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Bansei Special Attack Monument
Minamisatsuma City, Kagoshima Prefecture

Bansei Air Base, constructed from the summer of 1943 to the end of 1944, served as the sortie base for 121 kamikaze pilots during the Battle of Okinawa. The Bansei Special Attack Monument, erected in 1972, stands in front of the Bansei Tokko Peace Museum in Minamisatsuma City, Kagoshima Prefecture.

The monument has a bronze image of a pilot on its upper half. The bottom half has the inscription "yorozuyo ni," which means "forever." The name "Bansei" has the same kanji (Chinese characters) as can be used for "yorozuyo." Although popularly called the Special Attack Monument, it was erected not only to honor the young men who died in suicide attacks but also the airmen based at Bansei who died in conventional attacks (Naemura 1993, 384).

Hichiro Naemura, who served as an Army flight instructor in 1945 and spent much time at Bansei Air Base, led the efforts to construct the Bansei Special Attack Monument and to open the Bansei Tokko Peace Museum. For many years after the end of the war people thought kamikaze pilots had departed from Chiran Air Base, about 12 miles to the southeast of Bansei Air Base, but actually some of them sortied from Bansei (Naemura 1993, 3). Since the end of the war, Naemura has tried to make the public aware of the young men from Bansei who died in the war.

A plaque near the monument gives the following history:

In 1944, the Pacific War situation suddenly worsened, and we were already facing the decisive stage. Here at Fukiage Dunes in Kaseda City [1], Bansei Airfield was constructed by local students and others through united cooperation of the military and civilians as a base for defense of the homeland and the decisive battle at Okinawa.

From March 29, 1945, until the end of the war, brave young men in various Army Special Attack Squadrons, the 66th Hiko Sentai (Flying Regiment), and the 55th Hiko Sentai took off from here in plane after plane far off above the clouds desiring to be the foundation for our country's defense. Many left and never returned as they died heroically but tragically in battles in the sky or in crash attacks. Our spirits also cry out when considering their devotion in dying for their country.

Many years after the end of the war, here in our country we have attained a glorious revival. We survivors and other considerate persons erect this monument here in order to pacify the spirits of the war dead and to extol their great deeds.

March 29, 1972

Each year in April a memorial service is held at the site of the Bansei Special Attack Monument and the Bansei Tokko Peace Museum.

Note

1. Kaseda City merged in 2005 with nearby small towns to form Minamikyushu City.

Source Cited

Naemura, Hichiro. 1993. Rikugun saigo no tokkou kichi: Bansei tokkoutaiin no isho to isatsu (Army's last special attack base: Last letters and photographs of Bansei special attack corps members). Osaka: Toho Shuppan.