.
6. Asahi Shimbun Seibu Honsha (1990, 43) and
Kosaka (2003, 19) state that Fujii submitted two or three written petitions for the special attack force
that the Army rejected. Sato (2003, 179) states that the Army rejected two of
Fujii's written petitions.
7. Kosaka (2003, 19) indicates that Kazuko was
four years old when she died. Asahi Shimbun Seibu Honsha (1990, 43) and Yasukuni Jinja
(1995, 123) state she was three years old.
8. Kosaka (2003, 19-20) states that Fujii came
home on December 14, 1944, as he normally did and found Fukuko's last letter to him on
top of the desk. He was then notified at home by police the next morning that the bodies
of his wife and two daughters had been found.
Sato (2003, 174-5) states that Fujii was away for one week, staying at Kumagaya Aviation
School, when his wife committed suicide. The police notified him at the school,
and he went by police car to the place where the bodies had been found.
9. Kosaka (2003, 19-20) states that Fujii
found Fukuko's last letter before he was notified by police that her body had
been located. Sato (2003, 175-6) implies that he found Fukuko's last letter
after he went with police to view the dead bodies.
10. Source of image: Yasukuni Jinja 1995,
first page of photos in front of book.
11. Kosaka (2003, 20), Sato (2003, 179-80),
and Yasukuni Jinja (1995, 124) indicate that Fujii's petition in his own blood
was written after Fukuko's suicide. However, Asahi Shimbun Seibu Honsha ( 1990,
43) indicates that his petition and its acceptance by the Army occurred before
12. Source of photo: Yasukuni Jinja 1995, 123.
13. Chiran Koujo Nadeshiko Kai 1996, 70-1.
14. Army officers censored letters to
ensure no military secrets were revealed. The location where Fujii wrote this
letter was marked out by censors and is indicated by "OOO."
15. The information in this paragraph comes
from my article entitled "Who Sank the Destroyer Drexler?"
16. Showa refers to the period that Emperor
Hirohito reigned in Japan (1926-1989). The word Showa means "enlightened
peace." Momotaro, which is often translated as "Peach Boy" in
English, is a legendary Japanese hero who together with his animal friends
defeated ogres living on an island who were ravaging the land and killing the
Asahi Shimbun Seibu Honsha. 1990. Sora no kanata ni
(To distant skies). Fukuoka: Ashishobo.
Chiran Koujo Nadeshiko Kai (Chiran Girls' High School Nadeshiko
Association), ed. 1996. Gunjou: Chiran tokkou kichi yori
(Deep blue: From Chiran special attack forces air base). Originally
published in 1979. Kagoshima City:
Kosaka, Jiro. 2003. Tokkou kaerazaru wakumonotachi e no rekuiemu
(Requiem for young men of special attack corps who did not return). Tokyo: PHP
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kougekitai no kiroku (rikugun hen)
(Record of special attack corps (Army)). Tokyo: Kojinsha.
Sato, Sanae. 2003. Tokkou no machi: Chiran
(Special attack corps town: Chiran). Tokyo: Kojinsha.
Yasukuni Jinja, ed. 1995. Sange no kokoro to chinkon no makoto
(Spirits of heroic dead and devotion to repose of souls). Tokyo: Yasukuni Jinja.